"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Jan 172021
 

From the Big Screen:

Dreamland

photo for Dreamland Set during the Great Depression, Eugene Evans (Finn Cole) dreams of escaping his small Texas town when he discovers a wounded, fugitive bank robber (Margot Robbie). Torn between claiming the bounty for her capture and his growing attraction to the seductive criminal, Eugene must make a decision that will forever affect the lives of everyone he’s ever loved. Vitals: Director: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte. Stars: Finn Cole, Margot Robbie, Travis Fimmel, Kerry Condon, Darby Camp. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: R, 95 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.294 million, Paramount. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, Digital.

The Climb

photo for The Climb An oftentimes awkward examination of the toxic lifelong friendship of Mike and Kyle. While Kyle is kind and a bit of a pushover, Mike is a train wreck, who, despite his affection for Kyle, always seems to sabotage Kyle’s relationships. Told through a series of vignettes, Kyle struggles to deal with the fact that his best friend might just be the worst person for him. Vitals: Director: Michael Angelo Covino. Stars: Kyle Marvin, Michael Angelo Covino, Gayle Rankin, Talia Balsam, George Wendt, Judith Godreche. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: R, 98 min., Comedy Drama, Box office gross: $.234 million, Sony. Extras: Filmmaker commentary, original short film, deleted & alternate scenes. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, Digital.

This Week’s Best Bets

Before “Oldboy,” before “The Handmaiden,” visionary filmmaker Park Chan-wook helmed “JSA: Joint Security Area” (2000), a gripping tale of deceit, misunderstanding and the senselessness of war. Gunfire breaks out in the demilitarized zone between North and South photo for JSA: Joint Security AreaKorea, leaving two North Korean soldiers dead while a wounded South Korean soldier (Lee Byung-hun) flees to safety. With the tenuous peace between the two warring nations on a knife-edge, a neutral team of investigators, headed by Swiss Army Major Sophie Jean (Lee Young-ae), is dispatched to question both sides to determine what really happened under cover of darkness out in no-man’s land. The recipient of multiple accolades, including Best Film at South Korea’s 2001 Grand Bell Awards, “JSA – Joint Security Area” showcases Park’s iconic style in an embryonic form, and demonstrates that humanity and common purpose can be found in the most unlikely places. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … In 1975, in an America defined by both the self-mythologizing pomp of the upcoming bicentennial and ongoing sociopolitical photo for Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese<turmoil, Bob Dylan and a band of troubadours –including luminaries such as Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg, and Joni Mitchell — embarked on a now-legendary tour known as the Rolling Thunder Revue, a freewheeling variety show that was part traveling counterculture carnival, part spiritual pilgrimage. In “Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese” (2019), director Scorsese blends behind-the-scenes archival footage, interviews, and narrative mischief, with a magician’s sleight of hand, into a zeitgeist-defining cultural record that is as much a concert “documentary” as it is a slippery, chimerical investigation into memory, time, truth, and illusion. At the center of it all is the magnetic Dylan, a sphinxlike philosopher-poet singing, with electrifying conviction, to the soul of an anxious nation. On DVD, Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … photo for Giant from the Unknown In the cult classic “Giant from the Unknown” (1958), Dr. Frederick Cleveland (Morris Ankrum) and his daughter Janet (Sally Fraser) are joined by scientific researcher Wayne Brooks (Ed Kemmer) in the pursuit of ancient artifacts from Vargas, a giant 500-year-old Spanish conquistador. When a lightning storm interrupts their search, the team finds much more than artifacts when the long-lost Vargas returns to life, with a murderous rage and an axe to grind. Resurrected from the original camera negative with a stunning 4K transfer. A Limited-Edition Giant Cult Film Box Set (DVD or Blu-ray) features exclusive collectibles that will thrill any cult classic film fan, including a 13-month cult film calendar, bookmark, magnet, custom playing card deck and lapel pin inspired by Vargas the Giant himself. Each box set will also include a surprise, TFD Vault cult film, recently restored from the original camera negative in stunning 4K and a one-year subscription to The Film Detective app, unlocking thousands of classic film and television titles available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. On DVD, Blu-ray, from The Film Detective … photo for Bartender: 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition The cult-favorite anime anthology series “Bartender” makes its North American Blu-ray debut this week. The “Bartender: 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” (2006 — Japan) comes housed in an elegant home entertainment packaging which collects all 11 episodes of the series and bonus content in a two-disc Blu-ray set, with nine cocktail recipe cards and four collectible coasters. Situated in the Ginza district of Tokyo is the Eden Hall, a quiet bar that few people manage to come across. It is run by the legendary bartender Ryu Sasakura, a genius at mixing the right drink for the right customer. Throughout his period at Eden Hall, customers from all walks of life, carrying all sorts of burdens, arrive for a godly glass at the Hall and a kind word with Ryu, both of which assist in clearing their problems up and reviving them for another go at life. Based on the best-selling Japanese manga of the same name by Araki Joh and illustrated by Kenji Nagatomo. From Anime Limited/Shout! Factory.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “A Cold Hard Truth” (2019), starring Simone Missick, Dorian Missick, Michael Beach and Shanola Hampton, after his cousin, Lanie Cooper (Missick), commits suicide, journalist Stewart Cooper (Missick) begins to unravel a web of shaming, lies, and secrets. Following the leads he discovers the involvement of the police, his cousin’s ex and the man she had an affair with – her church pastor, Kenneth Little (Beach). Driven by his own emotional turmoil, he turns the tables on them all to avenge his cousin’s demise. From Indican Pictures … photo for Max Cloud When teen gamer Sarah finds an “easter egg” and accidentally opens a portal into her favorite side-scroller, she becomes trapped in a notorious intergalactic prison, home to the galaxy’s most dangerous villains in “Max Cloud” (2020), starring Scott Adkins, John Hannah, Tommy Flanagan and Lashana Lynch. To escape, she must finish the game with a little help from her not-so-savvy friend on the outside … or remain a 16-bit character forever. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Well Go USA … In “The Cleansing Hour” (2019), starring Ryan Guzman, Kyle Gallner and Alix Angelis, Max and Drew run a popular webcast that streams “live exorcisms” watched by millions around the globe. In reality, the exorcisms are just elaborately staged hoaxes performed by paid actors. But their fortunes take a turn when one of the actors becomes possessed by an actual demon and takes the crew hostage. In front of a rapidly growing audience, the demon subjects the crew to a series of violent challenges, threatening to expose the dark secrets they’ve been hiding from each other unless they come clean and reveal they’re impostors before the show is over. From RLJE Films … In “The Kid Detective” (2020), starring Adam Brody, Sophie Nélisse, Tzi Ma, Wendy Crewson and Sarah Sutherland, a once-celebrated kid detective, now 31, continues to solve the same trivial mysteries between hangovers and bouts of self-pity. Until a naïve client brings him his first adult case — to find out who brutally murdered her boyfriend.On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony … The thriller photo for Wander “Wander” (2020), starring Aaron Eckhart, Katheryn Winnick, Heather Graham and Tommy Lee Jones, follows Arthur Bretnik (Eckhart), a paranoid private investigator with a troubled past. After Bretnik is hired to investigate a suspicious death in the town of Wander, he becomes convinced the case is linked to the same “conspiracy cover up” that caused the death of his daughter. From Paramount … In “Always and Forever” (2020), starring Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Robbie Jones, Wood Harris, Lauren London, Loretta Devine and Joely Fisher, Nicole Taylor, a successful criminal prosecutor with both beauty and brains, has everything going right – until it all goes wrong. When Nicole’s childhood friends begin to die under mysterious circumstances, she becomes convinced their deaths are tied to dark secrets from her past. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJ Entertainment … In photo for Toys of Terror“Spiral” (2019 — Canada), starring Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Ari Cohen, Jennifer Laporte, Ty Wood, Chandra West and Lochlyn Munro, a same-sex couple moves to a small town so they can enjoy a better quality of life as they raise their 16-year-old daughter. But nothing is as it seems in their picturesque neighborhood. And when they see that the folks next door are throwing a very strange party, being the new family in town suddenly feels extremely dangerous. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … In “Toys of Terror” (2020), starring Kyana Teresa, Georgia Waters, Verity Marks, Dayo Ade, Saul Elias and Zoe Fish, just before Christmas young Zoe, her brother Franklin and their family move into a secluded mansion with a dark past. While the adults focus on renovating the place, the bored kids find a toy chest hidden in the attic, and are delighted when the toys inside magically come to life. But bizarre events soon begin to take place – events that threaten the family’s lives. As the special day dawns with gifts piled under the tree, the body count rises and the blood starts to flow. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner.

Foreign Films:

“Spacewalker” (2017 — Russia), starring Konstantin Khabenskiy, Evgeniy Mironov, Aleksandra Ursulyak and Elena Panova takes place in the heat of the Cold War, when the USSR and USA competed for supremacy in outer space. Both superpowers raced to be the first nation to have a man complete a spacewalk. No price was too high and no risk is too great. To set off one of man kind’s most ambitious missions, the USSR paired the unlikely duo of a seasoned war veteran, Pavel Belyayev, and a fearless test-pilot, Alexei Leonov. Without proper testing, and inside a tiny spaceship, the two astronauts launch into the unknown to take on what no man has done before. On DVD, Blu-ray, from MPI Media Group.


Special Interest:

“Welcome to Chechnya” (2020) is a powerful,eye-opening documentary about a group of activists risking their lives to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ persecution in the repressive and closed Russian republic of Chechnya. With unfettered access and a commitment to protecting anonymity, the documentary puts a glaring spotlight on the Russian republic as reports of gay and bisexual men being abducted, tortured, beaten and even killed at the hands of authorities started coming to the forefront. From Music Box Films … photo for Shusenjo: Comfort Women and Japan's War on History “Shusenjo: Comfort Women and Japan’s War on History” (2019 — Japan): One of the most heated issues in Japan and Asia today is over something that occurred 80 years ago: the Japanese Imperial Army’s sexual enslavement of an estimated tens of thousands of Korean women and others in military brothels during World War II. Many nationalist Japanese conservatives, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (with the surprising support of Western media influencers), believe the women were willing prostitutes, not “sex slaves,” and that the estimated number is far smaller than are claimed. But contemporary historians, activists and – most significantly – the surviving victims and their families, believe otherwise; the denial of their suffering so long ago has created an entirely new trauma. Director Miki Dezaki, a second-generation Japanese American who learned about comfort women from his Japanese immigrant parents, questions why accounts in the Western media have often sided with the Nationalists. With a keen eye for detail and precision, he interviews historians, advocates and lawyers who discuss the evidence: historical documents related to the Japanese military’s direct role in managing the brothels, and harrowing testimonies by former comfort women. From First Run Features.

All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.

 Posted by on January 17, 2021 No Responses »
Jan 112021
 

From the Big Screen:

Ammonite

photo for Ammonite In 1840s England, acclaimed but unrecognized fossil hunter Mary Anning (Winslet) works alone on the rugged Southern coastline. With the days of her famed discoveries behind her, she now searches for common fossils to sell to tourists to support herself and her ailing mother. When a wealthy visitor entrusts Mary with the care of his wife Charlotte Murchison (Ronan), she cannot afford to turn his offer down. Proud and relentlessly passionate about her work, Mary initially clashes with her unwelcome guest, but despite the distance between their social class and personalities, an intense bond begins to develop, compelling the two women to determine the true nature of their relationship. Vitals: Director: Francis Lee. Stars: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Jones, James McArdle, Alec Secareanu, Fiona Shaw. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: R, 120 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.160 million, Universal. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, Digital.
Extras: “The Making of Ammonite.”

This Week’s Best Bets

In the rediscovered masterpiece of film noir “Sudden Fear” (1952), directed by David Miller (“Midnight Lace,” “Lonely Are the Brave” and” Executive Action”), Joan Crawford plays a successful playwright who marries a less than stellar actor (Jack Palance) with a troubling secret. She soon discovers that he not only married her for her money but that he plans to murder her with the help of his lover (Gloria Grahame). Nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Actress (Crawford), Best Supporting Actor (Palance) and Best Black & White Cinematography (Charles Lang Jr.), this taut thriller also features a score by Elmer Bernstein that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. From Cohen Film Collection … photo for Minding the Gap “Minding the Gap” (2018) is the extraordinary debut from documentarian Bing Liu that weaves a story of skateboarding, friendship, and fathers and sons into a coming-of-age journey of courageous vulnerability. Over the course of several years and with his camera always at the ready, Liu records the rocky paths into adulthood of Keire and Zack, two friends from his own skateboarding community in Rockford, Illinois. As he does so, deeper parallels gradually emerge that ultimately draw the filmmaker into a heartrending confrontation with his own past. With an eye for images of exhilarating poetry and a keen emotional sensitivity, “Minding the Gap” is a powerfully cathartic portrait of fledgling lives forged in trauma and fighting to break free. On DVD, Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc

“Legacies: The Complete Second Season” (2019-20) contains all All 16 episodes. Last season, the supernatural students at the Salvatore Boarding School for the Young & Gifted and their beloved headmaster, Dr. Alaric Saltzman, came face-to-face with a stunning assortment of monsters and mythological creatures. A dragon. A gargoyle. The Headless Horseman. From Warner Archive … “Manifest: The Complete Second Season” (2020) is a three-disc set with all 13 episodes. In this supernatural drama, a commercial plane inexplicably disappears on a transoceanic flight and, more mysteriously, returns five years after being presumed lost photo for Twilight Zone: Season Two at sea. While only hours have passed for those on the flight, years have gone by for their loved ones at home who have learned to live with their losses. As the passengers and flight crew wrestle with their interrupted lives and relationships, the government continues to investigate the anomaly. From Warner Archive … “Twilight Zone: Season Two” (2020) is a four-disc set with all 10 episodes. This updated version of Rod Sterling’s 1959 classic series consists of tales revolving around science fiction, mystery, and horror. Each episode features its own mind-bending and insane journey into a different dimension filled with endless possibilities. The conscious storytelling consists of a standout cast that includes Oscar nominee Kumail Nanjiani, Seth Rogen, Tracy Morgan, John Cho, Zazie Beatz, and many others. This modern take is hosted by Academy Award and Emmy Award winner Jordan Peele.
From CBS/Paramount.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Beyond Hell” (2020), starring Kearsten Johansson, Gavin R. Downes, Sean Rey and Sebastian Deery, after trying a new version of the drug Changa, Maryssa (Johansson) finds herself transported to a dimension in hell where the demon, Belial (Gavin R. Downes, Still Me), latches onto her. Through Maryssa, Belial claws his way out from the depths of hell by slaughtering her friends, one-by-one. From Indican Pictures … In photo for Jungleland “Jungleland” (2019), starring Charlie Hunnam, Jack O’Connell and Jonathan Majors, Stanley (Hunnam) and Lion (O’Connell) are two brothers struggling to stay relevant in the underground world of bare-knuckle boxing. When Stanley fails to pay back a dangerous crime boss (Majors), they’re forced to deliver an unexpected traveler as they journey across the country for a high stakes fighting tournament. While Stanley trains Lion for the fight of his life, a series of events threaten to tear the brothers apart, but their love for one another and belief in a better life keep them going in this gripping drama that proves family pulls no punches. From Paramount … In “American Dream” (2021), starring Luke Bracey, Michiel Huisman, Nick Stahl and Agnieszka Grochowska, Academy Award-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (“Saving Private Ryan”) directs an intense thriller about the brutal struggle for success. Desperate for cash, entrepreneurs Scott (Bracey) and Nicky (Huisman) turn to Russian mobster Yuri (Stahl). After they refuse the funding he offers, Yuri gets revenge by trying to take over their construction project. The partners are terrified, until Nicky’s tough Russian girlfriend, Ana, decides to take action herself. From Lionsgate … In “Average Joe” (2021), starring Camden Toy, Jason Sedillo, Caitlin Rose Williams, Akasha Villalobos, Taylor James Johnson and Roman Garcia, former superheroes must come out of retirement to fight evil once again. When Lord Menace returns from the dead to terrorize San Antonio, TX, the old superhero gang must reassemble to save the city. Unfortunately, the superheroes have sat comfortably in retirement since their last group adventure and normal day-to-day responsibilities have taken precedent. Now toting families, day jobs and excess weight gain, they have to learn how to come together and fight otherworldly evil again. From Indican Pictures … photo for Spell In “Spell” (2020), starring Omari Hardwick and Loretta Devine, while flying to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise’s (Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to outwit and break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon. On DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, from Paramount … In “Lena & Snowball” (2021), starring Robert Knepper, Wade Williams and Melissa Collazo, Lena, bullied at school and lonely at home, keeps hoping she’ll have a true friend someday. One afternoon, her dreams come true — in the shape of a cuddly white lion cub! Lena tries to keep playful Snowball out of trouble, but the clumsy poachers who kidnapped the valuable cub, and the cruel trophy collector who paid for him, are desperate to get him back. As Lena races to rescue poor Snowball, her new friend Jake will do anything to help. From Lionsgate.

Foreign Films:

One of the greatest achievements in recent art-house cinema and a seminal work of “slow cinema,” director Béla Tarr’s “Sátántangó” (1994 — Hungary), based on the novel by László Krasznahorkai, follows the members of a humble agricultural community living in a bleak and punishing backwater after the fall of Communism. As a few of the villagers secretly conspire to take off with all of the community’s annual earnings for themselves, a mysterious messiah, long thought dead, returns to the village and alters the course of everyone’s lives forever. Shot in stunning black-and-white by Gábor Medvigy and filled with exquisitely composed long takes, “Sátántangó” unfolds in 12 distinct movements, alternating forwards and backward in time, echoing the structure of tango dance. Tarr’s vision, aided by long-time partner and collaborator Ágnes Hranitzky, is enthralling and his portrayal of rural Hungary beset by drunken revelry, treachery, and near-perpetual rainfall is both transfixing and uncompromising. 4K restoration from the original negative and sound materials. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from CAV Distributing.

For the Family:

“Lupin III: The First” (2019) introduces the beloved characters in CG animation for the first time. The iconic “gentleman thief” returns in an action-packed, continent-spanning photo for Lupin III: The First caper, as Lupin III and his colorful underworld companions race to uncover the secrets of the mysterious Bresson Diary before it falls into the hands of a dark cabal that will stop at nothing to resurrect the Third Reich. The gang undertakes trap-filled tombs, aerial escapades and daring prison escapes with the trademark wit and visual finesse that have made “Lupin the 3rd” one of the most storied animation franchises in the world. This release will be presented in both the original Japanese version and a new English dubbed version. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, Steelbook Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from GKIDS/Shout Factory.

All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.

 Posted by on January 11, 2021 No Responses »
Nov 162020
 

From the Big Screen:

“The New Mutants” is another action film based on the Marvel comic series: Five young people who demonstrate special powers are brought to a secret institution to undergo treatments they are told will cure them of the dangers of their powers. Included are Danielle photo for The New MutantsMoonstar aka Mirage, who creates illusions from other people’s fears; Rahne Sinclair, who transforms into the werewolf Wolfsbane; Sam Guthrie, who, as Cannonball, can fly at jet speeds protected by a force field; Roberto da Costa aka Sunspot, who absorbs and channels solar power; and Illyana Rasputin aka Magik. The younger sister of Colossus, Magik becomes encased in armor at will and wields a soulsword that amplifies her multiple superhuman and psychic abilities. Invited by Dr. Cecilia Reyes to share their stories about when their powers first manifested, the five “patients” come to understand that they are in a class of people called mutants, who have historically been marginalized and feared. As they relive their origin stories, their memories seem to turn into terrifying realities. Vitals: Director: Josh Boone. Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Alice Braga, Charlie Heaton, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga, Happy Anderson, Mickey Gilmore, Thomas Kee. 2019, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 94 min.,Action, Box office gross: $23.736 million, Fox. Extras: “Origins & Influences,” “Meet the New Mutants,” deleted scenes, director Josh Boone chats with Marvel Comics artist Bill Sienkiewicz. 2 stars

“Unhinged” is a psychological thriller that explores something we’ve all experienced — road rage — to an unpredictable and terrifying conclusion. Rachel (Pistorius) is running late to work when she has an altercation at a traffic light with a stranger (Crowe) whose life has left him feeling powerless and invisible. Soon, Rachel finds herself, and everyone she loves, photo for Unhingedthe target of a man who decides to make one last mark upon the world by teaching her a series of deadly lessons. What follows is a dangerous game of cat and mouse that proves you never know just how close you are to someone who is about to become unhinged. Vitals: Director: Derrick Borte. Stars: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Jimmi Simpson, Gabriel Bateman. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: R, 90 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $20.794 million, Lionsgate. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, VOD, Digital.
Extras: Audio commentary with director Derrick Borte, cinematographer Brendan Galvin, production designer Fredrick Waff, and costume designer Denise Wingate; “This Side of Rage” featurette. 2 stars

This Week’s Best Bets

In “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” (1999), Jim Jarmusch combines his love for the ice-cool crime dramas of Jean-Pierre Melville and Seijun Suzuki with the philosophical dimensions of samurai mythology for an eccentrically postmodern take on the hit-man thriller. In one of his defining roles, Forest Whitaker brings a commanding serenity to his portrayal photo for Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai of a Zen contract killer working for a bumbling mob outfit, a modern man who adheres steadfastly to the ideals of the Japanese warrior code even as chaos and violence spiral around him. Featuring moody cinematography by the great Robby Müller, a mesmerizing score by the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, and a host of colorful character actors (including a memorably stone-faced Henry Silva), “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” plays like a pop-culture-sampling cinematic mixtape built around a one-of-a-kind tragic hero. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Jim Jarmusch, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … In 1968, visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull (“The Andromeda Strain,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”) contributed to the ground-breaking special photographic effects of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Four years later, he stamped his own indelible mark on the science fiction genre with his mesmerizing directorial debut – photo for “Silent Running” (1972). In the not-so-distant future, Earth is barren of all flora and fauna, with what remains of the planet’s former ecosystems preserved aboard a fleet of greenhouses orbiting in space. When the crews are ordered to destroy the remaining specimens, one botanist, Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern), rebels and flees towards Saturn in a desperate bid to preserve his own little piece of Earth that was, accompanied only by the ship’s three service robots. Featuring a captivating central performance by Dern, visual effects that rival anything in 2001 and a powerful ecological message, “Silent Running” is a haunting and prescient sci-fi classic that resonates even more strongly today than it did at the time of its original release. Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative, approved by director Douglas Trumbull and produced by Arrow Video exclusively for this release. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … photo for Moonstruck A full moon, a New York City night, and love and music in the air … “Moonstruck” (1987), one of the most enchanting romantic comedies of all time, assembles a flawless ensemble cast for a tender and boisterously funny look at a multigenerational Italian American family in Brooklyn, wrestling with the complexities of love and marriage at every stage of life. At the center of it all is a radiant Cher as Loretta, an unlucky-in-love bookkeeper whose feelings about her engagement to the staid Johnny (Danny Aiello) are thrown into question after she meets his hot-blooded brother, Ronny (Nicolas Cage), and one night at the opera changes everything. Winner of the Academy Awards for best actress (Cher), supporting actress (Olympia Dukakis), and original screenplay (by playwright John Patrick Shanley), this modern-day fairy tale is swept along on passionate Puccini melodies, and directed by master storyteller Norman Jewison with the heightened emotion to match. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

“Blindspot: The Fifth And Final Season” (2020) is a three-disc set with all 11 episodes. In the emotional, action-packed fifth and final season, Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton), Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander), Edgar Reade (Rob Brown), Tasha Zapata (Audrey Esparza), Patterson (Ashley Johnson ) and Rich DotCom (Ennis Esmer) attempt to carry out a mission with the highest stakes yet. The season begins in the aftermath of the explosion that left Jane watching as a drone targeted the team’s safe house. Now on the run and without the extensive resources of the FBI, Jane and the survivors race against the clock to clear their names in the wake of Madeline Burke’s (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) rise to power. From Warner Archive … photo for Mission: Impossible: The Original TV Series “Mission: Impossible: The Original TV Series “ (1966-73) is a 46-six-disc set with all 171 episodes about the elite covert operations unit that carries out highly sensitive missions subject to official denial in the event of failure, death or capture. “As always, should you or any of your IM force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck, Jim. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.” Stars Peter Graves, Barbara Bain, Martin Landau, Greg Morris, Peter Lupus, Leonard Nimoy, Lynda Day George, Steven Hill, Lesley Ann Warren. On Blu-ray, from CBS/Paramount … “The Nest” (2020) is a two-disc set with five episodes. Martin Compston and Sophie Rundle star in this suspenseful five-episode Acorn TV Original Scottish miniseries as a wealthy couple who would do anything to have a baby. When Emily (Rundle) accidentally hits Kaya (Mirren Mack), a down-on-her-luck 18-year-old, with her car, the two make an instant connection. After learning about her desperate situation, Kaya offers to carry Emily’s last embryo as a surrogate. Although Emily’s husband, successful businessman Dan (Compston), warns about the legal and moral implications of such an agreement, the women are adamant. But as buried secrets emerge about Kaya’s past, Dan and Emily start to wonder if they’re the ones being used. From Acorn Media photo for The Nest “The New Pope: The Complete Series” (2019) is a three-disc set. The follow-up to 2017’s “The Young Pope,” this series dives into the inner workings of the Vatican, while exploring the very human desires, vices and fragilities of those in power and the complexities inherent in faith today. The series picks up where “The Young Pope” left off, with Lenny Belardo (Jude Law), known as Pope Pius XIII, in a coma. Following an unpredictable and mysterious turn of events, Secretary of State Voiello (Silvio Orlando) succeeds in having Sir John Brannox (John Malkovich), a charming and sophisticated moderate English aristocrat, placed on the papal throne, adopting the name John Paul III. The new pope seems ideal, but he conceals secrets and has a certain fragility, and Voiello immediately understands that it will not be easy to replace the charismatic Pius XIII. Hanging between life and death, Lenny Belardo has become a Saint, with thousands now idolizing him, fueling the contrast between fundamentalisms. Meanwhile, the Church is under attack from external threats and scandals striking the symbols of Christianity and risking irreversibly devastating the hierarchies. From Warner Archive … “Westworld Season Three: The New World” (2020) is a three-disc set with all eight episodes. Following the aftermath of last season’s Westworld massacre, “hosts” Dolores, Maeve, Bernard and Charlotte Hale begin a new chapter – outside of the park – exploring the “real world” and who they will become in the wake of their liberation. Over the course of eight hour-long episodes, Season Three finds Dolores prepared to wage war on humanity and Bernard trying desperately to stop her, while Maeve reunites with familiar faces in a new realm – and all discover that the world outside is as full of deception and predetermination as the one they’ve always known. On DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo, from HBO/Warner.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

What if you saved a souvenir from every relationship you’ve ever been in? Lucy, a 20-something art gallery assistant living in New York City, also happens to be an emotional hoarder. After she gets dumped by her latest boyfriend, Lucy is inspired to create “The Broken Hearts Gallery” (2020), a pop-up space for the items love has left behind. Word of the gallery spreads, encouraging a movement and a fresh start for all the romantics out there, including Lucy herself. Stars Geraldine Viswanathan,, Dacre Montgomery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Molly Gordon, Phillipa Soo and Berrnadette Peters. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony … photo for Words on Bathroom Walls In “Words on Bathroom Walls” (2020), starring Charlie Plummer, Andy Garcia, Taylor Russell, AnnaSophia Robb, Beth Grant, Molly Parker and Walton Goggins, Adam (Plummer) is a witty, introspective teen pursuing his dream of becoming a chef. When Adam is diagnosed with a mental illness, he lives in fear of being exposed — until he meets Maya (Russell), an outspoken and fiercely intelligent girl who inspires him to open his heart and not be defined by his condition. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In “Death of Me” (2020), starring Maggie Q, Alex Essoe and Luke Hemsworth, while vacationing on an island off the coast of Thailand, Christine (Maggie Q) and Neil Oliver (Hemsworth) awake hungover and with no memory of the previous night. They find footage on Neil’s camera, and watch, horrified, as Neil appears to murder Christine. With 24 hours until the next ferry and a typhoon threatening the island, Christine and Neil attempt to reconstruct the night’s events — and are snared in a web of mystery, black magic, and murder. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In “Relic” (2020), starring Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin and Bella Heathcote, when elderly mother Edna inexplicably vanishes, her daughter Kay and granddaughter Sam rush to the family’s decaying country home, finding clues of her increasing dementia scattered around the house in her absence. After Edna returns just as mysteriously as she disappeared, Kay’s concern that her mother seems unwilling or unable to say where she’s been clashes with Sam’s unabashed enthusiasm to have her grandma back. As Edna’s behavior turns increasingly volatile, both begin to sense that an insidious presence in the house might be taking control of her. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC Midnight/Scream Factory … photo for Summerland In “Summerland” (2020), starring Gemma Arterton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Tom Courtenay, Alice is a reclusive writer, resigned to a solitary life on the seaside cliffs of Southern England while World War II rages across the channel. When she opens her front door one day to find she’s to adopt a young London evacuee named Frank, she’s resistant. It’s not long, however, before the two realize they have more in common in their pasts than Alice had assumed. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC/MPI … In “Then Came You” (2020), starring Craig Ferguson, Kathie Lee Gifford, Ford Kiernan, Phyllida Law and Elizabeth Hurley, suddenly widowed, Annabelle Wilson (Gifford) makes a sudden decision to sell her home and travel the world. On her first stop, she meets Lord Howard Awd (Ferguson), the weathered inn-owner of the castle she’s residing in for the week. As time progresses, Annabelle and Howard find themselves drawn to one another, becoming closer as they share secrets they’ve never told anyone else. There’s only one issue in what seems to be a match made in heaven: Howard is getting married at the end of the week. From Lionsgate … In “Monstrum” (2018 — South Korea), starring Myung-Min Kim, In-kwon Kim and Hyeri Lee, it’s the 22nd year of Jung Jong and a plague has taken over Joseon, and fear runs rampant in the streets. When rumors of a vicious beast roaming Mount Inwangsan – called “Monstrum” by the terrified masses – begin to spread, fear turns into panic. In order to quell the rising panic, Jung Jong brings back his most trusted general Yoon Gyum from retirement. Joined by his daughter Myung, his right-hand man Sung Han, and royal court officer Heo Yoon, Gyum sets out to find the mysterious creature. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … photo for We Are Little Zombies In “We Are Little Zombies” (2019 — Japan), starring Keita Ninomiya, Mondo Okumura and Satoshi Mizuno, a bond is formed when four orphans meet at a crematorium where their parents are being turned to ash and the respective funerals are being held. They are like zombies; devoid of all emotion. With no family, no future, no dreams, and no way to move forward, the young teens decide that the first level of this new existence involves salvaging a gaming console, an old electric bass, and a charred wok from their former homes — just enough to start a band — and then conquer the world. Tragedy, comedy, music, social criticism, and teenage angst are all subsumed in this eccentric cinematic tsunami. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Oscilloscope Laboratories … By the year “2067” (2020), starring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ryan Kwanten, Earth has been ravaged by climate change and humanity is forced to live on artificial oxygen. An illness caused by the synthetic O2 is killing the worlds’ population and the only hope for a cure comes in the form of a message from the future: “Send Ethan Whyte.” Ethan, an underground tunnel worker, is suddenly thrust into a terrifying new world full of unknown danger as he must fight to save the human race. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … “Bang! Bang!” (2020), starring Jordan Knapp, Nicole Fahel, Lucas Mogerley and Antonia Morais, is an extreme interpretation of the phrase “actions have consequences” that follows five lawless teenagers as they execute an armed robbery. Outfitted with guns and masked by hoodies and full-face hockey masks, the group sets in motion a life or death struggle. The film is a story of conflict fueled by alcohol and adolescent naivety that ultimately crumbles friendships, destroys trust and leads to irrevocable mayhem. When one victim survives what should have been a fatal gunshot, the group is divided by one question: whose humanity remains? From Indican Pictures.

Foreign Films:

“The Chronicles of Melanie” (2016 — Latvia) is based on the memoirs of Melanija Vanaga, the film is a terrifying account of the mass deportation of residents of Soviet-occupied Latvia that occurred in June of 1941 as Stalin tightened his grip on power. Melanie, photo for The Chronicles of Melanieone of over 17,000 people deported to Siberia under suspicion of “collaborating with the enemy,” is separated from her husband Aleksandrs shortly after Soviet troops barge into her home at gunpoint and force her, Aleksandrs and their son Andrejs into a lorry to be transported to awaiting cattle cars. The journey to Siberia lasts three weeks, during which a diet of scraps of bread, dirty water and no bathrooms are just the beginning of a long and brutal exile. Out of her detailed notes that later became the literary work of her 16 years spent in Siberia, Melanija Vanaga prepared a book of documentary prose that was published in 1991, soon after Latvia regained independence. Latvia’s entry for the 90th Academy Awards. From Corinth Films.

Special Interest:

photo for Nomad: In The Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin In “Nomad: In The Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin” (2020), filmmaker Werner Herzog traveled the world to craft a deeply personal chronicle of his decades-long friendship with the late English travel writer and novelist Bruce Chatwin, a kindred spirit whose quest for ecstatic truth carried him to all corners of the globe. “[Bruce] Chatwin was a writer like no other. He would craft mythical tales into voyages of the mind. In this respect, we found out we were kindred spirits: he as a writer, I as a filmmaker,” says Herzog of his dear friend, who died in 1989. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Music Box Films.

All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.

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