Happy Thanksgiving to all our OnVideo friends.
From the Big Screen:
"American Ultra," "Ricki and the Flash" and "Shaun the Sheep Movie." For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week's Highlights:
This week's highlight is definitely The Criterion Collection's release of D. A. Pennebaker's seminal "Don't Look Back" (1967), which captured Bob Dylan on-screen as he never would be again. The legendary documentarian finds Dylan in London during his 1965 tour, which would be his last as an acoustic artist and marked a turning point in his career. The director is given unprecedented access to Dylan's life here, something that the musician would allow again for almost another four decades. Like an unscripted version of "A Hard Day's Night," the film, prodded along by Pennebaker's camera, pries into Dylan's life backstage and on-stage, in cabs, lobbies and hotel rooms, surrounded by teen fans, in a heated philosophical argument with a journalists, kicking back with Joan Baez, Donovan and Alan Price — and shows you a man whose star has risen high above the world of folk (and soon, rock) music … and a man who is full of contradictions — petulant, argumentative, bashful, sympathetic, nasty. From the opening cue card credits set to "Subterranean Homesick Blues," through performances of Dylan's most famous songs, including "Subterranean Homesick Blues," "The Times They Are A-Changin'," and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," "Don't Look Back" set the standard for almost every cinema verite rock and roll documentary since. A must study of the man and the zeitgeist. On DVD and Blu-ray, in a new, restored 4K digital transfer, approved by Pennebaker, with newly restored monaural sound from the original quarter-inch magnetic masters, presented uncompressed on the Blu-ray. Some of the extras have been ported over from the 2007 Docurama edition of "Don't Look Back (1965 Tour Deluxe Edition)," which also included a 168-page companion book with a complete transcription of the film, over 200 photos, and a new forward by D.A. Pennebaker, as well as a collectible "Subterranean Homesick Blues" flipbook" but which, alas, is out of print and commanding premium prices online: Audio commentary from 1999 featuring Pennebaker and tour manager Bob Neuwirth; "65 Revisited," a 2006 documentary directed by Pennebaker and edited by Walker Lamond; alternate version of the film's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" cue card sequence; five uncut audio tracks of Dylan songs from the film. New here is an audio excerpt from an interview with Bob Dylan in the 2005 documentary "No Direction Home," cut to previously unseen outtakes from "Dont Look Back"; a new documentary about the evolution of Pennebaker's filming style, from his 1950s avant-garde work to his 60s musical documentaries, including an excerpt from the filmmaker's footage of Dylan performing "Ballad of a Thin Man" during his 1966 electric tour; "Daybreak Express" (1953), "Baby" (1954), and "Lambert & Co." (1964), three short films by Pennebaker; a new conversation between Pennebaker and Neuwirth about their work together, from "Dont Look Back" through "Monterey Pop" (1967) and beyond; "Snapshots From the Tour," a new piece featuring outtakes from "Dont Look Back"; a new interview with musician Patti Smith about Dylan and the influence of "Dont Look Back" in her life; a conversation between music critic Greil Marcus and Pennebaker from 2010; and an essay by critic and poet Robert Polito.
Also due this week: One of the greatest achievements by Akira Kurosawa, "Ikiru" (1952) presents the director at his most compassionate — affirming life through an exploration of death. Takashi Shimura ("Rashomon") beautifully portrays Kanji Watanabe, an aging bureaucrat with stomach cancer who is impelled to find meaning in his final days. Presented in a radically conceived two-part structure and shot with a perceptive, humanistic clarity of vision, "Ikiru" is a multifaceted look at what it means to be alive. In a new 4K digital restoration on DVD, Blu-ray Disc from The Criterion Collection … "Wake Up and Kill: The Story of Luciano" (1966) is the story of Luciano Lutring who, during the 1960s, committed more than one hundred armed robberies in Italy and on the French Riviera. To the media he was the "machine gun soloist," a name he'd earned as he kept his weapon in a violin case. To the public he was a Robin Hood figure, one who only targeted the wealthy, stealing more than 35 billion lire during his criminal career. Director Carlo Lizzani ("Requiescant") tackled the story mere months after Luciano's arrest, with a score by Ennio Morricone and screenplay by Ugo Pirro ("Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion"). In a new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative, from Arrow Video/MVD … and "Voo Doo Man" (1944), starring Bela Lugosi, John Carradine and Ellen Hall, a 40s horror classic about a mad scientist (Lugosi) intent on bringing his late wife Evelyn (Hall) back from the dead using voodoo magic to transfer the life essences from several hapless young girls he has kidnapped and imprisoned in the dungeon beneath his mansion. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Olive Films.
From TV to DVD:
"Inside Amy Schumer: Season 3" (2015) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes, $22.98. Amy's making it a threesome — of seasons, that is — as her smash hit series returns for a third round of the kind of taboo-smashing, Internet-breaking, wildly original comedy that can only be found "Inside Amy Schumer." It features scripted vignettes, stand-up comedy, and man-on-the-street interviews; Schumer explores topics revolving around sex, relationships, and whether or not it's the year of the ass. From Paramount … "Shaun the Sheep Season 1" (2010) follows the adventures of Shaun and the flock down on Mossy Bottom Farm. The two-disc set includes 40 episodes loaded with mischief and mayhem from the Oscar-winning studio behind "Wallace & Gromit." $14.98 from Lionsgate.