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"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Feb 202017
 

From the Big Screen:

"Manchester by the Sea," "Nocturnal Animals," "Hacksaw Ridge" and "Bad Santa 2." For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week's Best Bets:

Women come to the fore in this week's pair of offerings from The Criterion Collection:

Melodrama casts noirish shadows in "Mildred Pierce" (1945), a portrait of maternal sacrifice from the Hollywood master Michael Curtiz. Its iconic performance by Joan Crawford as Mildred, a single mother hell-bent on freeing her children from the stigma of economic hardship, solidified Crawford's career comeback and gave the actor her only Oscar. But as Mildred pulls herself up by the bootstraps, first as an unflappable waitress and eventually as the well-heeled owner of a successful restaurant chain, the ingratitude of her materialistic firstborn (a diabolical Ann Blyth) becomes a venomous serpent's tooth, setting in motion an endless cycle of desperate overtures and photo for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown heartless recriminations. Recasting James M. Cain's rich psychological novel as a murder mystery, this bitter cocktail of blind parental love and all-American ambition is both unremittingly hard-boiled and sumptuously emotional. On DVD and Blu-ray, in a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray … Pedro Almodóvar makes telephones, a mambo taxi, and a burning mattress into delirious plot points and indelible images in his international breakthrough, "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" (1988). Melding melodrama with screwball farce, this Academy Award–nominated black comedy secured the auteur's place at the vanguard of modern Spanish cinema. Continuing Almodóvar's exploration of the female psyche, the film tells the story of Pepa, an actor — played by the director's frequent collaborator Carmen Maura — who resolves to kill herself with a batch of sleeping-pill-laced gazpacho after her lover leaves her. Fortunately, she is interrupted by a string of visitors, setting in motion a deliciously chaotic series of events. The filmmaker channeled inspiration by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Douglas Sirk into his own unique vision, arriving at the irreverent sense of humor and vibrant visual sense that define his work today. With a sensational ensemble cast of early Almodóvar regulars that also includes Antonio Banderas and Rossy de Palma, this film shows an artist in total control of his craft. On DVD and Blu-ray, in a new high-definition digital restoration, supervised by director Pedro Almodóvar and producer Agustín Almodóvar, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray.

From TV to DVD:

"Grace and Frankie: Season 2" (2016) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes. After learning their ex-husbands plan to marry one another, lifelong rivals Grace and Frankie have bonded in an uneasy friendship. The second season of this acclaimed comedy series photo for Grace and Frankie: Season 2 has Grace and Frankie tackling the challenges of family and relationships — while driving each other crazy on a regular basis. Stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen. From Lionsgate … "The Level" (2016) is a two-disc set with all six episodes of the Acorn TV Original detective thriller series. Detective Sergeant Nancy Devlin is a good cop with a dark secret: she’s loyal to drug trafficker Frank Le Saux, who is like a father to her. But when their clandestine meeting turns violent, leaving Frank dead and Nancy with a bullet wound, Nancy fears her double life may soon be exposed. Assigned to Brighton to investigate the crime, Nancy must track down Frank’s killer while concealing her role — and her injury — from her enigmatic new partner, DS Gunner Martin, and her old friend, DS Kevin O’Dowd. Can Nancy stay one step ahead of her colleagues — and the real killer? On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Acorn Media.

Buzzin' the 'B's:

"Psychomania (aka The Death Wheelers)" (1973) is a tale of zombie bikers who run amok in southern England. The Living Dead are a delinquent biker gang, fond of causing havoc on British roadways and making out in graveyards. Gang leader Tom (Nicky Henson) photo for Psychomania (aka The Death Wheelers) also has a Satanist for a mother, and when he discovers the secret of immortality, the name of his motley crew takes on a more literal meaning. Directed by Hammer veteran Don Sharp ("The Kiss of the Vampire") and co-starring Beryl Reid ("Dr. Phibes Rises Again") and George Sanders ("Village of the Damned"), "Psychomania" is a wonderfully offbeat gem, outlandish and eccentric in equal measure. 2K restoration from … "Joe Bullet" (1973 – South Africa) is an all-African cast “Blaxploitation” film originally banned by the apartheid government. A local soccer team, the Eagles, is just a week from the championship final when it falls prey to the deadly demands of a mysterious gangster. Desperate, the team implores the one man who can help them fight this underworld corruption, the James Bond-esque Joe Bullet (Ken Gampu). To help the Eagles, Bullet goes up against everything from hired assassins to exploding booby traps. Fully restored from the original 35mm assets. From The Film Detective … photo for Fatal Instinct In "Fatal Instinct" (2014), starring Ivan Sergei, Masiela Lusha and Dominique Swain, a police detective follows a trail of evidence in search of a serial killer in Los Angeles that eventually seems to lead to his trusted partner's ex-con brother — who he helped put in prison years ago. From Monarch … In "Heaven Sent" (2016), starring Christian Kane, Marley Shelton, Mallory James Mahoney and Ernie Hudson, a young couple, on the eve of their painful divorce, receive a surprising houseguest — an 8-year-old runaway from Heaven. Cleverly guided by Divine intervention, she helps them rediscover their hope and faith in the power of love. Lifetime network faith-based family film. From Lionsgate … When an American woman takes an impromptu journey to Mumbai to get away from her overbearing mother, she befriends an Indian woman striving to balance her family's culture with modern-day demands in "Tie the Knot" (2016), starring Parvesh Cheena, Tara Reid, Karishma Ahluwalia and Omi Vaidya. From Monarch.

On the Indie Front:

"The King of New Orleans" (2017), starring David Jensen and Richard Brien, is a slice-of-life drama following one genial cabbie's experiences in one of the world's most colorful cities. Larry Shirt (Jensen) is a United Cab driver whose passengers are the city's hustlers, tourists, socialites, musicians, housekeepers, weirdos and reporters. photo for The Great & the SmallBobby Cohn (Brien), a Harvard student home from school and in the middle of a personal crisis, is one of those passengers. The circumstances that bring them together lead to a bond that is ultimately turned upside down by Hurricane Katrina, but instilled by the love of the city that they both call home. From Candy Factory Films … In "Fare" (2017), a ride-share driver finds himself transporting the man who is secretly sleeping with his wife. The movie was shot entirely inside a moving car, in just three days. Written by, directed and starring Thomas Torrey. From Random Media … In "The Great & the Small" (2016), starring Nick Fink, Ritchie Coster, Melanie Lynskey, Louisa Krause and Ann Dowd, 26-year-old Scott is living on the streets and trying to find his way back into society while on probation for petty crimes. He attempts to navigate his relationship with his two-bit criminal of a boss and an enigmatic detective, while at the same time winning back the heart of his ex-girlfriend, a working single mom. From Breaking Glass Pictures.

Foreign Films:

"3 Classic Films by Claude Chabrol" is the Blu-ray debut of a collection of films by Chabrol, one of the most prolific and widely respected of French film directors. As one of the prime instigators of the French New Wave, Chabrol directed lean narrative films whose keenly observed realism typically drew inspiration from the suspense film and psychological thriller. The films: "Betty" (1992), "Torment (L'enfer)" (1994) and "The Swindle" (1997). From Cohen Film Collection.

Special Interest:

"Blood on the Mountain" (2016) is a shocking in-depth investigation of the coal mining industry that showcases the haunting and long term devastating impacts of coal mining on people and the planet. Shedding light on the economic and environmental injustices that have resulted from industrial control in West Virginia, the documentary examines the harsh conditions of the coal industry and the haunting effects on the photo for Blood on the Mountain American workers. Over the course of many years, the coal industry has transformed and impacted the development of coal. The need and appetite for coal and labor has placed a massive burden on many people including the workers and the land of Appalachia. The film delivers a striking portrait of a fractured population, exploited and besieged by corporate interests, and abandoned by the powers elected to represent them. This documentary details the struggles of a hard-working, misunderstood people, who have historically faced limited choices and have never benefited fairly from the rich, natural resources of their land. From Virgil Films … After traveling the world alongside migrating birds ("Winged Migration") and diving the oceans with whales and manta rays ("Oceans"), filmmaker Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud return to more familiar ground in "Seasons" (2016): the lush green forests and megafauna that emerged across Europe following the last Ice Age. Following a winter that had gone on for 80,000 years, the ice retreated, the landscape metamorphosed, a cycle of seasons was established, and the beasts occupied their new kingdom. It was only later that man arrived to share this habitat, first tentatively as migratory hunter/gatherers, then as settled agriculturalists, and later via industry and warfare. Filled with exceptional footage of a variety of animals in the wild, "Seasons" offers an awe-inspiring and thought-provoking tale of the long and tumultuous shared history that inextricably binds humankind with the natural world. From Music Box Films.

 Posted by on February 20, 2017 No Responses »
Feb 132017
 

From the Big Screen:

"Arrival" and "The Edge of Seventeen." For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week's Best Bet:

A painterly and sensual immersion in late 19th-century Italian farm life, "The Tree of Wooden Clogs" (1978) by Ermanno Olmi lovingly focuses on four families working photo for The Tree of Wooden Clogs for one landowner on an isolated estate in the province of Bergamo, Italy. Filming on an abandoned farm for four months, Olmi adapted neorealist techniques to tell his story, enlisting local people to live as their own ancestors had, speaking in their native dialect on locations with which they were intimately familiar. Through the cycle of seasons, of backbreaking labor, love and marriage, birth and death, faith and superstition, Olmi naturalistically evokes an existence very close to nature, one that celebrates its beauty, humor, and simplicity but also acknowledges the feudal cruelty that governs it. Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1978, "The Tree of Wooden Clogs" is intimate in scale but epic in scope — a towering, heart-stirring work of humanist filmmaking. On DVD and Blu-ray, in a new 4K restoration, created in collaboration with The Film Foundation at L'Immagine Ritrovata and supervised by director Ermanno Olmi, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

From TV to DVD:

"Beavis and Butt-Head: The Complete Collection" (1993-2011) is a 12-DVD set that includes all four volumes of the television series, plus the special collector’s edition of the movie "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America." From Paramount … "Deep Water" (2016 — Australia) is a two-disc set with four episodes of the thrilling four-part Australian drama inspired by true events. Noah Taylor ("Game of Thrones") and Yael Stone ("Orange is the New Black") star as detectives assigned a brutal murder case in Bondi, photo for Deep Water where they begin to discover mounting evidence to suggest the killing is connected to a spate of unexplained deaths, “suicides,” and disappearances of gay men throughout the 80s and 90s. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Acorn Media … "Mercy Street Season 2" (2017) is a two-disc set with six episodes of the much-acclaimed Civil War-era drama set in the occupied city of Alexandria, Virginia. Allegiances blur, loyalties shift and the drama intensifies as the scope of the war pushes beyond Mansion House, the former hotel commandeered by Northern troops to serve as a Union hospital. The series follows the doctors, nurses and soldiers, as well as free, enslaved and contraband African Americans and other residents of the war-torn city, as they navigate the new world emerging from the most cataclysmic event in our country’s history. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from PBS Distribution … "Quarry: The Complete First Season" (2016) is a three-disc set with all eight episodes. Set in and around Memphis during the early 1970s, the action drama centers on the character of Mac Conway, a Marine who returns home from a second tour of duty in Vietnam. With his relationship with his wife Joni growing tenuous, Mac finds himself tempted by a lucrative offer from The Broker, a shady criminal involved in a network of killing and corruption that spans the length of the Mississippi River. After a series of events, Mac — whom The Broker codenames "Quarry" — finds himself conscripted against his better judgment into The Broker's crew, a turn of events that has dire consequences for both himself and Joni. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from HBO.

Buzzin' the 'B's:

In "Priceless" (2016), James (Joel Smallbone), desperate and at a crossroads, agrees to drive a box truck on a shady, one-time trip cross country for cash — no questions asked. But when he discovers what he is delivering is actually a who, James is compelled to help two frightened sisters who are unaware of the danger that awaits them in this tale of love, strength, and redemption. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Universal photo for Priceless … Based on the widely-acclaimed, bestselling novel, "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" (2016) is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing Iraq battle and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour. Through flashbacks, culminating at the spectacular halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game, the film reveals what really happened to the squad – contrasting the realities of the war with America's perceptions. Directed by Ang Lee and starring Joe Alwyn, Garrett Hedlund, Arturo Castro, Mason Lee, Astro. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Sony … "Bleed for This" (2016). starring Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal, Ciarán Hinds and Ted Levine, is the incredible true story of one of the most inspiring photo for Bleed for This and unlikely comebacks in sports history. Miles Teller stars as Vinny "The Pazmanian Devil" Pazienza, a local boxer from Rhode Island who shot to stardom after winning two world title fights. After a near-fatal car accident leaves Vinny with a severed spine, he is told he may never walk again. Against doctor's orders, renowned trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) agrees to help Vinny return to the ring in just a year after the accident for what could be the last fight of his life. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Universal … In "The Crooked Man" (2016), Olivia, as a young girl, recited a haunting rhyme at a slumber party, which summoned the demonic figure known as the Crooked Man. Years later, she must team up with a reclusive mastermind to defeat the demon before they die by his hands. Stars starring Angelique Rivera, Michael Jai White and Dina Meyer. From Lionsgate.

On the Indie Front:

In "Five Nights in Maine" (2016), Sherwin (David Oyelowo), while grieving over the tragic death of his beloved wife, travels from Atlanta to Maine in order to meet his abrasive, estranged mother-in-law Lucinda (Dianne Wiest). Sherwin's late wife (Hani Furstenberg) had a rocky relationship with her terminally-ill mother, and Lucinda and photo for Five Nights in Maine Sherwin attempt to connect and mend their broken hearts. Also tars Rosie Perez, Teyonah Parris, Hani Furstenberg and Bill Raymond. From Filmrise … In "London Town" (2016), starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Daniel Huttlestone, Nell Williams, Natascha McElhone and Dougray Scott, when 15-year-old Shay (Huttlestone) hears the music of the Clash for the first time, it's a revelation, opening up a new world of social consciousness and anti-establishment defiance beyond anything he's known in his dead-end London suburb. After his father is injured in a work accident, Shay takes over driving his cab and one fateful night, picks up none other than Joe Strummer (Rhys Meyers), the lead singer of the Clash. Drawn into the heart of the city's burgeoning punk scene, Shay forges two relationships that will change his life, falling in love photo for The Babymoonwith rebellious cool girl Vivian (Nell Williams) and finding and unexpected connection with the Clash's electrifying frontman. Soundtrack features the Clash, the Ramones, Buzzcocks, the Stranglers, Toots and the Maytals, Willi Williams and Stiff Little Fingers. From IFC Films … A "babymoon" is the cultural phenomenon of expecting parents taking elaborate vacations in the few precious weeks prior to the birth of their first child. "The Babymoon" (2017), starring Julie McNiven, Shaun Sipos, Jessica Camacho and Michael Steger, is the story of one couple’s picture-perfect tropical getaway that takes a hilarious turn when the couple accidentally chooses a country that is undergoing a political revolution — and get caught in the middle. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Gravitas Ventures.

Foreign Films:

"The Bride (La Novia)" (2015 — Spain) is director Paula Ortiz’s adaptation of Fedrico Garcia Lorca’s "Blood Wedding," which is among the 20th century’s most famous and revered Spanish plays. Nominated for 12 Goya Awards (Spain’s Academy Award) including Best Picture, the story follows a bride involved in a conflicted love triangle full of deception and forbidden passion, which ultimately gives rise to tragic repercussions. From Strand Releasing … In "Tharlo" (2015 — Tibet), Tibetan shepherd Tharlo travels from rural Tibet to a town in Qinghai province to obtain an ID card. In the process, he meets a beautiful local hairdresser named Yangtso. Although Tharlo is smitten, town-dweller Yangtso’s ideas of fun are not quite his. Contemporary pleasures like smoking, drinking, singing and sex run against Tharlo's pastoral imperatives, contributing to an awkward and suspenseful courtship between the two. From Icarus Films.

For the Family:

In "The Powerpuff Girls: Tiara Trouble" (2017), everyone’s favorite superhero sisters, Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup, are back and better than ever. The all-new, reimagined Powerpuff Girls, the iconic Cartoon Network series, returned to television this past April after more than a decade. Three of the cutest, fiercest, pint-sized, crime fighters are back to bust up all the baddies and save the world … before bedtime. Twelve 11-minute episodes, $14.97 from Warner … In "Down on the Farm" (2016), when a bale of hay goes missing on the farm, mystery-solving Oink the Flying Pig and his know-it-all pal, Boink the Owl, set off on an adventure to discover which of the farm animals is the culprit. In order to discover who took the hay, Oink and Boink have to first learn all there is to know about all the farm animal suspects. From Ruthless … Scooby-Doo! and his friends visit a dude ranch that's haunted by ghastly outlaw Dapper Jack Rogers in "Scooby-Doo! Shaggy's Showdown" (2016), a new animated western-themed mystery feature, from Warner.

Special Interest:

"It Ain't Pretty" (2016) is a documentary about the challenges and triumphs of female big wave surfers. The film follows the quickly-growing women's big wave movement, as well as exposing rampant sexism in the water, in the media and within the surf industry. Over the course of three years, director Dayla Soul follows a group of Bay Area surfers — from driven beginners to the professional big wave surfers, including Ocean Beach surf pro Bianca Valenti — as they take on the dangerous breaks of the Red Triangle and battle stereotypes of the shallow, sexualized female surfer. Surfing in the Bay Area is not for the perpetually sunny, bikini-babe lifestyle and "It Ain't Pretty" explores the passions that drive these women to paddle out in such unforgiving waters, as well as work overtime to carve out a place in a sport that has not always existed for them. From Candy Factory Films.

 Posted by on February 13, 2017 No Responses »
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