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"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Feb 182020
 

From the Big Screen:

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “JoJo Rabbit,” “Midway” and “21 Bridges.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets

“Accident” (1967): From Joseph Losey, the legendary director of “The Prowler”, “The Servant,” “Modesty Blaise,” “The Go-Between” and “The Assassination of Trotsky,” comes this classic melodrama with a screenplay by the great Harold Pinter. When one of his students is killed in a car accident, an Oxford professor (Dirk Bogarde) recounts the circumstances of their meeting. But as these turbulent memories unfold, they reveal a series of shocking relationships betrayed by adultery, obsession and self-destruction in which nothing is what it seems and everything has its cost. “Accident” was the second of three brilliant collaborations between filmmaker Losey and playwright Pinter; the first was the 1963 masterpiece “The Servant” and the third, the 1971 classic “The Go-Between.” Stanley Baker, Michael York, Vivien Merchant and Delphine Seyrig co-star. On DVD, Blu-ray, from KL Studio Classics … photo for Teorema “Teorema” (1969 — Italy): One of the iconoclastic Pier Paolo Pasolini’s most radical provocations, “Teorema” finds the auteur moving beyond the poetic, proletarian earthiness that first won him renown and notoriety with a coolly cryptic exploration of bourgeois spiritual emptiness. Terence Stamp stars as the mysterious stranger — perhaps an angel, perhaps a devil — who, one by one, seduces the members of a wealthy Milanese family (including European cinema icons Silvana Mangano, Massimo Girotti, Laura Betti, and Anne Wiazemsky), precipitating an existential crisis in each of their lives. Unfolding nearly wordlessly in a procession of sacred and profane images, this tantalizing metaphysical riddle-blocked from exhibition by the Catholic Church for degeneracy-is at once a blistering Marxist treatise on sex, religion, and art and a primal scream into the void. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with new, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection … “The Criminal (aka The Concrete Jungle)” (1960): A hard-boiled crime classic from Joseph Losey, the legendary director of “The Servant,” “Accident,” “Eva” and “Secret Ceremony and Figures in a Landscape.” Stanley Baker stars as underworld kingpin Johnny Bannion, sprung from prison by his best friend Mike Carter (Sam Wanamaker) to mastermind a daring racetrack heist. But when Johnny is betrayed and sent back to prison shortly after hiding the stolen loot, he must survive an ordeal of brutality at the hands of his fellow convicts and former accomplices. Co-starring Patrick Magee and Nigel Green and beautifully shot in striking black-and-white by the great Robert Krasker, the film is the grim and gritty film noir that was originally advertised as “The Toughest Picture Ever Made in Britain!” Brand New 4K Restoration.On DVD, Blu-ray, from KL Studio Classics … “Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus” (1976 — France): Cult icon Serge Gainsbourg wrote, directed, and scored this tale of doomed love between a lonely truck stop waitress (Jane Birkin) and a gay, hunky garbage truck driver (Joe Dallesandro), whose boyfriend (Hugues Quester) becomes increasingly jealous of the two. Sharing its title with Gainsbourg and Birkin’s sexually explicit 1969 hit pop song, the film is an equally provocative depiction of an unlikely couple’s torrid affair. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Classics … photo for Antonio Gaudí “Antonio Gaudí” (1984 –Japan): Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) designed some of the world’s most astonishing buildings, interiors, and parks; Japanese director Hiroshi Teshigahara constructed some of the most aesthetically audacious films ever made. In “Antonio Gaudí,” their artistry melds in a unique, enthralling cinematic experience. Less a documentary than a visual poem, Teshigahara’s film takes viewers on a tour of Gaudí’s truly spectacular architecture, including his massive, still-unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Família basilica in Barcelona. With camera work as bold and sensual as the curves of his subject’s organic structures, Teshigahara immortalizes Gaudí on film. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … “The Alastair Sim Blu-Ray Collector’s Set”: Though he is perhaps best known for his role as Scrooge in the 1951 film adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” Scottish character actor Alastair Sim is one of the best-loved and most prolific actors in classic British comedy. Often appearing in multiple roles, he starred in more than 50 films beginning in 1935 and was both critically acclaimed and unfailingly popular, regularly topping the cinema-goers popularity polls. This specially-curated set includes “Hue and Cry” (1947), “Laughter in Paradise” (1951), “The Belles of St. Trinian’s” (1954) and “School for Scoundrels” (1960). The very first Ealing comedy, “Hue and Cry,” directed by Charles Crichton, follows teenager Joe Kirby, who fantasizes that he’s on the track of criminals, only to discover that it has all come true! After discovering that his favorite comic is being used as a means of communication between a master criminal and his gang of thieves, Joe sets out to alert the writer, played by Sim, and turn the page on the crooks. In “Laughter in Paradise,” directed by Mario Zampi, famed practical joker Henry Russell leaves 50,000 pounds to each of his four surviving relatives. But his will has one last joke – they each have to undertake a task completely out of character within a month. As each sets out on their objective they find that quite apart from the promised riches, they are unexpectedly getting a lot out of the challenge. All except caddish Simon Russell, that is. “The Belles of St. Trinian’s,” directed by Frank Launder (scriptwriter for “The Lady Vanishes” and “Night Train to Munich”), features one of Sim’s most unforgettable performances. In an all-girls school, where the unruly students are more interested in men and mischief than homework and hockey, the arrival of Princess Fatima of Makyad and the return of recently expelled Arabella Fritton inspire even more chaos than usual. Featuring an all-star line-up, the cast includes Sim playing dual roles as both headmistress Miss Millicent Fritton and her twin brother (and Arabella’s father) Clarence Fritton. Finally, in “School For Scoundrels,” directed by Robert Hamer (“Kind Hearts and Coronets”), Henry Palfrey (Ian Carmichael) tries hard to impress but always loses out to the rotter Delauney. Then he discovers the Lifeman college run by “Professor” Potter (Sim) and discovers the secrets of success. But has he the courage to put all his lessons into effect in this comedy based on the Stephen Potter “One Upmanship” and “Lifemanship” books.” On Blu-ray from Film Movement.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Snatchers” (2018), starring Mary Nepi, Gabrielle Elyse, J.J Nolan, Austin Fryberger, Nick Gomez and Rich Fulcher, thanks to her relationship with clueless hunk Skyler, Sara is totally in with the cool girls. But Skyler contracted an extraterrestrial bug during his summer vacation. After just one night together, Sara discovers she’s nine months pregnant. Desperate to keep her condition on the DL, she turns to the only person she can trust: her nerdy ex-bestie, Hayley. The girls soon realize this alien problem is only just the beginning. Aliens had best beware in this comedy filled with action and tongue-in-cheek teen spirit. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Warner … In “Clown Fear” (2020), starring Augie Duke, Randy Wayne and Darcy DeMoss, a runaway bride and her friends are stranded in a forgotten desert town full of sadistic, bloodthirsty clowns who don’t trust outsiders. It’s a carnival ride as the girls try to stay alive to escape Clown City. From Lionsgate … photo for Frankie “Frankie” (2019), starring Isabelle Huppert, Brendan Gleeson, Marisa Tomei, Je´re´mie Renier, Pascal Greggory, Vinette Robinson and Greg Kinnear, unfolds over the course of a late summer’s day in the fabled resort town of Sintra, Portugal, and follows three generations who have gathered for a vacation organized by the family matriarch. (Isabelle Huppert). In this fairy tale setting, husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and lovers, stirred by their romantic impulses, discover the cracks between them, as well as unexpected depth of feeling. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony … “Dangerous Cargo” (1977 — Greece), starring Deborah Shelton, Kostas Karagiorgis and Nikos Verleki, is a wild and rarely seen example of Greek exploitation cinema. Deborah Shelton — former Miss USA and star of TV’s “Dallas” – plays the wife of a ship’s captain whose vessel — a huge ship carrying an illegal cargo of dangerous nitro-glycerine — is taken over by pirates. After her husband is brutally killed she is alone with a crew of rough, tough seafarers. When a powerful cyclone threatens to sink the ship and kill all aboard, the former enemies must collaborate to save themselves. When the pirate leader takes an interest in her she has to use all her cunning and skills — not to mention her sexuality — to stay alive and take revenge for the murder of her husband. On Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro … photo for Warriors of the Nation In “Warriors of the Nation” (2018 — China), starring Wenzhuo Zhao, Vincent Zhao, Lubing Li, Miya Muqi and Kenya Sawada, at the end of the Sino-Japanese War, a top military officer, Zhang Zhidong, is kidnapped in the middle of the night by a militant organization called the White Lotus Society. When he overhears a sinister plot to overthrow the central government by China’s own military officials, Wong Fei Hung knows he must rescue Zhang to protect China and prevent another war from happening. Classic martial arts action. On Blu-ray from Well Go USA … In “Feedback” (2019), starring Eddie Marsan, Anthony Stewart Head, Paul Anderson and Ivana Baquero, Jarvis Dolan (Marsan) is the host of a successful late-night radio show, “The Grim Reality”. But his life takes a turn when two armed men burst into the studio one night and take him, and his entire show, hostage. Forcing Jarvis to read from a prefabricated scrip, they expose a scandal that could destroy his whole life and decimate his high-flying career. From Breaking Glass Pictures.

Foreign Films:

“We (Wij)” (2018 — Netherlands), starring Aimé Claeys, Tijmen Govaerts and Pauline Casteleyn, is a lurid, unflinching look at a group of youths and their summer of illicit fun. During one hot summer, eight privileged but bored suburban teens begin to pull a series of harmless pranks which quickly escalate into increasingly depraved games. Their descent from photo for We (Wij) innocence to ruthless predators involve arson, prostitution, pornography, assault and blackmail. Drenched in bared flesh and naked nihilism the film is reminiscent of the films of Harmony Korine, Larry Clark and Lars von Trier. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Artsploitation Films) … An official Cannes selection and winner of festival prizes and awards worldwide, “Another Day of Life” (2018 — Spain | Poland | Belgium | Germany | France | Hungary) is a daringly ambitious dive into the chaos and carnage of war, based on the book by the journalist Ryszard “Ricardo” Kapuscinski, one of the world’s most compelling chroniclers of conflict. Intercutting a graphically bold animation style with interviews and archival footage, the visually striking film conveys a rare immediacy as it tells of the outbreak of civil war following Angola’s independence from Portugal in 1975. Against all advice, Kapuscinski is intent on driving south into the heart of the bloody conflict to find the isolated rebel leader Farrusco. His animated trip through corpse-strewn roads conveys an undeniable urgency, while the documentary testimony reminds us that we are watching actual history. On Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from GKIDS/Shout! Factory.

Special Interest:

“Scandalous: The Untold Story of The National Enquirer” (2019): Sex! Gossip! Scandal! For over 60 years, the National Enquirer has pumped out salacious, shocking stories, stretching the limits of journalism and blurring the lines between truth and fiction. This is the sensational true story of the most infamous tabloid in US history and a wild, probing look at how one newspaper’s prescient grasp of its’ readers darkest curiosities led it to massive profits and influence. From its coverage of Elvis’s death, to the O.J. Simpson murder trial, the National Enquirer rattled the foundations of American culture and politics, sometimes allegedly using payoffs and blackmail to get its scoops. With rare archival footage and revelations as wild as National Enquirer headlines themselves, this documentary examines our obsession with the rich, famous and powerful, and the tabloid that has fed those obsessions for generations of Americans. From Magnolia Home Entertainment.

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 February 18, 2020 No Responses »
Feb 112020
 

From the Big Screen:

“First Love” and “Ford v Ferrari.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bet

With “Roma” (2018), his eighth and most personal film, Alfonso Cuarón recreated the early-1970s Mexico City of his childhood, narrating a tumultuous period in the life of a middle-class family through the experiences of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio, in a revelatory screen photo for Romadebut), the indigenous domestic worker who keeps the household running. Charged with the care of four small children abandoned by their father, Cleo tends to the family even as her own life is shaken by personal and political upheavals. Written, directed, shot, and co-edited by Cuarón, Roma is a labor of love with few parallels in the history of cinema, deploying monumental black-and-white cinematography, an immersive soundtrack, and a mixture of professional and nonprofessional performances to shape its author’s memories into a world of enveloping texture, and to pay tribute to the woman who nurtured him. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with 4K digital master, supervised by director Alfonso Cuarón, with Dolby Atmos soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

photo for Gunsmoke: The Complete Eighteenth & Nineteenth Seasons“Gunsmoke: The Complete Eighteenth & Nineteenth Seasons” (1972-73, 1973-74) are two six-disc sets with 24 episodes each. The multiple award-winning classic is shooting its-way back onto TV screens. The beloved Dodge City crew going are once again negotiating with the ungoverned and rugged frontier that surrounds them. Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness) continues his mission of being the ever-steady force that keeps his town from spiraling into lawlessness. Along with the unflappable Deputy Festus Haggen (Ken Curtis), the witty Doc Adams (Milburn Stone), and the beautiful but unpredictable Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake), Marshal Dillon must stand tall against the criminals and chaos that jeopardize the sanctity of Dodge City. Guest stars include the likes of Harrison Ford, Tom Skerritt, Kurt Russell and Michael Learned. From CBS/Paramount.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Alien Outbreak” (2020), starring Katherine Drake, Ritchie Crane and Philip Alexander Baker, a small rural community is attacked by an alien presence and a pair of local police officers — Zoe and Patrick — battle through the night to take control as they become cut off from the outside world. Residents begin to behave strangely with mass suicide panic. Zoe and Patrick begin to fight back and b and soon discover things are not all as they seems. Can they save their community and the outside world before it’s too late? From High Octane Pictures … During the final days of World War I, a regiment of daring African-American “Buffalo Soldiers” is trapped deep behind enemy lines in “The Great War” (2019), starring Bates Wilder, Hiram A. Murray, Aaron Courteau, Billy Zane and Ron Perlman. After one of these soldiers manages to escape, he’s ordered to join a select team of white troops, led by a battle-scarred officer, to find and rescue the survivors. Casting aside their racial differences, the determined men join forces to find their lost comrades in this gripping action-filled tale of bravery and unity. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In photo for Get Gone “Get Gone” (2019), Hoax Busters, an internet “fake video” team take a weekend retreat after busting another online lie to do some team building. They travel to Whiskey Flats, Oregon and meet with Craig Eubanks, a shifty, bossy know-it-all outdoor guide who promises them his company – Rocks and Roots – will build their team confidence. At the same time, an invasive drilling company with the rights handed over by the Federal government are moving onto the land of a family that has lived on the property (illegally as “squatters”) for over 30 years. When the drillers attack the family and the Hoax Busters get caught in the middle, things quickly go awry. From Cleopatra Entertainment … “Hell on the Border” (2019), starring David Gyasi, Frank Grillo and Ron Perlman, is the incredible true story of Bass Reeves (Gyasi), the first black Marshal in the Wild West. Having escaped from slavery after the Civil War, he arrives in Arkansas seeking a job with the law. To prove himself, he must hunt down a deadly outlaw (Grillo) with the help of a grizzled journeyman (Perlman). As he chases the criminal deeper into the Cherokee Nation, Reeves must dodge bullets and severe discrimination in hopes of earning his star — and ends up cementing his place as a cowboy legend. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “Greener Grass” (2019), starring Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe and Beck Bennett, is a bizarre slideshow of a world of murder, braces, and plastic ball babies. In a day-glo colored, bizarre version of suburbia, soccer moms and best friends Jill (DeBoer) and Lisa ((Luebbe) are locked in a passive-aggressive battle of wills that takes a turn into the sinister when Lisa begins systematically taking over Jill’s life. Meanwhile, a psycho yoga teacher killer is on the loose, Jill’s husband has developed a curious taste for pool water, and Lisa becomes pregnant — with a soccer ball. On Blu-ray from IFC Midnight/Scream factory … photo for Nighthawks: Special Edition In “Nighthawks: Special Edition” (2019), starring Chace Crawford, Kevin Zegers, Janet Montgomery and Michele Weaver, wide-eyed Midwest transplant Stan (Crawford) agrees to play wingman to his calculating and privileged roommate Chad (Zegers) as they embark upon an exploration of glittering New York nightlife, whose darkest secrets are held captive by an elite band of millennials known as Nighthawks. From Filmrise … After being horrendously embarrassed by the mean girls at school, Faye, a practicing witch, summons the evil “Cupid” (2019), starring Georgina Jane, Bao Tieu, Michael Owusu, Abi Casson Thompson and Sarah T. Cohen, to take revenge on all those who wronged her. On Valentine’s Day, Cupid does in fact rise and will stop at nothing until the walls are covered in blood. The students must figure out a way to stop Cupid and undo the spell before their hearts get broken … very literally. From Uncork’d Entertainment … In “Prescience (aka Intuitions)” (2019), starring René Mena, Mike C. Manning, Vannessa Vasquez, Eric Roberts and Linda Gray, a criminal attorney struggles with his sexuality, a cryptic new boyfriend, unemployment and the disturbing childhood secrets his parents hold. From Indiecan Pictures … In photo for My Bloody Valentine (Collectors Edition) “My Bloody Valentine (Collectors Edition)” (1981), on Valentine’s Day, someone always loses their heart. Twenty years ago, this small town lost more than that. When supervisors abandoned their posts to attend the town’s annual holiday dance, a tragedy claimed the lives of five miners. The sole survivor, Harry Warden, was institutionalized, but returned for a vengeful massacre on the disaster’s first anniversary. Nineteen years later, the town is gearing up for another Valentine’s Day party. Teen sweethearts T.J. and Sarah, along with their friend Axel, are among the excited partygoers. But when a box of candy containing an eerie warning and blood-soaked heart arrive, the townsfolk realize that romance is as good as dead. And so are they. Two-disc set with new 4K scans of the original camera negatives of the theatrical and uncut versions. Stars Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Helene Udy, Rob Stein, Peter Cowper, Thomas Kovacs, Jim Murchison and Alf Humphreys. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory).

Foreign Films:

In “Winter Flies” (2018 — Czech Republic), starring Tomás Mrvík, Jan Frantisek Uher and Eliska Krenková, two young boys hit the road for mischievous adventure. The rebellious fourteen-year-old Mára sets out behind the wheel of a stolen Audi with his eccentric friend Hedus. Together they head out into the frozen wastelands of the Czech Republic in search of adventure. When the police finally catch up with them, the mischievous breeziness of Mára’s story provides more questions than answers for the photo for Winter Flies baffled authorities. Filled with directorial playfulness, Olmo Omerzu’s winter road movie about boyhood friendship and unexpected adolescent detours was the winner of four Czech Lion Awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor and Actress; it was also Czechoslovakia’s Official Oscar Submission for Best Foreign Film in 2019. From Film Movement … “You’ll Never be Alone” (2016 — Chile), starring Sergio Hernández, Andrew Bargsted, Astrid Roldán, Jaime Leiva, Roberto Cayuqueo, Gabriela Hernández and Edgardo Bruna, the feature debut of singer/songwriter Alex Anwandter takes a piercing look at modern Chile through the eyes of a father and son. Introverted Juan, manager of a mannequin factory, lives alone with his 18-year-old gay son, Pablo, in Chile. While Pablo hangs out with his best friend Mari and secretly hooks up with the sexy, but closeted Felix, Juan channels his life into his work trying to build a business he doesn’t really even own. When Pablo is badly wounded in a brutal homophobic attack, his father starts to view the world in a new light and decides to make up his own rules in order to save his son. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Altered Innocence.

Special Interest:

“American Experience: McCarthy” (2020): The legacy of Joseph McCarthy’s relentless search for anyone he deemed a communist or enemy of the state will forever be shrouded in infamy. The Wisconsin Senator’s crusade is now the centerpiece of any conversation involving the government’s role in decency, democracy and ethical conduct. This witch hunt, completely free of restraint or oversight, led to the trials and imprisonment of many celebrities, Americans and immigrants. This program details the rise of McCarthy’s political life which led to his belief that there was a great conspiracy threatening America, culminating in a chilling campaign full of groundless accusations, bullying intimidation, grandiose showmanship, cruel victimization and a web of lies to keep public opinion on their side. From PBS Distribution … “I Got You Babe: The Best of Sonny & Cher”: When Salvatore “Sonny” Bono and Cherilyn “Cher” Sarkisian came together it was undeniably magical. America first knew them as the duo behind the classic hit “I Got You Babe,” and their popularity exploded with the 70s smash variety show “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.” The perfect match on stage and off, millions of fans tuned in each week to watch the sparks fly and see what Cher was (or wasn’t!) wearing and the show quickly became essential viewing. photo for I Got You Babe: The Best of Sonny & Cher After finding chart-topping success in the late 60s, Sonny and Cher found themselves performing in nightclubs in 1970 when they were “discovered” by CBS entertainment chief Fred Silverman, who decided they had great potential for a weekly variety series. “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” premiered on August 1, 1971 as a summer replacement, but quickly reached the top 20, becoming a Wednesday night draw for the network and cementing Sonny and Cher as one of Hollywood’s most beloved couples. Containing 10 hilarious, never-before-released episodes of “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” (1971-74), which feature the musical duo performing their hit songs and side-splitting sketches with must-see guest stars; the pilot episode; firsts of many classic sketches — just naughty enough for nighttime!; Cher’s incredible Bob Mackie-designed costumes and the chemistry that started it all. Also, tune in for an incredible line-up of guest stars including Dick Clark, Jerry Lewis, Jim Nabors, Joe Namath, The Righteous Brothers, Dinah Shore, Carroll O’Connor, Art Carney, Chuck Berry, The Supremes and many more. From Time Life … “In Full Bloom: Transcending Gender” (2018) follows the courageous journey of 13 transgender and two gay actors as they transform their lives through the use of monologue, dialogue and performance art while preparing for the world premiere of an original stage play. Behind-the-scenes, rehearsal and performance footage are interwoven with candid personal interviews with the cast, who talk about how they deal with family, inner conflicts, discrimination, coming out, surgery, hormones and the complexities of sexual identity and orientation. From First Run Features … “NOVA: The Violence Paradox” (2019): Violence is ubiquitous in our every day lives. We see it in the news, in movies, on TV and video games so why do some experts say that violence is decreasing and that we’re living in the most peaceful time in history? Can this actually be true? The Violence Paradox addresses these questions and explores the intricacies of how violence permeates our life, psychology and every day thoughts and actions. The program takes us through time and the human mind to investigate what impacts the violence rates and what people are doing now to reduce violence in the world. From PBS Distribution … photo for “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Concert — The Blu-ray Collection” For more than 30 years, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has honored rock music’s greats during annual prestigious black-tie ceremonies which have become nearly as epic as the artists they celebrate. Featuring the biggest names in classic rock from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, as well as once-in-a-lifetime collaborations that can only happen at these very special events, giving home audiences front row seats to the greatest performances from the historic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concerts. Features nearly 30 hours of entertainment and over 150 unforgettable performances from 2009-2017, as well as historic, irreverent and emotional induction speeches across six discs. Among the iconic acts featured are Alice cooper, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Cheap Trick, Chicago, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Electric Light Orchestra, Heart, James Taylor, Journey, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Ringo Starr, Simon and Garfunkel, Sting, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, U2, Stevie Nicks, Glenn Frey, Green Day, Yes, Bill Withers, Joan Jell & the Blackhearts, Beastie Boys, Genesis, N.W.A., Randy Newman, Public Enemy. Housed in one handsome collector’s case are three distinct Blu-ray collections: “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert – Encore” (2 BD discs) features 44 iconic performances from the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 induction ceremonies; “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert” (2 BD discs) features 53 iconic performances from the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 induction ceremonies; and “The 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concerts” (2 BD discs)on October 29 and 30, 2009. Read more here. From Time Life.

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 February 11, 2020 No Responses »
Feb 032020
 

From the Big Screen:

“The Good Liar,” “Playing With Fire,” “Last Christmas” and “Doctor Sleep.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

“Arctic Dogs” (2019) follows the misadventures of Swifty the Arctic Fox, who stumbles upon a dark scheme by the villainous Otto Von Walrus to melt the Arctic. To stop this sinister plot, Swifty enlists the help of his ragtag group of friends: PB, a neurotic polar bear; Lemmy, a scatterbrained albatross; Jade Fox, a brainy engineer; Leopold and Bertha, two conspiracy theorist otters; and Magda, his grouchy boss. Stars the voices of Jeremy Renner, Heidi Klum, Alec Baldwin, John Cleese, James Franco, Anjelica Huston. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Lionsgate … In “Trauma Center” (2019), starring Bruce Willis, Nicky Whelan, Tito Ortiz, Texas Battle and Steve Guttenberg, Willis plays Lt. Wakes, a vengeful police detective determined to solve the murders of his partner and an informant. Wakes joins forces with photo for Rabid Madison (Whelan), a witness injured during the shootings, after the killers pursue her across the abandoned floor of a hospital and confirm Wakes’s worst fears: the two men are actually corrupt vice cops covering up a crime. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “Rabid” (2019) is the Soska Sisters’ (“Vendetta,” “See No Evil 2”) new take on David Cronenberg’s classic. Demure and unassuming fashion designer Sarah (Laura Vandervoort), horribly disfigured after a grisly collision, agrees to undergo an untested procedure involving stem cells to restore her damaged face. This miracle cure causes her to recover beyond her wildest imagination: Sarah now looks as beautiful as the models she works with. But as her confidence – and her sexual appetite – grows, it comes with a price: Sarah is now the carrier of a contagion that causes her lovers to become violent spreaders of death. As the disease spirals out of control, time is running out from Scream Factory … Welcome to the future in “Atomic Apocalypse (AKA Black Flowers)” (2019) – two years from now after the nuclear apocalypse that changed life as we know it. Without gasoline, electricity, or communications, humanity is devolving into a barbarous society of hunting and pillaging. In this hellish landscape, one family fights for survival. Superhero Mother, Kate (Krista DeMille) loses her injured survivalist husband Sam (Ron Roggé) and lovestruck daughter Suzi (Andrea Sweeney-Blanco) in a matter of days after they join handsome loner Joe (Jesús Lloveras) in search of a rumored hidden nuclear bunker full of food and medicine. Suddenly alone, lost in the chemical clouds and pursued by murderous scavengers, Kate fights to stay alive and reunite with her family. From High Octane Pictures … In “Dragonheart: Vengeance” (2019), starring Joseph Millson, Jack Kane and Helena Bonham Carter, Lukas, a young farmer whose family is killed by savage raiders in the countryside, sets out on a quest for revenge, forming an unlikely trio with a majestic dragon and a swashbuckling, sword-fighting mercenary, Darius. Helena Bonham Carter voices Siveth, the ice photo for Donten: Laughing Under the Clouds - Gaiden: Three Film Collection breathing dragon who was once banished from the kingdom for failing to save the king’s life. Compelled by the young man’s cause, she emerges from hiding, using her fantastical powers on the trio’s adventurous journey which brings revelations and rewards beyond vengeance. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Universal … “Donten: Laughing Under the Clouds – Gaiden: Three Film Collection” (2017 – Japan) is a three-film collection that includes “Laughing Under the Clouds” films “One Year After the Battle,” “The Tragedy of Fuuma Ninja Tribe,” and “Conspiracy of the Military,” and contains the original Japanese audio and a new English dub. Directed by Tetsuya Wakano (“Pokémon Generations”) and from the celebrated Wit Studio (“Attack on Titan”), “Donten: Laughing Under the Clouds – Gaiden” is based on the supernatural manga series by Karakara-Kemuri and was previously adapted into an anime television series. It’s been a year since brothers and shrine guardians, Tenka, Soramaru, and Chutaro, have defeated the legendary giant snake that threatened to destroy humanity. However, their lives are thrown into upheaval when they discover a plot to revive the evil serpent. In a Blu-ray/DVD combo from Eleven Arts Anime Studio/Shout! Factory … In “Mon Mon Mon Monsters” (2017 — Taiwan), staring Eugenie Liu, Pei-Hsin Lin, Carolyn Chen, Yu-Kai Deng, Kent Tsai, a group of classmates doing community service discover two flesh-eating creatures hiding in an old building. One of the creatures is able to escape, but they capture the other one, torturing her while trying to learn what she really is. It soon becomes clear that the first creature’s escape has dire consequences, as she hunts them down and stops at nothing to free her sister. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … The drama “Waves” (2019), starring Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Lucas Hedges, Taylor Russell, Alexa Demie and Renée Elise Goldsberry, is set against the vibrant landscape of South Florida, and traces the emotional journey of a suburban African-American family — led by a well-intentioned but domineering father — as they navigate love, forgiveness, and coming together in the aftermath of a loss. A heartrending story about the universal capacity for compassion and growth even in the darkest of times. On DVD, Blu-ray, from A24 … photo for Brain Damage From Frank Henenlotter, the man behind such cult horror favorites as “Basket Case” and “Frankenhooker,” comes the ultimate head-trip, “Brain Damage” (1988), now finally on Blu-ray. Meet Elmer. He’s your friendly neighborhood parasite with the ability to induce euphoric hallucinations in his hosts. But these LSD-like trips come with a hefty price tag: when young Brian comes under Elmer’s addictive spell, it’s not long before he finds himself scouring the city streets in search of his parasite friend’s preferred food source – brains! Featuring late TV horror host John Zacherle as the voice of Elmer, “Brain Damage” boasts some of the most astonishingly bad taste gore gags ever realized, including the notorious “brain-pulling sequence” and a blow-job that ends with a distinctly unconventional climax. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … When ex pro wrestler Buck Severs travels to an abandoned wildlife preserve with his friends for “Bro’s Weekend,” they become the targets of a deadly manhunt and Buck must find the fighter in himself before it’s too late in “100 Acres of Hell” (2019), starring Gene Snisky, Jeff Swanton and Jim Roof. From Indiecan Pictures … In “Train Ride” (2000), starring Russell Hornsby, M. C. Lyte, Wood Harris and Esther Rolle, photo for Evil Ed three college seniors who are thinking about nothing but graduation and going out with a bang from college harshly discover that a culmination of four years of hard work can lead to a permanent road to perdition after they decide to experiment with the knockout “date rape” drug on a vulnerable, impressionable, and very attractive freshman girl. Events quickly spiral out of control in a roller-coaster of unpredictable, virulent events. 20th anniversary edition. From Breaking Glass Pictures … A blood-soaked love letter to the splatter films of the 80s, video rental favorite “Evil Ed” (1995) returns in an extended “Special ED-ition” cut alongside hours of stomach-churning bonus features. Mild-mannered film technician Edward enjoys his job. That is, until he finds himself transferred from his regular post to the “Splatter and Gore department,” where he’s forced to edit hours upon hours of grisly video nasty footage. Traumatised by the onscreen violence, Ed starts to lose his grip on reality – with ghastly (and bloody) consequences. Owing a debt to such films as “The Evil Dead,” “Re-Animator” and the early splatter classics of Peter Jackson, “Evil Ed” is a special FX fiend’s dream – offering up a veritable smorgasbord of flying limbs, exploding heads and creepy creatures. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.

From TV to Disc:

“MASTERPIECE: Howards End” (2017), written by Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester by the Sea”, “Gangs of New York”), is a four episode adaptation of E.M. Forster’s “Howards End.” Starring Matthew Macfadyen as Henry Wilcox, Philippa Coulthard as Helen Schlegel, Julia Ormond as Mrs. Wilcox, Hayley Atwell as Margaret Schlegel and Tracey Ullman as Aunt Juley, this is a fresh take on the story of two independent and unconventional sisters and the men in their lives seeking love and meaning as they navigate an ever-changing world. From PBS Distribution … “MASTERPIECE: Sanditon” (2019) is a two-disc set. Andrew Davies has given Jane Austen fans what they have been waiting over a century for … the completion of Austen’s last piece of work, unfinished due to her death in 1817. Now Davies (“Pride and Prejudice,” “Les Misérables”) takes the first 11 beautifully crafted chapters of the final Austen masterpiece and creates an epic drama for all to enjoy. The lavish adaptation stars Rose Williams as Austen’s lively, but levelheaded heroine Charlotte Heywood and Theo James as the humorous, charming (and slightly wild!) Sidney Parker. On DVD, Blu-ray, from PBS Distribution.

On the Indie Front:

“High Strung Free Dance” (2019) is the sequel to Michael Damian’s dance hit “High Strung.” Zander Raines, a dazzling young choreographer, gives the break of a lifetime to two hopeful artists when he casts a stunning contemporary dancer, Barlow, and innovative pianist Charlie, in New York’s most-anticipated new Broadway show: “Free Dance.” But the move throws off the show’s delicate creative balance when Charlie falls hard for Barlow while Zander embraces her as his muse. The emotions run hot igniting a rollercoaster of impassioned rivalry, romance and determination. On DVD, Blu-ray, from GVN Releasing.

Foreign Films:

“The House That Jack Built Director’s Cut” (2018 — Denmark), directed by Lars Von Trier and starring Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman, Riley Keough and Bruno Ganz, is a thoughtful, honest onscreen meditation on morality and personal culpability. In five audacious episodes, failed architect and arch-sociopath Jack (Dillon) recounts the elaborately orchestrated murders — each, as he views them, as a towering work of art — that define his “career” as a serial photo for The House That Jack Built Director's Cut killer. Mixing pitch-black humor, transcendent surrealism, and renegade musings on everything from history to architecture to cinema itself, von Trier fashions a radical, blazingly personal inquiry into violence, art, and the twin acts of creation and destruction. Two-disc set with both the theatrical cut and director’s cut of the film. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Scream Factory … From Light Chaser Animation, one of China’s premiere animation studios, comes “White Snake” (2019 — China), a film with beautiful animation, lush scenes and stunning visuals. One day a young woman named Blanca is saved by Xuan, a snake catcher from a nearby village. She has lost her memory, and together they go on a journey to discover her real identity, developing deeper feelings for one another along the way. But as they learn more about her past, they uncover a darker plot of supernatural forces vying for power, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from GKIDS/Shout! Factory.

Special Interest:

In “Serendipity” (2019), a renowned artist, forced to confront her own mortality, turns the exploration of her health crisis into a unique cinematic work. Multimedia French artist Prune Nourry’s profoundly moving study stemming from her own breast cancer diagnosis. Nourry has gained international recognition for her thought-provoking, educational and often humorous projects exploring bioethics through sculpture, video, photography and performance – with her prime focus on women’s bodies, fertility and gender explorations. But at the young age of 31, a cancer diagnosis turned Prune’s world upside down – and forced her to turn her penetrating artist’s eye on herself. She started documenting her treatment and its effect on her own body, turning her medical odyssey into a disarmingly intimate artistic undertaking that leads her to find new meaning in her work and its serendipitous relationship to her own survival. The impassioned film – Nourry’s first feature as director – embodies the artist’s belief that everything is connected, coincidence is an illusion, and “the essentials to life really are health, love and art.” Features one of the final screen appearances by the late renowned French director Agnes Varda. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Cohen Media Group … photo for What You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire In
“What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire” (2018), Roberto Minervini, an Italian filmmaker and academic long based in Texas, takes an intimate look at African Americans in Louisiana and Mississippi: struggling female business owners facing gentrification in a post-Katrina New Orleans, single mothers trying to keep their young black sons safe, New Black Panther Party members protesting the latest wrongful death. The documentary is an intimate portrait of the lives of those who struggle for justice, dignity, and survival in an increasingly hostile country. From KimStim Films … On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, with guidance from historian Walter Isaacson, “NOVA: Decoding da Vinci” (2019) pulls back the curtain to investigate what led to da Vinci’s ahead-of-his-time legendary successes. The program examines how Leonardo’s scientific studies, from dissecting humans to studying optics, led to a host of brilliant inventions, like hang gliders, armored tanks, parachutes and many others. “Decoding da Vinci” further explains how this deep scientific curiosity was behind the most captivating work of art in history, The Mona Lisa. Viewers now have the chance to delve deep into Leonardo da Vinci’s Renaissance genius. From PBS Distribution.

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 February 3, 2020 No Responses »
Jan 282020
 

From the Big Screen:

“Parasite,” “Terminator: Dark Fate,” “Harriet” and “Motherless Brooklyn.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets:

Elegantly directed by Hollywood veteran Roy William Neill (best known for his 11 Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone), “Black Angel” (1946) is an underappreciated film noir treasure, adapted from a novel by the acclaimed crime writer Cornell Woolrich (“Phantom Lady”). When the beautiful singer Mavis Marlowe (Constance Dowling) is slain in her chic apartment, the men in her life become suspects. There is Martin Blair (Dan Duryea), her alcoholic musician ex-photo for Black Angel husband, nursing a broken heart; there is the shady nightclub owner Marko (Peter Lorre) who has been sneaking around her place, and there is Kirk Bennett (John Phillips), the adulterer who found his mistress’s dead body and fled the scene. When Bennett is convicted and sentenced to death, his long-suffering wife Catherine (June Vincent) joins forces with the heartbroken pianist Martin Blair to uncover the truth. “Black Angel” is a consummate 1940s crime thriller which boats a suspenseful narrative, strong performances and atmospheric, meticulously lit cinematography. Brand new restoration from original film elements by Arrow Films. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment … “Fail Safe” (1964) is an unnerving procedural thriller that painstakingly details an all-too-plausible nightmare scenario in which a mechanical failure jams the United States military’s chain of command and sends the country hurtling toward nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Working from a contemporary best seller, photo for Fail Safe screenwriter Walter Bernstein and director Sidney Lumet wrench harrowing suspense from the doomsday fears of the Cold War era, making the most of a modest budget and limited sets to create an atmosphere of clammy claustrophobia and astronomically high stakes. Starring Henry Fonda as a coolheaded U.S. president and Walter Matthau as a trigger-happy political theorist, “Fail Safe” is a long-underappreciated alarm bell of a film, sounding an urgent warning about the deadly logic of mutually assured destruction. On DVD, Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … “All About My Mother” (1999) is an Oscar-winning melodrama, one of Pedro Almodóvar’s most beloved films, that provides a dizzying, moving exploration of the meaning of motherhood. In an instant, nurse Manuela photo for All About My Mother(Cecilia Roth) loses the teenage son she raised on her own. Grief-stricken, she sets out to search for the boy’s long-lost father in Barcelona, where she reawakens into a new maternal role, at the head of a surrogate family that includes a pregnant, HIV-positive nun (Penélope Cruz); an illustrious star of the stage (Marisa Paredes); and a transgender sex worker (Antonia San Juan). Beautifully performed and bursting with cinematic references, “All About My Mother” is a vibrant tribute to female fortitude, a one-of-a-kind family portrait, and a work of boundless compassion. On DVD, Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

“Ballers: The Complete Fifth Season” (2019) is a two-disc set with all eight episodes. Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) is settling into retirement and reflecting on his past when an offer that’s too good to refuse comes his way and sends him back into the lion’s den, this time as a team owner. From Warner … “My Life Is Murder” (2019) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes of this compelling new contemporary Australian detective mystery series starring award-winning actress Lucy Lawless as Alexa Crowe, a fearless private investigator and ex-homicide detective who can’t help fighting the good fight — whether it’s solving murders or combating the small frustrations of everyday life. Fearless and unapologetic, Alexa’s unique skills — and insights into the darker quirks of human nature allow her to provoke, comfort and push the right buttons as she unravels the truth behind the most baffling crimes. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Acorn Media … “Roswell, New Mexico: The Complete First Season” (2019) is a three-disc set with all 13 episodes. After a decade away from home, Liz Ortecho returns to her native Roswell to care for her ailing father. When she arrives, she reconnects with her high school crush Max Evans who is now a police officer. Their chemistry is electric, but Liz soon learns something shocking: Max and his sister, Isobel, and friend Michael are aliens who have kept their abilities secret their entire lives. But concealing the visitors’ true identities is more important than ever, as a long-standing government conspiracy and the politics of fear and hatred threaten their lives. Based on the Roswell High book series. From Warner.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

“The Siren” (2019), starring Evan Dumouchel, MacLeod Andrews and Margaret Ying Drake, is an enthralling, seductive and creepy supernatural tale about cursed star-crossed lovers. Tom (Dumouchel) is a mute man from a sheltered, religious background who is haunted by the childhood accident that cost him his voice. While on a retreat at a lake house, he meets Al (Andrews), whose husband drowned in the lake — one of many mysterious deaths. The area is marked by a local legend of a lovelorn spirit who haunts the surrounding woods and drowns photo for Dead Earth anyone she encounters. The legend proves all too real when Tom encounters the beautiful creature, the seemingly human Nina (Drake), who must battle to repress her demonic instincts when she feels the same toward him. Meanwhile, Al, possessed by vengeance, circles the pair, getting ever closer to tracking down the monster that destroyed his happy marriage. From Dark Sky Films … In the post-apocalyptic action thriller “Dead Earth” (2019), starring Milena Gorum, Alice Tantayanon and Michael New, two young women cling to life in an abandoned resort. They must survive in silence, in mortal fear of attracting the hordes of undead that roam the Earth. When their compound runs out of fuel, they are forced into the countryside to find gas, resulting in a nightmarish encounter with survivors. But that is nothing compared to the horrors that await them back at home, leading to a deadly confrontation with the evil that surrounds them. From Lionsgate … In “Beloved Beast” (2018), 12-year-old Nina loses her parents in a car accident and is forced to live with her unstable Aunt Erma. Except her aunt dabbles with drugs, partying and every other thing an aunt shouldn’t do. When Nina meets a stranger in the woods, instead of running, she brings him home. Not realizing that the man she has brought home is an escaped mental patient with a penchant for murder. From Indican Pictures … “Body Parts” (1991), starring Jeff Fahey, Lindsay Duncan and Kim Delaney, is a tale of a medical experiment gone very wrong. Bill Chrushank is a criminal psychologist who loses his arm and nearly his life in a grisly car accident. A daring medical operation follows, in which a donor’s arm is successfully grafted onto Bill’s body. But after the operation, the arm starts to take on a violent life of its own, striking out against Bill’s wife and children. Consumed by fears about his dangerous behavior, Bill is driven to learn the donor’s identity – and makes a horrifying discovery that delivers him into a world of unimaginable terror. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory … photo for From cult Spanish filmmaker José Ramón Larraz (“Vampyres,” “Symptoms”) comes the long-neglected late 80s slasher classic “Edge of the Axe” (1988), finally unleashed on Blu-ray for the first time. The rural community of Paddock County is being rocked by the crazed exploits of an axe-wielding psychopath, who stalks the night in a black trenchcoat and mask. As the victims pile up, the authorities attempt to keep a lid on the situation, while computer whizz-kid Gerald and girlfriend Lillian seek to unmask the killer before the town population reaches zero. Nominally set in Northern California but shot primarily in Madrid, giving the film an off-kilter, American/European atmosphere akin to the likes of “Pieces,” “Edge of the Axe” is a late entry hack-and-slash masterpiece from one of the titans of Spanish terror. New 2K restoration from the original camera negative. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … In “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death” (1971), starring Zohra Lampert, Barton Heyman and Kevin O’Connor, Jessica (Lampert) has been released from an institution after suffering a nervous breakdown and seeks the tranquility of a secluded home in Connecticut to help make her recovery complete. But instead of a restful recuperation with her husband and close friend in the New England countryside, Jessica soon finds herself falling into a swirling vortex of madness and the supernatural. Even more unsettling is that the entire region seems to be under the influence of a mysterious woman who has been living in the supposedly empty house. Jessica’s fear and dread only intensify when she discovers that the “undead” girl, Emily, tragically drowned long ago, on her wedding day. Is she back to take vengeance? On Blu-ray from Scream Factory … In “Very Bad Things” (1998), staring Jon Favreau, Cameron Diaz, Christian Slater, Jeremy Piven, Daniel Stern and Jeanne Tripplehorn, Kyle Fisher (Favreau) has one last night to celebrate life as a single man before marrying Laura (Diaz), so he sets out to Vegas with four of his best buddies. But their swanky, drug-and-alcohol-fueled bachelor party goes bust when their “stripper” cashes in her chips during a deranged sexual escapade. And hers is just the first of the bodies to pile up. The five friends decide to bury the evidence … but fate has a way of not letting the truth stay buried for long.On Blu-ray from Shout! Select.

On the Indie Front:

“My Name Is Myeisha” (2009), starring Rhaechyl Walker, John Merchant, Dee Dee Stephens, Dominique Toney, Alexander Brown-Hinds and Kate O’Toole, chronicles the life of a young black woman in California’s Inland Empire. Set in 1998, Myeisha Jackson (screen newcomer Rhaechyl Walker) vividly recounts the events of her life leading to a fateful encounter with local police. Based on the internationally acclaimed, NAACP-award-winning stageplay “Dreamscape” by Rickerby Hinds. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Shout! Studios … photo for Gregory's Girl BLU-RAY DEBUT “Gregory’s Girl” (1980), starring John Gordon Sinclair, Dee Hepburn, Allison Forster and Jake D’Arcy, is a quirky comedy and sleeper hit from “Local Hero” director Bill Forsyth. Following an eight-game losing streak, a desperate (and sexist) Glasgow school soccer team coach reluctantly accepts hotshot female player Dorothy (Hepburn). Although demoted to goalie, teenage knucklehead Gregory (Sinclair), falls hard for his new teammate. Prodded by the advice of his smart-mouthed 10-year-old sister, Madeline, (Forster), he does make his move, but there are behind-the-scenes feminine conspiracies en route. Making its Blu-ray debut from Film Movement Classics … In “Give Me Liberty” (2019), starring Chris Galust, Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, Max Stoianov, Steve Wolski, Michelle Caspar, Darya Ekamasova and Ben Derfel, medical transport driver Vic (Galust) is late, but it’s not his fault. Roads are closed for a protest, and no one else can shuttle his Russian grandfather, émigré friends, and a burly Russian boxer to a funeral. The new route uproots his scheduled clients, particularly Tracy, a vibrant young woman with ALS. As the day goes from hectic to off-the-rails, their collective ride becomes a hilarious, compassionate, and intersectional portrait of American dreams. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Music Box Films … photo for The Merger In “The Merger” (2019 — Australia), starring Damian Callinan, Kate Mulvany, Raffety Grierson, John Howard and Angus McLaren, Bodgy Creek is a struggling town. The drought won’t let up, jobs are scarce after the mill was shut down, and the footy team looks like it will have to merge with another club or fold. Living a hermit-like existence on the town’s fringe, former football star turned ‘Town Killer’ Troy Carrington (Callinan), is coaxed into rescuing the team after striking up an unlikely friendship with young Neil (Grierson) who is struggling with the recent loss of his father. Teaming up with Neil’s mother, Angie (Mulvany) who runs a nearby refugee support center, they unite to recruit the new arrivals to save the team and take the community on a journey of change. From IndiePix Films.

Foreign Films:

“Battle of Jangsari” (2019 — South Korea), starring Kim Myung-min, Choi Min-ho and Megan Fox, is a depiction of the Battle of Incheon during the Korean War in 1950, focusing on photo for Battle of Jangsari the engrossing true story of a group of 772 student soldiers who staged a small diversionary operation at Jangsari beach to draw away North Korean attention from Incheon. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Well Go USA … “Sequestrada” (2019 — Brazil/US), starring Sam Lilja, Tim Blake Nelson, Gretchen Mol, Marcelo Olinto and Kamodjara Xipaia, is an environmental thriller in which American investors try to build an illegal dam in the Amazon. Thomas (Nelson) must travel to Brazil to help persuade an indigenous agency bureaucrat overseeing the project. But when a young indigenous girl is kidnapped and forced into prostitution, Thomas is entangled in a tug-of-war with the indigenous people the dam would displace. From Strand Releasing.

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 28, 2020 No Responses »
Jan 212020
 

From the Big Screen:

“Pain and Glory,” “Zombieland: Double Tap” and “The Addams Family.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bet:

Before his convention-shattering debut, “Breathless,” had even premiered, Jean-Luc Godard leapt into the making of his second feature, “Le petit soldat” (1963 — France), a thriller that would tackle the most controversial subject in France: the use of torture in the Algerian photo for Le petit soldatWar. Despite his lack of political convictions, photojournalist Bruno Forestier (Michel Subor) is roped into a paramilitary group waging a shadow war in Geneva against the Algerian independence movement. Anna Karina (in her first collaboration with Godard, whose camera is visibly besotted with her) is beguiling as the mysterious woman with whom Forestier becomes infatuated. Banned for two and a half years by French censors for its depiction of brutal tactics on the part of the French government and the Algerian fighters alike, “Le petit soldat” finds the young Godard already retooling cinema as a vehicle for existential inquiry, political argument, and ephemeral portraiture — in other words, as a medium for delivering “truth twenty-four times per second.” On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with high-definition digital restoration, approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

“Black and Blue” (2019), starring Naomie Harris, Tyrese Gibson, Frank Grillo, Mike Colter, Reid Scott and Beau Knapp, is an action-thriller about a rookie cop (Harris) who inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam. After realizing that the murder was committed by corrupt cops, she teams up with the one person from her community who is willing to help her (Gibson) as she tries to escape the criminals out for revenge and the police who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony … photo for Ever After (aka Endzeit) In “Ever After (aka Endzeit)” (2019 — Germany), starring Gro Swantje Kohlhof, Maja Lehrer and Trine Dyrholm, in post-apocalypse Europe, two years after zombies have overrun Earth, only two citadels of civilization remain: in the East German towns of Weimar and Jena. In Weimar, newly infected zombies are shot on site without mercy. The Jena authorities take a more humane approach by trying to find a cure for the plague victims. Vivi and Eva, in search of a more humane world, are stranded in the no-man’s land of the Black Forest where they have to rely on each other and nature in order to survive. But their survival has also unleashed demons from their past that they must confront. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Juno Films … In “I See You” (2019), starring Helen Hunt, Jon Tenney, Judah Lewis, Owen Teague and Libe Barer, when a 12-year-old boy goes missing, lead investigator Greg Harper (Tenney) struggles to balance the pressure of the investigation and troubles with his wife, Jackie (Hunt). Facing a recent affair, great strain is put on the family that slowly gnaws away at Jackie’s grip on reality. But after a malicious presence manifests itself in their home and puts their son, Connor (Lewis), in mortal danger, the cold, hard truth about evil in the Harper household is finally uncovered. From Paramount … In photo for The House by the Cemetery “The House by the Cemetery” (1981 — Italy), starring Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni, Carlo De Mejo and Dagmar Lassander, a young family moves from their cramped New York City apartment to a spacious new home in New England. But this is no ordinary house in the country: the previous owner was the deranged Dr. Freudstein, whose monstrous human experiments have left a legacy of bloody mayhem. Now, someone – or something – is alive in the basement, and home sweet home is about to become a horrific hell on earth. An outrageous Italian shocker from “The Godfather of Gore,” Lucio Fulci (“Zombie”). New 4K restoration from the original uncut and uncensored camera negative, fully loaded with exclusive new and archival extras. In a three-disc Blu-ray set that includes the “House by the Cemetery” original motion picture soundtrack CD by Walter Rizzati. From Blue Underground … In the martial arts fantasy action-comedy photo for The Knight of Shadows “The Knight of Shadows” (2019 — China), starring Jackie Chan, Lin Peng, Ethan Juan and Elane Zhong, Pu Songling (Chan), a legendary demon hunter, is asked to investigate the mysterious disappearances of young girls from a small village. When he discovers evil forces are kidnapping the girls to feast on their souls, he sets out to save humanity from the inhuman invasion by journeying through hidden worlds and colorful dimensions with a lawman protégé and a motley group of friendly monsters. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Well Go USA … “Mommy & Mommy 2: 25th Anniversary Special Edition Double Feature” features two home video nasties from the 90s. Meet “Mommy” (1995)! She’s pretty, she’s perfect, she’s June Cleaver with a photo for Mommy & Mommy 2: 25th Anniversary Special Edition Double Feature cleaver, and you don’t want to deny her – or her precious daughter – anything. She’s Patty McCormack (Academy Award-nominated for her classic portrayal of “The Bad Seed”) in this thriller from the best-selling novel. Mommy is psychotically obsessed with her 12-year-old daughter Jessica Ann — so much so that when she finds out Jessica didn’t get the “Student of the Year” award again, she solves the problem by murdering the teacher who didn’t recommend her for it. Co-stars Rachel Lemieux, Jason Miller, Brinke Stevens. In “Mommy 2: Mommy’s Day” (1997), the public is outraged, the media frenzied, but Mommy only wants to regain the love of her precious daughter. And heaven help those who stand in her way. Stars McCormack, Paul Petersen, Gary Sandy, Rachel Lemieux, Brinke Stevens. Both are Written and directed by acclaimed mystery writer Max Allan Collins (“Air Force One”). In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from VCI Entertainment … photo for Sliding Doors [Collector’s Edition] In “Sliding Doors [Collector’s Edition]” (1998), starring Gwyneth Paltrow, John Hannah, John Lynch, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Zara Turner, Paltrow plays London publicist Helen, effortlessly sliding between parallel storylines that show what happens if she does or doesn’t catch a morning train back to her apartment. The two stories shift back and forth, overlap, then surprisingly converge. On Blu-ray from Shout! Select.

For the Family:

“The Berenstain Bears: Tree House Tales Volume Two” (2019) contains 26 fun-filled tales straight from the family tree house PBS Kids series. From PBS Distribution … “Summer Days With Coo” (2007 — Japan) is a stunning fantasy film based on Japanese mythology. One day, Koichi Uehara, a fourth-grader living in the suburbs of Tokyo, picks up a fossil that looks like a large stone while on his way home from school. To his surprise, he has picked up a baby Kappa (a Japanese mythical water creature), who has been asleep underground for the past 300 years. Koichi names this baby creature “Coo” and brings him to live with his family, and soon the two are inseparable friends. However, trouble abounds as Coo struggles to adjust to modern life, and begins to miss his family, leading Koichi and Coo to embark on a summer road trip adventure in search of other Kappa. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Shout! Factory.

Special Interest:

A surprise federal court ruling in 2013 legalized gay marriage for Utah – triggering a fierce battle in a state where Mormon church values control the Legislature and every aspect of public life. The documentary “Church & State” (2018) chronicles the improbable story of a brash, inexperienced gay activist and a tiny Salt Lake City law firm that joined forces to topple Utah’s gay marriage ban. It is a story of trump, setback, and a little-known lawsuit that should have failed, but instead paved the way for a U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same sex unions nationwide. From Breaking Glass Pictures.

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 21, 2020 No Responses »
Jan 132020
 

From the Big Screen:

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” and “Gemini Man.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets:

Exiled to Republic Pictures, director Fritz Lang created the shocking and mordant low-budget thriller, “House by the River (Special Edition)” (1950). Like fellow cinema giants Orson Welles and John Ford, Lang enjoyed a freedom at Republic that allowed him to make a truly unique and personal film. Cahiers du Cinéma declared, “Lang’s main erotic obsession is displayed more clearly than in any of his other films.” Victorian ne’er-do-well Stephen Byrne (Louis Hayward) assaults and accidentally murders his wife’s virginal housekeeper. With the reluctant assistance of loyal brother John Lee (Bowman), Stephen remorselessly consigns the girl’s corpse to the river. But as John’s affection for Stephen’s wife Marjorie (Jane Wyatt), police suspicion about the girl’s disappearance, and the depths of Stephen’s depravity all escalate, the river itself provokes a horrifying reunion between victim and murderer. Boasting an ingenious script by “The Spiral Staircase” scribe Mel Dinelli and evocative photography by seven-time Oscar nominee Edward Cronjager, “House by the River” is a criminally underrated American film, both a work of art and a moral nightmare. In a new 2K restoration from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … photo for The Fugitive Kind Four Oscar-winning actors — Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, Joanne Woodward, and Maureen Stapleton — shine in the enthralling “The Fugitive Kind” (1960), which also brings together the legendary talents of director Sidney Lumet and writer Tennessee Williams. A smoldering, snakeskin-jacketed Brando is Val Xavier, a drifter trying to go straight. He finds work and solace in a small-town southern variety store run by the married, sexually frustrated Lady Torrance (Magnani), who proves as much a temptation for Val as does local wild child Carol Cutrere (Woodward). Lumet captures the intense, fearless performances and Williams’s hot-blooded story­telling and social critique with his customary restraint, resulting in a drama of uncommon sophistication and craft. On DVD, and Blu-ray Disc with high-definition digital restoration, approved by director Sidney Lumet, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

“Krypton: The Complete Second & Final Season” (2019) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes of the series that tells an entirely new story in the mythology of DC’s iconic Superman universe. Season Two brings us back to a changed Kandor, locked in a battle over its freedom and its future. With Zod now in control, he’s on a ruthless mission to rebuild Krypton according to his ideals and to secure its future by conquering the universe. Faced with a bleak outlook, Superman’s ancestor, Seg-El, attempts to unite a dispersed group of resisters in an effort to defeat Zod and restore hope to their beloved planet. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “Veep: The Final Season” (2019) is a two-disc set with all seven episodes. Former vice president and onetime president Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is back in the campaign trail in the seventh and final season of the acclaimed HBO comedy series. As Selina woos uber-wealthy donors while navigating threats from primary challengers, including aide-turned Congressman Jonah Ryan (Timothy C. Simons), her band of misfits is also back. Meanwhile, Amy (Anna Chlumsky) is figuring out how she feels about her pregnancy vis-a-vis Dan (Reid Scott), who seems unwillingly to give up his playboy ways for fatherhood. And rounding out the team are ever-faithful bagman Gary (Tony Hale), cantankerous Ben (Kevin Dunn), numbers-obsessed Kent (Gary Cole) and new staffer Richard (Sam Richardson). On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

The Mocumentary “Mister America” (2019), starring Tim Heidecker, Gregg Turkington and Terri Parks, has a freshman filmmaker following comedian Tim Heidecker’s attempt to enter the world of politics. After beating a murder charge for selling faulty e-cigarettes at an EDM festival, Heidecker seeks revenge by running a campaign to unseat the San Bernardino District Attorney. Fueled by ego and ignorance, he tries to surmount a lack of experience, funds and photo for Mister America likability by personally connecting with unsuspecting constituents. Formats: DVD, VOD, Digital. From Magnolia Home Entertainment … After the tragic loss of his wife battling the forces of darkness, Gabriel is persuaded to rejoin his former team of demon hunters traveling from relatively obscurity in America to the deep unknown regions of Europe in “Angels Fallen” (2020), starring Houston Rhines, Michael Teh, Nicola Posener and Michael Madsen. He’s joined by his estranged best friend Michael who harbors a dark secret, the mystical Hannah, whose visions predict the future, and a motley crew of demon slayers. After losing part of his team Gabriel must confront his tragic past and decide who really is friend or foe. From Uncork’d Entertainment … “Mob Town” (2019), starring David Arquette, Jennifer Esposito, Robert Davi, Danny A. Abeckaser, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and PJ Byrne, is a true crime thriller inspired by the notorious mob summit of 1957, when over 50 mafia leaders across America converged on a small town in upstate New York to honor the “capo dei capi.” Stumbling upon their illegal operations, Sgt. Ed Croswell (Arquette) risks his life to stand up for justice, shedding light on the massive web of corruption to change the face of law enforcement forever. From Paramount … photo for Brewster’s Millions [Collector’s Edition] In “Brewster’s Millions [Collector’s Edition]” (1985), starring Richard Pryor, John Candy and Lonette McKee, minor league baseball pitcher Montgomery Brewster (Pryor) gets the surprise of his life when he learns a rich, distant relative has died and left him his entire fortune. But there’s a catch: he must spend $30 million in 30 days as a condition of receiving his real inheritance of $300 million. And to complicate matters, he can’t tell anyone why he’s “throwing away” all that cash … or he will forfeit everything. On Blu-ray from Shout! Select … In “Nothing Man” (2017), starring Daniel Hall, Jennifer Jordan, Ric Vince and Tony Goodall, a frightened amnesiac, Noam, has taken himself away from society, living life as a homeless man. When his only friend is murdered in cold blood, Noam sets out in search of justice and truth, but at the cost of unlocking his own checkered past. From High Octane Pictures … In “The Turkey Bowl”
(2019), starring Ryan Hansen, Matt Jones, Kristen Hager, Brett Cullen and Barry Switzer, a former small-town high school quarterback and now a high-powered Chicago businessman, is lured back to his tiny Midwestern town at Thanksgiving by his old friends to finish the legendary Turkey Bowl — a football game that was snowed out 15 years ago. Patrick must risk his future to lead his ragtag team against their bitter crosstown rivals, ultimately realizing how much he misses the simpler life and the girl that got away. From Lionsgate … In photo for Line of Duty “Line of Duty” (2019), starring Aaron Eckhart, Courtney Eaton, Jessica Lu, Dina Meyer, Ben McKenzie and Giancarlo Esposito, Eckhart stars as Frank Penny, a disgraced cop looking for a shot at redemption. When the police chief’s 11-year-old daughter is abducted, Frank goes rogue to try and save her. But to find the girl, Frank will need the help of Ava Brooks (Eaton), whose live-streaming news channel is broadcasting Frank’s every move. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Lionsgate … In “Jexi” (2019), starring Adam Devine, Alexandra Shipp, Ron Funches, Charlyne Yi, Wanda Sykes, Justin Hartley, Michael Peña and Rose Byrne, Phil has a major dependency issue — he’s addicted to his phone. He has no friends, he has a job writing pop culture “Top 10” lists, and his love life is non-existent. But his Facebook status is about to change. When he is forced to upgrade his phone, the latest model comes with an unexpected feature … Jexi – an A.I. life coach, virtual assistant and cheerleader. With her help, Phil begins to get a real life. But as he becomes less dependent on his phone, Jexi’s artificial intelligence morphs into a tech nightmare determined to keep Phil all to herself, even if it means ruining his chances of finding success. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “2050” (2019), starring Dean Cain, David Vaughn, Irina Abraham and Devin Fuller, is a satiric comic sci-fi fantasy that tells the story of a married video game developer who is introduced to a warehouse that customizes androids for human companionship. From Uncork’d Entertainment.

Foreign:

In “Britt-Marie Was Here” (2019 — Sweden), starring Pernilla August, Vera Vitali, Peter Haber and Olle Sarri, housewife Britt-Marie’e 40-year-old marriage has just ended because she learned her husband was unfaithful. Now, at 63 years old, she is faced with making a new start in life in the small Swedish town of Borg. Told she is nothing but a nagging, passive-aggressive aunt, the only job Britt-Marie can find is a true challenge for which she has had zero training: to coach the town’s youth soccer team. She knows nothing about soccer or coaching, and the team is the town’s pride and joy, but she takes the job anyway, beginning a journey filled with struggles and challenges but also humor, warmth and love. The comedy is based on the best-selling novel by Fredrik Backman, author of “A Man Called Ove.” On DVD, Blu-ray, from Cohen Media Group … photo for The Golden Glove “The Golden Glove” (2019 — Germany), starring Jonas Dassler and Margarete Tiesel, is based on the best-selling novel of the same name, acclaimed filmmaker Fatih Akin delivers a gruesome tale of notorious German serial killer Fritz Honka as he haunts Hamburg’s red light district in the 1970s, frequenting his favorite bar of boozy castaways, the “Golden Glove,” and chasing after any lonely woman he might just be able to lure into his attic. From Strand Releasing … The fantasy film “A Rough Draft” (2018 — Russia), starring Nikita Volkov, Severija Janusauskaite and Vilen Babichev, is written by Sergei Lukianenko, author of the Russian blockbuster “Night Watch,” and is set in and around the concept of open world video gaming, following a man without an identity nor memories who plays middle-man to corresponding worlds. Kirill’s identity has been eliminated, erased from the memories of everyone around him, and he’s forced to serve as the gatekeeper of a portal that connects parallel worlds. From High Octane Pictures.

For the Family:

“The Big Trip” (2020), with the voices of Drake Bell and Pauley Shore, is an animated family film about a gang of misfit animals on an exciting quest to return a panda cub to its family when a stork accidentally delivers it to the wrong place. Received the Dove Seal of Approval for all ages. From Lionsgate.

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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