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"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Jun 192018
 

From the Big Screen:

"Pacific Rim Uprising," "The Death of Stalin" and "Unsane." For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week's Best Bets:

"Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris" (1975)is a freewheeling adaptation of the perennial cabaret-style musical, "Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris" is a kaleidoscopic romp through the Brel songbook. Songwriter (and original cast member) Mort Shuman worked with stage producer Eric Blau to transform Brel's chansons into lushly romantic yet unsentimental English-language tunes. Shuman, Elly Stone and Joe Masiell give voice to Brel's tangos and boleros in an explosion of settings that are inexhaustively imaginative and intimate. But the true showstopper offers Brel himself singing his signature "Ne Me Quitte Pas," in a sequence that ranks as one of the most powerfully understated and sincere musical performances ever captured on film. On Blu-ray from Kino Classics … photo for Bowling for Columbine In the wake of the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, the intrepid documentarian Michael Moore set out to investigate the long, often volatile love affair between Americans and their firearms, uncovering the pervasive culture of fear that keeps the nation locked and loaded in "Bowling for Columbine" (2002). Equipped with a camera and a microphone, Moore follows the trail of bullets from Littleton, Colorado, and Flint, Michigan, all the way to Kmart’s Michigan headquarters and NRA president Charlton Heston’s Beverly Hills mansion, meeting shooting survivors, militia members, mild-mannered Canadians, and musician Marilyn Manson along the way. An unprecedented popular success that helped usher in a new era in documentary filmmaking, the Oscar-winning "Bowling for Columbine" is a raucous, impassioned, and still tragically relevant journey through the American psyche. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new high-definition digital restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … Glenda Jackson and Susannah York provide a volatile mixture of class confrontation, Freudian passion, and criminal mischief in "The Maids" (1974), an unbridled, expertly cinematic rendering of the play by Jean Genet, one of the most creative and provocative minds of the 20th Century. Solange and Claire are Paris maids who tend to the domestic needs of a cruel socialite (Vivien Merchant). Whenever Madame is away, the bonnes obsessively act out complex psychodramas of domination and control that fuel a lust for revenge upon the haughty woman they serve. On DVD, Blu-ray from Kino Classics … photo for El Sur Ten years after making his mark on Spanish cinema with "The Spirit of the Beehive," Víctor Erice returned to filmmaking with "El Sur" (1983 — Spain), an adaptation of a novella by Adelaida García Morales, which deepens the director’s fascination with childhood, fantasy, and the legacy of his country’s civil war. In the North of Spain, Estrella grows up captivated by her father, a doctor with mystical powers — and by the enigma of his youth in the South, a near-mythical region whose secrets seem to haunt him more and more as time goes on. Though Erice’s original vision also encompassed a long section set in the South itself, which was never made, "El Sur" remains an experience of rare perfection and satisfaction, drawing on painterly cinematography by José Luis Alcaine to evoke the enchantments of memory and the inaccessible, inescapable mysteries of the past. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

Buzzin' the 'B's:

In "Midnight Sun" (2018), starring Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger and Rob Riggle, 17-year-old Katie Price (Thorne) has been sheltered since childhood with a rare disease that makes even the smallest amount of sunlight deadly. During the day she is housebound, but after nightfall, Katie can venture out to the local train station and play her guitar for travelers. One night, her dreams come true when she's noticed by Charlie (Schwarzenegger), whom she has secretly admired for years, and decides to hide her condition from him as the two embark on a uniquely powerful romance over one nearly perfect summer. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Universal … photo for Midnight Sun "Flower" (2017), starring Zoey Deutch, Kathryn Hahn, Tim Heidecker and Adam Scott, is a coming-of-age film tells the story of an outspoken rebellious teenage girl who conspires with her new stepbrother to expose a high school teacher’s dark secret. From Lionsgate … In "Alex & Me" (2018), starring soccer superstar Alex Morgan, Siena Agudong, Jerry Trainor and Matt Cornett, teenager Reagan Willis (Agudong) has one dream – to play soccer like her hero, Alex Morgan. Her bedroom is a shrine to all things Alex, including a life-size poster of the Olympic gold medalist. Yet in the Willis house, Reagan lives in the shadow of her prep football superstar brother, Logan. When Reagan fails to make the cut of the premiere local soccer club team and is humiliated by her rival Claire, she’s certain her ship has sailed. But after accidentally hitting her head, Reagan’s poster of Alex Morgan suddenly comes to life and everything changes. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … photo for Night of the Lepus BLU-RAY DEBUT "Night of the Lepus" (1972), starring Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun and DeForest Kelley, makes iots Blu-ray debut this week. Giant mutant rabbits are on the loose in this campy 70’s cult classic. A hormone intended to alter the breeding cycle of rabbits overrunning Arizona ranchlands ends up turning them into flesh-eating, 150-pound monsters. New 2K scan of the original film elements. From Shout! Factory … In "Frat Pack" (2018), starring Beverly D’Angelo, Richard Alan Reid, Danny Trejo, Rachel Risen, Lochlyn Munro and Hana Mae Lee, when Moira (D’Angelo) decides to marry into a larger-than-life American family, her son, Elliot (Reid), is dragged on a road trip across the country with his soon-to-be stepbrothers and their sweet, sensible neighbor, Skylar (Risen), for an epic alumni-weekend fraternity rager. On the road, the gang meets drug dealers, tattoo artists, snooty clerks, and party gals who don’t act like ladies. All the while, Elliot’s dying to make a pass at cute Skylar — but will he pass out instead? From Lionsgate.

Foreign Films:

"Furious" (2017 — Russian), starring Ilya Malakov, Alexander Ilyin Jr., Yuliya Khlynina and Alexey Serebryakov, is a Russian historical epic. In the 13th-century, Mongol warrior hordes and their leader, Batu Khan, control most of the known world. As the Mongols move towards Europe, they invade the last Russian principality standing in their way. Little do they know, their plans are about to photo for Furiousbe ruined by a small detachment of heroic men led by a mysterious warrior. This is a story about courage, endurance and self-sacrifice for the sake of one’s country. This is the story of Evpaty the Furious. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Well Go USA … From celebrated French writer-director Cédric Klapisch ("L'Auberge Espagnole," "Russian Dolls," "Chinese Puzzle") comes the comedy-drama "Back To Burgundy" (2018 — France), an absorbing tale of three photo for In Syriathirtysomething siblings who reunite at their vineyard in Burgundy to save the family wine business while re-examining their life choices and relationships. Stars Pio Marmaï, Ana Girardot, François Civil and Jean-Marc Roulot. From Music Box Films … "In Syria" (2017 — Belgium | France | Lebanon), starring Hiam Abbass, Diamand Abou Abboud and Juliette Navis, is the Berlin Film Festival Audience Award Winner that hows the civilian side of a war too often ignored by the media … a unique look at one of the most troubling humanitarian crises in recent memory. Trapped in a city under siege, mother of three Oum Yazan (Hiam Abbass) struggles to keep her family and neighbors safe by converting her Damascus apartment into a barricaded shelter. But with war raging outside and snipers preventing any means of escape, their situation grows even more dire when armed bandits infiltrate the building and begin to threaten them from within. From Film Movement.

Special Interest:

"Pressing On: The Letterpress Film" (2018): The modern world was born on a printing press. Once essential to communication, the 500-year-old process is now in danger of being lost as its caretaker’s age. From self-proclaimed basement hoarders to the famed Hatch Show Print, Pressing On: The Letterpress Film explores the question: why has letterpress survived in a digital age? Worlds of each character emerge as unusual narratives — joyful, mournful, reflective and visionary — are punctuated with on-screen visual poetry, every shot meticulously composed. Captivating personalities blend with wood, metal and type as young printers strive to save this historic process in a film created for the designer, type nerd, historian and collector in us all. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Giant Interactive/Bayonet Media.

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 June 19, 2018 No Responses »
Jun 122018
 

From the Big Screen:

"Love, Simon," "The Strangers: Prey at Night," "Sherlock Gnomes," "I Can Only Imagine" and "Tomb Raider." For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week's Best Bets:

Director Philippe de Broca's "King of Hearts" (1966 — France), which brought a modern 1960s sensibility to a story set during World War I, laid the groundwork for such dark war comedies as "How I Won the War" and "M*A*S*H." Scottish soldier Private Plumpick (Oscar nominee Alan Bates) is sent on a mission photo for King of Heartsto a village in the French countryside to disarm a bomb set by the retreating German army. Plumpick encounters a strange town occupied by the former residents of the local psychiatric hospital who escaped after the villagers deserted. Assuming roles like Bishop, Duke, Barber and Circus Ringmaster, they warmly accept the visitor as their "King of Hearts." With his reconnaissance and bomb-defusing mission looming, Plumpick starts to prefer the acceptance of the insane locals over the insanity of the war raging outside. Since its 1966-67 release, "King Of Hearts" has become a worldwide cult favorite and stands out as one of the most memorable films by Philippe de Broca ("That Man From Rio," "Dear Inspector"). The superb cast also includes Oscar nominee Geneviève Bujold, Jean-Claude Brialy, Michel Serrault, Adolfo Celli and Pierre Brasseur. The score is by Oscar winner Georges Delerue. In a 4K restoration, on DVD and Blu-ray, from Cohen Film Collection.

From legendary filmmaker Paul Verhoeven ("Robocop") and screenwriter Gerard Soeteman ("Soldier of Orange") comes this unrated director's cut of the explosive, fast-paced and thrilling coming-of-age drama "Spetters" (1980 — photo for SpettersNetherlands). Raw, intense and unabashedly sexual, "Spetters" is a wild ride that will knock the unsuspecting for a loop. Rien, Eef and Hans are three young guys stuck in an industrial town on the outskirts of Rotterdam. They couldn't be more different except for one thing: their shared passion for motorcycle racing, which each sees as his ticket to a better life. But a deeper passion will soon rule each of their lives, when a sexy, ambitious blonde (Renée Soutendijk) comes between them and provokes unforeseen events that will rock their worlds. Co-starring Rutger Hauer, Hans van Tongeren, Jeroen Krabbé, Toon Agterberg and Maarten Spanjer. In a new 4K restoration, on DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

In 1593, Christopher Marlowe penned "Edward II," based on the life of Britain's only openly gay monarch. In 1991, legendary artist and director Derek Jarman radically adapted the Elizabethan drama in a highly stylized feature, "Edward II" (1991), starring Jarman muse and Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton and Steven Waddington. Jarman's postmodern adaptation delivers filmgoers to the court of Plantagenet King Edward II (Waddington), a weak gay monarch with a tenuous grasp on the throne. The stage is set for palace revolt when the King rejects his wife, Queen Isabella (Swinton), and takes a male lover, the ambitious commoner Piers Gaveston (Andrew Tiernan) upon whom he bestows gifts and power. The spurned Queen and the sober court officials become enraged and the plotting begins in this festival favorite, a Golden Lion nominee at Venice. With anachronistic imagery, gay activists battling riot police and a rare film appearance by Annie Lennox singing Cole Porter's 1944 classic "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye," the story of Edward and the persecution he suffered is given contemporary resonance in one of Jarman's most powerful and personal films. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Film Movement.

Lino Brocka broke through to international acclaim with "Manila in the Claws of Light" (1975 — Philippines), this candid portrait of 1970s Manila, the second film in the director’s turn to more serious-minded filmmaking after building a career on mainstream films he described as “soaps.” A young fisherman from a provincial village arrives in the capital on a quest to track down his girlfriend, who was lured there with the promise of work and hasn’t been heard from since. In the meantime, he takes a low-wage job at a construction site and witnesses life on the streets, where death strikes without warning, corruption and exploitation are commonplace, and protests hint at escalating civil unrest. Mixing visceral, documentary-like realism with the narrative focus of Hollywood noir and melodrama, "Manila in the Claws of Light" is a howl of anguish from one of the most celebrated figures in Philippine cinema. On DVD and Blu-ray, with a new 4K digital restoration by the Film Development Council of the Philippines and Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata, in association with The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, LVN, Cinema Artists Philippines, and cinematographer Mike De Leon, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

The 10-disc DVD, CD and Blu-Ray boxed set"George Carlin Commemorative Collection" features all 14 HBO specials plus more than five hours of previously unreleased bonus material including rare performance footage from Carlin’s personal archive. George Carlin was not only one of America’s greatest comedians whose albums topped the charts, he was a pioneer of cable TV’s concert format that has become a benchmark of success for all humorists ever since. All of photo for George Carlin Commemorative Collection Carlin’s pointed, often controversial but always hilarious specials originally shown on HBO have been gathered here for the first time. Encompassing over five decades of his groundbreaking career, all 14 of the legendary funnyman’s Emmy nominated HBO specials are now available, plus a previously unreleased HBO special entitled "40 Years of Comedy" hosted by Jon Stewart plus Carlin’s posthumous audio release, "I Kinda Like It When a Lotta People Die." One of the key bonus pieces of material is Carlin’s first stand-up special from 1973, "The Real George Carlin," which has not been seen since it first aired. Additional bonus material includes "APT 2C" (a never-aired HBO pilot from the ’80s) plus two one-hour stand-up comedy club performances that features material performed by Carlin for the first time. There is also never-before-released material from the 1960s — when Carlin was a clean-cut, suit-wearing guest on the variety shows such as "Talent Scouts," "The Jackie Gleason Show" and "Hollywood Palace." The box set features also includes both DVD and Blu-ray discs of the HBO specials "Life Is Worth Losing" and "It’s Bad for Ya" plus liner notes written by comedian Patton Oswalt. From MPI Home Video.

From TV to DVD:

"Will & Grace (The Revival): Season One" (2017-18) is a two-disc set with photo for Will & Grace (The Revival): Season One all 16 episodes. A decade after their unforgettable eight-season run, comedy's fabulous foursome is back as Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally reprise their acclaimed roles as Will, Grace, Jack and Karen. The new season picks back up right where it left off — best friends navigating life together once again. Extras include deleted scenes; gag reel; "Back to the Beginning" behind-the-scenes featurette; "Reuniting the Team": What started as a PSA, turned viral and sparked the revival of a new era of "Will & Grace"; "Classic Comedy" with series director, James Burrows and the cast on creating the funny and keeping the laughter going. From Universal.

Buzzin' the 'B's:

"The Mimic" (2017 — South Korea), starring Yum Jung-Ah, Park Hyuk-Kwon, Shin Rin-Ah, Heo Jin, Kil Hae-Yeon and Lee Yool, is based on the classic mythological “Tiger of Mt. Jang” Korean ghost story, in which a legendary ghost mimics humans to lure them. The mother of a missing child takes in a lost girl she photo for The Mimic finds in the woods near the mysterious Mt. Jang and soon begins to wonder if she is even human as mystifying things begin to happen to her and her family. On Blu-ray from Well Go USA … In "An Ordinary Man" (2018), starring Ben Kingsley, Hera Hilmar and Peter Serafinowicz, an infamous war criminal and former general (Kingsley), spending his life on the run from international authorities, is suddenly moved to a new hideout, where he develops a relationship with the maid that looks after him. But when he discovers that she is actually an agent hired to protect him, he makes a decision that will drastically change both of their lives. From Lionsgate … In "Sea Change" (2017), starring Emily Rudd, Colin Ferguson, Maria Dizzia and Siobhan Williams. 17-year-old Miranda Merchant reluctantly arrives on the shores of Selkie Island to live with her photo for Ninja III: The Domination [Collector’s Edition)estranged mother, Amelia, after the death of her father. As Miranda settles into island life, she learns about the Seawalkers — who, according to local legend, are half-human and half-sea creature — and she begins to believe that they could be real. As she uncovers more about her family's past, Miranda makes a startling discovery about her own connections to the Seawalkers. From Lionsgate … In "Ninja III: The Domination [Collector’s Edition)" (1984), starring Lucinda Dickey and Shô Kosugi, aerobic instructor Christie Ryder (Dickey) becomes possessed by the spirit of an evil ninja when she comes to his aid after he was shot down. Dominated by the killer’s vicious and relentless rage, she sets out to brutally attack his enemies. Her boyfriend, confused by Christie’s changing personality and afraid that he might be her next victim, enlists the help of Yamada (Kosugi). In a life-threatening exorcism and ultimate fight to the death, Yamada proves that he is Christie’s only chance for survival. In a new 4K scan from the original film elements. From Scream Factory.

On the Indie Front:

photo for Funeral Day "Funeral Day" (2016), starring Jon Weinberg, Tyler Labine, Suzy Nakamura, Dominic Rains, Tygh Runyan, Kristen Carey, Jed Rees, Rahnuma Panthaky and Sarah Adina., is a dark, quirky story of Scott, a neurotic man, who thinks he's found a lump on his testicles and fears he might be dying, so he skips his friend's funeral — a friend who, in fact, has died of cancer. Instead — all in the course of a day — he quits his job; begs for a second chance at love; attempts to look death in the face and of course gets his prostate milked — all in the name of "living life to the fullest.” From Random Media.

Foreign Films:

"Loveless" (2017 — Russia), starring Aleksey Rozin, Maryana Spivek and photo for Loveless Matvey Novikov, is a heart-breaking story of a couple whose bitter divorce leads to the disappearance of their son. Their subsequent search for him provides provocative insights into their loveless marriage, current Russian culture and modern society in general. Zhenya and Boris are going through a vicious divorce marked by resentment, frustration and recriminations. Already embarking on new lives, each with a new partner, they are impatient to start again, to turn the page — even if it means threatening to abandon their 12-year-old son Alyosha. Until, after witnessing one of their fights, Alyosha disappears. Russia’s Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. Directed and co-written by Andrey Zvyagintsev, whose last film, "Leviathan," also received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony.

For the Family:

photo for Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Emerald City Season One Volume Two"Nickelodeon Favorites: Great Summer Campout!" feature five episodes about sleepovers, camping, summer celebrations and more from popular preschool series "Bubble Guppies," "Shimmer and Shine," "Blaze and the Monster Machines", "Sunny Day" and "Nella the Princess Knight." From Nickelodeon/Paramount … In "Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Emerald City Season One Volume Two" (2018), Dorothy, the plucky Kansas farm girl and her adorable dog Toto, star in 10 episodes of the animated kids series. After the Wicked Witch of the West’s defeat, Queen Ozma has appointed Dorothy the Princess of Emerald City. With her feet firmly grounded in her ruby slippers, Dorothy tackles her royal duties with enthusiasm, bravery and farm girl feistiness. And whether it’s magic, munchkins, flying monkeys or her arch-nemesis Wilhelmina, the wicked witch-in-training and niece of the Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy is ready to track down and put a stop to any problem that comes Oz’s way. From Warner.

Special Interest:

"Ancient Aliens: 10th Anniversary Edition Gift Set" is a 36-six disc set with all 10 seasons featuring all 135 episodes and over 100 hours of Ancient Aliens content. Since its premiere on HISTORY a decade ago, "Ancient Aliens" has enthralled millions of fans as it endeavors to seek out and evaluate evidence of extraterrestrial contact with humans. The epic series explores the ancient and unexplained — all in search of humankind’s origins and even the secrets of the universe. From the age of dinosaurs to the mysteries of ancient Egypt, from early cave drawings to present-day sightings and cover-ups, "Ancient Aliens" takes viewers on a provocative, thought-provoking journey around the world and across the photo for My Letter to the Worlduniverse, beyond our wildest imagination. From Lionsgate … "My Letter to the World" (2018) takes viewers on a journey through the seasons of Emily Dickinson’s life in mid-1800s New England, exploring her experiences and relationships via her impassioned letters?and poems. As new theories come to light about both Dickinson’s life and poetry, experts bring their often conflicting opinions to the screen. The film also features behind-the-scenes clips from the filmmaker Terence Davies’ award-winning Emily Dickinson 2016 biopic "A Quiet Passion," which was co-produced by and stars Cynthia Nixon, who serves as this documentary's narrator. From Music Box Films … "Dogs of Democracy" (2016 — Australia/Greece) is a documentary about the stray dogs of Athens and the people who take care of them. Filmmaker Mary Zournazi explores life on the streets through the eyes of the dogs and peoples' experience. Shot on location in Athens, the birthplace of democracy, the documentary is about how Greece has become the "stray dogs of Europe," and how the dogs have become a symbol of hope for the people and for the anti-austerity movement. A universal story about love and loyalty and what we might learn from animals. From EPF Media.

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 June 12, 2018 No Responses »
Jun 042018
 

From the Big Screen:

"A Wrinkle In Time," "Death Wish," "Gringo," "The Hurricane Heist" and "Thoroughbreds." For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week's Best Bets:

This week's crop of collectible films spans the 50s, 60 and 70s, in joyous counterpoint to the lackluster big screen releases this week. Chronologically:

In celebration of its 65th anniversary, Disney’s beloved flight of fantasy, "Peter Pan" (1953), comes out of the vault for its 65th anniverary and joins the Walt Disney Signature Collection. In “Peter Pan,” fantastic adventures await the Darling children — Wendy, John and Michael — when Peter Pan, the hero of their stories, whisks them away to the magical world of Never Land. After flying with Peter and the delightfully impish Tinker Bell past the “second star to the right and photo for Peter Pan straight on till morning,” they explore the enchanted island and Peter’s secret hideout with the Lost Boys, and leap into high-flying battles with swashbuckling pirates and the infamous villain Captain Hook. This Signature edition appears to be the same as 2013's Diamond Edition except for the addition of several new bonus featureds and its availability on Movies Anywhere. It's a difinte must buy for families who don't already own the film, though the DVD/Blu-ray combo carries a steep retail price. Extras include "Stories from Walt’s Office: Walt & Flight"; "A 'Darling' Conversation with Wendy & John: Kathryn Beaumont (the voice of Wendy) and Paul Collins (the voice of John)"; You Can Fly”: A new “Oke” rendition and graphic look of the classic Disney song, “You Can Fly,” with fun lyrics on screen; "Never Smile at a Crocodile” new “Oke” rendition and graphic look of the deleted song, “Never Smile at a Crocodile”, with fun lyrics on screen; legacy "DisneyView"; legacy sing-along version of the film; legacy "Growing Up with Nine Old Men"; deleted songs and scenes; Disney Song Select; commentary Hosted by Roy Disney; backstage Disney, more.

The very traditional but rousingly colorful "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (1954), making its Blu-ray debut this week, features a new 1080p HD master from a 2018 2K scan in its original 2.55 CinemaScope aspect ratio, with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio (based on the original 4-track magnetic mix, but re-built from recording session masters and original stems). Includes the rarely-seen alternate widescreen (1.77 aspect ratio) alternate version presented for the first time in 1080p HD. Of photo for Seven Brides for Seven Brothersnote is that two versions of the film exist, one in CinemaScope and the other in traditional widescreen. In 1953 when CinemaScope was brand new, MGM was concerned that if it was a fad they would have an unusable film in the long-run, so for protection they shot the film twice. Two different takes of each shot with different staging was filmed which reflect the different frame size of traditional widescreen (which is less wide and more rectangular) and CinemaScope. By the time the film was released, CinemaScope had proven a huge success and the alternate version was rarely seen until its release on DVD in 2004. The story: Adam (Howard Keel), the eldest of seven brothers, goes to town to get a wife. He convinces Milly (Jane Powell) to marry him that same day. After they return to his backwoods home she discovers he has six brothers — all living in his cabin. Milly sets out to reform the uncouth siblings, who are anxious to get wives of their own. Then, after reading about the Roman capture of the Sabine women, Adam develops an inspired solution to his brothers' loneliness … kidnap the women they want from the surrounding villages. From Warner.

"The Big Country (60th Anniversary Special Edition)" (1958), directed by William Wyler and starring Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Burl Ives, Charles Bickford and Chuck Connors, is a bold, sweeping tale of a photo for The Big Country (60th Anniversary Special Edition) ship's captain (Peck) who ventures west to find a hotbed of jealousy, hatred and dangerous rivalries. As the reluctant hero is thrust into the maelstrom, he must summon all of his resolve to save not only his own life, but also the life of the woman he loves. An action-packed adventure that triumphs as a work of art. The film's legendary rousing score by Jerome Moross was nominated for an Oscar. On DVD, Blu-ray, with audio commentary by noted cultural historian Christopher Frayling; a "Directed by William Wyler" documentary; interviews with Cecilia Peck, Carey Peck and Tony Peck; interview with Fraser Heston; interview with Catherine Wyler; "Fun in the Country featurette; "Larry Cohen on Chuck Connors"; original theatrical trailer; TV spot; two animated image galleries; reversible Blu-ray art. From Kino Lorber Classics.

The landmark Spaghetti Western "The Great Silence" (1968 — Italy), scored by Ennio Morricone, comes out today in a stunning 50th anniversary restoration. Restored in 2K from original elements, the film is directed by Sergio Corbucci and stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Klaus Kinski. The release features both the photo for The Great Silenceoriginal Italian and English language versions. On an unforgiving, snow swept frontier, a group of bloodthirsty bounty hunters, led by the vicious Loco (Kinski) prey on a band of persecuted outlaws who have taken to the hills. Only a mute gunslinger named Silence (Trintignant) stands between the innocent refugees and the corrupt bounty hunters. But, in this harsh, brutal world, the lines between right and wrong are not always clear, and good does not always triumph. Featuring superb photography and a haunting score from maestro Morricone, Corbucci's bleak, brilliant and violent vision of an immoral, honorless West is widely considered to be among the best Westerns ever made. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Film Movement Classics.

And, last but not least, there's the Blu-ray debut of "Greaser’s Palace" (1972), the surreal and outrageous parable on the life of Christ set in a rundown Wild West town. Robert Downey’s deliciously irreverent film is an acid comedy Western of incredible extremes, playing like a lighter version of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s "El Topo" minus the ultra-violence, while still retaining every ounce of religious blasphemy and taboo-smashing absurdity. The cult favorite is the story photo for Greaser's Palace BLU-RAY DEBUTof Christ's sufferings, “updated” and set in the wild and woolly Old West, where a zoot-suited drifter named Jessy (Allan Arbus) performs miracles and attracts a large following. But what he really wants to do is sing and dance. He finally gets a chance to bring his act to the The Palace, a saloon run by the ruthless Seaweedhead Greaser (Albert Anderson), and he's a big hit. But Jessy’s got more miracles to do … like restoring life to Greaser's son Lamy (Michael Sullivan), who’s been killed by his father, and then contending with Greaser's envious daughter Cholera (Luana Anders). Meanwhile, an unnamed woman (Elsie Downey) struggles to reach the town after her husband and son are murdered. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Scorpion Releasing and Doppelgänger Releasing.

Buzzin' the 'B's:

In "Freak Show" (2018), starring Alex Lawther, Bette Midler, Larry Pine, Abigail Breslin, Laverne Cox and AnnaSophia Robb, Billy Bloom (Lawther) is one-of-a-kind: a fabulous, glitter-bedecked, gender-bending teenager whose razor-sharp wit is matched only by his outrageous, anything-goes fashion sense. When his glamorous mother (Midler) is forced to send him to live with his straight-laced father (Pine), Billy finds himself a diva-out-of-water at his new ultra-conservative high school. photo for Freak Show"The Midnight Man" (2016), starring Gabrielle Haugh, Grayson Gabriel, Robert Englund and Lin Shaye, two teenagers discover a mysterious box hidden away in the attic in a sprawling mansion, with instructions for The Midnight Game, an ancient pagan ritual said to summon the player’s greatest fears. It all seems like harmless fun to the pair — until they unleash the terrifying spirit of The Midnight Man, an unholy force who pits them against their darkest demons and dares them to survive. Includes the original 2013 Irish feature film. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC Midnight/Shout Factory … "The Rake" (2018), starring Shenae Grimes-Beech, Rachel Melvin and Izabella Miko, is a chilling tale of siblings who return home 20 years after the shocking murder of their parents and discover that the horrible crime may have a startling connection to a local urban legend. From Sony … photo for Altered Perception When the government attempts to produce a designer drug aimed at correcting the false perceptions that people develop during trauma and stress, the implications are deadly in "Altered Perception" (2018), starring Jon Huertas, Jade Tailor, Jennifer Blanc and Matthew Ziff. Advertised as a cure for socio-political tensions, four couples volunteer, but end up with far more than they bargained for as their past and present are examined while taking variations of the new drug. However, this causes them to doubt their own memory, perceptions — and even their own sanity. From Synkronized Films … In "Supercon" (2018), starring Ryan Kwanten, Maggie Grace, Mike Epps, Russell Peters, Clancy Brown and John Malkovich, a rag-tag group of former TV stars and comic book artists, who make their living working at conventions, decide to steal the loot from a crooked promoter and an overbearing former TV icon. From Sony … "Satellite Girl and Milk Cow" (2014 – South Korea) is an animated sci-fi-romance. An out-of-commission satellite picks up a lovelorn ballad on her radio antenna and descends to Earth to find the source of such sincere emotions. But on the way she is caught in a raging magical battle and transforms into Satellite Girl, complete with rocket shoes and weapon-firing limbs. Meanwhile, the balladeer photo for Satellite Girl and Milk Cowin question — a loser twentysomething at a café open mic — meets the fate that befalls all broken-hearted lovers: he is turned into a farm animal. But love knows no bounds, and aided by the wise and powerful Merlin — a wizard who has been turned into a roll of toilet paper — the duo must evade the all-consuming incinerator monster, the wily pig witch, and other nefarious adversaries in an attempt to be together. On DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo from GKIDS/Shout! Factory … In "Devil’s Gate" (2017), starring Amanda Schull, Milo Ventimiglia, Shawn Ashmore and Jonathan Frakes, when a woman and her son mysteriously vanish, FBI agent Daria Francis (Schull) is dispatched to the small town of Devil’s Gate, North Dakota to investigate the number one suspect: religious fanatic Jackson Pritchard (Ventimiglia), husband and father of the missing persons. But when Francis and local deputy Colt Salter (Ashmore) arrive at Pritchard’s foreboding property, they discover much more than they bargained for lurking in the basement. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC Midnight/Shout Factory.

On the Indie Front:

"Hooked" (2018), starring Laura Austin, Conor Donnally and Jay Alan Christianson, follows 18-year-old hustler Jack and his boyfriend Tom. They're an item, close and very much in love. However, Jack tends to be very impulsive with his body and emotionally explosive. Matt, a married man who hasn't come out of the closet, decides to take Jack from NYC to Miami with the intention of helping him before it’s too late. Not just a cautionary tale of life on the streets, a percentage of the profits from the film will be donated to non-profits and partner organizations to support the homeless LGBTQ youth demographic. In the US, LGBTQ youth are 8 times more likely to end up homeless, and those homeless individuals are 7.4 times more likely to experience acts of sexual violence and more than twice as likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. It’s common for non-LGBTQ shelters to simply refuse service to transgender teens. From Breaking Glass Pictures.

Foreign Films:

In "Oh Lucy!" (2018 — Japan), starring Shinobu Terajima, Josh Hartnett, Shioli Kutsuna, Koji Yakusho, Reiko Aylesworth and Megan Mullally, bored Tokyo office lady Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima) breaks free of her monotonous life when her niece, Mika (Shioli Kutsuna), convinces her to enroll in an unorthodox English class. There, she adopts a blonde-haired alter ego named "Lucy" and develops romantic feelings for her American instructor, John (Josh Hartnett). But after his photo for Oh Lucy! sudden disappearance, Setsuko follows his trail halfway around the world to Southern California, where family ties and past lives are tested as she struggles to fulfill the promise of "Lucy." The darkly comical East-meets-West feature was expanded from director Atsuko Hirayanagi's festival favorite short film of the same name, which garnered admiration, accolades and 35 awards at prestigious festivals the world over, including Cannes and Sundance. Executive produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, the feature-length version was shot in Tokyo and Los Angeles with a supremely talented ensemble cast in 2016. 100% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. On DVD, Blu-ray from Film Movement … "The Outsider" (2018 — France) is a thriller based on a true story. Before the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008 caused chaos in world markets and misery for millions of homeowners, another financial apocalypse was already under way at one of France’s most prestigious banks. The Outsider tells the true story of France’s greatest financial scandal and Jérôme Kerviel (Arthur Dupont) the low-profile young trader who was held responsible. When all was said and done, the bank suffered a loss of €4.9 billion and Kerviel was fired, sued, arrested and imprisoned, making Kerviel the most famous Frenchman to ever sit in front of a Bloomberg Terminal and pay the price. From Icarus Films.

For the Family:

The folks at Disney saw fit last year to reboot their popular 1980s "DuckTales" series on Disney XD/Disney Channel and, unlike other reboots of kids shows from other studios, they've pretty much kept the spirit of the original, ratceting up the edgeiness a bit for a modern kids audience. As you'll recall from the comic books and previous series, Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Dewey, Louie and friends continually get embroiled in precarious situations — either fomented by the kids' inquisitive nature or their Uncle's lust for more money, getting bailed out by their wits and a little help from their friends. This week Disney has released "DuckTales: Destination Adventure!" (2018), with six episodes of adventures from Duckburg to legendary destinations around the world: "The Beagle Birthday Breakout!," "The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra!", ":The Impossible Summit of Mt. Neverrest!," "The Spear photo for Ducktales: Destination Adventure! of Selene!," "The Missing Links of Moorshire!" and "Beware the B.U.D.D.Y. System!" Along for the ride are the voices of David Tennant as Scrooge McDuck; Danny Pudi as Huey Duck; Ben Schwartz as Dewey Duck; Bobby Moynihan as Louie Duck; Kate Micucci as Webbigail (Webby) Vanderquack; Beck Bennett as Launchpad McQuack; Toks Olagundoye as Mrs. Beakley; and Tony Anselmo as Donald Duck. There's even Lin-Manuel Miranda voicing Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera — aka Gizmoduck — in the last episode on the disc. The DVD also includes two classic DuckTales episodes from the original series' last season (1990): "New Gizmo-Kids on the Block" and "Ducky Mountain High," and its interesting to note the difference in the animation: where the 1980s series was softer and rounder, the new episodes reflect the harder edge of modern animated comics ala the Marvel and DC universes. The modern DuckTales are fun for youngsters and oldsters alike … "The Steam Engines of Oz" (2018), based on the graphic novel of the same name by Arcana Studio, is an animated steampunk twist on "The Wizard of Oz." Set a century after Dorothy first clicked her ruby slippers together, the Emerald City is no longer a magical land but a toxic, heavily industrialized wasteland ruled by the iron fist of the once beloved hero, the Tin Man, who has seemingly lost all heart. Oz's only hope rests with a young engineer named Victoria Wright, who assembles a motley crew of ill-mannered munchkins, mischievous flying monkeys and, of course, the not-so-Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow for a quest to find the tin man's heart. Along their journey, they ultimately learn that friendship and determination can overcome any obstacle. With the voices of Ron Perlman, William Shatner and Julianne Hough. In Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Cinedigm … "Avatar – The Last Airbender: The Complete Series Blu-ray" is a 9-disc set with every episode from this fan-favorite show. Fans of this classic will be able to relive the full three-season saga, as young Airbender Aang fulfills his destiny of being the long-lost Avatar. Katara and Sokka, siblings and members of the Water Tribe, help Aang master the four elements needed to become the Avatar – master of water, earth, fire and air. From Nickelodeon/Paramount.

Special Interest:

"Genetically Modified Children" (2018): Can Monsanto chemicals permanently alter your child s genes? Low-income tobacco farmers face skyrocketing cancer rates with more devastating repercussions affecting their children: severe physical deformities and mental disabilities. Choosing between poverty or poison, Latin photo for Genetically Modified Children American growers have no choice but to use harmful chemicals such as the herbicide glyphosate (aka Monsanto's Roundup) and Bayer s insecticide Confidor if they want to certify and sell their crops to Big Tobacco. As patent and regulatory laws continue to favor the profits of Monsanto and chemical companies, the tobacco makes its way into the hands and mouths of consumers worldwide in Philip Morris products, while the poisons used to harvest the crops contaminate the farmers' blood and are modifying the human genome, creating genetically modified children. This is the first documentary to detail the unholy alliance between Philip Morris and Monsanto, exploiting generations of impoverished Argentinian farmers, and causing devastating disease and disability among their children. A US-based legal team has taken on the David vs Goliath battle against these corporations to seek justice for these exploited families and their genetically modified children. From Cinema Libre Studio.

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 June 4, 2018 No Responses »
May 282018
 

From the Big Screen:

"Annihilation." For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week's Best Bets:

Premiering at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival,"Smash Palace" (1981 — New Zealand) was Roger Donaldson's second feature following the success of "Sleeping Dogs," a film which had heralded the arrival of the New Zealand New Wave. "Smash Palace" — one of the best films from the 1980s, a film that has more in common photo for Smash Palacewith the nihilism of US new wave directors than Donaldson's Down Under counterparts — concerns itself with the marriage of former racing driver Al (Bruno Lawrence) and French-born Jacqui (Anna Jemison). The pair had met when she nursed him back to health following a career-ending injury. They married, returned to Al's native New Zealand to take over his late father's wrecking yard business — the Smash Palace of the title — and had a child. But over time stagnation has set in, Jacqui's resentment of Al has grown, and things are threatening to spill over. Playing out as a darker, more haunting New Zealand variation on such US separation movies as "Kramer vs. Kramer" or "Shoot the Moon," "Smash Palace" offers a brilliant, vivid messy portrait of masculinity in crisis, driven by Lawrence's immense central performance — once again confirming his status as one of New Zealand's finest actors. With original mono audio (uncompressed LPCM). On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … One of the British New Wave’s most versatile directors, John Schlesinger came to New York in the late-1960s to make "Midnight Cowboy" (1969), a picaresque story of friendship that captured a city in crisis and sparked a new era of Hollywood movies. Jon Voight delivers a career-making performance as Joe Buck, a wide-eyed hustler photo for Midnight Cowboyfrom Texas hoping to score big with wealthy city women; he finds a companion in Enrico “Ratso” Rizzo, an ailing swindler with a bum leg and a quixotic fantasy of escaping to Florida, played by Dustin Hoffman in a radical departure from his breakthrough in "The Graduate." A critical and commercial success despite controversy over what the MPAA termed its “homosexual frame of reference,” "Midnight Cowboy" became the first X-rated film to receive the best picture Oscar, and decades on, its influence still reverberates through cinema. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray and an alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … photo for Au hasard Balthazar A profound masterpiece from one of the most revered filmmakers in the history of cinema, "Au hasard Balthazar" (1966 — France), directed by Robert Bresson, follows the donkey Balthazar as he is passed from owner to owner, some kind and some cruel but all with motivations outside of his understanding. Balthazar, whose life parallels that of his first keeper, Marie, is truly a beast of burden, suffering the sins of humankind. But despite his powerlessness, he accepts his fate nobly. Through Bresson’s unconventional approach to composition, sound, and narrative, this simple story becomes a moving parable about purity and transcendence. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … A comically bittersweet tale, Oscar winner Claude Berri's "The Two of Us" (1967 — France) is also a poignant drama of identity and heritage. When an 8-year-old Jewish boy (Alain Cohen) living in Nazi-occupied France is sent by his parents to live in the country with the Catholic parents of their friends, he is faced with a culture clash both religious and generational. As the grandfatherly (and flagrantly anti-Semitic) Pepe (Michel Simon) infuses the role with a gruff tenderness, his growing relationship with the boy a touching portrayal of connection in a broken world. A beautiful new 4K restoration of the black-and-white world cinema classic, which was the debut of acclaimed director-producer Berri ("Jean de Florette," "Manon of the Spring," "Tess," "The Lover").On DVD, Blu-ray, from Cohen Film Collection.

From TV to Disc:

"East West 101, Series 2" (2009 — Australia) is a two-disc set with seven episodes. Set around the Major Crime Squad in metropolitan Sydney, Australia, this thrilling series is based upon the experiences of actual detectives in a crime unit in Sydney’s western suburbs and deals with the clashes of culture, socio-economic statuses, and religious tension in Australia. This season features new perils for Detective Zane Malik, a Muslim Arab living in post-9/11 Australia. After a deadly car bomb goes off in a Sydney suburb, fear and suspicion thrive as the community blames it on Islamic extremists. However, Malik is not convinced it was a terrorist attack, and he joins a joint task force led by Agent Richard Skerritt. The investigation throws Malik into a high-stakes undercover mission targeting a suspected arms-dealer, but the job takes him away from his family and even threatens their safety. From Acorn Media … photo for I'm Dying Up Here: Season One "I'm Dying Up Here: Season One" (2017) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes. Set in the celebrated and infamous L.A. stand-up comedy scene of the '70s, where the careers of most comedy superstars began, "I'm Dying Up Here" delves into the inspired and damaged psyches that inhabit the hilarious, but complex business of making an audience laugh. The series is based on William Knoedelseder's book of the same name. Before the internet and viral videos made it easy for aspiring comics to get their material seen, they had to travel and perform at comedy clubs to rise through the ranks of stand-up comedy and make a name for themselves. Oscar winner Melissa Leo leads the ensemble cast as Goldie, a comedy-club owner who mentors a competitive but close-knit group of comics. She leads her business with an iron fist but nurtures the comics with tough love because she knows that there's no such thing as an easy laugh in their chosen profession. From Showtime/CBS/Paramount.

Buzzin' the 'B's:

Based on the 2010 short story, "-30-" by award-winning author Laird Barron, "They Remain" (2018) explores the evolving relationship between Keith and Jessica, two scientists who are employed by a vast, impersonal corporation to investigate an unspeakable horror that took place at the remote encampment of a mysterious cult. Working and living in a state-of-the-art, high tech environment that is completely at odds with their surroundings, they spend their days gathering physical evidence, analyzing it, and reporting on their findings. The intensity of their work, and their extreme isolation, bring the pair closer. But, when Jessica discovers a mysterious artifact of unknown origin, the dynamic between them changes: secrets are kept, sexual tensions arise, and paranoia sets in. Keith begins to have visions and is unable to distinguish whether they are nightmares or hauntings. Having lost all sense of what is real and what is imagined, all he knows is that the horror he and Jessica have been sent to uncover — a horror that could be biological, psychological, or supernatural — now threatens his very survival. Stars William Jackson Harper and Rebecca Henderson. On Blu-ray from Giant Interactive.

For the Family:

"Paws P.I." (2018), starring Jon Lovitz, Selah Atwood and Christian Brunetti, is a Dove Foundation approved family adventure. Peter Williams and his dog, Jackson (voice by Lovitz), are best friends and enjoy hanging out and skateboarding around town. But when Peter’s father Connor, a private investigator, is hired by veterinarian Katherine Worthington to help prove that her aunt’s will was stolen by her corrupt uncle, Peter, Jackson and a gaggle of animal friends decide to do some investigating of their own. From Lionsgate.

Special Interest:

"Frontline: Weinstein" (2017): Harvey Weinstein was once one of the most successful producers in Hollywood. But beneath the glitz and glamour, there was a pattern of sexual misconduct going back to the very start of his career. This program investigates the disgraced mogul's spectacular downfall, the efforts to silence his accusers, and what Hollywood itself knew. Drawing on exclusive insider accounts, this program examines how Weinstein used lawyers and private detectives to help him suppress sexual harassment allegations. The film shines new light on what those around Weinstein knew about his behavior, and when. 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 May 28, 2018 No Responses »
May 222018
 

From the Big Screen:

"The 15:17 to Paris," "Red Sparrow," "Game Night" and "Wonderstruck." For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week's Best Bets:

There's so many good, collectible titles this week that we can almost forgive the studios for the duds they sent us this week (see above). In alphabetical order:

"Beyond the Hills" (2016 — Romania): With this arresting drama based on notorious real-life events, Cristian Mungiu mounts a complex inquiry into faith, fanaticism, and indifference. At photo for Beyond the Hillsa desolate Romanian monastery, a young novice nun, Voichita (Cosmina Stratan), reunites with her former companion Alina (Cristina Flutur), who plans to take her to Germany. But Voichita proves unwilling to abandon her calling, and Alina becomes increasingly desperate to reclaim her devotion, putting the outsider at odds with the monastery’s ascetic priest — and precipitating a painfully misguided, brutal attempt to save her soul. A naturalistic tragedy with the dark force of a folktale, anchored by the fraught dynamic between cinema newcomers Flutur and Stratan (who shared the best actress prize at Cannes), "Beyond the Hills" bears powerful witness to individuals at cross-purposes and institutions ill-equipped to help those most in need. On DVD and Blu-ray, with 2K digital transfer, approved by director Cristian Mungiu, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

"Black Venus" (2010): Between "The Secret of the Grain," winner of three César Awards, and the Cannes triumph of "Blue Is the Warmest Colour," Abdellatif Kechiche made "Black Venus," a photo for Black Venusstark portrait of the life of Saartjie Baartman, also known as the "Hottentot Venus." Baartman was taken from South African home as a 21-year-old and shipped to Georgian London, where she would be caged and exhibited as a freak show. Presented semi-nude, her physique — especially her large buttocks — was the source of much curiosity. But as her "fame" spread, so too did her exploitation. Centered on a remarkable performance by Cuban actor Yahima Torres as Baartman, Black Venus provides a bleak but barbed exploration of sex, science, race, colonialism and social attitudes. With optional 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.

"The Bloodthirsty Trilogy" (1971-74 — Japan): Inspired by the runaway success of the British and American gothic horror films of the sixties, Toho studios brought the vampiric tropes of the Dracula legend to Japanese screens with "The Vampire Doll" (1970), "Lake of Dracula" (1971) and "Evil of Dracula" (1974) — three spookily effective cult classics collectively known as "The Bloodthirsty photo for The Bloodthirsty TrilogyTrilogy." In "The Vampire Doll," a young man goes missing after visiting his girlfriend’s isolated country home. His sister and her boyfriend trace him to the creepy mansion, but their search becomes perilous when they uncover a gruesome family history. "Lake of Dracula" begins with a young girl suffering a terrifying nightmare of a vampire with blazing golden eyes. Eighteen years later, the dream is revealed to be a hellish prophecy when a strange package containing an empty coffin mysteriously turns up at a nearby lake. In "Evil of Dracula," a professor takes up a new post at an all-girls school only to discover the school’s principle conceals a dark secret and the pupils are in grave danger. Abounding with images of dark thunderous nights, ghostly mansions and bloody fangs, Michio Yamamoto’s trilogy emphasises atmosphere and style and is sure to please both fans of classic gothic horror and Japanese genre cinema. On Blu-ray, with high definition presentation transferred from original film elements, with uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.

"Death Smiles on a Murderer" (1973): A haunting and dreamlike gothic horror/giallo hybrid, "Death Smiles on a Murderer" is a compelling early work from the legendary sleaze and horror film photo for Death Smiles on a Murdererdirector Joe D’Amato, here billed under his real name Aristide Massaccesi. Set in Austria in the early 1900s, the film stars Ewa Aulin as Greta, a beautiful young woman abused by her brother Franz (Luciano Rossi) and left to die in childbirth by her illicit lover, the aristocrat Dr. von Ravensbrück (Giacomo Rossi Stuart). Bereft with grief, Franz reanimates his dead sister using a formula engraved on an ancient Incan medallion. Greta then returns as an undead avenging angel, reaping revenge on the Ravensbrück family and her manically possessive brother. Presented here in a stunning 2K restoration, D’Amato’s film is a stately and surreal supernatural mystery which benefits from an achingly mournful score by Berto Pisano, several shocking scenes of gore, and a typically sinister performance from Klaus Kinski as a morbid doctor. On Blu-ray, with new 2K restoration from the original camera negative and original Italian and English soundtracks with uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.

"Graduation" (2016 — Romania): Blending rigorous naturalism with the precise construction photo for Graduationof a thriller, this Cannes award–winning drama from Cristian Mungiu sheds light on the high stakes and ethical complexities of life in contemporary Romania. As his daughter nears high-school graduation, Romeo (Adrian Titieni), an upstanding doctor, counts on her winning a competitive scholarship that will send her to university in England. But when an injury sustained during a sexual assault compromises her performance on an important exam, Romeo’s best-laid plans for her threaten to crumble, leading him to seek favors in a world that runs on backscratching and bribery. Suffused with quiet dread, "Graduation" takes a humane and deeply ambiguous look at how corrosive rampant corruption is to moral convictions. On DVD and Blu-ray, with 2K digital master, approved by director Cristian Mungiu, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

"Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters"
(1985) Paul Schrader’s visually stunning, collagelike portrait of the acclaimed Japanese author and playwright Yukio Mishima (played by Ken Ogata) investigates the inner turmoil and photo for Mishima: A Life in Four Chapterscontradictions of a man who attempted the impossible task of finding harmony among self, art, and society. Taking place on Mishima’s last day, when he famously committed public seppuku, the film is punctuated by extended flashbacks to the writer’s life as well as by gloriously stylized evocations of his fictional works. With its rich cinematography by John Bailey, exquisite sets and costumes by Eiko Ishioka, and unforgettable, highly influential score by Philip Glass, "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" is a tribute to its subject and a bold, investigative work of art in its own right. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new, restored 4K digital transfer (Blu-ray) and restored high-definition digital transfer (DVD) of the director’s cut, both supervised and approved by director Paul Schrader and cinematographer John Bailey, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

"Savannah Smiles (Collector's Edition)"
(1982) Savannah (Bridgette Andersen) is the precocious six-year-old daughter of a busy politician photo for Savannah Smiles (Collector's Edition)who is consumed by his re-election campaign. She decides to run away from home and sneaks into a car driven by two escaped convicts, Alvie (Mark Miller) and Boots (Donovan Scott), in a crazy comedy of errors. Hiding in an abandoned house, the two bumbling crooks initially try to hold the adorable Savannah for ransom to obtain a hefty reward for her return, but an unexpected bond grows among Savannah, Alvie and Boots, creating a surrogate family they have never known before. Their relationship is tested when the convicts, now seen as kidnappers, must choose between their freedom and their new friend in this classic comedy. Written and produced by the film's star Mark Miller ("A Walk in the Clouds"), "Savannah Smiles" features an all-star supporting cast that includes Academy Award-nominee Pat Morita, Michael Park, John Fiedler, Fran Ryan and Golden Globe-winner Peter Graves and boasts a brand new 2K transfer from a 35mm print from the Library of Congress. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo with original Mono Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray). From MVD Rewind.

From TV to Disc:

"Gunsmoke: The Thirteenth Season, Volume One" and "Gunsmoke: The Thirteenth Season, Volume Two" (1967-68) continue the adventures of U.S. Marshall Matt Dillon (James Arness) alongside the loyal Doc Adams (Milburn Stone), sexy saloon proprietress Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake) and lovable Deputy Festus Haggen (Ken Curtis). The 13th season of television's beloved Western follows Dillon as he corrals dangerous outlaws and deals with problems of the Wild West: epic gunfights, photo for gunsmoke-boxbrawls, cold-blooded murderers and bank robbers. Volume 1 is a four-disc set with 15 episodes, Volume 2 is a three-disc set with 10 episodes. From CBS/Paramount … "Hostages: Season 1" (2013 — Israel) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes. When four masked men violently break into the Danon family home, taking them hostages, the family of four will be shaken to the core and their lives will change forever. In season one, the kidnappers demand that Yael, the matriarch of the family and a brilliant surgeon, kill the Israeli Prime Minister during a routine surgery. If the Prime Minister does not die, Yael's family soon will. Desperate to save her family but keep her patient alive, Yael uses her wits to delay the decision until the last possible moment. During this terrifying time in which the kidnappers and hostages are bound together, a tangled web of secrets and lies are revealed. From Kino Lorber … "The Loud House: It Gets Louder – Season 1, Volume 2" (2016) is a two-disc set with all 13 episodes of the chaotic animated family comedy in which Lincoln Loud is an 11-year-old boy who lives with 10 sisters. With the help of his right-hand man Clyde, Lincoln finds new ways to survive in such a large family every day. From Nickelodeon/Paramount.

Buzzin' the 'B's:

When not mired in the corporate rat race, Wall Street executive Bart Hughes is king of his sleek Manhattan brownstone –until he finds his castle under siege by the most determined of home intruders in "Of Unknown Origin" (1983), starring Peter Weller, Jennifer Dale, Lawrence Dane, Kenneth Welsh, Louis Del Grande, Shannon Tweed, Keith Knight and Maury Chaykin. Forced to enter a rat race of an entirely different sort, Bart takes a stand, with his survival and sanity at stake. New 2K scan from the interpositive. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory … photo for Night Zero In "Night Zero" (2018), starring Katie Maloney, Eric Swader, Dawnelle Jewell, Vincent Bombara and Umar Faraz, a dinner party turns deadly when a group of friends are trapped inside of their house after a massive alien invasion threatens to take over the world. Things take a turn for the worse when they discover that the chemical the military is using to destroy the aliens is also turning humans into zombie-like savages. From Conquest Pictures/MVD Entertainment … In "The Party" (2017), starring Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer, Cillian Murphy, Kristin Scott Thomas and Timothy Spall, an intimate gathering of friends goes haywire when an unexpected announcement sets off a chain reaction exposing secrets, sex, and betrayal within the room — ending with a bang. A black comedy from Sally Potter, the acclaimed director of "Orlando" and "Ginger & Rosa." From Lionsgate … In "I Kill Giants" (2017), starring Zoe Saldana, Imogen Poots, Madison Wolfe and Sydney Wade, teen Barbara Thorson (Wolfe) is the only thing that stands between terrible giants and the destruction of her small town. But as she boldly confronts her fears in increasingly dangerous ways, her new school counselor (Saldana) leads her to question everything she’s always believed to be true. Based on the critically acclaimed “Man of Action” graphic novel written by Kelly and Ken Niimura (“Henshin”). On DVD, Blu-ray from RLJE Films … Set against the backdrop of a country divided, "Masterpiece: Little Women" (2018), starring Emily Watson, Michael Gambon, Angela Lansbury, Maya Hawke, Willa Fitzgerald, Annes Elwy, Kathryn Newton and Dylan Baker, follows the four March sisters on their journey from childhood to adulthood while their father is away at war. Under the guidance of their mother Marmee, the girls navigate what it means to be a young woman: from gender roles to sibling rivalry, first love, loss and marriage. Accompanied by the charming boy next door Laurie Laurence, their cantankerous wealthy Aunt March and benevolent neighbor Mr. Laurence, "Little Women" is a coming-of-age story that is as relevant and engaging today as it was on its original publication in 1868. On DVD, Blu-ray, from PBS Distribution.

On the Indie Front:

"Swung" (2017), starring Owen McDonnell, Elena Anaya and Elizabeth McGovern, is based on Ewan Morrison's internationally acclaimed novel of the same name The film is a no-holds-barred look at sex in the modern world.David (McDonnell) is a recently out of work designer going through a divorce. Lately, he's been having difficulties in the bedroom with his girlfriend Alice (Anaya), a journalist, so the two begin to investigate ways to shake things up. After a stimulating encounter with two swingers adds the missing spice to their relationship, they decide to expand their sexual boundaries and explore even more intimacy with strangers. From Film Movement.

Foreign Films:

"A Fantastic Woman" (2017 — Chile), starring Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes and Luis photo for A Fantastic Woman Gnecco, is the story of a young transgender aspiring singer who must confront society and her older lover’s family when he dies unexpectedly. Marina, a young transgender waitress and aspiring singer, and Orlando, an older man, are in love and planning for the future. After Orlando suddenly falls ill and dies, Marina is forced to confront his family and society, and to fight again to show them who she is: complex, strong, forthright, fantastic. Academy Award-winner for Best Foreign Language film of the year. On Blu-ray from Sony … In "Souvenir" (2016 — France), Liliane (Isabelle Huppert) lives a modest and monotonous life. By day, she works in a pâté factory, and by night, she sits on the couch and watches TV. One day, a new worker named Jean (Kévin Azaïs) arrives. The two form a platonic relationship, but Jean grows increasingly convinced that he recognizes Liliane from a European singing contest he saw as a child. Eventually, Jean convinces Liliane to confront her past. A beautiful portrayal of a friendship between two people from different generations, who come together to make a life changing comeback. From Strand Releasing.

For the Family:

From Aardman, the award-winning tribe that created "Wallace & Gromit," "Chicken Run," and "Shaun the Sheep Movie," this claymation animated prehistoric romp "Early Man" (2018), with the voices of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall, tells the story of courageous caveman hero Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his best friend, Hognob, as they unite their tribe against a mighty enemy — Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and his Bronze Age City — to save their photo for Early Man home. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Lionsgate … "A Sunny Day" (2018) features four episodes from the preschool series' first season that follows 10-year-old master hairstylist and entrepreneur Sunny. Along with the help of her best friends Blair and Rox, and her loyal and lovable puppy Doodle, Sunny confidently takes on any challenge thrown her way. The characters in the series celebrate individuality and self-expression, while the show's social-emotional curriculum highlights leadership, innovative thinking and teamwork. From Nickelodeon/Paramount … In "Daphne & Velma" (2018), starring Sarah Jeffery and Sarah Gilman, Scooby-Doo's leading ladies star in their very own live-action feature film. State of the art robots and high-tech gadgets are common sights at Ridge Valley High, an innovative center of learning for some of the brightest minds in the country, including new transfer student, the bright & optimistic Daphne Blake (Jeffery) who is excited to finally go to school with her online bestie, the whip-smart & analytical Velma Dinkley (Gilman). But not everything is as innocent as it seems as mysterious disappearances begin to plague the top-performing students on campus. Once cheery and full of life, kids now appear in a “zombiefied” state — lifeless shells of themselves. Can Daphne and Velma learn to work together and save the students or will they become the next victims? On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner.

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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