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


Sep 242013

photo for The Lone Ranger The famed masked hero is brought to life through new eyes. Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed idealistic lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer) into a legend of justice — as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption in the Wild West. Shortly after the Civil War, Reid rides with his Texas Ranger brother to apprehend notorious bandit Bruce Cavendish and his gang. The Rangers are ambushed and the only survivor, Reid, is rescued by a renegade Comanche, Tonto, and brought back to life as the masked man. The pair pursue Cavendish and get involved in other adventures, including a Comanche uprising, fights with the U.S. cavalry, a blown-up silver mine, and an attempted takeover of the transcontinental railroad. Extras: Blooper reel; deleted scene; “Riding the Rails of The Lone Ranger” behind-the-scenes featurette on the train sequences; “Armies’s Western Road Trip” location tour; “Becoming a Cowboy” featurette that follows the cowboy (and cowgirl) cast to boot camp, where they got a chance to experience what their characters would really be living like in the Wild West. Vitals: Director: Gore Verbinski. Stars: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, William Fichtner. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 149 min., Western Action, Box office gross: $88.559, million, Warner. 2 stars

 Posted by on September 24, 2013 No Responses »
Sep 242013

photo Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Shining” was released in May 1980 to mixed reviews and a slow but steady boxoffice (topping out at a very respectable $44 million by year’s end). As with all of Kubrick’s work, it was a multilayered affair, ripe with allusions and meanings. But unlike other Kubrick films, a cult of interpreters sprang up around “The Shining,” fans who claimed to have decoded the film’s “secret messages” addressing everything from the genocide of Native Americans to a range of government conspiracies. This documentary takes a look at some of the complex theories that attempt to deconstruct the film and create a new meaning out of “the hidden symbols and messages” embedded in Kubrick’s scenario. We hear from some of the people who have reworked the film to match their own ideas; “The Shining” is examined inside and out, backwards and forwards (and, as one theorist urges, the film is literally played forward and backwards simultaneously to note overlapping images and symbols), intercutting it with layers of dreamlike imagery to illustrate their streams of consciousness. It’s a bit too much at times, kind of reminiscent of the “Paul Is Dead” conspiracy; if nothing else, it’s a fun endeavor. (In case you forgot, Room 237 is where some rather nasty stuff takes place in the film). Extras include featurettes and deleted scenes. Vitals: Director: Rodney Ascher. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 102 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $.259 million, IFC Films. 3 stars

 Posted by on September 24, 2013 No Responses »
Sep 242013

photo for In the House French master filmmaker Francois Ozon (“Young & Beautiful”, “Potiche,” “Hideaway,” “Angel,” “Swimming Pool,” “Under the Sand”) again pushes the boundaries of storytelling with this genre-busting mystery-thriller-romance about the intrigues created by a 16-year-old student, Claude (Ernst Umhauer), who comes to the fore in a writing class taught by a bored, middle-aged, failed writer, Germain (Fabrice Luchini). When Claude comes up with a short story written about how he has schemed his way into the house of a schoolmate and seen things not meant for outsiders’ eyes, he seduces German and his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas) into what becomes an ongoing tale, creating a multi-layered saga that pushes at imagination, reality and fantasy, threatening to suck the pair into the saga as characters in Claude’s own story. It’s suspenseful, disturbing and a heck of a lot of fun. In French with English subtitles. Extras include a making-of documentary and deleted scenes. Vitals: Director: Francois Ozon. Stars: Ernst Umhauer, Fabrice Luchini, Emmanuelle Seigner, Kristin Scott Thomas, Denis Menochet. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 105 min., Mystery Thriller, Box office gross: $.354 million, Cohen Media Group. 3 stars

 Posted by on September 24, 2013 No Responses »
Sep 242013

photo I was no fan of the first two “Iron Man” movies; I found snarky wealthy industrialist Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his tin-man-without-a-heart persona rather annoying and the action all too metallic and overwhelming; there just wasn’t enough reality to the films. Of course I was in the minority. But that’s been rectified by this outing, which, by stripping Stark of his safety net and putting him out into the world sans his armor, serves to humanizee the character and actually make me root for him (instead of wanting to run out and get a can opener). The plot: A foreign radical named The Mandarin masterminds a series of terrorist attacks, including one on Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre and one that totally destroys Stark’s house and all its weaponry, forcing Stark and one remaining suit into hiding in, of all places, Tennessee. There he finds out about a super-secret DNA altering program called Extremis that gives people super-human strength and the ability to recover from crippling injuries. That discovery leads him to Miami, where he finds that the real brains behind The Mandarin is someone from his past who not only has a grudge to settle with Stark, but who also wants to take down the president of the United States and install a puppet government. Only Stark — basically stripped of his powers and relying on his intellect and wits — stands in the way of this dastardly scenario. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: Does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man? Jon Favreau handed over the directorial duties on “3” to Shane Black, who wrote the “Lethal Weapon” franchise films, “The Long Kiss Goodnight” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” and who, along with Drew Pearce, wrote this definitely more humanistic story line. Extras include a very cool “Marvel One Shot: Agent Carter” short film starring Hayley Atwell as British agent Peggy Carter from “Captain America,” flexing her muscles as a hot secret agent for S.H.I.E.L.D; a couple behind-the-scenes featurettes; a gag reel and deleted & extended scenes; and commentary ­with Pearce and Black. Vitals: Director: Shane Black. Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, Paul Bettany, William Sadler, James Badge Dale, Yvonne Zima. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 130 min., Action Adventure, Box office gross: $403.157 million, Disney. 3 stars

 Posted by on September 24, 2013 No Responses »
Sep 242013
 photo for Warner Archives Tarzan and the College KittensTARZAN THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (1967-68) Ron Ely finishes his legendary run as Edgar Rice Burroughs’ immortal creation Tarzan in the show’s 26 episode second season. NBC amped up the wattage with Tarzan, Cheetah, and Jai (Manuel Padilla) coming to the aid of some very famous faces. First off, Tarzan takes on a tiger in one of the series most acclaimed episodes guest starring James Whitmore. Then prepare for an eye-dazzler of star-power including George Kennedy, Helen Hayes and James MacArthur (playing mother and son!), James Earl Jones, Woody Strode, Clarence Williams III, Robert Loggia, Geoffrey Holder, Fernando Lamas, and Ted Cassidy. There’s a titanic two-parter, “The Four O’Clock Army,” that teams recurring guests Julie Harris and Maurice Evans in defense of a village under siege by slavers. Oh, and to seal the deal Ethel Merman drops by the jungleŠ as do Diana Ross and The Supremes! Newly remastered.SEX KITTENS GO TO COLLEGE (1960) Robots, chimps and sex kittens join forces with legendary B-smith Albert Zugsmith (Confessions of an Opium Eater) to create an epic screwball campus comedy that prefigures both grindhouse flicks and family-friendly college capers. When Collins College’s digital supercomputer, Thinko (played by real-life Westinghouse robot, Electro), picks Dr. Mathilda West (Mamie van Doren) to head their science department, nobody expects the polymath savant to pack more curves than a rack of test-tubes. While the faculty struggles to pick their slack-jaws off the floor, a crew of gangsters puts the muscle on them, thanks to Thinko’s knack for picking the ponies. Albert Zugsmith’s exploitation classic comes to you in its full, unexpurgated glory, featuring some very blue electric dreams from Thinko that were not part of the American release. Also stars Tuesday Weld, Mijanou Bardot (Brigitte’s sister) John Carradine, Martin Milner, Jackie Coogan, Conway Twitty, Woo Woo Grabowski, Abraham Q. Voltaire (the chimp) and Vampira. Newly remastered and uncut. 16×9 Widescreen.


Davis & Fairbanks, Jr. – Together & Separate

PARACHUTE JUMPER (1932) Alfred R. Green (Baby Face) pairs Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Bette Davis for this high-flyer that mixes romance and rum-running during the lowdown depths of the Great Depression. Fairbanks and Frank McHugh play ex-Marine pilots who end up flying shady missions for a smuggler (Leo Carrillo) who may be slipping something extra in amongst the hooch. Davis plays “Alabama”, an out-of-work stenographer  who shacks up with the boys – but don’t any funny ideas, pre-Code or not, Alabama’s on the up-and-up, got that? Newly remastered.

LOVE IS A RACKET (1932) Fast-talking Fedora-man Lee Tracy takes a bite out of the second banana role (and the amazing Ann Dvorak is third!) in support of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in this tale of bullets and Broadway. Fairbanks plays a Great White Way gossip columnist who knows what NOT to mention if he want to keep his skin. This applies double to the activities of gangster Ernie Shaw (the always treacherous Lyle Talbot) but what’s a guy to do when his best dame gets caught up kiting checks and Shaw’s the gent holding the marker? William Wellman deftly mixes crime and comedy for this pre-Code charmer that really sticks.

THE WORKING MAN (1933) Warner Bros.’ leading “prestige” performer, Mr. George Arliss is the topliner for this corporate comedy romance, re-teams with his co-star from the smash The Man Who Played God, Bette Davis. Arliss plays shoe manufacturing magnate John Reeves, who long ago lost his love to the arms of his main rival, Tom Hartland. Encountering the now orphaned Hartland children – and feeling pushed out at his own company – Reeves goes “undercover” inside the Hartland’s manor and launches an all-out assault against his own company, while Jenny Hartland (Ms. Davis) defects to Reeves’ Shoes and the arms of his nephew. A farce with heart, Arliss keeps this corker on the sweet and narrow without descending into treacle. Newly remastered.

NOTE: These DVDs are Manufactured on Demand (MOD); to order, fans must visit The Warner Archive Collection or WB Shop.com

 Posted by on September 24, 2013 No Responses »
Sep 242013

From the Big Screen:

“Iron Man 3,” “Room 237,” “In the House” and “Unfinished Song.” For more releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.


It’s beginning to smell a lot like holiday gift-giving time — in late September? Yep. This week marks the beginning of an onslaught of box sets, collectors’ editions, remasters from the vaults, and all sorts of merchandising gambits to loosen our grip on our wallets. And I couldn’t be happier. Here’s this week’s majestic releases, in order of age-appropriateness:

Warner Home Video is unleashing “The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray,” a six-disc set with “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” with the existing extra content for each film. “Batman Begins” and its special features reside on one disc; “The Dark Knight” and its special features take up two discs; “The Dark Knight Rises” also takes up two discs; a sixth disc is devoted to new special features, which include two new featurettes — “The Fire Rises: The Creation and Impact of The Dark Knight Trilogy” (with never-photo for The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-ray before-seen footage, rare moments, and exclusive interviews with Guillermo Del Toro, Damon Lindelof, Michael Mann, Richard Roeper, Zack Snyder and others) and “Christopher Nolan & Richard Donner: A Conversation” (Nolan and Richard Donner [“Superman”] sit down to discuss the trials and triumphs involved in bringing the two most iconic superheroes of all time to the big screen, and how “Superman” influenced Nolan when developing” Batman Begins”); IMAX sequences: Scenes from “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises” in the original IMAX aspect ratio; exclusive new collectible memorabilia: Premium Mattel Hot Wheels Vehicles: Batmobile, Batpod and Tumbler, newly commissioned collectible art cards by Mondo featuring Scarecrow, Joker, Bane, Harvey Dent, and Ra’s al Ghul, 48-page hardcover book featuring production stills and behind the scenes images from all three movies. Whew! The set, which carries a $99.97 price tag (but is much lower via Amazon), is also available as a download and via UltraViolet.

Next up is Anchor Bay’s “Halloween 35th Anniversary Blu-ray” (1978), in an all-new HD transfer personally supervised by the film’s original cinematographer, Dean Cundey, with a new 7.1 audio mix (as well as the original mono audio), a brand-new feature length audio commentary by writer-director John Carpenter and star Jamie Lee Curtis, an all-new bonus feature with Curtis, as well as selected legacy bonus features from previous releases. Available in a collectible limited-edition book-style package (available only for the first printing) with 20 pages featuring archival photos, an essay by “Halloween” historian Stef Hutchinson and specially commissioned cover art by Jay Shaw. $34.99. Other extras include “The Night She Came Home” new featurette with Jamie Lee Curtis, “On Location,” trailers, TV and radio spots, additional scenes from TV version. The film co-stars Donald Pleasence, P.J. Soles, Kyle Richards, Nancy Loomis, Charles Cyphers and Brian Andrews.

Let’s move to the early 1970s now for a stay with one of the true kings of cool, Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack second in command, Dean Martin. Martin’s career as a singer and actor, and as an entertainer, in movies and Las Vegas, spanned the 1950s and 1960s; he was a king of primetime TV from 1965 to 1974 with his “Dean Martin Variety Show”. He next segued to “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast,” a series of television specials that ran from 1974 to 1984 in which Martin and friends would periodically “roast” a celebrity. “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Complete Collection” is the ultimate Roasters DVD set, featuring all 54 roasts with such roastees as Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Carson, Sammy Davis Jr., Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, George Burns, Don Rickles, Hank Aaron, photo for The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Complete Collection Wilt Chamberlin, Joe Namath, Muhammad Ali, Ronald Reagan, Martin himself, and many, many more. The 25-Disc set includes over 40 hours of incomparable comedy, along with more than 15 hours of bonus features highlighted by comedy sketches from “The Dean Martin Show,” exclusive interviews (with 34 former Roast participants, production personnel, critics and fans including: Don Rickles, Carol Burnett, Ruth Buzzi, Tony Danza, Abe Vigoda, Angie Dickinson, Dan Haggerty, Ed Asner, Fred Willard, Jimmie Walker, Rich Little, Rip Taylor, Shirley Jones, Tim Conway, Florence Henderson and many more), rare home movies, 11 featurettes and a 44-page collector’s book with archival production materials and more. Available exclusively online at deanroasts.com, $249.95. Ships this week. Read the complete press release here. (StarVista Entertainment/Time Life).

In the late 1940s, the incandescent Hollywood star Ingrid Bergman found herself so moved by the revolutionary neorealist films of Roberto Rossellini that she sent the director a letter, introducing herself and offering her talents. The resulting collaboration produced a series of films that are works of both sociopolitical concern and metaphysical melodrama, each starring Bergman as a woman experiencing physical dislocation and psychic torment in postwar Italy. It also famously led to a scandalous affair and eventual marriage between the filmmaker and star, and the focus on their personal lives in the press unfortunately overshadowed the extraordinary films they made together. Criterion’s “3 Films By Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman” brings together “Stromboli” (1950), “Europe ’51” (1952) and “Journey to Italy” (1954) in a five-disc DVD set and a four-disc Blu-ray set. The films are intensely personal photo for 3 Films By Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman portraits that reveal the director at his most emotional and the glamorous actor at her most anguished, and that capture them and the world around them in transition. There are new digital film restorations of the English- and Italian-language versions of “Stromboli” and “Europe ’51” and the English-language version of “Journey to Italy”, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray editions. A partial list of the extras includes archival television introductions by Rossellini to all three films; audio commentary for “Journey to Italy” featuring scholar Laura Mulvey; “Rossellini Through His Own Eyes,” a 1992 documentary on the filmmaker’s approach to cinema, featuring archival interviews with Rossellini and Bergman; new visual essays about Rossellini by scholars Tag Gallagher and James Quandt; “Rossellini Under the Volcano,” a 1998 documentary that returns to the island of Stromboli 50 years after the making of “Stromboli”; new interview with film historian Elena Degrada about the different versions of “Europe ’51”; new interviews with Isabella Rossellini and Ingrid Rossellini, daughters of Rossellini and Bergman; “Ingrid Bergman Remembered,” a 1996 documentary on the actor’s life, narrated by her daughter Pia Lindstrom; “My Dad Is 100 Years Old,” a 2005 short film, directed by Guy Maddin and starring Isabella Rossellini; a booklet featuring essays by critics Richard Brody, Fred Camper, Dina Iordanova, and Paul Thomas; letters exchanged by Rossellini and Bergman; “Why I Directed Stromboli,” a 1950 article by Rossellini; a 1954 interview with Rossellini conducted by Eric Rohmer and Francois Truffaut for “Cahiers du cinema”; and excerpts from a 1965 interview with Rossellini conducted by Apa and Maurizio Ponzi for “Filmcritica.”

photo for Prince Of Darkness (Collector's Edition) BLU-RAY DEBUT Blu-ray debuts this week: “Prince of Darkness (Collector’s Edition)” (1987), directed by John Carpenter and starring Donald Pleasence, Jameson Parker, Victor Wong, Lisa Blount, Alice Cooper and Dennis Dun. Extras include commentary with Carpenter, “Sympathy for the Devil”: new interview with Carpenter, “Alice at the Apocalypse”: new interview with actor and rock legend Alice Cooper, alternate opening from the TV version, more. From Shout! Factory/Scream Factory …“Psycho II (Collector’s Edition)” (1983), directed by Richard Franklin and starring Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Meg Tilly, Robert Loggia and Dennis Franz; and “Psycho III (Collector’s Edition)” (1986), directed by Anthony Perkins starring Perkins, Diana Scarwid, Jeff Fahey, Roberta Maxwell and Hugh Gillin. Both sequels hail from Shout! Factory/Scream Factory.

From TV to DVD:

Murder, betrayal, office politics, temptation … it’s all in a day’s work for Detective Salvo Montalbano in “Detective Montalbano: Episodes 23 & 24 and Detective Montalbano: Episodes 25 & 26” (2012). The very popular series is filmed in the ancient, sun-washed Sicilian city of Ragusa, and is based on the international best-selling mystery novels by Andrea Camilleri. Luca Zingaretti stars as Montalbano, the head of the police precinct who balances the demands of his Northern Italian superiors and the realities of local Sicilian crime. From MHz Networks … Matt Smith returns as the 11th Doctor in “Doctor Who: The Complete Seventh Series” (2013), a photo for collection of all 13 episodes from the seventh series, plus the 2011 and 2012 Christmas Specials. As a five-disc DVD, $79.98; four-disc Blu-ray, $89.98. From BBC Home Entertainment … “Family Guy Volume 11, Season 12” (2012-13) is a three-disc set with 23 episodes, $39.98 from Fox … “Foyle’s War Set 7” (2013) features three new mysteries of the acclaimed Masterpiece Mystery! series, featuring the complete U.K. broadcast editions. As the series returns, World War II is over, but the Cold War simmers in 1946 London. DCS Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) has retired from police work when Britain’s secret intelligence service compels him to join its ranks. Reunited with his former colleague, newlywed Sam Wainwright (Honeysuckle Weeks), Foyle faces new­but no less deadly­threats in the world of spies and counterintelligence. Three-disc DVD, two-disc Blu-ray; $49.99 each from Acorn Media … “Gene Simmons Family Jewels — The Final Season” (2013) is a three-disc set, $19.98 from A&E/Lionsgate … “Hannibal: Season One” (2012) consists of all thirteen episodes of the TV series — based on the novels of Thomas Harris — that delves into the photo for Hawaii Five-0 -- The Third Season complex mind of iconic villain Hannibal Lecter. Four-disc DVD, $39.97; three-disc Blu-ray, $39.98; from Lionsgate … “Hawaii Five-0 — The Third Season” (2012-13) features 24 episodes of this contemporary take on the classic series, but here about a new elite federalized task force whose mission is to wipe out the crime that washes up on the Islands’ sun-drenched beaches. Formats: Seven-disc DVD, $64.99; six-disc Blu-ray, $72.99 from CBS/Paramount … “The Lady Vanishes” (2013) is a new adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1938 thriller that sees a beautiful, spoiled young woman risk her life to solve the mysterious disappearance of a woman on a train. Stars Tuppence Middleton. $24.98 from BBC Home Entertainment … “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit — The Fourteenth Year” (2012-13) is a five-disc set with 24 episodes, from Universal … “Modern Family Season Four” (2012-13) is a three-disc set with 24 episodes. DVD, $49.98; Blu-ray Disc, $59.99 from Fox … “New Tricks Collection: Seasons 1-5” (2012) a the long-running, award-winning British series that follows a motley crew of photo for semi-retired detectives as they investigate cold cases in this fast paced and witty U.K. import. Value-priced 15-Disc Collector’s Edition features the longer, unedited UK edition of the 39 episodes from Seasons 1-5 $124.99 from Acorn Media … “2 Broke Girls: The Complete Second Season” (2012-13) is a three-disc set with 24 episodes that finds best friends Max (Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Beth Behrs) still waiting tables in Brooklyn, but the future looks bright for their start-up business venture. There’s a boost from a famous television personality’s review of Max’s cupcakes, a lucky break in real estate, and a surprise influx of cash, resulting in the grand opening of Max’s Homemade Cupcakes. But success doesn’t happen overnight. There are rat droppings to be dealt with, plus ex-boyfriends, a new flame, long nights packing a pastry gun … and an eviction notice. $44.98 from Warner … “War and Peace” (2007) is a lavish international co-production adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic featuring an ensemble cast including Clemence Poesy, Brenda Blethyn, Malcolm McDowell and Ken Duken, filmed on location in Russia and Lithuania. The program aired in Belgium and France in 2007 but was never available in the U.S. Two-disc DVD, $49.99 from Acorn Media.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

Jason Statham must be one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood, bouncing from action film to action film with aplomb (he’s been in 17 films since 2008). His choice of films may not be perfect, but his characters are: the world weary, emotionally damaged soldier-ex-criminal-detective-etc. who must right wrongs and set things straight with the world (read: the bad guys). Statham’s characters always seem real: they’re flawed and disturbed and they know it. In “Redemption” (2013), he again chooses this type of character — an ex-British Special Ops soldier who flips out in Afghanistan when the crew of his Humvee is slaughtered. Now content to hide out in London with a lady friend in homeless camps, Statham gets sucked into London’s criminal underworld when he’s attacked by a pair of vicious “taxmen” (low-level scum who operate a protection racket on the indigent), and, in the process of running from them, gets an photo for Redemption opportunity to remake himself and his life. He ends up taking a job as an enforcer for a Chinese criminal overlord, doing work no-one else will do — extortion, money collection, strong-arming, immigrant smuggling, all the time seeking redemption some how. He finds that in a nun who runs a homeless soup kitchen, and between his involvement with her and his search for the killer(s) of his ex-girlfriend (who was murdered shortly after they split up), his search for absolution drives the latter part of the film. This is not a traditional smack-em up actioner — there’s a noir feel about it, courtesy of writer-director Steven Knight and cinematographer Chris Menges — and bits and pieces of the plot are really offbeat, mostly in Statham’s relationship with the nun. A very interesting “B” effort. From Lionsgate … In “Blood of Redemption” (2013), starring Dolph Lundgren, Vinnie Jones, Billy Zane, Robert Davi and Gianni Capaldi, a gangster with power, money and love is betrayed by his inner circle, arrested and sent to jail. When he’s released, he makes a bloody return to the underworld to exact revenge on those who set him up. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Entertainment One … From the minds that brought you last year’s “V/H/S” comes photo for Bloody Homecoming “V/H/S/2” (2013), an all-new anthology of dread, madness, and gore. Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his abandoned house and find another collection of mysterious VHS tapes. In viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be terrifying motives behind the student’s disappearance. Directed by Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans and Jason Eisener. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray/DVD Combo and VHS. From Magnolia Home Entertainment … Three years after a tragic accident left a student dead at the annual homecoming dance, a group of seniors find themselves haunted by a deadly visitor from their past who hunts them down in the halls of academe in “Bloody Homecoming” (2012), starring Jim Tavare, Rae Latt, Lexi Giovagnoli, Alex Dobrenko and Randi Lamey. From Image/RLJ Entertainment … Based on the novel by Par Lagerkvist, winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature, “Barabbas” (2012) is a two-part mini-series that explores the story of a man whose life was spared because of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Filmed on location in Tunisia. Stars Billy Zane, Hristo Shopov, Paolo Seganti, Christiana Capotondi and Filippo Nigro. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment … Tensions rise between lifelong friends Mitchell and Carter after their truck breaks down on an isolated desert road and they start to attack each other’s life decisions with unwavering — and life-threatening — brutality in ,b>”Scenic Route” (2013), starring Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc. from Vertical Entertainments.

On the Indie Front:

In “Anything Is Possible” (2013), 12-year-old Ethan Bortnick, the Guinness World Book of Records’ youngest solo headline entertainer, plays Nathan, a boy who becomes separated from his mother during a tsunami rescue mission in Japan. When he returns to Detroit, Child Care Services threatens to take him away from his dad when it’s revealed that the man isn’t his biological father, and Nathan runs away. But with the help and support of the strangers he meets along the photo forway — ­ including a homeless Iraq-war veteran, a wealthy philanthropist and kids at the local orphanage –­ he discovers his musical gift, a sense of belonging and his true purpose. Co-stars Jonathan Bennett and Lacey Chabert. From Image Entertainment … In “Ashes” (2012), starring Ajay Naidu, Faran Tahir, Heather Burns and Piper Perabo, a young Indo-American man struggles in the inner city of New York to support himself and his mentally ill older brother. From Green Apple Entertainment … The vivacious author of the best-selling book “The Power of Love” is invited to a radio talk show, where she helps listeners improve their relationships by counseling callers with their love matters, eventually and unwittingly exposing her own love-related issues on air in “The Power of Love” (2013), starring Vivica Fox, Malik Barnhardt, Wood Harris and Joe Torry. From Maddox Entertainment.

For the Family:

“Geronimo Stilton: Operation ShuFongFong” (2013) features four adventures of the brilliant mouse journalist and his courageous pals as they launch paws-first into exciting capers in search of the next big scoop. The hit animated TV series is inspired by the best-selling Scholastic book series of the same name. The episodes: “Operation ShuFongFong,” in which Geronimo and his sidekicks journey deep into the Bandel Jungle to retrieve a pair of stolen photo for Geronimo Stilton: Operation ShuFongFong ShuFongFong lizards; “Mouse House of the Future,” where Geronimo reluctantly accepts Professor Cheesewheel’s offer to make his messy house fully automatic, complete with a robot butler; “Reported Missing,” which finds Geronimo and team trekking to Africa to uncover the secret of an adventurer who vanished without a trace long ago; and “It’s My Scoop,” where Geronimo learns that he needs to be more careful with his notes if he is to stop getting scooped by rival news organization, The Daily Rat. From Entertainment One … In order to keep his promise to aging kung fu master Sifu, Fu the rabbit, a humble chef, must venture out of the comfort of his kitchen, team up with a kung fu prodigy and her sidekick, and go on a heroic quest to defeat Sifu’s arch-nemesis to save their kung fu academy from peril in “Legend of Kung Fu Rabbit” (2011), with the voices of Jon Heder, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rebecca Black, Claire Geare and Tom Arnold. From Lionsgate … “Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales Ruh-Roh Robot!” (2012) is a two-disc set with 13 fan-favorite zany mysteries, $19.98 from Warner.

Special Interest:

photo for
For “The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear” (2012 — Georgia), filmmaker Tinatin Gurchiani put out a casting call for young adults, aged 15-23, to make a film about growing up in her home country, Georgia, and to find commonalities across social and ethnic lines. The boys and girls who responded to the call were radically different from one another, as were their personal reasons for auditioning. Some wanted to be movie stars and saw the film as a means to that end; others wanted to tell their personal story. Gurchiani traveled through cities and villages interviewing the candidates and filming their daily lives. From Icarus Films Home Video … The documentary “Dear Mom, Love Cher” (2013) provides a rare peek into Cher’s fascinating family history and features in-depth interviews with her mother, Georgia Holt, daughters Cher and Georganne LaPiere Bartylak, and grandchildren Chaz Bono and Elijah Blue Allman. $14.98 from Lionsgate.

 Posted by on September 24, 2013 No Responses »
Sep 182013

In December, Criterion will release Martin Scorsese’s “World Cinema Project,” a box set collecting six amazing, rarely seen films from around the world in recent major digital restorations. “Each and every title is precious to me,” says Scorsese of these films, which hail from Mexico, Senegal, South Korea, and elsewhere. Next up is the ultimate freewheeling classic of 1970s American cinema, Robert Altman’s “Nashville,” in a packed special edition with a new documentary featuring interviews with many members of the film’s brilliant ensemble cast. That’s followed by Italian provocateur Elio Petri’s chilling and surreal thriller “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion,” which won an Oscar for best foreign-language film. All this plus a new Blu-ray of the quirky documentary classic “Grey Gardens,” which also features the filmmakers’ 2006 follow-up “The Beales of Grey Gardens,” featuring footage not seen in the original.

Dec. 3: “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion”
Dec. 3: “Nashville”
Dec. 10: “Grey Gardens”
Dec. 10: Martin Scorsese’s “World Cinema Project”


 Posted by on September 18, 2013 No Responses »
Sep 162013

From the Big Screen:

“Behind the Candelabra,” “World War Z,” “The Bling Ring,” “The East” and “Disconnect.” Read more at the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.


The highlight of the week is Shout! Factory’s “The Bruce Lee Legacy Collection,” an
11 Blu-ray/DVD box set in book-style packaging marking the 40th anniversary of the release of
“Enter the Dragon” and the 40th anniversary of Lee’s death). The set offers the first-ever Blu-photo for The Bruce Lee Legacy Collection ray presentations (as well as the DVD versions) of “The Big Boss,” “Fist of Fury,” “Way of the Dragon” and “Game of Death” and includes three documentaries on two discs, “Bruce Lee: The Legend” (and the original version “Bruce Lee: The Man, The Legend”), the critically acclaimed “I Am Bruce Lee” and “The Grandmaster and the Dragon: William Cheung and Bruce Lee”; and a bonus disc with hours of extra content. The book includes 68 pages of archival materials, rare and never-before-released photos, a new essay on Lee’s amazing career, and much more. $119.99.

“Two Men in Manhattan” (1959) is a rediscovered gem from master filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville. Melville’s moody dramas, including “Bob le Flambeur,” “Le Doulos,” “Le Samourai” and “Army of Shadows,” were deeply influenced by classic Hollywood crime pictures, making iconic use of cigarette-smoking, world-weary gangsters and detectives in trenchcoats and fedora hats. His minimalist style, including shooting on real locations, was a major influence on the next photo for Two Men in Manhattan generation of filmmakers that would create the New Wave. The dark shadows of New York come to life here in this tale about a French UN delegate who disappears into thin air, sending reporter Moreau (Melville himself) and hard-drinking photographer Delmas (Pierre Grasse) on a mission to find him. Their only lead: pictures of three women that could indicate a scandal. Though not the best of Melville’s outings (it was a major flop at the boxoffice and was never released in the states), the film nevertheless is a shining example of Melville’s existential filmmaking: the protagonists (one a hero, the other an antihero) must grapple with ethical dilemmas throughout the course of their Odyssey and decide whether they should cash in on their discovery or squash their finding for the sake of the greater good. The location shots of New York are gorgeous; the interiors (shot in a studio in France) no so. The story line is corny at times and requires leaps of faith by the viewer because of plot inconsistencies — but the film has more to do with the appearances of reality than realism for its own sake. Extras include a conversation between film critics Jonathan Rosenbaum and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and a new essay by Melville scholar Ginette Vincendeau. On Blu-ray and DVD from Cohen Film Collection.

The Criterion Collection this week offers the Blu-ray debut of Richard Linklater’s “Slacker” (1991), a prime example of American independent film that presents a day in the life of a loose-knit Austin, Texas, subculture populated by eccentric and overeducated young people. Linklater and his crew threw out any idea of a traditional plot, choosing instead to create a tapestry of over 100 characters, each participant “handing off” the movie to the next character he or she meets in the loose-knit structure (ala Luis Bunuel’s “The Phantom of Liberty”). Also from Criterion comes “Autumn Sonata” (1978) on DVD and Blu-ray. The film was the only collaboration between cinema’s two great Bergmans — ­Ingmar, the iconic director of “The Seventh Seal,” and Ingrid, the monumental star of “Casablanca.” The grand dame, playing an icy concert pianist, is matched beat for beat in ferocity by the filmmaker’s recurring lead Liv photo forUllmann as her eldest daughter. Over the course of a long, painful night that the two spend together after an extended separation, they finally confront the bitter discord of their relationship. Both releases come loaded with extras … “A Letter to Three Wives” (1949), directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (almost as a precursor to “All About Eve”) and starring Ann Sothern, Linda Darnell, Jeanne Crain, Kirk Douglas and Paul Douglas, arrives on Blu-ray from Fox. In this award-winning melodrama, a letter is addressed to three wives from their “best friend,” Addie Ross, announcing that she is running away with one of their husbands — but she doesn’t say which one, forcing the women to reminisce about the ups and downs of their marriages — giving the viewer a glimpse into their lives and loves. A fabulous peek at mid-century culture and mores — with great acting and directing. Extras include commentary and “Biography: Linda Darnell: Hollywood’s Fallen Angel.” Other Blu-Ray releases this week: universal has broken up its “Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection” Blu-ray set and has released four of the horror classics separately on Blu-ray: “Frankenstein” (1931), “Dracula” (1931), “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) and “The Wolf Man” (1941), $26.98 each.

From TV to DVD:

“Adventure Time: Jake the Dad” (2013) is an all-new compilation that features 16 popular episodes from seasons 4 and 5 of the series, plus a must-have Jake hat included as an on-pack bundle, $24.98 from Warner … “Arrow: The Complete First Season” (2012-13) photo for (2012-13) includes all 23 episodes of CW’s modern-day re-imagining of the iconic DC Comics superhero. After being marooned for five years on a remote island, billionaire Oliver Queen returns home with a mysterious agenda and a lethal set of new skills that he uses in a war on crime in this hard-hitting action series. Available as a five-disc DVD, $59.98; and a Blu-ray/DVD Combo (four Blu-ray discs, five DVD discs) for $69.97. From Warner … “Bates Motel: Season One” (2013) is a modern day re-imagining of the classic film “Psycho” that looks at Norman Bates’ teenage years and his intricate relationship with his mother, weaving a web of deception, murder and unexpected twists in a small town where nothing is what it seems. Stars Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga. Three-disc set with 10 episodes, $44.98 on DVD and Blu-ray. From Universal … “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation — The Thirteenth Season” (2012-13) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $69.99 from CBS/Paramount … In “Dalziel & Pascoe: Season 8” (2004), Superintendent Andy Dalziel, a blowhard old-school detective and his cultured by-the-book partner, Peter Pascoe, return for another season of puzzling cases and surprising twists. Two-disc DVD, $34.98 from BBC Home Entertainment …
photo for Grimm: Season Two “Grimm: Season Two” (2012-13) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes. Now fully embracing his identity as a Grimm (a line of guardians who mediate between the human world and the world of the monsters of mythology), Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardt tackles even more gruesome and bizarre crimes linked to creatures of lore. On $59.98; Blu-ray, $69.98. From Universal … “The Hollow Crown: The Complete Series” (2012) is the miniseries adaptation of four of Shakespeare’s most celebrated historical plays: “Richard II,” “Henry IV (Part 1 and Part 2),” and “Henry V.” Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston and Ben Whishaw in his award-winning role as Richard II star in this epic tale of three Kings and their battle for survival, and the rise and fall of a dynasty. From Universal … “Leverage Season Five” (2012-13) is a four-disc set with 15 episodes, $29.98 from Fox … “The Mentalist: The Complete Fifth Season” (2012) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes of the show about Patrick Jane, the California Bureau of Investigation consultant and former faux-psychic obsessed with finding Red John, the serial killer who murdered his family. The Sunday night hit procedural combines crime-solving twists with wry humor that celebrate mind over matter. Though Red John may still be at large, the CBI has captured Lorelei, one of his accomplices. With Lorelei firmly in the grasps of the CBI, will Jane be able to get information about Red John out of her? $59.98 from Warner … “Nashville: photo for The Mentalist: The Complete Fifth Season The Complete First Season” (2012-13) is a five-disc set with 21 episodes, $45.99 from Disney … “Top Gear: The Worst Car in the History of the World” (2013) has hosts Jeremy Clarkson and James May traveling to the very distant North of England to name and shame the most rubbish car from a manufacturer which, frankly, should have known better, and argue over the great and the awful from Peugeot, Ford, Mahindra, FSO, Alfa Romeo, Rolls Royce, Porsche, Citroen, Saab, and many more. $9.98 from BBC Home Entertainment … “Vegas — The DVD Edition” (2012-13) is a five-disc set with 21 episodes of the series inspired by the true story of former Las Vegas photo for Vegas -- The DVD Edition Sheriff Ralph Lamb, a former military police officer, who now patrols the once-desolate desert city. As corruption builds within Las Vegas during the 1960s, Lamb is called upon to bring order to the new entertainment mecca, putting him face-to-face with the ruthless Chicago gangster who intends to claim Vegas as his own. Extras include “He Ain’t Like the Real Law,” which profiles the real life of Sheriff Ralph Lamb; more. $64.99 from CBS/Paramount … “Waking The Dead: Season Eight” (2012) returns with a dark and frightening new season. The Cold Case Squad has new offices in an eerie basement and a new team member who is keeping secrets. Three months have passed since the death of his son, and Boyd is determined to get back to work with his team he seems more reckless than ever. And could Eve be in a relationship with a man who was involved in a murder thirteen years ago? Two-disc set with eight episodes, $34.98 from BBC Home Entertainment.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

“Hidden in the Woods” (2012 — Chile), starring Siboney Lo and Carolina Escobar, is based on a bizarre true story — and is not for the faint of heart. Being remade in the U.S. by the original’s director, Patricio Valladares — the film features extreme violence, prostitution, sexual assault, buckets of blood and even cannibalism. Deep in the Chilean countryside, Ana and Anny live with their deformed brother and are subject to their father’s perverse and sadistic whims. After a dispute with the police leaves a wake of death and mutilation, they flee and find refuge in a remote cabin hidden from society. Meanwhile, a crime lord, convinced they have stolen the massive stash of drugs their father was hiding, sends a violent pack of thugs to find them. Spanish with English subtitles. With an eight-page collector’s booklet and a behind-the-scenes featurette. From Artsploitation Films … photo for
“Bless Me, Ultima” (2013), starring Miriam Colon, Benito Martinez and Dolores Heredia, was written for the screen and directed by Carl Franklin. A drama set in New Mexico during WWII, it centers on the relationship between a young man and an elderly medicine woman who helps him contend with the battle between good and evil that rages in his village. From Sony … In “Breakout (aka Split Decision)” (2013), starring Brendan Fraser, Dominic Purcell, Ethan Suplee, Daniel Kash, Holly Deveaux and Amy Price-Francis, an innocent camping trip takes a dark turn for a young brother and sister when they witness a murder and become the killers’ next target. Serving time over a protest gone terribly wrong, their father, Jack Damson (Fraser), devises a plan to break out of prison and rescue his kids. From Sony … photo for Drift In “Drift” (2012), starring Myles Pollard, Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington, two brothers in Australia in the 1970s battle killer waves, uptight society, corruption and ruthless bikers to create a surf business — rethinking board design, crafting homemade wetsuits and selling merchandise out of their van — and kick-start the modern surf industry. Inspired by a real story.On DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate … After a young girl has her first baby tooth fall out, she becomes haunted by a hideous “tooth fairy” in “The Haunting of Helena” (2012 — Italy), starring Harriet MacMasters-Green, Jarreth J. Merz, Matt Patresi, Giuliano Montaldo and Sabrina Jolie Perez; from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment … “Suddenly” (2013), directed by Uwe Boll and starring Ray Liotta, Dominic Purcell and Michael Pare, is a remake of the 1954 Frank Sinatra classic that follows the journey of a washed-up war veteran, now a local cop and town drunk, as he must come to grips with his demons in order to stop three assassins before they kill the U.S. president as his travelcade passes through the small town of Suddenly. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment … When their latest work is buffed by a rival crew, two determined graffitti writers embark on an elaborate plan to “bomb” the ultimate location: the New York Mets’ Home Run Apple in “Gimme photo for the Loot” (2012), starring Ty Hickson and Tashiana Washington. But first they need to raise money to meet their goal. Over the course of two whirlwind summer days, the pair travel on a epic urban adventure involving black-market spray cans, illicit bodegas, stolen sneakers, a high-stakes heist, and a beautiful girl whose necklace is literally their key to fame. From IFC Films … In “Java Heat” (2013), starring Mickey Rourke, Kellan Lutz and Ario Bayu, a Muslim detective teams with an American FBI agent/Marine posing as a graduate student to find the man behind a series of deadly terrorist bombings in Indonesia. The unlikely duo embark on a treacherous manhunt for the attacks’ real perpetrator, a new breed of klepto-terrorist who is even more twisted and terrifying than the Jihadist terrorists he hides behind. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc from IFC Films … In “Simon Killer” (2012), starring Brady Corbet and Mati Diop, a recent college graduate flees to Paris after a break-up, where his involvement with a prostitute begins to reveal a potentially dark past. From IFC Films … Fifteen years after an on-campus murder, students re-open the case for a class and uncover a truth more horrifying and closer to home than they ever imagined in “Unsolved” (2009), starring Jerome Braggs, Amy Briede and Lezette Boutin. From MVD Entertainment.

On the Indie Front:

  • “And Now a Word From Our Sponsor”: (2012) Bruce Greenwood, Parker Posey, Allie MacDonald, Callum Blue. An advertising CEO wakes up in the hospital speaking only in ad slogans and is taken home by the hospital’s Head of Charity Foundation, who has a past history with him. There he begins to have a positive affect on the dysfunctional relationship she has with her daughter. From Virgil Films.
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  • “A Big Love Story”: (2012) Robbie Kaller, Jillian Leigh, Tommy Snider, Constance Reese. A former college football star whose chance to play in the NFL abruptly ended with a blown out knee finds himself alone, working a minimum wage job and weighing a deadly 413 pounds — until he meets up with a personal trainer who not only helps him lose weight — but find love. Director Ryan Sage found the script for the award-winning feature in a rather unusual place: Craigslist, where he purchased it from Chicago comedian Dale Zawada for $500. From Osiris Entertainment.
  • “Greetings From Tim Buckley”: (2013) Penn Badgley, Imogen Poots, Ben Rosenfield. In 1991, a young musician named Jeff Buckley rehearses for his public singing debut at a Brooklyn tribute concert for his father, the late folk singer Tim Buckley. Struggling with the legacy of a man he barely knew, Jeff finds solace in a relationship with an enigmatic young woman working at the show. As they explore New York City, their adventures recall glimpses of Tim’s own 60s heyday, and Jeff finds himself on the verge of stardom. From Tribeca Film.
  • “Lionhead”: (2013) Trevor Lissauer, Jill Crenshaw, Michael Madsen, Brien Perry, Daniel Roebuck, Deirdre Lovejoy. An angst-ridden young man, who desperately wants to marry his girlfriend against the wishes of her imposing father, inherits $10,000 but spends it all on a worthless fake diamond. To save the relationship, he sets out to get back his money and prove his love, but his lawyer, criminal investigators, the mob and even the pizza boy all get involved in the action. From Green Apple Entertainment.
  • “Shanghai Calling”: (2012 — USA/China) Daniel Henney, Eliza Coupe, Bill Paxton, Alan Ruck, Geng Le, Zhu Zhu. A New York attorney is sent to Shanghai on business, where he finds himself in a legal mess that threatens his career. With the help of a relocation specialist and her contacts, he soon learns to appreciate the wonders of Shanghai. From Anchor Bay.
  • “Showgirls 2: Penny’s From Heaven”: (2011) Rena Riffel, Glenn Plummer, Dewey Weber,Greg Travis. Unofficial follow-up to Paul Verhoeven’s 1995 cult sensation. With fame and fortune in her eyes, Vegas stripper Penny Slot sets out on an adventure to become the star dancer on a TV series but instead finds danger in a town more wicked than Sin City. From Wild Eye Releasing.
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  • “Somebody Up There Likes Me”: (2013) Nick Offerman, Keith Poulson, Jess Weixler, Megan Mullally. Comedic fable about a man watching his life fly by. Max (Poulson), along with his best friend Sal (Offerman) and the woman they both adore, Lyla (Weixler), stumble through 35 years of seemingly mandatory but unfulfilling entanglements. With music by Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio and animation sequences by Bob Sabiston (“A Scanner Darkly,” “Waking Life”). From Tribeca Film.
  • “The We and the I”: (2012) Michel Gondry’s cinema verite-style drama that gives an inside look into the dynamics, drama and hilarity that emerge on a real-time bus ride with a group of remarkable nonprofessional high-school actors. It’s the last day of the school year, and a group of high-schoolers board a city bus to make their way home. With the summer break ahead, and feeling more liberated than usual, this colorful crowd of kids – the cool ones, the outsiders, and everyone in between — act out as only teens can when they are among their peers and away from authority figures. From Virgil Films.


“Augustine” (2013 — France), starring Vincent Lindon, Soko, Chiara Mastroianni, Olivier Rabourdin and Roxane Duran, is the true story of the unusual relationship that developed between a pioneering 19th century French neurologist and his star patient, a teenaged maid, brought to life in this darkly sensual period drama, a complex and startling portrait of power, desire and madness, written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Alice Winocour. In Belle Epoque photo for Augustine Paris, 19-year-old kitchen maid Augustine (Soko) suffers an inexplicable seizure that leaves her partially paralyzed, and she is shipped off to an all-female psychiatric hospital specializing in the then-fashionable ailment of “hysteria.” Augustine captures the attention of renowned neurologist Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot (Lindon), mentor of Sigmund Freud, after she has another attack that appears to give her intense physical pleasure. Intrigued, Charcot begins using her as his principal subject, hypnotizing her in front of his fellow doctors. As Augustine displays her spectacular fits in lecture halls, the lines between doctor and patient become blurred, radically impacting the course of both of their lives. On DVD and Blu-ray from Music Box Films … “In the Fog” (2012 — Russia), starring Vladimir Svirskiy, Vladislav Abashin and Sergei Kolesov, takes place in 1942 on the western edge of the USSR under German occupation. In the region, local partisans are waging a brutal battle against their foreign enemies. Sushenya, an innocent rail worker, is arrested with a band of saboteurs when a train is derailed not far from his village. The German officer decides to set him free rather than hang him with the others, but rumors of Sushenya’s “treason” spread quickly and partisans Burov and Voitik seek revenge. Captured by the partisans, photo for Sushenya is led through the forest where they are ambushed. Soon he finds himself one-on-one with his wounded enemy, forced to make a moral choice under immoral circumstances. From Strand Releasing … Set in France during WWII, “War of the Buttons” (2012 — France) tells the tale of two rival groups of kids from neighboring villages. Pre-teen rebel Lebrac leads a spirited group of kids in a pint-sized “war” where the victory comes from capturing the enemies’ buttons, belts, and laces — forcing them to return home ragged to face their mothers’ reprimand. When Violette, a young Jewish girl, comes to town to hide from the Nazis, Lebrac befriends her and the children put their own conflicts aside to protect their new friend from the very real war happening around them. Stars Jean Texier, Ilona Bachelier, Guillaume Canet, Laetitia Casta and Kad Merad. From The Weinstein Co./Anchor Bay … “The Last Tycoon” (2012 — Hong Kong), starring Chow Yun-Fat, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo and Francis Ng, spans 30 tumultuous years in Shanghai beginning at the turn of the 20th century, telling the story of the rise and fall of real-life gangster Cheng Daqi (Yun-Fat) and his violent swath through the criminal underworld. On DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Well Go USA.

For the Family:

photo for Barney: Most Huggable Moments
“Barney: Most Huggable Moments” (2013) is a two-disc set that celebrates more than 25 years of sharing, caring and imagination with Barney and his friends; includes episodes never-before seen on DVD and the delightful “Barney: Dino-mite Birthday.” Barney brings preschoolers on journeys big and small and reminds everyone that they’re special just the way they are. $14.98 from Lionsgate … “Thomas & Friends: King of the Railway — The Movie” (2013) is a new feature for kids 2 to 5 that introduces four new engines on the Island of Sodor, including Stephen, who is based on the legendary “Stephenson’s Rocket,” one of the fastest and most advanced steam locomotives of its day. The engines also go on an adventure involving suits of armor, coats of arms and legends of long-ago heroes. On DVD, $19.98; Blu-ray/DVD Combo, $24.99 form Lionsgate.

Special Interest:

“Brainwave” (2012) is a three-disc set with 10 programs of the series of conversations called Brainwave that take place in New York City each year in which the best and brightest artists and scientists participate in provocative, far-reaching, unscripted conversations to explore memory and perception, creativity and consciousness, happiness, fear, illusions, and dreams. Launched by the Rubin Museum of Art in 2008 and now in its sixth edition, Brainwave pairs celebrities from many walks of life — ­actors, musicians, comedians, composers, photo for A Girl and a Gun filmmakers, choreographers, artists, and authors — ­with leading neuroscientists and other experts to explore how the human mind works. The series has not aired on television, and this collection features some of the most interesting participants, including superstar chef Mario Batali, author R.L. Stine (Goosebumps series), Debra Winger, comedian Lewis Black and musician Henry Rollins. $59.99 from Athena … “A Girl and a Gun” (2012) brings a female perspective to the debate that’s raging across the nation and explores the intersection of “girl power” and firepower. Filmed throughout the U.S., the film delves deep into the American gun world to show the relationship between women and their guns. The classic Hollywood portrayals of pistol packin’ mamas, tomboy sharp shooters, sexually twisted femme fatales, and high-heeled, cold-blooded assassins are caricatures. In truth, the typical woman who hangs out at rifle ranges and keeps ammo in her purse is the girl-next-door, the single mom, a hard working sister or aunt. Breaking through the stereotypes, the film reveals how some women have embraced this object whose history is deeply bound to men and masculinity. From First Run Features … In “Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan: Creepy Crawlers and Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan: Deadliest Critters” (2012) actor and wildlife enthusiast Dominic Monaghan travels across the globe, from the rainforests of Ecuador to an underground river in Laos, to uncover the scariest and most exotic creatures on the photo for Fear Files planet. InCreepy Crawlers,” Monaghan meets the giant white goliath beetle of Cameroon, the Giant Huntsman Spider of Laos, the worlds largest centipede — scolopendra gigantica — of Venezuela, an aggressive, venomous carnivore that is rumored to snatch bats right out of the air. In “Deadliest Critters” he travels to Guatemala to seek out an endangered and venomous reptile, the Guatemalan beaded lizard, then he meets one of the most dangerous scorpions in the world, the black hairy thick-tailed scorpion in Namibia, then goes to the Ecuadorian rainforest to face off with a 4 million-strong colony of flesh-eating, venom injecting army ants, and finally travels from the snake-infested rice paddies of Vietnam’ Mekong Delta to a crocodile filled lake in search of one of the world’s most dangerous aquatic insects — the giant water bug. $14.98 each from BBC Home Entertainment … “Fear Files” (2005) is a three-disc set that explores the legends of ghosts, vampires and the history of the haunting holiday of Halloween. This creepy compilation features over three hours of frightening programming with three History specials: “The Hauntings,” “Vampire Secrets” and “The Haunted History of Halloween.” $19.98 from Lionsgate … “Haunted History “
(2013) takes viewers deep into frightening ghostly events that linger within historic locations across the United States. Driven by terrifying eyewitness accounts, each episode examines a site’s spooky events in relation to its gruesome past. Hear the ghosts of soldiers at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, meet the restless souls plaguing Salem, Massachusetts, visit Chicago’s infamous “Murder Castle” and many more. $19.98 from Lionsgate … “Space Junk 3D”
(2013), originally created for exhibition in IMAX theatres, and narrated by Tom Wilkinson, is the first movie to explore the exponentially expanding ring of debris that’s orbiting — and threatening — out planet’s space lanes. On 3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray from Image Entertainment.

 Posted by on September 16, 2013 No Responses »
Sep 132013

There will be something for everyone on your holiday shopping list this November from Criterion. For the action admirer, there is quite the gift: “Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman,” a lavish, gorgeously illustrated collector’s set featuring the iconic Japanese blade master in twenty-five exhilarating adventures. For lovers of classic comedy, there will be an extras-laden edition of Charlie Chaplin’s monumental “City Lights,” among the most beloved films of all time. Fans of fresh contemporary indie cinema can take a spin with Noah Baumbach’s giddy “Frances Ha,” one of the most acclaimed films of this year, straight from its smash theatrical run. And as if that weren’t enough, Criterion is also reissuing in a newly restored edition Yasujiro Ozu’s magnificent drama “Tokyo Story” (recently named the greatest film ever made in a Sight & Sound magazine directors’ poll).

Nov. 12: “City Lights”
Nov. 12: “Frances Ha”
Nov. 19: “Tokyo Story”
Nov. 26: “Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman”


 Posted by on September 13, 2013 No Responses »
Sep 132013

Due November 2:

photo for Lovelace In 1972 — before the internet, before the adult film explosion — “DDeep Throat” was a phenomenon: the first scripted adult theatrical feature film, featuring a story, some jokes, and an unknown and unlikely star, Linda Lovelace. Escaping a strict religious family, Linda Susan Boreman discovered freedom and the high-life when she fell for and married charismatic hustler Chuck Traynor, who coercived her into the porn industry. As Linda Lovelace, she became an international sensation — less centerfold fantasy than a charming girl-next-door with an impressive capacity for fellatio. After struggling to break free from Traynor, whose endless abuse nearly killed her, Lovelace made it her life’s mission to fight violence against women. Extras: Behind-the-scenes featurette. Vitals: Director: Bob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Hank Azaria, Wes Bentley , Adam Brody, Bobby Cannavale, James Franco, Debi Mazar, Chris Noth, Robert Patrick, Eric Roberts, Chloe Sevigny, Sharon Stone, Juno Temple. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 93 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.354 million, RADiUS-TWC/Anchor Bay. 2 stars

 Posted by on September 13, 2013 No Responses »