This Week’s Best Bets
In 1934, Jean Renoir stepped off the soundstage and headed to the South of France, where he captured vivid human drama amid the bucolic splendor and everyday social rituals of the countryside. Based on a true story and set in a community of immigrants living, working, and loving on the margins of French society, “Toni” (1934 — France) follows the eponymous Italian migrant (Charles Blavette), whose tempestuous affairs with two women — the faithful Marie (Jenny Hélia) and the flirtatious Josefa (Celia Montalván) — unleash a wave of tragedy. Making use of nonprofessional actors, on-location shooting, and the resources of the great Marcel Pagnol’s Provence studio, Renoir crafts a marvel of poetic feeling that became a precursor to Italian neorealism and a favorite of the directors of the French New Wave. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … Based on the bestseller by Nigel Calder, the acclaimed documentary “Einstein’s Universe” (1979), narrated by Peter Ustinov — now remastered and digitally restored — gives viewers front row seats to Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity and much more. At the renowned University of Texas-Austin McDonald Observatory, Ustinov is thoroughly enlightened on Einstein’s greatest achievements, especially General Relativity, by a renowned team of scientists. Included are experiments to help understand gravity, warped space, how light responds to gravity, the “Doppler effect” and how radio waves, as used in police radar, are an unbeatable way of measuring speed. From these simpler experiments much larger concepts are drawn, such as the discovery of a Binary Pulsar, the nature of black holes and how they are created, and the ultimate theory of how the universe was formed. On Blu-ray from Corinth Films.
From TV to Disc:
“The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season” (2019-20) is a four-disc set with all 19 episodes. Last season, Team Flash spent the year dealing with not one, but two Cicadas, the return of Eobard Thawne, aka Reverse Flash, and the surprise arrival from the future of Barry and Iris’ daughter, Nora West-Allen, aka XS. The stakes were higher than ever during the season five finale. In season six, Team Flash contends with not one, but two all-new villains — Bloodwork and Mirror Master. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “Gunsmoke: The Complete Movie Collection” features three Gunsmoke movies starring James Arness as Marshall Matt Dillon: In “Return to Dodge” (1987), Will Mannon (Steve Forrest) is released from prison and begins looking for revenge on Dillon and Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake) for putting him there. In “The Last Apache” (1990), Dillon responds to a letter from “Mike” Yardner (Michael Learned), an old friend, and discovers his ranch has been raided by Apaches and Mike’s daughter, Beth, has been kidnapped by ‘Wolf’, a rogue Apache. The film follows Dillon as he begins his search and rescue for Beth. Lastly, “To The Last Man” (1994), retired Marshal Matt Dillon finds trouble in regards to rustlers stealing his cattle. Dilion tracks down rustlers in Pleasant Valley, Arizona, where a land-grab war arises. From CBS/Paramount … “MASTERPIECE Mystery!: Endeavour, Season 7” (2020). In Season 7, Endeavour and his colleagues enter a new decade and era of change. Opening on New Year’s Eve 1969, normal order has been resumed and the team reunited at Castle Gate CID, with Chief Superintendent Bright back in charge. However, the events of the past year have left their mark: old friendships are challenged and new relationships blossom. Amidst the dawn of women’s liberation, social progression and scientific growth, the 1970s begin for Oxford’s finest with the discovery of a body at the canal towpath on New Year’s Day. With the only clue in the investigation being a witness who heard whistling on the night of the crime, the team have their work cut out to uncover their culprit. On DVD, Blu-ray, from PBS Distribution … “Seal Team: Season Three” (2019) is a five-disc set with all 20 episodes. In the third season of the action-packed military drama, Jason Hayes (David Boreanaz) leads his team on a grave mission in Serbia. Meanwhile, Lisa Davis (Toni Trucks) finds herself struggling while transitioning to her new title as Intel Officer. Jason’s team also includes his trusted confidant, Ray Perry (Neil Brown Jr.), the longest-tenured operator with whom Jason shares an ingrained shorthand, and Sonny Quinn (AJ Buckley), an exceptional, loyal soldier with a checkered past who still combats self-destructive tendencies. Vital to the team’s success are troop commander Lt. Cdr. Eric Blackburn (Judd Lormand), who serves as a leader and confidant both on and off the battlefield, and CIA analyst Mandy Ellis (Jessica Pare), who has sacrificed everything in her drive to root out evil and take down terrorists. From CBS/Paramount … “Strike Back: Complete Seventh and Final Season” (2019-20) includes all 10 episodes. The members of a top-secret anti-terrorist organization known as Section 20 work to bring down the deadliest international terrorists in this action-packed series. On DVD, Blu-ray. from Warner.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “The King of Staten Island” (2020), starring Pete Davidson, Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Bel Powley, Maude Apatow and Steve Buscemi, Scott (Davidson) has been a case of arrested development ever since his firefighter father died when he was seven. He’s now reached his mid-20s having achieved little, chasing a dream of becoming a tattoo artist that seems far out of reach. As his ambitious younger sister (Maude Apatow) heads off to college, Scott is still living with his exhausted ER nurse mother (Oscar®- winner Marisa Tomei) and spends his days smoking weed, hanging with his buddies and secretly hooking up with his childhood friend Kelsey (Bel Powley). When his mother starts dating a loudmouth firefighter (Bill Burr), it sets off a chain of events that will force Scott to grapple with his grief and take his first tentative steps towards moving forward in life. Written by Pete Davidson, inspired by his own true-life story. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … “Deep Blue Sea 3” (2020), starring Tania Raymonde, Nathaniel Buzolic, Emerson Brooks, Bren Foster and Reina Aoi, is the second sequel in the franchise. Emma Collins, an eminent marine biologist, and her crew have set up a mid-ocean laboratory over a sunken island town in the ocean where they are observing the first known Great White mating area. Unfortunately, the enhanced Bull Sharks that escaped in” Deep Blue Sea 2″ are also there with their own evolutionary goal: cross-breeding with the bigger faster Great Whites. The mission’s patron, Richard Lowell, believes that the Bull Sharks contain the key to intelligence enhancement, which he secretly intends to sell for big profits. Now, Emma and her crew are trapped on crumbling stilt houses mere feet over the ocean, caught between predators above and below the water. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Warner … In “The Burnt Orange Heresy” (2019), starring Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland, charming and ambitious art critic James Figueras (Bang) has fallen from grace. He spends his days in Milan lecturing witless tourists about art history. His only glimmer of hope is a new-found love interest, the enigmatic American, Berenice Hollis (Debicki). An opportunity strikes when he is contacted by the wealthy art dealer Joseph Cassidy (Mick Jagger, in his first movie role in more than 20 years) who summons James to his villa on Lake Como and asks him to steal a painting from the legendary reclusive artist, Jerome Debney (Sutherland). Soon, James’ greed and ambition get the better of him, and he finds himself caught in a web of deceit. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony … In “The Trip to Greece” (2020), actors Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan travel from Troy to Ithaca following in the footsteps of the Odysseus. When Odysseus left Troy it took him 10 years to get back to his home in Ithaca. Steve and Rob have only six days on their own personal odyssey. On the way they argue about tragedy and comedy, astronomy and biology, myth, history, democracy and the meaning of life. Follows “The Trip,” “The Trip to Italy” and “The Trip to Spain.” On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC Films … In “Yes, God, Yes” (2019), starring Natalia Dyer, Timothy Simons, Wolfgang Novogratz and Francesca Reale, Alice (Dyer), a strait-laced Catholic student, discovers more than she bargained for after an innocent AOL chat turns racy. Seeking redemption, she attends a mysterious religious retreat to try to suppress her urges, only to come face to face with everything she’s been trying so desperately to avoid. From Lionsgate … In “Suckers” (1999), starring Daniel Benzali, Louis Mandylor and Lori Loughlin, Benzali stars as Reggie, a pit bull of a car salesman who trains his crew to bilk customers out of as much cash as possible. Bobby DeLuca (Mandylor) gets pressure from his wife (Loughlin) to find a job at the dealership. Owing money to loan sharks and desperate for cash, Bobby reluctantly becomes an expert at screwing over his customers. Things go astray in Reggie’s tightly-run venture when loan sharks call in Bobby’s substantial debts. All-new 4K remaster supervised and approved by writer-director Roger Nygard, with new 5.1 surround sound remix. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Synapse Films … In “One Night in Bangkok” (2020), starring Kane Kosugi, Mark Dacascos and Julie Condra, a hit man named Kai flies into Bangkok, gets a gun, and orders a cab. He offers a professional female driver big money to be his all-night driver. But when she realizes Kai is committing brutal murders at each stop, it’s too late to walk away. Meanwhile, an offbeat police detective (Kane Kosugi) races to decode the string of slayings before more blood is spilled. From Lionsgate … For his final horror hit of the ‘80s, “Aenigma” (1987 — Italy), writer-director Lucio Fulci combined elements of “Carrie,” “Phenomena” and “Suspiria” with the grisly surrealism of his own past classics for one last shocker. When a bullied student at a New England girl’s school becomes comatose after a prank gone wrong, her tormenters suffer graphic telepathic punishment that includes the infamous “death by snails” scene. Scanned in 4k from the original negative for the first time ever in America. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Severin Films … “Demonia” (1990 — Italy) is a nunsploitation shocker. In what fans consider his last great film, Godfather of Gore Lucio Fulci returns to the startling imagery and bloody excesses of his ‘70s/‘80s classics for an unholy saga of demonic nuns and supernatural carnage. When a Canadian archeological team begins excavating the ruins of a medieval Sicilian monastery, they unleash the vengeance of a crucified coven of satanic sisters with full-on Fulci fury. Scanned in 4k from the original negative recently discovered in the attic of a Collevecchio convent.
On DVD, Blu-ray, from Severin Films … He was known as The Maestro of Splatter and The Godfather of Gore. But who was the real Lucio Fulci? When an actor (Nicola Nocella) agrees to portray the infamous director, he sets out to research the triumphs, tragedies and truths behind Fulci’s life, work, and legacy in “Fulci for Fake” (2019 — Italy). Through never-before-seen home movies, rare behind-the-scenes footage from his classic films, audio confessions from Fulci himself, and revealing interviews that include composer Fabio Frizzi, cinematographer Sergio Salvati, a former actor/assistant Michele Soavi and for the first and final time, the dual participation of daughters Antonella and Camilla Fulci, writer-director Simone Scafidi creates an unflinching portrait of one of the most visceral, controversial and immortal horror filmmakers of all time. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Severin Films … “The Beast Must Die” (1974 — UK), starring Calvin Lockhart, Peter Cushing, Marlene Clark and Michael Gambon, is a ‘70s whodunit like no other. An eccentric millionaire has invited a group of eight colleagues to his island estate to hunt the deadliest game of all — one of the guests is a werewolf, and will be stalked and slaughtered for sport. But who is the lycanthrope, and do they have a shocking plan of their own? Fully restored from a brand new 4k scan. On DVD, Blu-ray from Severin Films … “Universal Horror Collection Volume 6” Includes four tales of terror from the archives of Universal Pictures, the true home of classic horror. Boris Karloff stars as a doctor who risks his own life to save the captives of a mad count in “The Black Castle” (1952). Vengeance is sworn against six men who witness a ceremony where beautiful women turn into serpents in “Cult of the Cobra” (1955). In “The Thing That Couldn’t Die” (1958), when a young psychic discovers a box that contains the living head of an executed devil worshiper … heads will roll! A cat witnesses the murder of her owner … and this cat is hell-bent on revenge in “The Shadow of the Cat” (1961). New 2K scans from a fine grain film element. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory … “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (Collector’s Edition)” (1990) Horror anthology from the clever and creepy minds of Stephen King, Michael McDowell (“Beetlejuice”), George A. Romero and Arthur Conan Doyle. To keep from being eaten by a modern-day witch (Deborah Harry), a young paperboy weaves three twisted stories to distract her. In “Lot 249,” a vengeful college student (Steve Buscemi) resuscitates an evil mummy to teach unsuspecting student bodies (Julianne Moore, Christian Slater) a lesson in terror. Then, “The Cat From Hell” is a furry black feline who cannot be killed … he may have nine lives, but those who cross his path are not so lucky. Finally, in “Lover’s Vow,” a stone gargoyle comes to life … to commit murder. In this classic cult favorite, fear comes in threes. In a Blu-ray debut form Scream Factory.