"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Jan 112021
 

From the Big Screen:

Ammonite

photo for Ammonite In 1840s England, acclaimed but unrecognized fossil hunter Mary Anning (Winslet) works alone on the rugged Southern coastline. With the days of her famed discoveries behind her, she now searches for common fossils to sell to tourists to support herself and her ailing mother. When a wealthy visitor entrusts Mary with the care of his wife Charlotte Murchison (Ronan), she cannot afford to turn his offer down. Proud and relentlessly passionate about her work, Mary initially clashes with her unwelcome guest, but despite the distance between their social class and personalities, an intense bond begins to develop, compelling the two women to determine the true nature of their relationship. Vitals: Director: Francis Lee. Stars: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Jones, James McArdle, Alec Secareanu, Fiona Shaw. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: R, 120 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.160 million, Universal. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, Digital.
Extras: “The Making of Ammonite.”

This Week’s Best Bets

In the rediscovered masterpiece of film noir “Sudden Fear” (1952), directed by David Miller (“Midnight Lace,” “Lonely Are the Brave” and” Executive Action”), Joan Crawford plays a successful playwright who marries a less than stellar actor (Jack Palance) with a troubling secret. She soon discovers that he not only married her for her money but that he plans to murder her with the help of his lover (Gloria Grahame). Nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Actress (Crawford), Best Supporting Actor (Palance) and Best Black & White Cinematography (Charles Lang Jr.), this taut thriller also features a score by Elmer Bernstein that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. From Cohen Film Collection … photo for Minding the Gap “Minding the Gap” (2018) is the extraordinary debut from documentarian Bing Liu that weaves a story of skateboarding, friendship, and fathers and sons into a coming-of-age journey of courageous vulnerability. Over the course of several years and with his camera always at the ready, Liu records the rocky paths into adulthood of Keire and Zack, two friends from his own skateboarding community in Rockford, Illinois. As he does so, deeper parallels gradually emerge that ultimately draw the filmmaker into a heartrending confrontation with his own past. With an eye for images of exhilarating poetry and a keen emotional sensitivity, “Minding the Gap” is a powerfully cathartic portrait of fledgling lives forged in trauma and fighting to break free. On DVD, Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc

“Legacies: The Complete Second Season” (2019-20) contains all All 16 episodes. Last season, the supernatural students at the Salvatore Boarding School for the Young & Gifted and their beloved headmaster, Dr. Alaric Saltzman, came face-to-face with a stunning assortment of monsters and mythological creatures. A dragon. A gargoyle. The Headless Horseman. From Warner Archive … “Manifest: The Complete Second Season” (2020) is a three-disc set with all 13 episodes. In this supernatural drama, a commercial plane inexplicably disappears on a transoceanic flight and, more mysteriously, returns five years after being presumed lost photo for Twilight Zone: Season Two at sea. While only hours have passed for those on the flight, years have gone by for their loved ones at home who have learned to live with their losses. As the passengers and flight crew wrestle with their interrupted lives and relationships, the government continues to investigate the anomaly. From Warner Archive … “Twilight Zone: Season Two” (2020) is a four-disc set with all 10 episodes. This updated version of Rod Sterling’s 1959 classic series consists of tales revolving around science fiction, mystery, and horror. Each episode features its own mind-bending and insane journey into a different dimension filled with endless possibilities. The conscious storytelling consists of a standout cast that includes Oscar nominee Kumail Nanjiani, Seth Rogen, Tracy Morgan, John Cho, Zazie Beatz, and many others. This modern take is hosted by Academy Award and Emmy Award winner Jordan Peele.
From CBS/Paramount.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Beyond Hell” (2020), starring Kearsten Johansson, Gavin R. Downes, Sean Rey and Sebastian Deery, after trying a new version of the drug Changa, Maryssa (Johansson) finds herself transported to a dimension in hell where the demon, Belial (Gavin R. Downes, Still Me), latches onto her. Through Maryssa, Belial claws his way out from the depths of hell by slaughtering her friends, one-by-one. From Indican Pictures … In photo for Jungleland “Jungleland” (2019), starring Charlie Hunnam, Jack O’Connell and Jonathan Majors, Stanley (Hunnam) and Lion (O’Connell) are two brothers struggling to stay relevant in the underground world of bare-knuckle boxing. When Stanley fails to pay back a dangerous crime boss (Majors), they’re forced to deliver an unexpected traveler as they journey across the country for a high stakes fighting tournament. While Stanley trains Lion for the fight of his life, a series of events threaten to tear the brothers apart, but their love for one another and belief in a better life keep them going in this gripping drama that proves family pulls no punches. From Paramount … In “American Dream” (2021), starring Luke Bracey, Michiel Huisman, Nick Stahl and Agnieszka Grochowska, Academy Award-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (“Saving Private Ryan”) directs an intense thriller about the brutal struggle for success. Desperate for cash, entrepreneurs Scott (Bracey) and Nicky (Huisman) turn to Russian mobster Yuri (Stahl). After they refuse the funding he offers, Yuri gets revenge by trying to take over their construction project. The partners are terrified, until Nicky’s tough Russian girlfriend, Ana, decides to take action herself. From Lionsgate … In “Average Joe” (2021), starring Camden Toy, Jason Sedillo, Caitlin Rose Williams, Akasha Villalobos, Taylor James Johnson and Roman Garcia, former superheroes must come out of retirement to fight evil once again. When Lord Menace returns from the dead to terrorize San Antonio, TX, the old superhero gang must reassemble to save the city. Unfortunately, the superheroes have sat comfortably in retirement since their last group adventure and normal day-to-day responsibilities have taken precedent. Now toting families, day jobs and excess weight gain, they have to learn how to come together and fight otherworldly evil again. From Indican Pictures … photo for Spell In “Spell” (2020), starring Omari Hardwick and Loretta Devine, while flying to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise’s (Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to outwit and break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon. On DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, from Paramount … In “Lena & Snowball” (2021), starring Robert Knepper, Wade Williams and Melissa Collazo, Lena, bullied at school and lonely at home, keeps hoping she’ll have a true friend someday. One afternoon, her dreams come true — in the shape of a cuddly white lion cub! Lena tries to keep playful Snowball out of trouble, but the clumsy poachers who kidnapped the valuable cub, and the cruel trophy collector who paid for him, are desperate to get him back. As Lena races to rescue poor Snowball, her new friend Jake will do anything to help. From Lionsgate.

Foreign Films:

One of the greatest achievements in recent art-house cinema and a seminal work of “slow cinema,” director Béla Tarr’s “Sátántangó” (1994 — Hungary), based on the novel by László Krasznahorkai, follows the members of a humble agricultural community living in a bleak and punishing backwater after the fall of Communism. As a few of the villagers secretly conspire to take off with all of the community’s annual earnings for themselves, a mysterious messiah, long thought dead, returns to the village and alters the course of everyone’s lives forever. Shot in stunning black-and-white by Gábor Medvigy and filled with exquisitely composed long takes, “Sátántangó” unfolds in 12 distinct movements, alternating forwards and backward in time, echoing the structure of tango dance. Tarr’s vision, aided by long-time partner and collaborator Ágnes Hranitzky, is enthralling and his portrayal of rural Hungary beset by drunken revelry, treachery, and near-perpetual rainfall is both transfixing and uncompromising. 4K restoration from the original negative and sound materials. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from CAV Distributing.

For the Family:

“Lupin III: The First” (2019) introduces the beloved characters in CG animation for the first time. The iconic “gentleman thief” returns in an action-packed, continent-spanning photo for Lupin III: The First caper, as Lupin III and his colorful underworld companions race to uncover the secrets of the mysterious Bresson Diary before it falls into the hands of a dark cabal that will stop at nothing to resurrect the Third Reich. The gang undertakes trap-filled tombs, aerial escapades and daring prison escapes with the trademark wit and visual finesse that have made “Lupin the 3rd” one of the most storied animation franchises in the world. This release will be presented in both the original Japanese version and a new English dubbed version. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, Steelbook Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from GKIDS/Shout Factory.

All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.

 Posted by on January 11, 2021  Add comments

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