From the Big Screen:
“Promising Young Woman”
(2020) Everyone said Cassie (Carey Mulligan) was a promising young woman … until a mysterious event abruptly derailed her future. But nothing in Cassie’s life is what it appears to be: she’s wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she’s living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs of the past in this black-comedy revenge thriller. Vitals: Director: Emerald Fennell. Stars: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox and Connie Britton. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: R, 113 min., Thriller, US box office gross: $5.135 million, worldwide $8.370 million, Universal. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray with digital code, VOD, Digital. Extras: “A Promising Vision”: Writer-director Emerald Fennell discusses her inspirations for writing this genre-bending film; “Two-Sided Transformation” look at why Carey Mulligan was the perfect choice to play “Cassie” and how filmmakers used wardrobe, hair, and makeup to express the balance between light and dark; “Balancing Act” in which cast members discuss their unexpected reactions to the careful balance of levity and tragedy in director Emerald Fennell’s take on female revenge; feature commentary with writer-director Emerald Fennell. Read more here.
This Week’s Best Bet
“Céline and Julie Go Boating” (1974) Whiling away a summer in Paris, director Jacques Rivette, working in close collaboration with his stars and co-conspirators Juliet Berto and Dominique Labourier, set out to rewrite the rules of cinema in the spirit of pure play—moviemaking as an anything-goes romp through the labyrinths of imagination. The result is one of the most exuberantly inventive and utterly enchanting films of the French New Wave, in which Julie (Labourier), a daydreaming librarian, meets Céline (Berto), an enigmatic magician, and together they become the heroines of a time-warping adventure involving a haunted house, psychotropic candy, and a murder-mystery melodrama. Incorporating allusions to everything from Lewis Carroll to Louis Feuillade, “Céline and Julie Go Boating” is both one of the all-time-great hangout comedies and a totally unique, enveloping cinematic dream space that delights in the endless pleasures and possibilities of stories. ON DVD, Blu-ray, with new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Quite possibly one of the greatest films ever made, in terms of staging, acting, plot, its sense of playfulness and its self-referential film and theatrical tropes. First time on DVD and Blu-ray in the States. From The Criterion Collection.
From TV to Disc:
“Wonder Showzen: The Complete Collection” (2000-05) is a four-disc set with all 16 episodes. An all-cynical, all-evil absurdist variety show that parodies the classic educational PBS shows of the 1970s, made up of old cartoons and educational films, children, and puppets from one’s worst nightmares. From MTV/Paramount.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Songbird” (2020), starring KJ Apa, Sofia Carson, Craig Robinson, Bradley Whitford, Peter Stormare, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Walter Hauser and Demi Moore., the year is 2022 and a pandemic ravages the world and its cities. Infected Americans are ripped from their homes and forced into quarantine camps known as Q-Zones, from which there is no escape. The film centers on a handful of people as they navigate the obstacles hindering society: disease, martial law, quarantine, and vigilantes. In particular, immune to the COVID-23 virus, a courier races against time to save the woman he loves from a quarantine camp. The first film to shoot in Los Angeles entirely during the pandemic. On DVD, Blu-ray with digital code, from Universal. Read more here. … In “Don’t Tell a Soul” (2020), starring Rainn Wilson, Fionn Whitehead, Jack Dylan Grazer and Mena Suvari, while stealing money to help their sick mother (Suvari), teen brothers Matt and Joey (Whitehead and Grazer) are surprised by Hamby (Wilson), a security officer who gives chase and is then trapped in a well. Over the next few days, Joey and Hamby forge an uneasy relationship. Hamby tells Joey he’ll keep quiet if Joey sets him free. But Hamby holds another secret, one that will threaten Joey and his family, in this twist-filled, cat-and-mouse thriller. On DVD, Blu-ray + digital code, from Lionsgate. Read more here. … In “PG: Psycho Goreman” (2020 — Canada), starring Nita-Josee Hanna, Owen Myre, Adam Brooks, Alexis Hancey and Matthew Ninaber, siblings Mimi and Luke unwittingly resurrect an ancient alien overlord who was entombed on Earth millions of years ago after a failed attempt to destroy the universe. They nickname the evil creature Psycho Goreman (or PG for short) and use the magical amulet they discovered to force him to obey their childish whims. It isn’t long before PG’s reappearance draws the attention of intergalactic friends and foes from across the cosmos and a rogues’ gallery of alien combatants converges in small-town suburbia to battle for the fate of the galaxy. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … Finally released outside Japan for the very first time, “The Invisible Man Appears / The Invisible Man vs. The Human Fly” (1949/1957), unique riffs on H.G. Wells’ classic character (though undoubtedly also indebted to Universal’s iconic film series), are two of the earliest examples of tokusatsu (special effects) cinema from the legendary Daiei Studios. In “The Invisible Man Appears,” written and directed by Nobuo Adachi in 1949, a scientist successfully creates an invisibility serum, only to be kidnapped by a gang of thugs who wish to use the formula to rob a priceless jewel. In addition to being the earliest surviving Japanese science fiction film ever made, the film’s entertaining special effects were an early credit for the legendary Eiji Tsuburaya, five years before he first brought Godzilla to life. Eight years later, Mitsuo Murayama’s exciting “The Invisible Man vs. The Human Fly” tells the story of a series of mysterious murders where the only clue is strange buzzing noise at the scene of the crime … could this be linked to secret wartime experiments in shrinking humans to the size of insects? And can a scientist who’s just invented an invisibility ray be the one to stop it? On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.
On the Indie Front:
“Angelique’s Isle” (2018 — Canada), starring Julia Jones and Charlie Carrick, is a harrowing true story of perseverance and survival, unfolding amidst the great copper rush of 1845. When newlyweds Angelique (Jones), a young Ojibway, and voyageur Charlie (Carrick) are left stranded, the two are forced to withstand a brutal winter and fight for survival in the wilderness. From Indican Picture.
In “Jumbo” (2020 — France), starring Noémie Merlant, Emmanuelle Bercot and Sam Louwyck, Jeanne, a shy young woman, lives at home with her uninhibited bartender mother and works the graveyard shift as a cleaner at an amusement park. Her mother wants her to meet a man, but Jeanne prefers tinkering in her bedroom with wires, light bulbs, and spare parts, creating miniature versions of theme park rides. During her late-night shifts she begins spending intimate time with the alluring new Tilt-A-Whirl ride that she decides to call Jumbo. Finding herself seduced by “his” red lights, smooth chrome, and oily hydraulics, Jeanne concludes that the thrilling new relationship she wants to pursue is with Jumbo. From Darkstar Pictures. Read more here.
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.