"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Oct 182020

This Week’s Best Bets

“Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy” (1985-1989-1990) honors “Back to the Future’s” 35th anniversary with a 4K Ultra HD collection. The set is loaded with bonus material including a bonus disc that comes with over an hour of brand-new content such as rare audition footage from Hollywood stars Ben Stiller, Kyra Sedgwick, Jon Cryer, Billy Zane, Peter photo for Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy DeLuise and C. Thomas Howell, a tour of the film’s props and memorabilia hosted by co-writer/producer Bob Gale, a sneak peek at the new musical show, and a special episode of the popular YouTube Series “Could You Survive the Movies?” Join Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and a time traveling DeLorean for the adventure of a lifetime as they travel to the past, present and future, setting off a time-shattering chain reaction that disrupts the space-time continuum. Includes all three movies in collectible discbook (4K Ultra + Blu-ray + Digital Code) packaging plus a bonus disc including all-new bonus content. Also available on Blu-ray and DVD. Read more. From Universal … photo for The Haunting “The Haunting” (1999) is director Jan de Bont’s reimagining of Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” which was made into 1963’s “The Haunting,” directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson and Russ Tamblyn. This version stars Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lili Taylor, Owen Wilson and Bruce Dern. For over a century, the foreboding Hill House mansion has sat abandoned…or so it seemed. Intrigued by its past, Dr. Marrow lures three subjects to the site for an experiment. But, from the moment of their arrival, as night descends, the study goes horrifyingly awry, and Hill House unleashes its supernatural wrath on the unsuspecting subjects. The limited-edition Paramount Presents Blu-ray Disc is presented in collectible packaging that includes a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster, and an interior spread with key movie moments. Newly remastered from a 4K film transfer supervised by Jan de Bont. On Blu-ray from Paramount Presents … (1950) A key forerunner of the new breed of dark, brooding westerns that would cast a shadow over America’s frontier folklore, the subversive psychological saga photo for THE GUNFIGHTER “The Gunfighter” (1950) sounds a death knell for the myth of the outlaw hero. In one of his most morally complex roles, Gregory Peck stars as Jimmy Ringo, an infamous gunslinger looking to hang up his holsters and start a new life, but whose reputation draws him inexorably into a cycle of violence and revenge from which he cannot escape. Directed with taut efficiency by the versatile studio-era craftsman Henry King, and shot in striking deep-focus style by master cinematographer Arthur C. Miller, “The Gunfighter” forgoes rough-and-tumble action in favor of an elegiac exploration of guilt and regret that speaks to the anxious soul of postwar America. On DVD, Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … In photo for THE HIT “The Hit” (1984), Terence Stamp is Willie, a gangster’s henchman turned “supergrass” (informer) trying to live in peaceful hiding in a remote Spanish village. Sun-dappled bliss turns to nerve-racking suspense, however, when two hit men — played by a soulless John Hurt and a youthful, loose-cannon Tim Roth — come calling to bring Willie back for execution. This stylish early gem from Stephen Frears boasts terrific hard-boiled performances from a roster of England’s best actors, music by Eric Clapton and virtuoso flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía, and ravishing photography of its desolate Spanish locations — a splendid backdrop for a rather sordid story. In a Blu-ray debut from The Criterion Collection … In photo for Adaptation “Adaptation.” (2002), director Spike Jonze delivers a stunningly original comedy that seamlessly blends fictional characters and situations with the lives of real people: obsessive orchid hunter John Laroche (Chris Cooper), journalist and author Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep), Hollywood screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage), and his twin brother Donald (also Cage). As Charlie struggles to adapt Orlean’s best-selling book “The Orchid Thief,” he writes himself into his own movie. The various stories crash into one another, exploding into a wildly imaginative film. In a Blu-ray debut from Shout! Factory Select.

From TV to Disc:

“COBRA: Season One” (2020) is a two-disc set with six episodes. Clever and action-packed political drama that follows the British Prime Minister and his emergency committee as they navigate a major crisis and its political and personal fallout. On the brink of a geomagnetic solar storm, a team comprised of Britain’s leading contingency planners and senior politicians assemble under the name COBRA (taken from its meeting place in Whitehall’s Cabinet Office Briefing Room A to guide the country through turbulent times. From PBS Distribution … “The Great: Season One” (2020)is a four-disc set with all 10 episodes. A satirical, comedic drama — and occasionally true story — about the rise of Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning) from outsider to the longest reigning female ruler in Russia’s history. An idealistic romantic young girl, she arrives from Prussia for an arranged marriage to the mercurial Emperor Peter (Nicholas Hoult) hoping for love and sunshine, and finds instead a dangerous, photo for NOS4A2 Season 2 depraved, backward world that she resolves to change. All she has to do is kill her husband, beat the church, baffle the military and get the court on her side. From Paramount … “MASTERPIECE: Flesh and Blood” (2020) is a two-disc set with four episodes. The lives of three siblings are disrupted when their recently widowed mother declares she’s in love with a new man. A tangled web of secrets, lies, rivalries and betrayals eventually leads to a murder. From PBS Distribution … “NOS4A2 Season 2” (2020) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes. Based on the highly acclaimed best-selling novel by Joe Hill, the horror thriller television series premiered the first season on AMC on June 6, 2019 as the second-best cable debut of the year. The second season returned to AMC on June 1, 2020 and was also simulcast on BBC America. A young Victoria “Vic” McQueen discovers she has the power to unlock portals that help her find lost objects. As she delves further into this hidden universe, she encounters many other “inscape travelers” – some benevolent, and some who have been corrupted by their power. When Vic encounters Charlie Manx, an immortal who stays that way by feeding off of the souls of children, she makes a sworn enemy of Manx. Season 2 picks up eight years after the events of Season 1. Vic remains more determined than ever to destroy Manx who, having faced his own mortality, emerges desperate for revenge against Vic. This time, he sets his sights on the person who means most to Vic – her eight-year-old son. Wayne. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “The Secrets We Keep” (2020), starring Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, Chris Messina and Amy Seimetz, a woman (Rapace) in post-WWII America, rebuilding her life in the suburbs with her husband (Messina), kidnaps her neighbor (Kinnaman) and seeks vengeance for the heinous war crimes she believes he committed against her. From Universal … In b>”Amulet” (2020), starring Imelda Staunton, Alec Secareanu and Carla Juri, a former soldier turned refugee, Tomaz (Secareanu), struggles to find shelter, until he meets Sister Claire (Staunton), a nun who offers him asylum in the decaying home of a lonely young woman named Magda (Juri). As Tomaz begins to grow closer to Magda, he soon notices that the home and its occupants are full of sinister secrets. From Magnet Label … photo for Tremors: Shrieker Island “Tremors: Shrieker Island” (2020), starring Michael Gross, Jon Heder, Caroline Langrishe, Cassie Clare, Matthew Douglas, Sahajak Boonthanakit, is the seventh outing in the franchise. When a group of wealthy trophy hunters genetically modify Graboid eggs to create the ultimate hunting experience, it isn’t long before their prey escapes the confines of their small island and begin terrorizing the inhabitants of a nearby island research facility. The head of the research facility and her second-in-command Jimmy (Heder) locate the one man who is an expert in killing Graboids: the one and only, and now reluctant, Burt Gummer (Gross). Once on board, Burt leads the group in an all-out war against the larger, faster, and terrifyingly intelligent Graboids and the swiftly multiplying Shriekers. Celebrates the 30th anniversary of the original “Tremors.” On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Universal … In “Expulsion” (2020), starring Colton Tapp, Lar Park Lincoln and Michael Harrelson, Scott and Vincent are top recruits at the prestigious Cicero Market Technologies Corporation where they are tasked with the development and implementation of cutting edge technologies. The pair begin to sneak their work home with them and they push the boundaries of particle collision science to undiscovered levels, stumbling upon a parallel universe complete with an alternate version of Scott. As their days and nights unfold they begin to discover that others seek their tech to advance their own agendas. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Colossal Content … photo for Alone
One morning, lonely surfer Aidan awakens to find that a global pandemic has turned most of humanity into bloodthirsty zombies in “Alone” (2020), starring Tyler Posey, Summer Spiro, Robert Ri’chard, John Posey and Donald Sutherland. Just as he’s ready to give up hope, Aidan spots his attractive neighbor Eva across his apartment complex’s courtyard, and soon the two become “socially distant” friends. Trying to find a way to rescue her, Aidan confronts an eccentric neighbor (Sutherland) who could be their salvation — or downfall. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … After their comic book dreams are crushed, a group of sci-fi cosplayers are granted superpowers and are transported into the multiverse to do real battle with evil alien forces bent on earth’s destruction in “Monster Force Zero” (2020), starring Garrett Wang, Aeon Cruz and Shale Le Page. From Wild Eye Releasing … “Redwood Massacre: Annihilation” (2020), starring Damien Puckler, Gary Kasper and Jon Campling, is the sequel to 2014’s “The Redwood Massacre.” A stranger obsessed with the unsolved Redwood murders convinces a group of bereaved family members to venture into the wilderness in hope of proving the existence of the infamous killer. Their quest for truth sees a sinister turn of events, as the hunters become the hunted. A blood-soaked fight for survival ensues when they find that the tales told of the axe-wielding manic is very real. From Uncork’d Entertainment … In “The Owners” (2020 — UK, Canada), starring Maisie Williams, Sylvester McCoy, Jake Curran, Ian Kenny, Andrew Ellis and Rita Tushingham, a group of friends think they found the perfect easy score — an empty house with a safe full of cash. But when the elderly couple that lives there comes home early, the tables are suddenly turned. As a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues, the would-be thieves are left to fight to save themselves from a nightmare they could never have imagined. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … photo for The Amityville Harvest In the intense horror tale“The Amityville Harvest” (2020), starring Sadie Katz, Kyle Lowder, Paul Logan and Julie Anne Prescott, a visit to a crumbling mansion becomes a journey into sheer terror. While staying at an aging manor to research its liquor-smuggling history, Christina and her documentary video team interview their spooky host Vincent — but no one can capture his image or voice on video! After shocking dreams and bloody encounters, the crew members fall under Victor’s hypnotic spell. Can Christina and her sister stave off Victor’s dark magic and survive Amityville’s deadly harvest? From Lionsgate … In “Spree” (2020), starring Joe Keery, Sasheer Zamata, David Arquette, Kyle Mooney, Mischa Barton, Frankie Grande and John DeLuca, a 23-year-old rideshare driver for Spree, Kurt (Keery), is so desperate for social media attention that he’ll stop at nothing to go viral. He comes up with an evil plan to livestream a rampage as a shortcut to infamy. Coining his evil scheme “#thelesson,” he installs a set of cameras in his car and begins streaming his deadly rides. Wildly miscalculating the popularity that would come from his lethal scheme, Kurt’s desperation grows as he tries to find a way to overcome the plan’s flaws. In the middle of all this madness, a stand-up comedian (Zamata) with her own viral agenda crosses Kurt’s path and becomes the only hope to put a stop to his misguided carnage. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … In “Haunt” (2019), starring Katie Stevens, Will Brittain and Lauryn Alisa McClain, making its Blu-ray debut this week, a group of friends encounter an “extreme” haunted house that promises to feed on their darkest fears. The night turns deadly as they come to the horrifying realization that some nightmares are very real. Also available as photo for Cut Throat Citya two-disc Collector’s Edition with the original CD soundtrack by tomandandy, four 16” x 20” movie poster reproductions, a 16” x 20” reproduction of the haunt map, six enamel pins featuring the eerie costume masks worn by the villains in the film, four 2” x 3 ½” replica VHS box-style magnets. In a Blu-ray debut from Ronin Flix. Due October 22“Cut Throat City” (2019), starring Shameik Moore, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Demetrius Shipp Jr., Kat Graham, Wesley Snipes, Terrence Howard, Eiza Gonzalez and Ethan Hawke, is the story of four boyhood friends from New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward who return after Hurricane Katrina to decimated homes, no jobs, and no help from FEMA. Out of options, they reluctantly turn to a local gangster, who offers them one shot at turning their situations around — by pulling off a dangerous heist in the heart of the city. When the job goes bad, the friends find themselves on the run, hunted by two relentless detectives and a neighborhood warlord who thinks they stole the heist money. On Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Well Go USA.

Foreign Films:

In “The Audition” (2019 — Germany/France), Anna Bronsky is a violin teacher at a music-focused high school. Despite the opposition of all other teachers, Anna drives through the admission of a student, Alexander, in whom she detects a remarkable talent. Committed, she prepares him for the intermediate exam and neglects her family – her son Jonas, whom she brings into competition with her new student, and her husband Philippe. Her colleague photo for Sword of God (aka The Mute)Christian, with whom she has an affair, persuades her to join a quintet, but when she fails during their joint concert, the pressure mounts and she focuses all her attention on Alexander. Come the day of the exam, events take a tragic turn. From Strand Releasing … In “Sword of God (aka The Mute)” (2018 — Poland), starring Krzysztof Pieczynski, Karol Bernacki and Wiktoria Gorodecka, in the early Middle Ages, a contingent of knights embarks on a dangerous journey to spread Christianity and baptize the pagan inhabitants of an isolated village hidden deep in the mountains of a faraway island. After being shipwrecked, two survivors set out to complete their mission, but as they attempt to convert the tribe, their diverging beliefs put them at odds with each other. Soon, love is confronted with hate, peace with violence, sanity with madness, and redemption with damnation. From Film Movement.

Special Interest:

“The Captains Collection” (2019) is a four-disc Blu-ray set with four acclaimed “Star Trek” documentaries directed by William Shatner that take an in-depth look at the creation, evolution and legacy of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek: “The Captains” (2011), “William Shatner’s Get a Life!” (2012), “The Captains Close Up” five-episode miniseries (2013) and “Chaos on the Bridge: The Untold Story Behind Trek’s Next Generation” (2014). Includes photo for The Captains Collectionadditional interviews, featurettes, trailers, more. A Special Edition adds a fifth disc with the feature-length documentary “William Shatner’s Gonzo Ballet” (2009); a Special Edition The Captains Collection + Has Been (Splatter Vinyl) Bundle includes the five-disc Special Edition Captains Collection Blu-ray alongside William Shatner’s “Has Been” vinyl variant, featuring a green, yellow, and black splatter design and limited to 1,000 units. From Shout! Factory … The HBO series “The Plot Against America” (2020), created by “The Wire’s” David Simon and Ed Burns and based on Philip Roth’s acclaimed novel, brilliantly imagines an alternate American history during World War II. Told through the eyes of the Levins, a working-class Jewish family in Newark, New Jersey, the six-part limited series charts the political rise of aviation hero Charles Lindbergh, a xenophobic populist who captures the presidency in 1940 and turns the nation toward fascism. Caught in the upheaval, the Levins learn that the violence threatening the lives of photo for Creem: America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine ordinary Americans is never more than a moment’s political provocation away. Winona Ryder, Anthony Boyle, Zoe Kazan, Morgan Spector, Michael Kostroff, David Krumholtz, Azhy Robertson, Caleb Malis, Jacob Laval and John Turturro star in this powerful tale of intolerance and totalitarianism. From Warner … Featuring rock music icons Alice Cooper, Kirk Hammett, Wayne Kramer, Gene Simmons, Michael Stipe, Chad Smith, Paul Stanley, Joan Jett, and influential rock critic Lester Bangs, “Creem: America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine” (2020) was an Official Selection at the 2019 SXSW film festival. Capturing the messy upheaval of the 70s just as rock was re-inventing itself, the documentary explores the publication’s humble beginnings in post-riot Detroit, follows its upward trajectory from underground paper to national powerhouse, then bears witness to its imminent demise following the tragic and untimely deaths of its visionary publisher, Barry Kramer, and its most famous alum and genius clown prince, Lester Bangs, a year later. Fifty years after publishing its first issue, “America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine” remains a seditious spirit in music and culture. Exclusive early DVD release as part of Record Store Day’s third RSD Drops date, October 24. From Greenwich Entertainment). Due October 24.

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 October 18, 2020  Add comments

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