This Week’s Best Bets
“Alejandro Jodorowsky: 4K Restoration Collection” is a deluxe box set that includes the latest film by the great Chilean-French artist/filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, “Psychomagic, A Healing Art,” as well as “Fando y Lis,” “El Topo” and “The Holy Mountain” restored in 4K on Blu-ray, along with new bonus features and CD soundtracks of the latter two titles. At the age of 91, Jodorowsky is as relevant as he’s ever been. In addition to completing “Psychomagic, A Healing Art,” he supervised the color correction of the 4K restorations of his essential films using the original 35mm elements, with stunning and vibrant results.
“Psychomagic, A Healing Art” is an intimate exploration of the visionary director’s theory of trauma therapy. Jodorowsky’s unique concept of healing uses performance art as a vehicle to counter deep, debilitating psychic suffering with literal “acts of confrontation” in real world applications. Drawing from a life-long study of philosophy, psychology, ethnology, and world religions, from Freud to Shamans, from Kabbalah to Gurdjieff and everything in between, Jodorowsky works directly with people in pain who are eager to face, resolve and transcend their personal dilemmas through the use of radical performative art therapy. His healing concepts extend beyond the individual to the global, offering humanity a collective catharsis to a higher consciousness. “The world is ill, we need to make therapy pictures,” said Jodorowsky of his work. “If art is not a medicine for society, it’s a poison.” The cult classic “El Topo” is presented in 1:33 aspect ratio as it was shown in theaters in 1970. It is also available for the first time in 1.85:1 widescreen. Jodorowsky originally envisioned the film with this aspect ratio as an homage to Sergio Leone, and a half century later, that dream has finally been fulfilled. “El Topo” was followed with “The Holy Mountain,” which firmly established Jodorowsky as an auteur of Surrealist Cinema and sparked controversy at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival due to its sacrilegious imagery. The mythical, mystical masterpiece follows an elite group of thieves who embark on a spiritual journey to displace the immortal Gods who secretly rule the universe. Jodorowsky’s first feature, “Fando y Lis,” is a brutal and scathing examination of destructive co-dependence between two lovers conflicted by anguish and the demands they put on one another. Its grotesque and salacious imagery caused a riot at the 1967 premiere in Acapulco, which he narrowly escaped after having his life threatened. The set also contains the 1957 short film “Le Cravate,” a mime adaptation of a Thomas Mann story about a Parisian urchin who makes her living selling human heads. The box set features a book with photos and essays as well as newly filmed interviews with Jodorowsky and his long time personal assistant Pablo Leder. Jodorowsky’s son Brontis, who made his acting debut as the young boy in “El Topo,” is also interviewed. In addition, there are new introductions by Columbia University professor Richard Peña, a mini-documentary “A to Z of The Holy Mountain,” narrated by Jodorowsky biographer Ben Cobb, and CD soundtracks for “El Topo” and “The Holy Mountain.” On Blu-ray from ABKCO Films … What do you get when you cross Afro-futurism, Cold War paranoia, the dystopian world of Philip K. Dick and 60s exploitation cinema, along with a hefty dose of Lynchian surrealism? The answer: “Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway” (2019 — Spain), the second feature by Miguel Llansó (“Crumbs”) and one of the most striking and original films you’ll see all year. The year is 2035, and Special Agent Gagano (Daniel Tadesse) dreams of leaving the CIA to open a business with his wife Malin (Gerda-Annette Allikas). Before he can hand in his resignation, however, a strange cyber virus attacks Psychobook, the CIA’s operating system, forcing Gagano to enter cyberspace via virtual reality to combat the threat. Before long, however, the virus starts to reach out into the real world, destabilising the fragile socio-political order for its own ends, and Gagano, trapped in the VR world, must find a way out before it’s too late. Featuring encounters with an Irish-accented Joseph Stalin, a kung-fu-fighting Batman, and Jesus Christ himself, to name but a few, “Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway” is absurd, audacious and like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … Comedy legend Bob Hope is at his very best in the comedy-thriller “The Cat and the Canary” (1939). A decade after the death of an eccentric millionaire, his remaining relatives gather for the reading of the will at his abandoned mansion set deep in the Louisiana bayous. Tension builds after his niece Joyce (Paulette Goddard) is named the sole inheritor and it is revealed that one of the other relatives will get everything if the heiress goes insane within the next 30 days. The timid Wally (Hope) vows to protect Joyce who must spend the night in the haunted mansion along with her jealous relatives, a creepy maid and a homicidal maniac who has just escaped from a nearby sanitarium. An equal mix of both frights and fun, this unforgettable classic has become the gold standard for the horror-comedy genre. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … A year after their smash hit “The Cat and the Canary,” Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard co-stared in the comedy-thriller “The Ghost Breakers” (1940). Ghosts and gags collide in this witches’ brew of laughs, with Hope as a Manhattan radio commentator who finds himself marooned on an island of the walking dead. Larry Lawrence (Hope), sought in connection with a murder he did not commit, eludes New York police by hiding in a steamer trunk. Soon the trunk (and Larry) are aboard a ship bound for Cuba, where the trunk’s owner, pretty Mary Carter (Goddard), is sailing to take possession of a recent inheritance: a “haunted” castle. Sensing that Mary is in danger, Larry and his valet Alex (Willie Best) precede her to the island, which is inhabited by a ghost, a zombie and perhaps even a flesh-and-blood fiend. There’s romance, comedy and chills as Hope and Goddard contend with earthly and unearthly foes —- and try to keep from ending up as ghosts themselves. The stellar cast includes Paul Lukas, Anthony Quinn and Paul Fix. New 2K Master. This is probably our favorite Bob Hope film of all-time. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … With her ravishingly sensual take on Herman Melville’s “Billy Budd, Sailor,” Claire Denis firmly established herself as one of the great visual tone poets of our time with “Beau Travail” (1999 — France). Amid the azure waters and sunbaked desert landscapes of Djibouti, a French Foreign Legion sergeant (Denis Lavant) sows the seeds of his own ruin as his obsession with a striking young recruit (Grégoire Colin) plays out to the thunderous, operatic strains of Benjamin Britten. Denis and cinematographer Agnès Godard fold military and masculine codes of honor, colonialism’s legacy, destructive jealousy, and repressed desire into shimmering, hypnotic images that ultimately explode in one of the most startling and unforgettable endings in all of modern cinema. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, supervised by director of photography Agnès Godard and approved by director Claire Denis, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … A cult favorite, “Shivers” (1975) is acclaimed filmmaker David Cronenberg’s feature-length debut. When the residents of a luxury apartment complex outside Montreal are infiltrated by parasites and transformed into violent, sex-crazed maniacs, it’s up to Dr. Roger St. Luc to contain the outbreak from spreading to the city at large. Stars Paul Hampton, Joe Silver, Lynn Lowry and Barbara Steele. In a Blu-ray debut from Vestron Video Collector’s Series/Lionsgate.
From TV to Disc:
“A House Divided: Season Two” (2020)is a two-disc set with six episodes. Follows the direct descendants of Letty Sanders, an enslaved woman who after arriving in Los Angeles in 1821, grew to become the wealthiest Black woman in the newly formed city. Centering on the present-day members of the highly esteemed Sanders family, Cameran Sanders Sr. has raised his three children in opulent wealth. After the sudden passing of his wife amidst a brewing government investigation into the business dealings of the family-owned bank, a new woman, Carissa Walker, emerges from the shadows determined to be the next Mrs. Cameran Sanders. As secrets are uncovered and scandals emerge, the Sanders family are forced to band together for the sake of their survival or risk the ultimate demise of their long-standing legacy. From UMC-TV … “Killing Eve, Season 3” (2020) is a two-disc set with all eight episodes. The third season of the award-winning drama continues the story of two women with brutal pasts, addicted to each other but now trying desperately to live their lives without their drug of choice. For Villanelle (Jodie Comer), the assassin without a job, Eve (Sandra Oh) is dead. For Eve, the ex-MI6 operative hiding in plain sight, Villanelle will never find her. All seems fine until a shocking and personal death sets them on a collision course yet again. The journey back to each other will cost both of them friends, family, and allegiances … and perhaps a share of their souls.On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … “Mom: The Complete Third Season” (2015-16) is a two-disc set with all 22 episodes. Anna Faris and Allison Janney star in this comedy from executive producer Chuck Lorre (“The Big Bang Theory”). Christy (Faris) is still sober and has her life mostly back on track, though she’s continually tested by her mother, Bonnie (Janney). Together, the two work to overcome their mistakes and build a better future. From Warner … “Outlander: Season Five” (2020) is a four-disc set with all 12 episodes. Follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world in which her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate relationship is ignited that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives. The fifth season follows Claire and Jamie’s fight to protect those they love, as they navigate the trials and tribulations of life in colonial America. The Frasers strive to flourish within a society which is unwittingly marching towards Revolution, and Jamie must now defend the home they have built together at Fraser’s Ridge while Claire seeks to put her own skills and medical expertise to use in keeping her family together and safe from harm. A Collector’s Edition Blu-ray set will also include a compact disc of the season 5 soundtrack, a 28-page digibook, and an excerpt from Diana Gabaldon’s upcoming ninth Outlander novel, “Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone,” all within premium collector packaging. On DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray Collector’s Edition, from Sony … “Succession: The Complete Second Season” (2019) isa three-disc set with all 10 episodes of HBO’s provocative drama about an enormously wealthy, aging patriarch and his four grown children, who together control one of the biggest entertainment conglomerates in the world. The series explores themes of power, politics, money and family, played out within a rich and dysfunctional family whose patriarch, Logan Roy (Brian Cox), is CEO of Waystar Royco, one of the world’s largest media and entertainment conglomerates. Beginning where season one dramatically left off, the second season follows the Roys as they struggle to retain control of their empire amidst internal and external threats. While the future looks increasingly uncertain, it is the past that portends to ultimately destroy them, as each of Logan’s four children remains focused on personal agendas that may or may not sync with those of their siblings. From Warner.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Fear PHarm” (2020), starring Emily Sweet, Aimee Stolte and Houston Stevenson, four high school seniors attempt to make it through the world’s scariest Halloween corn maze in order to win a grand cash prize at their local fair. Unbeknownst to them, what they had thought would be easy and fun becomes a run for their lives from a deranged family that harvests the DNA of young teens for their special pharmaceutical cream. From Indican pictures … In “Two Hundred Thousand Dirty” (2012), starring Mark Greenfield, Coolio, Rocío Verdejo and C. Clayton Blackwel, welcome to the monotonous, oppressive modern American byproduct of suburban sprawl: the urban strip-mall. Native to this environment and products of outdated pop culture are Rob (Greenfield) and Manny (Coolio), the unsuccessful, unrefined and uncouth sales force behind Affordable Mattress. When new employee Isabelle (Verdejo) is hired in hopes of improving dismal sales, some things do change and after recruiting fellow strip-mall burnout Martin (Blackwell), she’s got everyone working together to split a common goal – $200,000 for murdering her ex-husband. From Corinth Films … “Little Monsters” (1989), starring Fred Savage, Howie Mandel, Daniel Stern and Margaret Whitton, is a family friendly comedy about a sixth-grader (Savage) who’s recently moved to a new town and made friends with Maurice (Mandel) — the monster who lives under Brian’s bed. Maurice introduces Brian to the world of monsters, where junk food rules, adults aren’t allowed, and the fun and games never end. But when Brian’s brother is kidnapped, it’s time for Brian to get serious and fight the monsters on </a >their own turf. In a Blu-ray debut from Vestron Video Collector’s Series/Lionsgate … In the summer of his high school freshman year, Hodaka runs away from his remote island home to Tokyo, and quickly finds himself pushed to his financial and personal limits in “Weathering With You” (2019 — Japan). The weather is unusually gloomy and rainy every day, as if to suggest his future. He lives his days in isolation, but finally finds work as a writer for a mysterious occult magazine. Then one day, Hodaka meets Hina on a busy street corner. This bright and strong-willed girl possesses a strange and wonderful ability: the power to stop the rain and clear the sky. Latest anime film from director Makoto Shinka. On DVD, Blu-ray, from (GKIDS/Shout! Factory … The “Stephen King 5-Movie Collection” brings together on Blu-ray five films that offer perfect entertainment for Halloween: “Pet Sematary” (1989), “Pet Sematary” (2019), “Stephen King’s The Stand” (1994), “The Dead Zone” (1983) and “Stephen King’s Silver Bullet” (1985).
On the Indie Front:
“The Transcendents” (2020), starring Savannah Welch, Rob Franco, Kathy Valentine, Ben Reno, William LeRoy, Paul Sevigny and Cecilia Deacon, is a rock ‘n’ roll comedy thriller about Roger, a Rasputin-like drifter, who is in search of the ultimate indie-rock band, The Transcendents, a band that was on the brink of greatness before disappearing from the world. What he finds is less than transcendent: a band that has all but abandoned society, a host of unpleasant memories, and more questions than answers in his search. From Indican Pictures … “One Hour Outcall” (2019), starring Natalia Ochoa, William Norrett, Kristin Carey, Shannon Leigh Godwin and Octavio Rodriguez, is a sexy drama unraveling the complex relationship between a call girl and her client who meet every Thursday night. Esmeralda (Ochoa) is a college-aged, high-class escort, Greg (Norrett) a middle-aged, divorced introvert. Sexual tension and curiosity fill the air during their first rendezvous, each vying for the upper hand. As they continue their weekly explorations, however, they start to develop an intimacy that goes beyond the transactional and into the deeply personal. When his ulterior motive is revealed, their interludes force Greg to confront his relationship with Esmeralda, his family, and his own inner demons. And it forces Esmeralda to question whether or not she can truly leave her emotions at the door. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Gravitas Ventures … “In the Life of Music” (2018), starring Ellen Wong, Ratanak Ben, Daniel Chea, and best-selling Cambodian music group Small World Small Band, follows the journey of Hope (Ellen Wong) a young American girl visiting her relatives in Cambodia for the first time. Determined to learn the history of her parents, Hope discovers the story of how one song, “Champa Battambang,” played an integral part of three generations. Starting with how her parents met and fell in love in 1968, to their fight for survival during the war-torn Khmer Rouge years of the 1970s and finally finishing in the modern day with Hope getting the answers she has longed for. From Indican Pictures.
In “A Tramway in Jerusalem” (2018 — Israel/France), starring Mathieu Amalric, Meital Dohan, Yuval Scharf, Hana Laslo and Lamis Ammar, the Light Rail Red Line of Jerusalem’s tramway connects the city from east to west, from the Palestinian neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina to Mount Herzl -— a journey that comprises the culturally complex makeup of the city. This humorous and touching film hinges on a series of encounters along the line: simple, mundane interactions that reveal the diverse mosaic of humanity that exists in the spiritual center of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Beneath the clashes and grievances among its population that the world sees, Jerusalem is a city teeming with everyday life; the small conflicts and reconciliations depicted offer a kernel of hope in a society torn by political strife. From Film Movement.
“The Best of Cher”: Cher initially rose to stardom as part of a singing act with then husband Sonny Bono in the 1960s, hitting No. 1 with the single “I Got You Babe” before they starred together on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. Following a parting of ways, the incredibly talented artist spread her wings, established a chart-topping solo career of her own, starred in her own variety show, and sold out music venues across the globe. This nine-disc set encompasses her entire career. The Best of Cher 9-DVD Collector’s Set includes: 10 star-studded episodes of Cher with guest appearances by Charo, Ray Charles, Elton John, The Muppets, Linda Ronstadt, Raquel Welch, and more; both of Cher’s legendary TV Specials from the ‘70s; two unforgettable concerts in Vegas, live from the MGM Grand and the Mirage; The full-length documentary “Dear Mom, Love Cher,” a rare peek into Cher’s fascinating family history; exclusive new interviews with comedy icon Lily Tomlin, designer Bob Mackie, Cher executive producer George Schlatter, and Cher; rare clips including early TV appearances, rehearsal footage, and even Cher’s personal camcorder footage; a collectible book of Bob Mackie’s original wardrobe sketches for Cher. Get more info here. From Time Life.
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.