From the Big Screen:
This Week's Highlights:
It's a banner week for cinema lovers as two long-awaited releases finally come home: The classic Jacques Demy "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," a much-requested and long-out-of-print film (recently only available in Criterion's Jacques Demy set, and Takashi Miike's "Dead or Alive Trilogy," long a cult favorite and also hard to get.
An angelically beautiful Catherine Deneuve was launched into stardom by "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" (1964 — France), a glorious musical heart-tugger from Demy. She plays Geneviève, an umbrella-shop owner’s beautiful and delicate daughter, glowing with first love for a handsome garage mechanic, played by Nino Castelnuovo. The two want to marry, but Geneviève's mother (the equally beautiful Anne Vernon), would prefer that she marry into a higher station; in particular, she wants her daughter to consider Roland, a totally uninteresting diamond merchant. When the boy is shipped off to fight in Algeria, the two lovers must grow up quickly, and the film follows their subsequent lives and yearnings. Exquisitely designed in a kaleidoscope of colors, and told entirely through the lilting songs of the great composer Michel Legrand, "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" is one of the most revered and unorthodox movie musicals of all time. And if you don't end up crying by film's end, you don't have a heart. On DVD and Blu-ray in a 2K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include "Once Upon a Time … The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” a 2008 documentary; an interview from 2014 with film scholar Rodney Hill; a French television interview from 1964 featuring Demy and Legrand discussing the film; audio recordings of interviews with Deneuve (1983) and Legrand (1991) at the National Film Theatre in London; and an essay by critic Jim Ridley. From The Criterion Collection.
Beginning with an explosive, six-minute montage of sex, drugs and violence, and ending with a phallus-headed battle robot taking flight, Takashi Miike's unforgettable "Dead or Alive Trilogy" features many of the director's most outrageous moments set alongside some of his most dramatically moving scenes. Made between 1999 and 2002, the "Dead or Alive films" cemented Miike's reputation overseas as one of the most provocative enfants terrible of Japanese cinema, yet also one of its most talented and innovative filmmakers. In "Dead or Alive," tough gangster Ryuichi (Riki Takeuchi) and his ethnically Chinese gang make a play to take over the drug trade in Tokyo's Shinjuku district by massacring the competition. But he meets his match in detective Jojima (Show Aikawa), who will do everything to stop them. "Dead or Alive 2: Birds" casts Aikawa and Takeuchi together again, but as new characters, a pair of rival yakuza assassins who turn out to be childhood friends; after a botched hit, they flee together to the island where they grew up, and decide to devote their deadly skills to a more humanitarian cause. And in "Dead or Alive: Final," Takeuchi and Aikawa are catapulted into a future Yokohama ruled by multilingual gangs and cyborg soldiers, where they once again butt heads in the action-packed and cyberpunk-tinged finale to the trilogy. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.
Jacques Demy followed up "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" with another musical about missed connections and second chances, "The Young Girls of Rochefort" (1967 — France), this one a more effervescent confection. Twins Delphine and Solange, a dance instructor and a music teacher (played by real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac), dream of big-city life; when a fair comes through their quiet port town, so does the possibility of escape. With its jazzy Michel Legrand score, pastel paradise of costumes, and divine supporting cast (George Chakiris, Grover Dale, Danielle Darrieux, Michel Piccoli, and Gene Kelly), "The Young Girls of Rochefort" is a tribute to Hollywood optimism from sixties French cinema’s preeminent dreamer. On DVD and Blu-ray in a 2K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a French television interview from 1966 featuring Demy and Legrand discussing the music for the film; a conversation from 2014 between Demy biographer Jean-Pierre Berthomé and costume designer Jacqueline Moreau; an episode from "Behind the Screen," a 1966 series about the making of the film; Agnès Varda’s (Varda was married to Demy) 1993 documentary "The Young Girls Turn 25"; and an essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum. From The Criterion Collection.
With a string of masterpieces behind him — including "Ossessione," "Senso," "The Leopard" and "Death in Venice" — the great Italian director Luchino Visconti turned his attentions to the life and death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria ("He loved women. He loved men. He lived as controversially as he ruled"), in 1972, resulting in "Ludwig" (1973), an epic of 19th century decadence. Dominated by Helmut Berger in the title role, "Ludwig" nevertheless manages to find room for an impressive cast list: Romy Schneider (reprising her Elisabeth of Austria characterization from the "Sissi" trilogy), Silvana Mangano, Gert Fröbe, John Moulder-Brown and Trevor Howard as Richard Wagner. As opulent as any of Visconti's epics — Piero Tosi's costume design was nominated for an Academy Award — "Ludwig" is presented here in its complete form in accordance with the director's wishes and features the English-language soundtrack for the first ever on home video. Four-disc set, 4K restoration from the original film negative. Two viewing options: the full-length theatrical cut or as five individual parts. Optional original English soundtrack available on home video for the first time ever with optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.
From TV to DVD:
"Mars" (2016) is a three-disc set with 20 episodes of the National Geographic series that follows a crew of courageous international astronauts on its exhilarating maiden voyage to Mars and their quest to colonize the fourth planet from the sun. In a unique blend of scripted drama intermixed with documentary sequences and feature-film-caliber visual effects, the series presents what the greatest minds in space exploration are doing to make traveling to Mars a reality, featuring Big Thinkers like Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stephen Petranek. From executive producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Fox … "Silicon Valley: The Complete Third Season" (2016) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes. From Mike Judge and Alec Berg comes a new season of the Emmy-nominated comedy that takes viewers inside Silicon Valley's high-tech gold rush: a land of big ideas and bigger egos. After last season's shocking ending, which found Pied Piper celebrating legal victory just as Richard (Thomas Middleditch) was ousted as CEO, Season 3 picks up with Richard offered the diminished role of CTO and the rest of his team — Erlich (T.J. Miller), Jared (Zach Woods), Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) — facing the question of just how far their loyalty extends. With a new no-nonsense CEO hell-bent on transforming everything from Pied Piper's offices to its business agenda, the guys must find a way to triumph in the war of Art vs. Commerce, maneuvering the many competing interests along the way. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from HBO … "VEEP: The Complete Fifth Season" (2016) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes. Season 5 of the acclaimed comedy series finds Selina Meyer in the midst of a virtually unprecedented Electoral College tie — with her future as President coming down to only a few hundred votes. Selina finds herself spinning her wheels in D.C. as her staff continues their mission to make her seem presidential (even though she is the President) while fending off the ambitions of her charismatic Vice Presidential running mate who, through an obscure constitutional procedure, could end up being President. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from HBO.