From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets
With the simultaneously harrowing and lyrical debut feature “Diamonds of the Night” (1964 — Czechoslovakia) , Jan Nemec established himself as the most uncompromising visionary among the radical filmmakers who made up the Czechoslovak New Wave. Adapted from a novel by Arnošt Lustig, “Diamonds of the Night” closely tracks two boys who escape from a concentration-camp transport and flee into the surrounding woods, a hostile terrain where the brute realities of survival coexist with dreams, memories, and fragments of visual poetry. Along with visceral camera work by Jaroslav Kucera and Miroslav Ondrícek — two of Czechoslovak cinema’s most influential cinematographers — Nemec makes inventive use of fractured editing, elliptical storytelling, and flights of surrealism as he strips context away from this bare- bones tale, evoking the dizzying plight of consciousness lost in night and fog. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … Man-with-a-past James Stewart guides a band of pioneers from Missouri over the Oregon Trail to a new life in the Columbia River Basin in the western adventure “Bend of the River” (1952), directed by the great Anthony Mann. When the settlers are cheated out of their supplies and cattle, Stewart crosses rivers, climbs mountains and out-guns greedy hijackers to ensure their survival through the first winter. Along the way, he is double-crossed by ally Arthur Kennedy and assisted by handsome San Francisco gambler Rock Hudson and beautiful farmer’s daughter Julia Adams. Screenplay by Borden Chase (“Red River”). Co-stars Harry Morgan, Jay C. Flippen, Chubby Johnson, Stepin’ Fetchit, Royal Dano. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … Also from Kino Lorber Studio Classics is “Becky Sharp “ (1936). In the years just preceding Waterloo, best friends Becky Sharp (Miriam Hopkins) and Amelia Sedley (Frances Dee) graduate from Miss Pinkerton’s Academy for Girls. The wealthy Amelia invites the penniless Becky into the bosom of her family home while the manipulative Becky plots her climb up the social ladder. Entirely lacking in scruples and unhampered by conscience or morality, Becky ascends to the very pinnacle of society, crushing anyone who stands in her path. Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, Rouben Mamoulian’s adaptation of Thackeray’s epic novel “Vanity Fair” was the first film to be produced in three-strip Technicolor. Screenplay by Francis Edward Faragoh (“Little Caesar,” “Frankenstein”). Brand new 4K restoration from the 35mm nitrate negative & positive separations. Co-stars Cedric Hardwicke, Billie Burke, Nigel Bruce, Alan Mowbray. On DVD, Blu-ray.
From TV to Disc:
“Escape at Dannemora” (2018) is a three-disc set with all seven episodes of the limited series directed by Ben Stiller and starring Benicio Del Toro, Patricia Arquette, Paul Dano, Bonnie Hunt, Eric Lange and David Morse. Follows the true story of two convicted murderers, Richard Matt (Del Toro) and David Sweat (Dano), who escaped Clinton Correctional Facility with the help of Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell (Arquette), a female prison employee. Tilly, a working class wife and mother who supervises the prison tailor shop and becomes sexually involved with the two prisoners, ultimately assisting them in their escape. From Paramount.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “The Stand-In” (1937), Humphrey Bogart stars as a film producer in this riotous, lacerating satire on the motion picture industry. Directed by Tay Garnett (“The Postman Always Rings Twice”) and produced by Walter Wanger (“You Only Live Once”), http://onvideo.org/?p=12364&preview=true”Stand-In” leaves no Tinseltown target untouched while serving up a sprightly mix of slapstick, send-up and sentiment with screwball-inspired romance for seasoning. Newly transferred and restored. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Twilight Time Movies … A strikingly original Spaghetti Western with a unique elegiac tone, “Keoma” (1976 — Italy) truly is a one-of-a-kind classic of its genre. The legendary Franco Nero stars in the titular role as a half-breed gunfighter who returns from the killing fields of the Civil War to find his hometown riddled with the plague, its inhabitants terrorized (with the help of Keoma’s own estranged half-brothers) by tyrannical gang leader Caldwell (Donald O’Brien). Keoma’s father (Willian Berger) welcomes his prodigal son’s return, but when Keoma saves a vulnerable pregnant woman (Olga Karlatos) from Caldwell’s thugs, the stage is set for a violent confrontation. With the help of his father and his friend, the freed slave George (Woody Strode), Keoma prepares to take a savage revenge on Caldwell and his gang. Directed with immense flair and virtuosity by veteran Enzo G. Castellari (who channels Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone in equal measure), “Keoma” is an epic film of Shakespearean and biblical allusions, which boasts compelling performances and thrilling violent action. The film is presented here in a stunning new 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … The Earth’s future hangs in the balance when the Justice League faces a powerful new threat – the Fatal Five in “Justice League vs. The Fatal Five” (2019), the latest DC Universe original animated feature. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman seek answers as the time-traveling trio of Mano, Persuader and Tharok terrorize Metropolis in search of budding Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz — whom they need to free remaining Fatal Five members Emerald Empress and Validus in order to carry out their sinister plan. But the Justice League discover an ally from another time in the peculiar Star Boy –brimming with volatile power, could he be the key to thwarting the Fatal Five? On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Warner in “Cynthia” (2018), starring Scout Taylor-Compton, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Robert LaSardo, Rebecca Marshall and James Karen, Robin and Michael are college sweethearts who have everything — a perfect marriage, adorable cat, a beautiful home, but one thing is missing from this idyllic setting — a baby. After years of fertility treatments their dreams come true when Robin finds out she is pregnant. But their conception grows into a slimy six-fingered one-legged nightmare that terrorizes the entire neighborhood. Detectives embark on a monster-baby hunt of epic proportions as Cynthia munches her way home to mommy, leaving nothing but girls and corpses behind. From Indican Pictures.