From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
“Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years. Vol. 2 Limited Edition”: Boundary-breaking early crime thrillers, mob dramas and action movies from legendary cult director Seijun Suzuki. Includes: “Eight Hours of Terror” (1957), “The Sleeping Beast Within” (1960), “Smashing the 0-Line” (1960), “Tokyo Knights” (1961), “The Man with a Shotgun” (1961). Available for home-viewing for the very first time ever outside of Japan, this collection of bleak crime thrillers, brash mob dramas and exuberant action movies, made across the first five years of Seijun Suzuki’s career within Nikkatsu’s Borderless Action (mukokuseki akushon) line, presents a heady mix that laid the ground for what was to come. “The Sleeping Beast Within” (1960) is a gripping crime thriller that sees a newspaper reporter’s search for his girlfriend’s missing father lead him into heart of the criminal underworld of Yokohama’s Chinatown. Its companion piece, “Smashing the 0-Line” (1960), follows two reporters’ descent into a scabrous demimonde of drug and human trafficking. In “Eight Hours of Terror” (1957), a bus making its precarious way across a winding mountain road picks up some unwelcome passengers. In “Tokyo Knights” (1961), a college student takes over the family business in the field of organized crime, while “The Man with a Shotgun” (1961) marks Suzuki’s first entry into the territory of the “borderless” Japanese Western. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … “Sleeping Dogs”: (1977) Adapted from C.K. Stead’s novel “Smith’s Dream,” “Sleeping Dogs” almost single-handedly kickstarted the New Zealand New Wave, demonstrating that homegrown feature films could resonate with both local and international audiences, and launching the big-screen careers of director Roger Donaldson (“No Way Out,” “Species”) and Sam Neill (“Jurassic Park,” “Possession”). Neill — in his first lead role in a feature — plays Smith, a man escaping the break-up of his marriage by finding isolation on an island off the Coromandel Peninsula. As he settles into his new life, the country is experiencing its own turmoil: an oil embargo has led to martial law and civil war, into which Smith reluctantly finds himself increasingly involved. Co-starring Warren Oates as the commander of a US army unit drawn into the conflict, “Sleeping Dogs” is simultaneously a political thriller, a personal drama and a true landmark in New Zealand cinema. On Blu-ray, from Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment.
“The Awful Truth” (1937): In this Oscar-winning farce, Cary Grant (in the role that first defined the Cary Grant persona) and Irene Dunne exude charm, cunning, and artless affection as an urbane couple who, fed up with each other’s infidelities, resolve to file for divorce. Try as they each might to move on, the mischievous Jerry can’t help but meddle in Lucy’s ill-matched engagement to a corn-fed Oklahoma businessman (Ralph Bellamy), and a mortified Lucy begins to realize that she may be saying goodbye to the only dance partner capable of following her lead. Directed by the versatile Leo McCarey, a master of improvisation and slapstick as well as a keen and sympathetic observer of human folly, “The Awful Truth” is a warm but unsparing comedy about two people whose flaws only make them more irresistible. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … “The Color of Pomegranates” (1969 — Russia): A breathtaking fusion of poetry, ethnography, and cinema, Sergei Parajanov’s masterwork overflows with images and sounds that burn into the memory. In a series of tableaux that blend the tactile with the abstract, “The Color of Pomegranates” revives the splendors of Armenian culture through the story of the 18th-century troubadour Sayat-Nova, charting his intellectual, artistic, and spiritual growth through iconographic compositions rather than traditional narrative. The film’s tapestry of folklore and metaphor departed from the realism that dominated the Soviet cinema of its era, leading authorities to block its distribution, with rare underground screenings presenting it in a restructured form. This edition features the cut closest to Parajanov’s original vision, in a restoration that brings new life to one of cinema’s most enigmatic meditations on art and beauty. In Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian with English subtitles. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with new 4K digital restoration, undertaken by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection.
From TV to Disc:
“The Accident (L’accident)” (2016 — France) is a two-disc set with six episodes. Kindhearted construction boss Gabriel Cauvy lives with his wife, Rebecca, and daughter, Luna, in Sainte Lune, a picturesque but struggling village in Brittany, France. One day, Gabriel notices his wife behaving strangely, and hours later she is killed in a car wreck. Amid his grief, Gabriel also contends with the bizarre circumstances of the crash. Why was Rebecca’s car stopped in the middle of passenger seat when she didn’t drink liquor? Was it truly an accident? Or could it have been something more sinister? When the police and the rest of Sainte Lune blame Rebecca for the crash, Gabriel determines to clear her name. But as he starts his own investigation, the residents of his quaint little town all seem to be hiding something — and the search for the truth is more dangerous than he could have imagined. From Acorn Media … “Claws: The Complete First Season” (2017) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes of the midnight-dark, wickedly funny meditation on female badness set in a South Florida nail salon. It follows the rise of five diverse and treacherous manicurists working at the Nail Artisan of Manatee County salon, where there is a lot more going on than silk wraps and pedicures. Claws is about good women caught in bad places with worse men. It’s the story of hardworking women trying to get by in this economy, set against the surreal, bright, gritty landscape of Florida and the luscious, absurd, extreme excesses of the crime world. From Warner.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
Written and directed by Floyd (“The Hollywood Knights,” “American Hot Wax”) Mutrux, “Aloha, Bobby and Rose,” (1975), in a Blu-ray debut this week, sets its sights on the good-looking titular twosome: Bobby (Paul le Mat), who has a souped-up ‘68 Camaro and a dead-end job; and Rose (Dianne Hull), who’s got a 5-year-old son and a nowhere life. The two meet and quickly fall in love, which gives way to Rose’s fantasy of leaving the Hollywood streets behind and saying “aloha” to life in exotic Hawaii. But when a seemingly safe attempt to rob a liquor store to bankroll their journey goes tragically awry, Bobby and Rose find themselves on the run from the law … and for their lives. Barreling across nighttime L.A. in a bid to make it to the tropics, the young lovers learn that “aloha” can also mean “goodbye.” Remastered in high definition transfer with extensive color correction. Co-stars Robert Carradine, Tim McIntire, Edward James Olmos and Noble Willingham. From Doppelgänger Releasing/Scorpion Releasing … On the eve of an abandoned hospital’s demolition, evil walks its empty corridors to the pulsating echo of 150 beats per minute in “Rave Party Massacre (aka DeadThirsty” (2017), starring Sara Bess, Evan Taylor Williams and Melissa Kunnap. It’s 1992, an uncertain time of uprising, of violent revolution against the so-called New World Order. When Rachel, Branson, and others attend an illegal rave party held in the facility, they encounter the malevolent presence lurking within. From Breaking Glass Pictures … “Deep Blue Sea 2” (2018), starring Danielle Savre, Michael Beach, Rob Mayes, Nathan Lynn and Kim Syster, is a sequel to the 1999 hit directed by Renny Harlin that featured Thomas Jane, Samuel L. Jackson, Saffron Burrows and LL Cool J. Shark conservationist Dr. Misty Calhoun (Savre) is invited to consult on a new, top secret project run by pharmaceutical billionaire Carl Durant (Beach). She believes the project, performed at a remote, sea-based facility, focuses on extracting shark antibodies to help work toward cures for human diseases. However, Dr. Calhoun is shocked to learn that the company is using unpredictable bull sharks as its test subjects, and Durant has bio-engineered a shiver of highly intelligent, super-aggressive bull sharks. When science meddles with the time-tested process of nature and nurture, the outcome can be deadly. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Warner … With an interminable case of writer’s block and a personal family crisis, playwright Nate (Jemaine Clement) is forced to move into his father’s (Elliott Gould) retirement community in “Humor Me” (2017). But a chance encounter with the local community theatre group may help turn his life around — or signal the end of his once promising career for good. Co-stars Ingrid Michaelson, Annie Potts and Bebe Neuwirth. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Shout! Factory … In “Honor Up” (2018), starring Damon Dash, Cam’ron, Murda Mook, Blackface, Smoke DZA and Nicholas Turturro, OG is a drug lord’s lieutenant struggling to maintain the code of honor — protect the family — within his unruly crew after a Harlem shootout. The film reveals a deadly underworld where beats pound as bullets fly, and even outlaws must live by the code. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, from Lionsgate.