From the Big Screen:
“Bad Boys For Life,” “Ip Man 4: The Finale,” “Like a Boss,” “The Turning,” “The Gentlemen,” and “The Last Full Measure.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week’s Best Bets
Perhaps best remembered as Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” Scottish character actor Alastair Sim became a leading star of British cinema after spending five years as a lecturer of elocution at the University of Edinburgh. One of the best-loved and most prolific actors in classic British comedy, Sim, who often appeared in multiple roles, starred in more than 50 films beginning in 1935 and was both critically acclaimed and unfailingly popular, regularly topping the cinema-goers popularity polls. This four-disc Blu-ray collection “Alastair Sim’s School For Laughter” spotlights his most laughter-inducing film roles — now digitally restored in HD for optimal viewing” “The Belles of St. Trinian’s” (1954, directed by Frank Launder): The schoolgirls of St. Trinian’s are more interested in men and mischief than homework and hockey, but even greater trouble beckons with the arrival of two new students. Features Sim playing dual roles as the headmistress, Miss Millicent Fritton, and her twin brother, Clarence. Based on the cartoons of Ronald Searle. “School For Scoundrels” (1960, directed by Robert Hamer): Henry Palfrey (Ian Carmichael) tries hard to impress but always loses out to the rotter Delauney (Terry-Thomas). Then he enrolls in the “College of Lifemanship” run by “Professor” Stephen Potter (Sim) and learns “how to win without actually cheating!” “Laughter In Paradise” (1951, directed by Mario Zampi): Famed practical joker Henry Russell (Hugh Griffith) leaves 50,000 pounds to his four surviving relatives, including his cousin, retired army officer Deniston Russell (Sim). There’s just one stipulation – each of them has to undertake a task completely out of character for one month. Released in 1951, “Laughter In Paradise” was Britain’s top-grossing film. Watch carefully and see a young Audrey Hepburn in a bit part as a cigarette girl. “Hue and Cry” (1947, directed by Charles Crichton): The first of the Ealing Studios “comedies.” After discovering that his favorite comic is being used to send messages between a master criminal and his gang of thieves, teenager Joe Kirby (Harry Fowler) sets out to alert writer Felix Wilkinson (Sim) and turn the page on the crooks. From Film Movement … “The Love of Jeanne Ney” (1927), starring Edith Jehanne, Fritz Rasp, Brigitte Helm and Uno Henning, is an epic of the Weimar cinema that follows a young French woman’s struggle for happiness amid the political turbulence and corruption of post-World War I Europe. A tour-de-force for director G.W. Pabst (“Diary of a Lost Girl,” “Pandora’s Box”), the silent film blends a variety of cinematic approaches as it weaves its complex narrative of moral chaos and political upheaval: the American Style, evocative of the Hollywood studio blockbuster; the avant-garde techniques of Soviet montage; as well as the eerie moving camerawork and shadowy perspectives typical of German Expressionism. The result is a stunning cinematic experiment that never fails to surprise the viewer as it races towards its exhilarating conclusion. Restored German release version with music adapted and orchestrated by Bernd Thewes; U.S. release version with music by Andrew Earle Simpson. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Classics … Shades of early Tarantino, Edgar Wright and Sam Raimi abound in “Why Don’t You Just Die!” (2018 — Russia), a violent, stylish and riotously entertaining slice of family life, Moscow style. Matvey (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) has just one objective: to gain entry to his girlfriend’s parents’ apartment and kill her father Andrey (Vitaliy Khaev) with a hammer to restore her honor. But all is not as it initially seems, and Matvey’s attempts to bludgeon the family patriarch to death don’t quite go to plan as Andrey proves a more formidable — not to mention ruthless — opponent than he anticipated … and Matvey, for his part, proves stubbornly unwilling to die. Making his feature debut, writer-director Kirill Sokolov presents a rousing tale of family, modern relationships and the dark places they can take you to when things turn sour. Featuring a soundtrack that veers between Ennio Morricone-esque Western riffs and toe-tappingly catchy pop numbers, “Why Don’t You Just Die!” delivers laughs, shocking twists and copious quantities of blood and gore, and establishes Sokolov as one of cinema’s brightest rising stars. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … “Pandora and the Flying Dutchman” (1951), Albert Lewin’s sumptuous Technicolor masterpiece, gets a new 4K restoration. Lewin, who specialized in fine literary adaptations (“The Picture of Dorian Gray,” “The Moon and Sixpence”), based this 1951 film on the legend of the Flying Dutchman, a 17th-century ghost ship doomed to sail the oceans forever. However, here the Flying Dutchman is not a ship, but a man with a sinister yet romantic mission. A yacht arrives in the Spanish seaport of Esperanza carrying just one person, the mysterious captain Hendrick van der Zee (James Mason). There he meets American nightclub singer Pandora Reynolds (Ava Gardner), a beauty who men will kill and die for but who has never loved anyone. The stage is set for a swooning tale of ultimate love and sacrifice. This delirious drama reveals Lewin to be one of mid-century cinema’s greatest stylists. It is also one of the finest achievements by cinematographer Jack Cardiff, legendary for his work with the team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (“The Red Shoes,” “Black Narcissus,” “A Matter of Life and Death”) as well as such classics as “The African Queen” and “The Barefoot Contessa.” On DVD, Blu-ray, Cohen Film Collection … Czechoslovak New Wave iconoclast Juraj Herz’s terrifying, darkly comic vision of the horrors of totalitarian ideologies, “The Cremator” (1969), stars a supremely chilling Rudolf Hrušínský as the pathologically morbid Karel Kopfrkingl, a crematorium manager in 1930s Prague who believes fervently that death offers the only true relief from human suffering. When he is recruited by the Nazis, Kopfrkingl’s increasingly deranged worldview drives him to formulate his own shocking final solution. Blending the blackest of gallows humor with disorienting expressionistic flourishes — queasy point-of-view shots, distorting lenses, jarring quick cuts—the controversial, long-banned masterpiece .”The Cremator” is one of cinema’s most trenchant and disturbing portraits of the banality of evil. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection.
From TV to Disc:
“Infinity Train: Book One” (2019) is a single disc with all 10 of the episodes of Cartoon Network’s mysterious and critically acclaimed series. Join Tulip on a mind-bending journey aboard the mysterious Infinity Train, alongside her companions Atticus, the canine king of Corginia, and One-One, a robot with dueling personalities. With puzzles and perils awaiting them in every car, and the relentless Steward on their trail, will Tulip ever find a way off the train and return home? From Warner … “Looking For Alaska” (2019) is a three-disc set with all eight episodes. Based on author John Green’s (“The Fault In Our Stars”) award-winning first novel of the same name, the film is a moving story of friendship, love and loss and follows Miles “Pudge” Halter (Charlie Plummer) who is searching for a deeper perspective on life and decides to enroll at the boarding school Culver Creek Academy. He finds a loyal group of friends and falls in love with Alaska Young (Kristine Froseth). After an unexpected tragedy, the close group of friends tries to cope with everything they’ve been through and find some answers along the way. From Paramount.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “American Terrorist” (2020), starring Peter Cambor, Lacey Dorn and Tarek Bishara, in the wake of the September 11th attacks, two brothers decide to take matters into their own hands. Embarking on a swath of vigilante justice, the two believe they have stopped a mass casualty event. But what if they were wrong? Where does the line between good and evil fall. From Indican Pictures … “There have been enough post-holocaust nuclear winter films to constitute a genre,” says Time Out, “but there has never been anything quite like this.” Three decades after it first shattered audiences worldwide, the animated classic “When the Wind Blows” (1986), about an elderly couple – voiced by John Mills and Peggy Ashcroft – attempting to survive the aftermath of a nuclear war returns. Directed by Jimmy T. Murakami (“Heavy Metal,” “Battle Beyond the Stars”), adapted by Raymond Briggs from his acclaimed graphic novel, and featuring an original score by Roger Waters with the title song by David Bowie, experience what Rock! Shock! Pop! calls “A fascinating achievement in filmmaking, and one that remains timeless more than 30 years after its creation.” On DVD, Blu-ray, from Severin Kids … Sun, sand, sex and all-night dancing at a beautiful island resort is the perfect graduation celebration for a group of young friends looking for one last taste of freedom before they go their separate ways in “Party Hard, Die Young” (2018), starring Elisabeth Wabitsch, Michael Glantschnig, Valerie Huber and Ferdinand Seebacher. But the dancing and drinking comes to a halt when people start disappearing, and a masked murderer sends the ominous message … this party will be their last. On Blu-ray, VOD, Digital, from RLJE Films … “Carnival Magic” (1981) horror film director Al Adamson’s (“Satan’s Sadists,” “Dracula vs. Frankenstein” and “The Naughty Stewardesses”) first children’s movie, a delightful tale of alcoholism, domestic violence, a talking chimp with a brassiere fetish, vivisection, suicide, “The Freak-Out Girl” Regina Carrol – in her final performance – flaunting an array of skintight/low-cut outfits, and not a single role for children. Don Stewart and Joe Cirillo co-star in the infamous ‘80s oddity that has been hailed as “Possibly the worst kiddie movie ever made.” Scanned from the only surviving pre-print 35mm elements. Includes his last complete feature, the Sandra Dee starrer “Lost” that reveals Aldamson’s bizarre kiddie matinee legacy. On Blu-ray; DVD due June 2 from Severin Films … Directed by legendary horror filmmaker Terence Fisher (“Horror of Dracula,” “The Curse Of Frankenstein”), this Hammer horror classic, “The Curse of the Werewolf” (1961), stars Clifford Evans (“The Kiss of the Vampire”), Oliver Reed (“Gladiator”), Yvonne Romain (“The Last of Sheila”), and Catherine Feller (“The Little World of Don Camillo”). The atmospheric tale of terror stars Reed as the orphan of a maniacal beggar and a mute girl. From his birth to young manhood, he discovers a horrible secret. Try as he may, the cursed man is unable to deny the dark force within him. When the moon is full, he becomes an uncontrollable, seemingly unstoppable killer incapable of distinguishing between friend and foe. Spectacular makeup effects and beautifully photographed 19th-century European locales heighten the suspense of this classic tale of horror. In a new 4K scan of the original film elements in a collector’s edition. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
“Tigers Are Not Afraid” (2017 — Mexico), starring Paola Lara, Juan Ramón López, Ianis Guerrero and Rodrigo Corte, is a haunting horror fairytale set against the backdrop of Mexico’s devastating drug wars, the film follows a group of orphaned children who are unexpectedly given three magical wishes. As they run from the cartel that murdered their parents and the ghosts that haunt them, they must decide how to use this special gift to save their own lives and the people they love. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Steelbook, from RLJE Films.
“Blood & Flesh: The Real Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson” (2010): “Horror Film Director Found Slain, Buried Under Floor,” screamed the 1995 headlines read around the world. But the truth behind the wild life of Al Adamson — including the production of such low budget classics as “Satan’s Sadists,” “Dracula vs. Frankenstein” and “The Naughty Stewardesses” — and his grisly death reveals perhaps the most bizarre career in Hollywood history. Told through over 40 first-person recollections from friends, family, colleagues and historians — plus rare clips and archival interviews with Adamson himself — this documentary is the award-winning chronicle of bikers, go-go dancers, porn stars, aging actors, freak-out girls, Charles Manson, Colonel Sanders, alien conspiracies and homicidal contractors.On Blu-ray; DVD due June 2, from Severin Films … “Delta Zoo” (2019 — Lithuania): In the 1990s, every boy around the world — even amidst cultural embargoes — was glued to VHS karate action films and dreamt of being a super hero. On March 11, 1990, a year before the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare itself independent. Reacting to Soviet aggression, the newly re-established Lithuanian Army Command decided to create the first-ever national crack commando unit and gave a selective group of young men the chance to be the “Mambos” of their country as members of a top-secret Special Forces Unit aimed at countering Soviet aggression. Most members were given an animal nickname — Spider, Horse, Whale, Crab — hence the unit was known as the Zoo. And from parachute jumps and hand-to-hand combat training to securing the GB building in Vilnius, at the beginning of the end of the USSR, this playful documentary from filmmaker Andrius Lekavicius uses first-person interviews, cleverly stylized animation, archival footage and original music to tell the hidden story of the first-ever Lithuanian Special Forces: a courageous, impassioned, and youthful endeavor against the powers that once were. From IndiePix Films.
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.