From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets
“Série Noir” (1979 — France), starring Patrick Dewaere, Marie Trintignant, Myriam Boyer and Bernard Blier, is a sleazy slice of noir. Alain Corneau’s Palme D’Or-nominated, no holds-barred adaptation of Jim Thompson’s novel “A Hell of a Woman” is now in a 2K digital restoration. While trying to track down a deadbeat customer, door-to-door salesman Franck Poupart (Dewaere) encounters Mona (Trintignant), a teenage sexpot living with her miserly aunt. After being dumped by his wife and thrown in jail by his boss, Franck agrees to help Mona kill her aunt and make off with her millions. Unfortunately, their scheme backfires, and Franck sees his luck take an even darker turn for the worse. Dewaere, the too-soon-gone premiere wild man of 70s French cinema, gives a live-wire, no-holds-barred performance, playing the entirely-amoral Thompson protagonist to the hilt, his increasingly frenzied star turn driving the film headlong towards derangement. On Blu-ray from Film Movement … “The Europeans” (1979) arrives this week in a new 4K restoration of Merchant Ivory Productions’ classic period drama. The film marked the first Merchant Ivory adaptation of a novel by Henry James, and stars Lee Remick, Robin Ellis, Lisa Eichhorn. Set in the 1850s, the film centers on the wealthy, puritanical Wentworth family living outside Boston, whose lives are upended by the not-so-welcome arrival of their European cousins one particularly golden autumn. Remick shines as the snooty and calculating Eugenia, a baroness whose marriage to a German prince is on the fritz. Meanwhile, her dapper brother Felix (Tim Woodward) has his eye on one of the Wentworth daughters, Gertrude (Eichhorn). Exploring one of Henry James’ great themes — the social and moral clashes between the New World and the Continent — the film was produced by Ismail Merchant, directed by James Ivory and features a witty screenplay by their frequent collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Cohen Film Collection … With this compassionate, startling comedy “Me and You and Everyone We Know” (2005) that could have come from no other artistic sensibility, the brilliant Miranda July reveals a world both familiar and strange — an original vision of creativity, sexuality, childhood, and loneliness through a series of braided vignettes around a pair of potential lovers: Richard, a newly single shoe salesman and father of two (John Hawkes), and Christine, a lonely video artist and “Eldercab” driver (July). While they take hesitant steps toward romance, Richard’s sons follow their own curiosity toward their first sexual experiences, online and in real life, venturing into uncharted territories in their attempts to connect with others. Playful and profoundly transgressive, “Me and You and Everyone We Know” is a poetic look at the tortuous routes we take to intimacy in an isolating world, and the moments of magic and redemption that unite us. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with high-definition digital master, approved by director Miranda July, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … In “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014), Wes Anderson brings his dry wit and visual inventiveness to this exquisite caper set amid the old-world splendor of Europe between the World Wars. At the opulent Grand Budapest Hotel, the concierge M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and his young protégé Zero (Tony Revolori) forge a steadfast bond as they are swept up in a scheme involving the theft of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — while around them, political upheaval consumes the continent. Meticulously designed, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a breathless picaresque and a poignant paean to friendship and the grandeur of a vanished world, performed with panache by an all-star ensemble that includes F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, Mathieu Amalric, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with 2K digital transfer, supervised by director Wes Anderson, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
From The Criterion Collection.
From TV to Disc:
“Arrow: The Eighth and Final Season” (2019-20) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes. Following the arrival of The Monitor, Oliver Queen left his home, his family, and his team behind to take on his most challenging battle yet, knowing the cost may be his life. But this time it’s not just his city he’s seeking to protect – it’s the entire multiverse! Oliver’s quest will send him on a journey where he is forced to confront the ultimate question: what is the true cost of being a hero? On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
“The Assistant”(2019), starring Julia Garner, Matthew Macfadyen, Makenzie Leigh, Kristine Froseth and Jon Orsini, is a searing look at a day in the life of an assistant to a powerful executive. As Jane (Garner) follows her daily routine, she grows increasingly aware of the insidious abuse that threatens every aspect of her position. From Universal … She’s back! Elvira, Horrorland’s hostess with the mostest, finally busts out on Blu-ray with this long-awaited, positively bursting-at-the-seams special edition of her big screen debut, “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark” (1988). Having just quit her job as a Los Angeles TV horror hostess, Elvira receives the unexpected news that she’s set to inherit part of her great aunt Morgana’s estate. Arriving in the small town of Fallwell, Massachusetts, to claim her inheritance, Elvira receives a less than enthusiastic reception from the conservative locals — amongst them, her sinister uncle Vincent, who, unbeknownst to Elvira, is in fact an evil warlock secretly scheming to steal the old family spellbook for his own nefarious ends. Campy, quirky and stuffed to the brim with more double entendres than your average “Carry On” movie, this film helped solidify the horror hostess (played by Cassandra Peterson) as a major pop culture icon, here owning every inch of the screen with her quick wit, sass, and of course, cleaving-enhancing gown. New restoration from a 4K scan of original film elements, with original uncompressed stereo 2.0 audio. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … A brutally sadistic rape leads to a series of bizarre gory murders during a midnight disco bowl-a-rama at a popular bowling alley in “Gutterballs” (2008), starring Alastair Gamble, Mihola Terzic and Nathan Witte. One by one, players of two teams meet blood-drenched gruesome deaths at the hand of a black bowling-gloved masked killer. This alley runs red with blood by sunrise. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Unearthed Films … In “The Dark Red” (2018), starring April Billingsley, Kelsey Scott and Rhoda Griffis, a young woman is committed to a psychiatric hospital after claiming that her newborn has been abducted by a secret society called the Dark Red — an ancient, underground cult that harvests and controls an incredibly rare blood type that gives one the power to hear and guide another person’s thoughts. The woman, Sybil, claims she is special, that she carries a pure and powerful strain of the blood like nothing seen before, and that the society sees her and her child as central to its next evolution — or perhaps its greatest threat, should she turn against them. Is the Dark Red entirely a figment of Sybil’s imagination — a complex coping mechanism to overcome a terrible personal tragedy — or is there some truth behind her story? From Dark Sky Films …
What would you do if going outside meant being killed by a raging hurricane, but staying indoors meant being hacked to pieces by a sickle wielding maniac? When mystery novelist Sian Anderson (Meg Foster) arrives in the remote Greek town of Monemvasia in “The Wind”
(1986), Elias Appleby (Robert Morley), the pompous British landlord of the house she’s renting, warns her of two dangers: the wind, which gets dangerously strong at night, and Phil (Wings Hauser), his sleazy and suspicious American handyman. As night falls and the wind starts howling, Sian witnesses the shocking sight of Phil burying Elias’s dead body in a shallow grave in his front garden. Trapped indoors from the raging, tree-branch-breaking wind, Sian must play a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the murderous Phil, who’ll stop at nothing to silence this inconvenient witness. A tense and thrilling blend of Euro-horror and late 80s slasher, “The Wind,” from prolific genre filmmaker Nico Mastorakis, the director behind such cult classics as “Hired to Kill” and “Island of Death,” is a stalk ‘n’ slash hidden gem, presented here for the first time on Blu-ray. New restoration by Arrow Films from a 4K scan of the original negative, approved by writer-director Nico Mastorakis. With original DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround and LPCM Stereo 2.0 Audio. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … “Just One of the Guys” (1985), starring Joyce Hyser, Clayton Rohner, Billy Jacoby, Toni Hudson, William Zabka and Sherilyn Fenn, makes its Blu-ray debut this week. Terri (Hyser) blames sexism when her journalism teacher refuses to enter her article in a competition to win a summer internship at the local newspaper. With the help of her kid brother, Buddy (Jacoby), she masquerades as a guy at a rival school and enters the contest there. During her charade, “Terry the Boy” tangles with a vicious bully, Greg (Zabka), and fends off an amorous classmate, Sandy (Fenn). But when she falls for a handsome loner, Rick (Rohner), she must find a way to convince him that she’s not “just one of the guys”. From Sony.
On the Indie Front:
In “The Incoherents” (2020), starring Jeff Auer, Alex Emanuel, Walter Hoffman, Casey Clark, Amy Carlson, Annette O’Toole and Kate Arrington, Bruce Flansburgh (Auer) is a bored, 40-something New York paralegal who hasn’t let go of his dream of rock stardom. While slogging through an increasingly unbearable day-to-day existence, it dawns on him that the reunions of The Pixies, Soundgarden and other alternative/indie rock bands from the 90’s could inspire his former group, The Incoherents, to reform. The group, each mired in some sort of midlife malaise, reunite their 90s indie rock band for one last shot at stardom. From Gravitas Ventures.
“The Sharks (Los tiburones)” (2019 — Uruguay), starring Romina Bentancur, Federico Morosini and Fabián Arenillas, follows 14-year-old Rosina, who ticks the days of a restless summer in a sleepy beachside town away, until she sees an ominous dorsal fin during a swim. The rumor of sharks quickly spreads, unsettling the town, but Rosina remains unphased, instead focusing on her enigmatic coworker, Joselo, who she becomes increasingly attracted to and begins circling, much like the mysterious predators lurking just under the surface. Winner of the Directing Award in World Cinema – Dramatic at Sundance. From Breaking Glass Pictures.
Endless growth is a tenet of capitalism — larger markets, more products, new services. But can it really go on forever? Or are we about to ram up against its limits? And if we are, what happens then? Shot in the US, Brazil, China, Germany, and the UK, the documentary “System Error” (2018 — Germany) explores the notion of endless growth in conversations with advocates such as a Brazilian soybean magnate, an algorithmic trader, finance journalists, and multinational executives. The film is divided into chapters on subjects including the amorality of GDP, destructive agriculture, the decoupling of finance from the real-world economy, and automation. From Icarus 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.