"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Feb 182020
 

From the Big Screen:

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “JoJo Rabbit,” “Midway” and “21 Bridges.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets

“Accident” (1967): From Joseph Losey, the legendary director of “The Prowler”, “The Servant,” “Modesty Blaise,” “The Go-Between” and “The Assassination of Trotsky,” comes this classic melodrama with a screenplay by the great Harold Pinter. When one of his students is killed in a car accident, an Oxford professor (Dirk Bogarde) recounts the circumstances of their meeting. But as these turbulent memories unfold, they reveal a series of shocking relationships betrayed by adultery, obsession and self-destruction in which nothing is what it seems and everything has its cost. “Accident” was the second of three brilliant collaborations between filmmaker Losey and playwright Pinter; the first was the 1963 masterpiece “The Servant” and the third, the 1971 classic “The Go-Between.” Stanley Baker, Michael York, Vivien Merchant and Delphine Seyrig co-star. On DVD, Blu-ray, from KL Studio Classics … photo for Teorema “Teorema” (1969 — Italy): One of the iconoclastic Pier Paolo Pasolini’s most radical provocations, “Teorema” finds the auteur moving beyond the poetic, proletarian earthiness that first won him renown and notoriety with a coolly cryptic exploration of bourgeois spiritual emptiness. Terence Stamp stars as the mysterious stranger — perhaps an angel, perhaps a devil — who, one by one, seduces the members of a wealthy Milanese family (including European cinema icons Silvana Mangano, Massimo Girotti, Laura Betti, and Anne Wiazemsky), precipitating an existential crisis in each of their lives. Unfolding nearly wordlessly in a procession of sacred and profane images, this tantalizing metaphysical riddle-blocked from exhibition by the Catholic Church for degeneracy-is at once a blistering Marxist treatise on sex, religion, and art and a primal scream into the void. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with new, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection … “The Criminal (aka The Concrete Jungle)” (1960): A hard-boiled crime classic from Joseph Losey, the legendary director of “The Servant,” “Accident,” “Eva” and “Secret Ceremony and Figures in a Landscape.” Stanley Baker stars as underworld kingpin Johnny Bannion, sprung from prison by his best friend Mike Carter (Sam Wanamaker) to mastermind a daring racetrack heist. But when Johnny is betrayed and sent back to prison shortly after hiding the stolen loot, he must survive an ordeal of brutality at the hands of his fellow convicts and former accomplices. Co-starring Patrick Magee and Nigel Green and beautifully shot in striking black-and-white by the great Robert Krasker, the film is the grim and gritty film noir that was originally advertised as “The Toughest Picture Ever Made in Britain!” Brand New 4K Restoration.On DVD, Blu-ray, from KL Studio Classics … “Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus” (1976 — France): Cult icon Serge Gainsbourg wrote, directed, and scored this tale of doomed love between a lonely truck stop waitress (Jane Birkin) and a gay, hunky garbage truck driver (Joe Dallesandro), whose boyfriend (Hugues Quester) becomes increasingly jealous of the two. Sharing its title with Gainsbourg and Birkin’s sexually explicit 1969 hit pop song, the film is an equally provocative depiction of an unlikely couple’s torrid affair. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Classics … photo for Antonio Gaudí “Antonio Gaudí” (1984 –Japan): Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) designed some of the world’s most astonishing buildings, interiors, and parks; Japanese director Hiroshi Teshigahara constructed some of the most aesthetically audacious films ever made. In “Antonio Gaudí,” their artistry melds in a unique, enthralling cinematic experience. Less a documentary than a visual poem, Teshigahara’s film takes viewers on a tour of Gaudí’s truly spectacular architecture, including his massive, still-unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Família basilica in Barcelona. With camera work as bold and sensual as the curves of his subject’s organic structures, Teshigahara immortalizes Gaudí on film. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … “The Alastair Sim Blu-Ray Collector’s Set”: Though he is perhaps best known for his role as Scrooge in the 1951 film adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” Scottish character actor Alastair Sim is one of the best-loved and most prolific actors in classic British comedy. Often appearing in multiple roles, he 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 specially-curated set includes “Hue and Cry” (1947), “Laughter in Paradise” (1951), “The Belles of St. Trinian’s” (1954) and “School for Scoundrels” (1960). The very first Ealing comedy, “Hue and Cry,” directed by Charles Crichton, follows teenager Joe Kirby, who fantasizes that he’s on the track of criminals, only to discover that it has all come true! After discovering that his favorite comic is being used as a means of communication between a master criminal and his gang of thieves, Joe sets out to alert the writer, played by Sim, and turn the page on the crooks. In “Laughter in Paradise,” directed by Mario Zampi, famed practical joker Henry Russell leaves 50,000 pounds to each of his four surviving relatives. But his will has one last joke – they each have to undertake a task completely out of character within a month. As each sets out on their objective they find that quite apart from the promised riches, they are unexpectedly getting a lot out of the challenge. All except caddish Simon Russell, that is. “The Belles of St. Trinian’s,” directed by Frank Launder (scriptwriter for “The Lady Vanishes” and “Night Train to Munich”), features one of Sim’s most unforgettable performances. In an all-girls school, where the unruly students are more interested in men and mischief than homework and hockey, the arrival of Princess Fatima of Makyad and the return of recently expelled Arabella Fritton inspire even more chaos than usual. Featuring an all-star line-up, the cast includes Sim playing dual roles as both headmistress Miss Millicent Fritton and her twin brother (and Arabella’s father) Clarence Fritton. Finally, in “School For Scoundrels,” directed by Robert Hamer (“Kind Hearts and Coronets”), Henry Palfrey (Ian Carmichael) tries hard to impress but always loses out to the rotter Delauney. Then he discovers the Lifeman college run by “Professor” Potter (Sim) and discovers the secrets of success. But has he the courage to put all his lessons into effect in this comedy based on the Stephen Potter “One Upmanship” and “Lifemanship” books.” On Blu-ray from Film Movement.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Snatchers” (2018), starring Mary Nepi, Gabrielle Elyse, J.J Nolan, Austin Fryberger, Nick Gomez and Rich Fulcher, thanks to her relationship with clueless hunk Skyler, Sara is totally in with the cool girls. But Skyler contracted an extraterrestrial bug during his summer vacation. After just one night together, Sara discovers she’s nine months pregnant. Desperate to keep her condition on the DL, she turns to the only person she can trust: her nerdy ex-bestie, Hayley. The girls soon realize this alien problem is only just the beginning. Aliens had best beware in this comedy filled with action and tongue-in-cheek teen spirit. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Warner … In “Clown Fear” (2020), starring Augie Duke, Randy Wayne and Darcy DeMoss, a runaway bride and her friends are stranded in a forgotten desert town full of sadistic, bloodthirsty clowns who don’t trust outsiders. It’s a carnival ride as the girls try to stay alive to escape Clown City. From Lionsgate … photo for Frankie “Frankie” (2019), starring Isabelle Huppert, Brendan Gleeson, Marisa Tomei, Je´re´mie Renier, Pascal Greggory, Vinette Robinson and Greg Kinnear, unfolds over the course of a late summer’s day in the fabled resort town of Sintra, Portugal, and follows three generations who have gathered for a vacation organized by the family matriarch. (Isabelle Huppert). In this fairy tale setting, husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and lovers, stirred by their romantic impulses, discover the cracks between them, as well as unexpected depth of feeling. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony … “Dangerous Cargo” (1977 — Greece), starring Deborah Shelton, Kostas Karagiorgis and Nikos Verleki, is a wild and rarely seen example of Greek exploitation cinema. Deborah Shelton — former Miss USA and star of TV’s “Dallas” – plays the wife of a ship’s captain whose vessel — a huge ship carrying an illegal cargo of dangerous nitro-glycerine — is taken over by pirates. After her husband is brutally killed she is alone with a crew of rough, tough seafarers. When a powerful cyclone threatens to sink the ship and kill all aboard, the former enemies must collaborate to save themselves. When the pirate leader takes an interest in her she has to use all her cunning and skills — not to mention her sexuality — to stay alive and take revenge for the murder of her husband. On Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro … photo for Warriors of the Nation In “Warriors of the Nation” (2018 — China), starring Wenzhuo Zhao, Vincent Zhao, Lubing Li, Miya Muqi and Kenya Sawada, at the end of the Sino-Japanese War, a top military officer, Zhang Zhidong, is kidnapped in the middle of the night by a militant organization called the White Lotus Society. When he overhears a sinister plot to overthrow the central government by China’s own military officials, Wong Fei Hung knows he must rescue Zhang to protect China and prevent another war from happening. Classic martial arts action. On Blu-ray from Well Go USA … In “Feedback” (2019), starring Eddie Marsan, Anthony Stewart Head, Paul Anderson and Ivana Baquero, Jarvis Dolan (Marsan) is the host of a successful late-night radio show, “The Grim Reality”. But his life takes a turn when two armed men burst into the studio one night and take him, and his entire show, hostage. Forcing Jarvis to read from a prefabricated scrip, they expose a scandal that could destroy his whole life and decimate his high-flying career. From Breaking Glass Pictures.

Foreign Films:

“We (Wij)” (2018 — Netherlands), starring Aimé Claeys, Tijmen Govaerts and Pauline Casteleyn, is a lurid, unflinching look at a group of youths and their summer of illicit fun. During one hot summer, eight privileged but bored suburban teens begin to pull a series of harmless pranks which quickly escalate into increasingly depraved games. Their descent from innocence to ruthless predators involve arson, prostitution, pornography, assault and blackmail. Drenched in bared flesh and naked nihilism the film is reminiscent of the films of Harmony Korine, Larry Clark and Lars von Trier. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Artsploitation Films) … An official Cannes selection and winner of festival prizes and awards worldwide, “Another Day of Life” (2018 — Spain | Poland | Belgium | Germany | France | Hungary) is a daringly ambitious dive into the chaos and carnage of war, based on the book by the journalist Ryszard “Ricardo” Kapuscinski, one of the world’s most compelling chroniclers of conflict. Intercutting a graphically bold animation style with interviews and archival footage, the visually striking film conveys a rare immediacy as it tells of the outbreak of civil war following Angola’s independence from Portugal in 1975. Against all advice, Kapuscinski is intent on driving south into the heart of the bloody conflict to find the isolated rebel leader Farrusco. His animated trip through corpse-strewn roads conveys an undeniable urgency, while the documentary testimony reminds us that we are watching actual history. On Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from GKIDS/Shout! Factory.

Special Interest:

“Scandalous: The Untold Story of The National Enquirer” (2019): Sex! Gossip! Scandal! For over 60 years, the National Enquirer has pumped out salacious, shocking stories, stretching the limits of journalism and blurring the lines between truth and fiction. This is the sensational true story of the most infamous tabloid in US history and a wild, probing look at how one newspaper’s prescient grasp of its’ readers darkest curiosities led it to massive profits and influence. From its coverage of Elvis’s death, to the O.J. Simpson murder trial, the National Enquirer rattled the foundations of American culture and politics, sometimes allegedly using payoffs and blackmail to get its scoops. With rare archival footage and revelations as wild as National Enquirer headlines themselves, this documentary examines our obsession with the rich, famous and powerful, and the tabloid that has fed those obsessions for generations of Americans. From Magnolia Home Entertainment.

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.

 Posted by on February 18, 2020  Add comments

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