From the Big Screen:
This Week's Highlights:
From American Noir to J-Horror, from France to Italy, this week's collectibles showcase four enjoyable and must-see films.
Let's start off with "Terror in a Texas Town" (1958) the 41st and final feature film for Joseph H. Lewis. The man in the director's chair for "My Name is Julia Ross," "Gun Crazy" and "The Big Combo," Lewis was one of the all-time greats in film noir. But he was also a fine director of Westerns, having made "A Lawless Street," "7th Cavalry" and "The Halliday Brand," all of which — especially the last — remain underrated. "Terror in a Texas Town" would bring his noir sensibilities to the American West, resulting in one of his finest works. McNeil (Sebastian Cabot) is a greedy hotel owner who wants to take control of Prairie City, the Texas town of the title. Keen to drive the local farmers of their land, McNeil hires a gunman, Johnny Crale (Nedrick Young, who would pen the Oscar-winning screenplay for "The Defiant Ones" the same year), resulting in the death of a former whaler. The dead man's son, George Hansen (Sterling Hayden), arrives in town to inherit the farm and set the stage for revenge — armed with only his father's old harpoon. "Terror in a Texas Town" was written by Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood Ten blacklisted by the film industry and forced to write under pseudonyms or to use "fronts." Two years before he helped break the blacklist with on-screen credits for Otto Preminger's "Exodus" and Stanley Kubrick's "Spartacus," his work was credited to Ben Perry, but it demonstrates a psychological depth and political dimension that is undoubtedly that of Trumbo. Brand-new 2K restoration from original film elements produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release. Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM Audio. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment.
Award-winning filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa delivered one of the finest entries in the "J-Horror" cycle of films with "Pulse" (2001 — Japan), a moody and spiritually terrifying film that delivers existential dread along with its frights. Setting his story in the burgeoning internet and social media scene in Japan, Kurosawa's dark and apocalyptic film foretells how technology will only serve to isolate us as it grows more important to our lives. A group of young people in Tokyo begin to experience strange phenomena involving missing co-workers and friends, technological breakdown, and a mysterious website which asks the compelling question, "Do you want to meet a ghost?" After the unexpected suicides of several friends, three strangers set out to explore a city which is growing more empty by the day, and to solve the mystery of what lies within a forbidden room in an abandoned construction site, mysteriously sealed shut with red packing tape. Featuring haunting cinematography by Junichiro Hayashi ("Ring," "Dark Water"), a dark and unsettling tone that lingers long after the movie is over, and an ahead-of-its-time story that anticipates 21st century disconnection and social media malaise, "Pulse" is one of the greatest and most terrifying achievements in modern Japanese horror, and a dark mirror for our contemporary digital world. In a DVD/Blu-ray Combo with Original 5.1 audio (DTS-HD on the Blu-ray). From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.
From The Criterion Collection this week:
In his ruthlessly clear-eyed final film "L'argent" (1983 — France), French master Robert Bresson pushed his unique blend of spiritual rumination and formal rigor to a new level of astringency. Transposing a Tolstoy novella to contemporary Paris, "L’argent" follows a counterfeit bill as it originates as a prop in a schoolboy prank, then circulates like a virus among the corrupt and the virtuous alike before landing with a young truck driver and leading him to incarceration and violence. With brutal economy, Bresson constructs his unforgiving vision of original sin out of starkly perceived details, rooting his characters in a dehumanizing material world that withholds any hope of transcendence. On DVD, Blu-ray … "Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy": Roberto Rossellini is one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. And it was with his trilogy of films made during and after World War II — "Rome Open City" (1945), "Paisan" (1946), and "Germany Year Zero" (1948) — that he left his first transformative mark on cinema. With their stripped-down aesthetic, largely nonprofessional casts, and unorthodox approaches to storytelling, these intensely emotional works were international sensations and came to define the neorealist movement. Shot in battle-ravaged Italy and Germany, these three films are some of our most lasting, humane documents of devastated postwar Europe, containing universal images of both tragedy and hope. Special Edition three-disc set with new high-definition digital restorations, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks. On Blu-ray.
From TV to DVD:
"Prime Suspect: Tennison" (2017) is a two-disc set with all six episodes. A prequel to one of the most innovative crime series in television history, starring Stefanie Martini as the rookie WPC (Woman Police Constable) Jane Tennison — the iconic role immortalized by Helen Mirren. Set in 1973 amid the sounds of the pop tunes of the day, the show opens with Jane a newly minted WPC (Woman Police Constable), performing her probationary stint at Hackney Police Station in East London. Relegated to traffic incidents, dispatching, and other routine police chores — in addition to serving the senior officers tea — she gets her big break when a murder case of a young girl calls for an all-hands-on-deck investigation. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from PBS Distribution … "Rake, Series 2" (2012) is a three-disc set with all eight episodes of the award-winning Aussie legal dramedy. Sharp-witted, but self-destructive solicitor Cleaver Greene (Richard Roxburgh) faces new challenges. In Series 2, Cleaver makes a bitter enemy of the powerful new Attorney General, Cal McGregor (Damien Garvey), when Cleaver is caught having an affair with his wife (Toni Collette). Cleaver’s paramour, Missy (Adrienne Pickering), causes a scandal with a memoir about her life as a prostitute, and his best friend’s wife, Scarlet (Danielle Cormack), can’t forgive Cleaver for the damage he caused to her marriage. From Acorn Media … "The Tunnel: Sabotage Season 2" (2016) is a three-disc set with all eight episodes. Eighteen months on from the devastating conclusion of Season 1, the newly promoted Commander Wassermann (Clémence Poésy) and the grieving DCI Roebuck (Stephen Dillane) have been leading separate lives until two seemingly isolated events bring them back together; a plane crash in the English Channel, killing everyone on board and a couple abducted from The Tunnel, leaving behind their traumatized child. On the surface the two cases appear to be unconnected. But as the ensuing investigation moves between the coasts of Kent and northern France, it reveals the murderous crusade of a terrorist cell. As Wassermann and Roebuck pick their way through the clues thrown up by a vast field of debris, forging connections as they go, they are confronted with sinister and complicated forces at play. In a terrifying game of brinksmanship, they risk everything in the pursuit of true justice. Based on the original hit Swedish series from Filmlance International, “The Bridge.” On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from PBS Distribution … "Underground: Season Two" (2017) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes. Season Two continues to draw inspiration from America’s historical roots, bringing pioneering hero and infamous conductor, Harriet Tubman, to life along with renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass. In one of history’s greatest escape stories, the Macon 7 face endless challenges in their dangerous escape to freedom within a divided America on the brink of civil war. From Sony.