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"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Jul 152019
 

From the Big Screen:

“Shazam!” and “Breakthrough.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets

With her Oscar-winning turn in “Klute” (1971), Jane Fonda arrived full-fledged as a new kind of movie star. Bringing nervy audacity and counterculture style to the role of Bree Daniels — a call girl and aspiring actor who becomes the focal point of a missing-person investigation when detective John Klute (Donald Sutherland) turns up at her door — Fonda made the film her photo for Kluteown, putting an independent woman and escort on-screen with a frankness that had not yet been attempted in Hollywood. Suffused with paranoia by the conspiracy-thriller specialist Alan J. Pakula, and lensed by master cinematographer Gordon Willis, Klute is a character study thick with dread, capturing the mood of early-1970s New York and the predicament of a woman trying to find her own way on the fringes of society. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with new, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by camera operator Michael Chapman, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … From one of the most underrated directors of Hollywood’s golden era, Mitchell Leisen (“Remember the Night”), comes the heart-rending romantic drama “Hold Back the Dawn” (1941). Charles Boyer gives an enthralling performance as Georges Iscovescu, a Romanian-born gigolo who arrives at a Mexican border town seeking entry to the US. Faced with a waiting period of eight years, George is encouraged by his former dancing partner Anita (Pauline Goddard) to marry an American girl and desert her once safely across the border. He successfully targets visiting school teacher Emmy Brown (Olivia de Havilland), but photo for Hold Back the Dawn his plan is compromised by a pursuing immigration officer, and blossoming feelings of genuine love for Emmy. A moving and thoughtful film with a wonderful script (co-written by Billy Wilder), “Hold back the Dawn” benefits from evocative performances by Boyer and de Havilland, and an over-arching sense of romantic melancholy. An enduring classic of its era, Leisen’s film was nominated for no-less than six Academy Awards and is presented here in High Definition for the first time, transferred from original film elements. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment … The warmth and wit of celebrated playwright turned cinema auteur Marcel Pagnol shine in the enchanting slice-of-life comedy “The Baker’s Wife” (1938). Returning to the Provençal countryside he knew intimately, Pagnol draws a vivid portrait of a close-knit village where the marital woes of a sweetly deluded baker (the inimitable Raimu, photo for The Baker's Wife praised by no less than Orson Welles as “the greatest actor who ever lived”) snowball into a scandal that engulfs the entire town. Marrying the director’s abiding concern for the experiences of ordinary people with an understated but superbly judged visual style, “The Baker’s Wife” is at once wonderfully droll and piercingly perceptive in its depiction of the complexities of human relationships. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … The “Noir Archive Volume 2: 1954-1956” collection highlights nine more hard to find features from high definition masters with correct aspect ratios; these rare film noir pictures are curated from the Columbia Pictures Library: “Bait” (1954) directed by Hugo Haas and starring photo for Noir Archive Volume 2: 1954-1956 Cleo Moore, Hugo Haas, John Agar; “The Crooked Web” (1955) directed by Nathan Juran and starring Frank Lovejoy, Mari Blanchard, Richard Denning; “The Night Holds Terror” (1955) directed by Andrew Stone and starring Jack Kelly, Hildy Parks, Vince Edwards, John Cassavetes, David Cross; “Footsteps in the Fog” (1955) directed by Arthur Lubin and starring Bill Travers, Ronald Squire, Finlay Currie, Belinda Lee; “Cell 2455, Death Row” (1955) directed by Fred F. Sears and starring William Campbell, Robert Campbell, Marian Carr; “5 Against the House” (1955) directed by Phil Karlson and starring Alvy Moore, William Conrad, Kerwin Mathews; “New Orleans Uncensored” (1955) directed by William Castle and starring Arthur Franz, Beverly Garland, Helene Stanton; “Spin a Dark Web” (1955) directed by Vernon Sewell and starring Faith Domergue, Lee Patterson, Rona Anderson, Martin Benson; “Rumble on the Docks” (1956) directed by Fred F. Sears and starring Laurie Carrol, James Darren, Michael Granger. On Blu-ray from Kit Parker Films.

From TV to Disc:

“Broad City: Season 5” (2019) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes of the Comedy Central series that follows two women throughout their daily lives in New York City, making the smallest and mundane events hysterical and disturbing to watch all at the same time. “Broad City: The Complete Series” (2014-19) is a 10-disc set with all 50 episodes. Both on DVD from Paramount … photo for Criminal Minds: The Fourteenth Season “Criminal Minds: The Fourteenth Season” (2018-19) is a four-disc set with all 15 episodes. The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit returns to celebrate their landmark 300th episode. Follows an elite team of FBI profilers who delves into the country’s most puzzling crimes and twisted minds. Led by special agent, and founding member of the BAU, David Rossi (Joe Mantegna), the team is faced with a difficult challenge in the 14th season when two of their own, Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) and Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), are taken by the “Believers,” a mysterious cult seeking vengeance for the death of their leader a decade before. From CBS/Paramount … “Space: 1999 – The photo for Space: 1999 – The Complete Series Complete Series” (1975-77) is a 13-disc set with all 48 episodes, released for the first time in North America. Includes an entire disc of bonus features. September 1999: A nuclear waste dump on the lunar surface unexpectedly detonates, blasting the moon out of Earth’s orbit and taking the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha on an unbelievable voyage of discovery and adventure. Stars Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Barry Morse and Catherine Schell. On DVD, Blu-ray from Shout! Factory … “Titans: The Complete First Season” (2019) includes all 11 episodes of the new live-action DC Super Hero franchise. “Titans” follows a group of young soon-to-be Super Heroes from across the world of DC as they come of age and find belonging in a gritty take on the classic Teen Titans franchise. In three-disc DVD, two-disc Blu-ray sets. From Warner.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Killer Unicorn” (2019), starring Dennis Budesheim, Alejandro La Rosa and Markus Kelle, Danny is your average Brooklyn party boy. This year, he and his friends couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming “Brooklyn Annual Enema Party”; one of Brooklyn’s biggest party events. While the night starts out fun, it quickly takes a turn when Danny is attacked by a stranger. He survives, but now a year later, Danny decides to give his social life a second chance. Wrong choice — as Danny and everyone else who helped him that night are in danger. A man wearing a unicorn mask is killing off Brooklyn, one queen at a time, and he won’t stop until he has his revenge. From IndieCan Pictures … In “Relaxer” (2018), starring Joshua Burge, David Dastmalchian and Andre Hyland, doom and gloom are on the way. The Y2K apocalypse can’t be photo for Relaxerstopped. Abbes older brother issues him the ultimate challenge before it goes down: beat the infamous level 256 in Pac-Man and no getting up from the couch until he does so. Abbie’s survival story begins here; inside a rotting living room with no food or water, and a revolving door of numb-nut friends and acquaintances. It’s “The Exterminating Angel” by way of “Slacker”; “a masterpiece of depraved ’90s nostalgia.” On DVD, Blu-ray, from Oscilloscope Laboratories … In “Dogman” (2018 — Italy), starring Marcello Fonte, Edoardo Pesce and Nunzia Schiano, in a seaside village on the outskirts of an Italian city, where the only law seems to be survival of the fittest, Marcello is a slight, mild-mannered man who divides his days between working at his modest dog grooming salon, caring for his daughter Alida, and being coerced into the petty criminal schemes of the local bully Simoncino, an ex-boxer who terrorizes the neighborhood. When Simoncino’s abuse finally brings Marcello to a breaking point, he decides to stand up for his own dignity through an act of vengeance, with unintended consequences. From Magnolia Home Entertainment … Hunted by mysterious forces, a young woman with supernatural photo for The Chill Factorabilities must go on the run when her powers are discovered in “Fast Color”
(2018), starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Strathairn, Lorraine Toussaint and Saniyya Sidney. With nowhere else to go, she flees back to her family and the farmhouse she abandoned long ago. There, while being pursued by the local sheriff, she begins to mend the broken relationships with her mother and daughter, and unearths the depths of the power within her. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “The Exorcist” meets the Winter Olympics in “The Chill Factor” (1993), a tale of demonic possession and snowbound slashing from director Christopher Webster, producer of “Hellraiser” and “Hellraiser II: Hellbound.” For a group of young couples, a snowmobiling trip turns into a waking nightmare when one of their number is thrown from their vehicle and knocked unconscious. Seeking refuge in a nearby abandoned summer camp, the group find themselves holed up in a cabin filled with bizarre and ominous religious artifacts. As night falls, the discovery of a Ouija board amidst the dusty relics awakens a terrifying evil. Barely released outside of its original VHS outing (for which it was retitled “Demon Possessed”), cult enthusiasts Arrow Video have dug up The Chill Factor from its wintry analogue grave so horror fans can rediscover this heady mixture of snow, slaughter and Satan! New 2K restoration from original film elements with original uncompressed stereo audio. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.

On the Indie Front:

In “One Bedroom” (2019), starring Stephen Hill, Jade Johnson and Sills-Evans, writer-director Darien Sills-Evans combines humor and drama to create a portrait of a relationship at the end of its journey. Set in a gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood, the whirlwind tale of Melissa and Nate’s courtship is told through vivid flashbacks. Melissa and Nate have been through a lot together, but sometimes Black Love gets broken: Love Means Never Having to Give Up Your Apartment. Premiered at the Tallahassee Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award. It went on to have a healthy festival life, including being officially selections at the Brooklyn Film Festival, Bushwick Film Festival, and New Voices in Black Cinema. From Breaking Glass Pictures.

Foreign Films:

“Ash Is Purest White” (2018 — China) finds writer-director Jia Zhangke (“Still Life,” “A Touch of Sin,” “Mountains May Depart”) revisiting familiar themes while continuing to observe modern Chinese society with an urgent, empathetic eye. It centers on Qiao (Zhao Tao, Jia’s wife and frequent star), who is in love with Bin (Liao Fan), a local mobster. During a fight between rival gangs, Qiao fires a gun to protect Bin — which gets her sentenced to five years in photo for Ash Is Purest White prison. Upon her release, she goes looking for Bin to pick up where they left off. Beginning in 2001 in the postindustrial city of Datong and then expanding out into an epic narrative spanning 17 years and revealing how abstract forces shape individual lives, “Ash Is Purest White” continues Jia Zhangke’s body of work as a record of 21st-century China and its warp-speed transformations. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Cohen Film Collection … With “Don’t Look At Me That Way” (2015 — Germany), Mongolian-born documentary director Uisenma Borchu makes her feature film debut with a compelling, surrealistic film. Hedi (director Borchu, in her first role) and single mother Iva (Catrina Stemmer) live in the same building. After Hedi meets Sophia, Iva’s daughter, the two women become acquainted and eventually begin an intimate affair. And though their relationship is passionate, Hedi is also attracted to men, and Iva, desperately in love, becomes deeply jealous. It seems, however, that only one world exists for Hedi: her own. One day, Iva’s father (Josef Bierbichler) makes plans to look after his granddaughter so the two women can spend time together, but when he doesn’t arrive, Hedi goes searching and the story takes a surprising twist. From IndiPix Films.

For the Family:

“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Would You Be Mine Collection” is a four-disc collection of 14 hours of vintage episodes from the most beloved children’s television host in the world, Fred Rogers. Fans will walk down memory lane with Mister Rogers in these 30 hand-picked episodes to photo for The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales revisit the puppets in the Neighborhood of Make Believe. The collection also includes a bonus episode — a visit to the crayon factory — as well as episodes where performers like the group Stomp and world-renowned cellist, Yo Yo Ma, stop by for a visit. From PBS KIDS … “The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales” (2017 — France) features three interlocking animated stories of animal misfits. The countryside isn’t always as calm and peaceful as it’s made out to be, and the animals on this farm are particularly strange: a fox who mothers a family of chicks, a rabbit who plays the stork, and a duck who wants to be Santa Claus. If you think life in the country is a walk in the park, think again. Directors Benjamin Renner and Patrick Imbert adapt Renner’s own acclaimed graphic novel in this delirious slapstick comedy about family and the anxieties of modern life. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from GKIDS/Shout! Factory.

Special Interest:

The documentary “Scary Stories” (2019), about Alvin Schwartz’ iconic “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” book series, explores the history of one of the most controversial works of modern children’s literature, the best-selling teen classic that scared a generation of young readers and became one of the most banned books of modern times. Cody Meirick’s doc features more than 40 interviews, from family members of author Schwartz, to fellow children’s book photo for Scary Storieshorror authors like R.L Stine (“Goosebumps”) and Q.L. Pearce, to folklorists, artists and fans discussing the impact that the books have had on both themselves as well as the culture at large. The documentary also explores the various times in which the books were banned or targeted by parent and religious groups as “satanic” or otherwise too macabre for its targeted teen scholastic audience. Penned by Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is a three-volume series consisting of short horror stories for pre-teens and children that were adapted from American folklore and urban legends. Because of some of the violent illustrations and the subject matter, parent groups, religious organizations and school boards had the books pulled from libraries and schools at various times. A feature film adaptation of the books, produced by horror icon Guillermo del Toro, is due in theaters this summer. From Wild Eye Releasing.

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 July 15, 2019  Add comments

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