From the Big Screen:
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 own, 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 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, 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 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 … “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 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 stopped. 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 abilities 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.