From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets
“1984” (1984): This masterly adaptation of George Orwell’s chilling parable about totalitarian oppression gives harrowing cinematic expression to the book’s bleak prophetic vision. In a rubble-strewn surveillance state where an endless overseas war props up the repressive regime of the all-seeing Big Brother, and all dissent is promptly squashed, a profoundly alienated citizen, Winston Smith (thrillingly played by John Hurt), risks everything for an illicit affair with the rebellious Julia (Suzanna Hamilton) in a defiant assertion of humanity in the face of soul-crushing conformity. Through vividly grim production design and expressionistic desaturated cinematography by Roger Deakins, Michael Radford’s 1984 conjures a dystopian vision of postwar Britain as fascistic nightmare-a world all too recognizable as our own. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, with new 4K digital restoration, supervised by cinematographer Roger Deakins, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … “Weird Science” (1985): After proving himself the king of heartfelt teen flicks with “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club,” writer-director John Hughes infused the genre with a hefty dose of wacked-out sci-fi comedy in “Weird Science,” a film where every teenage boy’s wildest fantasies come to life. Perennially picked-on high school nerds Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) are sick of their status at the bottom of the social food chain. Using Wyatt’s computer, the two hatch a plan to create their dream woman — and following a massive power surge, that woman unexpectedly appears in the form of Lisa (Kelly LeBrock). Gorgeous, intelligent, and blessed with limitless magic powers, Lisa makes the boys’ dreams come true … but what about Wyatt’s gun-toting psycho older brother Chet (Bill Paxton), and the two bullies (Robert Downey Jr and Robert Rusler) determined to put them back in their place? Inspired by EC Comics and boosted by a killer soundtrack (including the classic title theme by Oingo Boingo), “Weird Science” has never looked better than in this new special edition, including an exclusive extended version of the film featuring deleted scenes never released on home video before. New restoration by Arrow Films from a 4K scan of the original negative. Original lossless stereo audio, plus 5.1 DTS-HD MA surround option (theatrical version only). Also available in a steelbook edition. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … “Do the Right Thing” (1989): Set on one block of Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy Do or Die neighborhood, at the height of summer, this 1989 masterpiece by Spike Lee confirmed him as a writer and filmmaker of peerless vision and passionate social engagement. Over the course of a single day, the easygoing interactions of a cast of unforgettable characters — Da Mayor, Mother Sister, Mister Señor Love Daddy, Tina, Sweet Dick Willie, Buggin Out, Radio Raheem, Sal, Pino, Vito, and Lee’s Mookie among them — give way to heated confrontations as tensions rise along racial fault lines, ultimately exploding into violence. Punctuated by the anthemic refrain of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” “Do the Right Thing” is a landmark in American cinema, as politically and emotionally charged and as relevant now as when it first hit the big screen. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, approved by cinematographer Ernest Dickerson, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.
From TV to Disc:
“Manifest: The Complete First Season” (2018-19) is a four-disc set with all 16 episodes of the NBC series. A plane inexplicably disappears on a trans-oceanic flight and returns five years later after being presumed lost at sea. While no time has passed for those on the flight, years have gone by for their loved ones who have learned to live with their loss. In addition to the outward mystery of what happened on that flight, there’s also an inward mystery of what has happened to the passengers…and why. From Warner.
“Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:”
“Critters Attack!” (2019), starring Dee Wallace, Tashiana Washington, Ava Preston, Jack Fulton and Jaeden Noel, is the newest entry in the bloody, live-action, horror/sci-fi film series. Inspired by the film series from the 80s and 90s, this one follows 20-year-old Drea (Washington), who reluctantly takes a job babysitting for a professor of a college she hopes to attend. Struggling to entertain the professor’s children Trissy and Jake, along with her own little brother Phillip, Drea takes them on a hike, unaware that mysterious alien critters have crash-landed and started devouring every living thing they encounter. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Warner … “Rock, Paper, Scissors” (2018), starring Luke Macfarlane, Michael Madsen and Tatum O’Neal, is the tale of a serial killer who’s been cured … or has he been? Released from a mental hospital, Peter (Macfarlane) is haunted by memories of childhood abuse and murder victims while being menaced by the cop who put him away (Madsen). His only friend is pretty neighbor Monica, who says she wants to interview him for a book. But does she have a more sinister motive in mind? On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “Universal Horror Collection Vol. 2” contains four tales of terror from the archives of Universal Pictures, the home of classic horror. A maniacal hunter and collector of wild animals uses them to dispose of rival and enemies in “Murders in the Zoo” (1933). An unhinged scientist flees the San Francisco police and continues his bizarre experiments on a remote tropical island in “The Mad Doctor of Market Street” (1942). A mysterious avenger is murdering acquitted criminals while dabbling in brain transplants in “The Strange Case of Doctor Rx” (1942). And a doctor’s experiments with nerve gas turn his assistant into a grave-robbing freak in “The Mad Ghoul” (1943). On Blu-ray from Scream Factory … “The Fate of Lee Khan” (1973 — China) is a wuxia never before available on Blu-ray in North America. In the follow-up to his critically-acclaimed “A Touch of Zen,” trailblazing Chinese filmmaker King Hu — the foremost genius of the high-flying, sword-swinging wuxia film — brings together an all-star female cast, including Hong Kong cinema stalwart Li Li-hua and ingenue Angela “Lady Whirlwind” Mao, in this lively martial arts adventure. When Lee Khan, an official working for Mongolian Emperor Yuan of the Yuan Dynasty, procures the battle map of the Chinese rebel army, Chinese resistance fighters, aided by an undercover girl-gang, strive to corner him at an inn. Featuring stunning action sequences choreographed by Jackie Chan’s “kung fu elder brother” Sammo Hung. New 2K digital restoration. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Film Movement Classics … “Master Z: Ip Man Legacy” (2018 — China) is the next entry in the critically acclaimed Ip Man franchise. After his defeat by Master Ip, Cheung Tin Chi makes a life with his young son in Hong Kong, waiting tables at a bar that caters to expats. It’s not long before the mix of foreigners, money, and triad leaders draw him once again to the fight. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Well Go USA … In “Blood Paradise” (2018), starring Andréa Winter, Patrick von Barkenberg, Christer Cavallius, Rolf Brunnström and Martina Novak, best-selling crime writer Robin Richards (Winter), reeling after her latest novel flops, is sent by her publisher to the Swedish countryside to regain inspiration. Instead of relaxation, she comes across an assortment of peculiar and possibly dangerous characters. The beautiful and stylish young woman soon discovers just how dangerous farm life can be. English-language, filmed-in-Sweden horror-thriller. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Artsploitation Films … “The Erlprince” (2016 — Poland) is a startling new vision of childhood genius and teenage angst. An exceptionally gifted teenage boy is about to start studying physics at a university specializing in the theory of parallel worlds. He has an extraordinary mind and a wounded soul, which his mother, who steers his life, seems incapable of healing. Then a Man appears in their lives and, as the Boy passes from the hands of the Mother into his care, a new order is established. Their torturous road forms a bond between the three central characters, but their shared happiness doesn’t last long. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Altered Innocence.