From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets
“The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends: The Complete Series” (1959-1964): “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends” introduced some of the most unforgettable characters in TV history. Premiering in 1959 from Jay Ward Productions, the original series was comprised of 163 episodes featuring Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties, Aesop and Son, Fractured Fairy Tales, Peabody’s Improbable History and more. Starring Rocky, Bullwinkle, Boris, Natasha, Dudley Do-Right, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, this comprehensive 18-disc collection includes every unforgettable adventure, insightful bonus features and an episode guide. The series was officially known as “Rocky and His Friends” from 1959 to 1961, “The Bullwinkle Show” from 1961 to 1964, and “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” (or “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle” or “The Adventures of Bullwinkle and Rocky”) in syndication. From Universal … “The Kid Brother” (1927): Silent-comedy legend Harold Lloyd goes west in this irresistible blend of action, romance, and slapstick invention. The bespectacled everyman is at his inimitable best as Harold Hickory, the gentle son of a prominent lawman who lives in the shadow of his rough-and-tumble brothers. When a traveling medicine show rolls into town, it brings with it excitement, the possibility of love, and a chance for Harold to prove his mettle. Deftly balancing Lloyd’s brilliant sight gags and thrilling set pieces — including an epic, knock-down, drag-out fight aboard an abandoned ship — with one of the actor-filmmaker’s most fully realized, root-for-the-underdog narratives, “The Kid Brother” is a hilarious and heartwarming high-water mark of early screen comedy. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, from The Criterion Collection … “The Magic Flute” (1975): This scintillating screen version of Mozart’s beloved opera showcases Ingmar Bergman’s deep knowledge of music and gift for expressing it cinematically. Casting some of Europe’s finest soloists — Josef Köstlinger, Ulrik Cold, Håkan Hagegård, and Birgit Nordin among them — the director lovingly recreated the baroque theater of Sweden’s Drottningholm Palace to stage the story of the prince Tamino and his zestful sidekick Papageno, who are sent on a mission to save a beautiful princess from the clutches of evil. A celebration of love and forgiveness that exhibits a profound appreciation for the artifice and spectacle of the theater, “The Magic Flute” is among the most exquisite opera films ever made. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … “The Prisoner” (1955): Banned from the Cannes and Venice Films Festivals for being anti-Communist and excoriated elsewhere as pro-Soviet propaganda, Peter Glenville’s “The Prisoner” stoked controversy at the time of its original release and remains a complex, challenging and multifaceted exploration of faith and power. In an unnamed Eastern European capital, an iron-willed Cardinal (Alec Guinness) is arrested by state police on charges of treason. Tasked with securing a confession from him by any means necessary is a former comrade-in-arms from the anti-Nazi resistance (Jack Hawkins). Knowing the Cardinal will never fold under physical torture, the Interrogator instead sets out to destroy him mentally, breaking his spirit rather than his body. Adapted by acclaimed playwright Bridget Boland (“Gaslight”) from her own stage-play and showcasing powerhouse performances by two actors at the height of their game, “The Prisoner” is a tense, thought-provoking and disturbing drama about the endurance of the human spirit. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment … “Kolobos” (1999): “The Real World” meets “Saw” by way of “Suspiria” in this super-smart, super-gory — and, sadly, super-overlooked — late ’90s slasher effort from filmmakers Daniel Liatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk, released in the midst of the post-“Scream” slice-and-dice revival. A group of youngsters arrive at a snow-covered house under the guise of participating in a “grounding-breaking” new experimental film. With the entire property fitted out with cameras, their every move will be recorded. But when the house locks down, trapping the youngsters within, it soon becomes clear that something sinister is afoot. Scream — you’re on camera … Marketed as little more than a generic horror flick at the time of its release, “Kolobos,” far from being a run-of-the-mill slasher clone, has much more in common with the booby-trap stylings of “Cube” (1997) and the reality TV theme of “My Little Eye” (2002), which it preempted by some three years. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.
From TV to Disc:
“Ancient Aliens: Season 11, Volume 2” (2016) is a two-disc set with nine episodes. This season explores incredible new developments in the search for evidence of extraterrestrial contact in our distant past — and even today. In Egypt, new technology has detected a previously unknown void in the Great Pyramid; on the island of Sardinia, ancient statues of giants with robotic faces are being shown to the public for the first time; and, in the north of England, scientists claim to have discovered what could be biological evidence of alien life. From Lionsgate … “The Simple Heist” (2018) is a two-disc set with six episodes. When two women find themselves overlooked and underappreciated as they face their older years, they resort to drastic measures to get payback. Jenny is a teacher struggling to stay afloat during a messy divorce, while her best friend, gastroenterologist Cecilia, has financial problems from a failed stock investment. After Cecilia learns of a bank robbery plan from a dying patient, she convinces Jenny that a crime spree is just what they need to take control of their lives. As the robbery sets off a chain of events exposing them to blackmail, car chases, and a dangerous biker gang, Jenny and Cecilia quickly learn that money won’t solve all their problems. Rich with dry humor, this Swedish-language comedy-drama combines crime caper with sharp social critique. From Acorn Media.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Vengeance: A Love Story” (2017), starring Nicolas Cage, Anna Hutchison, Talitha Eliana Bateman, Deborah Kara Unger and Don Johnson, single mother Teena is brutally assaulted by a local gang in front of her daughter Bethie. Despite Bethie’s ability to identify the attackers, the defense hires a hot-shot attorney who manipulates the law. When the criminals are set free, a veteran-turned-detective (Cage) is dismayed at the lack of justice and plots revenge against the men on Teena’s behalf. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Filmrise … In “Lifechanger” (2018), starring Lora Burke, Jack Foley, Elitsa Bako, Rachel VanDuzer and Steve Kasan, a murderous shape-shifter sets out on a blood-soaked mission to make things right with the woman he loves. Every few days, Drew has to shape-shift, or face a painful death. He has to find someone and make a copy. He takes everything: their looks, memories, hopes, and dreams. Their entire life. He becomes them, and they die horribly. Enter Julia, the object of Drew’s affection. How can he make things right when he’s never the same person for very long? On DVD, Blu-ray, from Uncork’d Entertainment … Following the death of her father, Alice (Ruth Wilson) returns to her home village for the first time in 15 years to claim from her estranged brother (Mark Stanley) the family farm she believes is rightfully hers in “Dark River” (2017), co-starring Jonah Russell and Sean Bean. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Filmrise … “London Fields” (2018), starring Amber Heard and Billy Bob Thornton, is a dark, suspenseful thriller based on Martin Amis’ best-selling novel. Clairvoyant femme fatale Nicola Six (Heard) has a premonition about her impending murder. Yet rather than try to save herself, she engages in the elaborate seduction of three men, one of whom she knows will be her murderer. One, an American author with a fatal illness (Thornton), decides her story will form the basis of his final novel. From Fox … In the twisted love story “Piercing” (2018), starring Christopher Abbott, Mia Wasikowska and Laia Costa, a man seeks out an unsuspecting stranger to help him purge the dark torments of his past. His plan goes awry when he encounters a woman with plans of her own. A playful psycho-thriller game of cat-and-mouse based on Ryû Murakami’s novel.On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … In “Showdown” (1993), starring Kenn Scott, Billy Blanks, Christine Taylor, Patrick Kilpatrick, James Lew and Brion James, Ken Marks (Scott) finds a dangerous enemy on his first day at his new school; an enemy who makes his living as the champion of an illegal fighting operation. School janitor and ex-cop Billy Grant (Blanks) trains Ken to defend himself. What Billy doesn’t know is that the man behind it all is the one man from his past who wants him dead. On Blu-ray from MVD Rewind Collection … In “And Then There Was Eve” (2018), starring Karan Soni, Tania Nolan, Rachel Crowl and Mary Holland, Alyssa, a successful photographer, wakes one morning to find her apartment ransacked and her husband mysteriously missing. Left without even a photograph to offer the police, she turns to his colleague Eve, a talented jazz pianist with a flirtatious charm and disarming grace. Eve helps her confront her husband’s longtime struggle with depression and to, over time, accept his absence. While getting to know this woman through such unusual circumstances, Alyssa is surprised to find herself falling in love again. From Breaking Glass Pictures … In “The Glorious Seven” (2018), ex-military commander David Guerra is hired by a shady millionaire to rescue his wife, who was kidnapped by the leader of a guerrilla group. Guerra hires six of his former special forces comrades to join him on the mission. From Uncork’d Entertainment … In the horror-thriller “The Craft” (1996), starring Neve Campbell, Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Rachel True and Skeet Ulrich, Campbell stars as Sarah, the new kid at St. Benedict’s Academy. Having always been a bit unusual, she fits right in with the school’s outsiders. There’s something different about them though, and it’s not just that they won’t settle for being a group of powerless misfits. They have discovered The Craft … and they are going to use it. In a Blu-ray Collector’s Edition from Scream Factory … In “A.I. Rising” (2019 — Serbia), on a lonely mission to Alpha Centauri, Sebastian is teamed up with Nimani 1345, a female cyborg designed to fulfill his every need. At first thrilled to be able to control her, Sebastian grows tired of having his desires fulfilled so easily. Longing for human intimacy, Sebastian alters Nimani’s programmed responses, but in doing so he risks the mission’s security — and his own life. From Lionsgate … In the dystopian thriller “The Last Man” (2019), starring Hayden Christensen and Harvey Keitel, Christensen plays Kurt, a vet suffering from PTSD who comes home to an unholy, unruly land. The world is bad, no question — but local street prophet Noe (Keitel) says it’ll get even worse when a catastrophic storm strikes. As Kurt heeds Noe’s advice and readies for the apocalypse, he meets sultry Jessica, who also begins to believe. Yet even as the planet falls apart, Kurt finds his life finally coming together. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “Man’s Best Friend” (1993), starring Ally Sheedy and Lance Henriksen, makes its Blu-ray debut this week. When an ambitious news journalist (Sheedy) breaks into a genetic research facility, she uncovers the biggest story of her career and unleashes the lab’s most dangerous experiment: Max — a genetically enhanced guard dog with a vicious killer instinct. Superior sight, hearing, strength, and intelligence make him faster, stronger, and smarter than almost any other animal alive — and deadlier. Without the neuropathic drugs needed to curb his aggressive nature, his predatory urge runs out of control … and once he tastes blood, nothing can stop him. From Scream Factory.