"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Mar 192019

From the Big Screen:

“Mary Poppins Returns” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets

“Far From Heaven (Special Edition)” (2002), directed by Todd Haynes and starring Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert, Patricia Clarkson, Viola Davis, James Rebhorn. Moore and Quaid star in this seductive story of a seemingly perfect family, and the forbidden desires that threaten to tear it apart, set in 1950s Connecticut. Cathy Whitaker (Moore) has it all — a lovely home, two wonderful children and a handsome husband (Quaid) who is successfully climbing the corporate ladder. But Cathy’s idyllic existence is just an illusion, and she eventually must choose between living a lie or following her heart. Written and directed by Todd Haynes (“Carol”), “Far From Heaven” garnered rave reviews and was nominated for four Academy Awards® including Actress (Moore), Original Screenplay (Haynes), Original Score (Elmer Bernstein) and Cinematography (Edward Lachman). The film is nothing less than Haynes’ homage to Douglas Sirk. In a new Blu-ray edition from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … photo for Detour “Detour” (1945): From Poverty Row came a movie that, perhaps more than any other, epitomizes the dark fatalism at the heart of film noir. As he hitchhikes his way from New York to Los Angeles, a down-on-his-luck nightclub pianist (Tom Neal) finds himself with a dead body on his hands and nowhere to run — a waking nightmare that goes from bad to worse when he picks up the most vicious femme fatale in cinema history, Ann Savage’s snarling, monstrously conniving drifter Vera. Working with no-name stars on a bargain-basement budget, B auteur Edgar G. Ulmer turned threadbare production values and seedy, low-rent atmosphere into indelible pulp poetry. Long unavailable in a format in which its hard-boiled beauty could be fully appreciated, “Detour” haunts anew in its first major restoration. “Detour” was restored by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation in collaboration with the Cinémathèque Française, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … photo for Wanda “Wanda” (1970): With her first and only film — a hard-luck drama she wrote, directed, and starred in — Barbara Loden turned in a groundbreaking work of American independent cinema, bringing to life a kind of character seldom seen on-screen. Set amid a soot-choked Pennsylvania landscape, and shot in an intensely intimate vérité style, the film takes up with distant and soft-spoken Wanda (Loden), who has left her husband, lost custody of her children, and now finds herself alone, drifting between dingy bars and motels, where she falls prey to a series of callous men — including a bank robber who ropes her into his next criminal scheme. A difficult-to-see masterpiece that has nonetheless exerted an outsize influence on generations of artists and filmmakers, “Wanda” is a compassionate and wrenching portrait of a woman stranded on society’s margins. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 2K digital restoration by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, The Film Foundation, and Gucci, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Red Room” (2017 — Ireland), starring Brian Fortune, Eddie Jackson and Cristina Ryan, Kyra, a young woman kidnapped off the street after a night out, wakes up in an isolated house with two other captives. They are informed by their sadistic captors that they must wait their turn to enter the Room before they will be released. Once they discover they will never leave the house alive, they plot to escape before it is their turn to enter the Red Room. From Breaking Glass Pictures … photo for Ritual - A Psychomagic Story In “Ritual – A Psychomagic Story” (2013 — Italy), Fragile Lia (Désirée Giorgetti) once had a strong, passionate relationship with her lover Viktor (Ivan Franek), but a series of traumatic events sends her spiraling into a dark depression. Desperate to find a cure, she visits her old Aunt Agata (Anna Bonasso) at her creepy 18th century villa in Mason, a small Italian village steeped in magic, popular beliefs, traditional culture, myths and legends. Passionate about psychomagic and popular medicine, Agata is the local healer who has learned these methods from Fernando (Alejandro Jodorowsky), her dead Chilean husband. And it’s here, in Mason, that Lia is taken on a powerful psychomagic journey to liberate her unconscious mind from its emotional turmoil. Inspired by the philosophy of and featuring an appearance by Chilean director and cult icon Jodorowsky, the legendary filmmaker of “El Topo” and “Holy Mountain,” the explores the territory of maternity, psychomagic, madness, superstition and popular beliefs. From Omnibus Entertainment … In “The Second Time Around” (2017), starring Linda Thorson and Stuart Margolin, Katherine Mitchell, a widowed yet vibrant senior, wasn’t looking for love a second time — not at her age, and certainly not with grumpy Isaac Shapiro. Despite the nosey bunch of seniors in the residence where Katherine convalesces after breaking her hip, she and Isaac warm to each other over their shared love of music. Against unforeseen obstacles, their love blooms and together they set out to fulfill Katherine’s lifelong dream of going to the opera in Milan. From First Run Feature … In photo for She Wolf “She Wolf” (2013 — Argentina), starring Mónica Lairana, Guadalupe Docampo and Luján Ariza, a female serial killer is stalking the shadowy streets and underground subways of Buenos Aires. Capable of shifting between three manifestations of her inner self, this cunning seductress lures unwitting men to a night of unbridled ecstasy that ends in their blood-soaked demise. The trail of bodies she leaves behind threatens to lead the police to her door but the titular she-wolf is so lost in her fractured psyche that the threat to her own safety barely seems to register. But when one of her intended victims turns out to be an undercover police detective, her frantic escape leads her into the arms of a charming young drug dealer, whose love could provide the key to her salvation. From Omnibus Entertainment … In “The Quake” (2018 — Norway), starring Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp and Kathrine Thorborg Johansen, the ground beneath the residents of Oslo, Norway can’t be trusted. For Norwegian geologists like Kristian Eikjord, studying the daily quakes proves that it’s no longer a matter of if, but when the next catastrophic event will strike. Will it surpass the 5.4 magnitude earthquake that devastated the city in 1904? Can anyone survive it? The thriller follows Kristian as he makes a perilous attempt to help his wife, daughter and others escape a crumbling skyscraper when nature takes its course. What if a massive earthquake is looming? On DVD, Blu-ray, from Magnolia Home Entertainment … When four teens “borrow” a car for one night of fun, what starts as a wild joy ride turns into a nightmare in “Accident” (2017 — South Africa & France), starring Stephanie Shield, Roxane Hayward, Tyrone Keogh and Keenan Arrison. After a violent crash, they discover that being stuck at the bottom of a ravine in an overturned car is the least of their problems. The psychotic owner of the car that they stole has them in his crosshairs and will stop at nothing to get both the car and its contents back. On Blu-ray from Well Go USA.

There’s a slew of oldies but goodies due out this week:
photo for The Deadly Mantis BLU-RAY DEBUT “The Deadly Mantis” (1957), starring Craig Stevens, William Hopper and Alix Talton makes its Blu-ray debut this week. What’s worse than a horde of locusts? A gigantic man-eating praying mantis, released from a million years of deep, frozen sleep and ready to claw its way to world domination. This menacing insect kills everything in its path while scientists and military men work feverishly to stop it. Stevens stars as the commander in charge of putting an end to this beastly insect with Hopper as the paleontologist and Talton as his beautiful assistant, a photojournalist, assigned to help in this epic battle between man and insect. From Scream Factory … The classic Hammer Films thriller “The Witches (The Devil’s Own)” (1967), starring Joan Fontaine, Alec McCowen and Kay Walsh, makes its Blu-ray debut this week. Haunted by the terrors of her experience with African witch-doctors, school teacher Gwen Mayfield (Fontaine) accepts an appointment as headmistress at the Haddaby School run by Alan Bax (McCowen) and his sister Stephanie (Walsh). Gwen initially revels in the peacefulness she has found in the quiet English countryside but soon begins to sense “undercurrents.” Before long, a local boy falls into a coma and Gwen discovers a voodoo doll impaled by pins. The danger that follows brings her face to face with witchcraft as a series of disasters unfold and lead her to the horrible truth. From Scream Factory … photo for Strip Nude for Your Killer “Strip Nude for Your Killer” (1975 — Italy): As the 1970s wore on and audiences began to tire of the tried and tested giallo formula popularized by the thrillers of Argento, Fulci and their contemporaries, filmmakers sought to reinvigorate the ailing movement by injecting elements from other genres. Some took inspiration from the then-burgeoning crime thriller movement, with tales of organized crime and corrupt police officials, while others decided to sex things up by crossing serial killer thrills with salacious soft-core antics. A spate of highly sexualized murders is rocking a prestigious Milanese fashion house. Ambitious photographer Magda (Edwige Fenech) and her on-off boyfriend, love rat Carlo (Nino Castelnuovo), team up to crack the case. But, with the motorcycle helmet-wearing killer bearing a grudge against the agency’s employees, it’s surely only a matter of time before they too end up feeling the force of his wrath. A sleazy Euro cult experience, with kitschy fashion shoots, back alley abortions, blow-up sex dolls and some very indelicate humor. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … In “Losin’ It” (1983), directed by Curtis Hanson and starring Tom Cruise, Shelley Long, Jackie Earl Haley, John Stockwell, Henry Darrow, Rick Rossovich and Joe Spinell, Hollywood icon Cruise, in his first starring role, has everything to gain — and a certain something to lose — when he crosses paths with Shelley Long in this rambunctious road-trip comedy set in the wild and wacky sixties. When all-American high-schooler Woody (Cruise) and his Sinatra-obsessed pal Dave (Haley) decide that it’s time to lose their virginity, they enlist the help of their “more experienced” friend Spider (Stockwell) and head south-of-the-border. Now, in a hilariously raunchy search for cheap booze — and even cheaper thrills == the intrepid trio will run into fast-food floozies, crooked cops and a close encounter with a doubting would-be divorcée (Long) that will change Woody’s life forever. Wonderfully directed by Curtis Hanson (“L.A. Confidential”) with a screenplay by B.W.L. Norton (“Convoy”). In a brand new 2K master. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … photo for Born In East L.A. [Collector’s Edition] BLU-RAY DEBUT “Born In East L.A. [Collector’s Edition]” (1987) makes its Blu-ray debut this week. Cheech Marin wrote, directed and starred in this hip, outrageous comedy that’s more timely than ever. The story follows Rudy (Marin), an American of Hispanic descent, whose south-of-the-border looks show him no mercy during an immigration raid in a migrant worker factory. As his luck goes, he is caught with neither money nor his ID and is deported to Mexico — without speaking a word of Spanish! Unable to contact his vacationing family or his newly immigrated cousin (played by comedian Paul Rodriguez), Rudy is in for a crazy ride as he tries every legal — and illegal — scheme he can think of to get back home. From Shout! Factory Select … In “The Minion” (1988), starring Dolph Lundgren, Françoise Robertson, Roc LaFortune, David Nerman and Allen Altman, international action star Lundgren stars in a non-stop action-packed thriller. When a beautiful and ambitious archaeologist (Françoise Robertson) unearths a mysterious key beneath the streets of 1999 New York City, the Templar Knights of Christ send Lucas (Lundgren) to retrieve it. With no time to lose, he must convince her to give him the key before unspeakable evil is unleashed upon the world by the Minion, a demonic servant of the Antichrist who will do everything in its power to possess the key and see that its sinister master is freed. And only Lucas-a modern-day warrior trained in the ancient arts-can defeat the ultimate evil. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

Foreign Films:

“Becoming Astrid” (2018 — Sweden/Denmark), starring Alba August, Trine Dyrholm, Henrik Rafaelsen, Maria Bonnevie and Björn Gustafsson, is a biopic of Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, the author of numerous children’s books and creator of Pippi Longstocking. Teenaged Astrid Lindgren (August leads a carefree photo for Becoming Astrid life with her family in the forests and fields of rural Sweden. Restless and eager to break free from the confines of her conservative upbringing, she accepts an internship at a local newspaper where she attracts the attention of its married editor, Blomberg. After Astrid becomes pregnant, she leaves her childhood home and goes to Copenhagen to secretly give birth to a son, Lasse, whom she reluctantly leaves in the care of a foster mother, Marie. Astrid goes into self-imposed exile in Stockholm, refusing Blomberg’s offer of marriage and saving up her paltry salary for visits to see Lasse. When Marie falls ill, Astrid uses her imagination and flair for storytelling to reconnect with her son. From Music Box Films.

For the Family:

“PawParazzi” (2018), stars Sara Fletcher, Jay Mohr and Kristy Swanson as the voice of Latte. The cushy Hollywood life of Latte the dog is turned upside down when her owner, superstar actress London Bridges, heads to the boonies to make a new film. The pampered pooch tries to stop thieves from stealing London’s diamond necklace from a farmhouse, but they escape with the jewels. With the help of hunky farmer Tom, can London track down the priceless stones before a scandal breaks out? From Lionsgate.

Special Interest:

“On Her Shoulders” (2018): At only 23-years-old, Nadia Murad’s life is a dizzying array of important undertakings — from giving testimony before the U.N. Security Council to visiting refugee camps to soul-bearing media interviews, emotionally draining speeches, and an endless succession of one-on-one meetings with top government officials. Though it all takes an enormous toll, this once ordinary girl has survived the 2014 genocide of the Yazidis in Northern Iraq and escaped sexual slavery at the hands of ISIS to become a relentless beacon of hope for her people. With deep compassion and a formal precision and elegance that photo for The Last Resortmatches Nadia’s calm and steely demeanor, filmmaker Alexandria Bombach follows this strong-willed young woman, who once dreamed of opening a beauty salon in her village, as she fights to bring ISIS to justice and save her people from extinction. After the documentary was completed, Murad was named as one of two winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. From Oscilloscope Films … “The Last Resort” (2018): Before the arrival of “Miami Vice” and “MTV Spring Break,” South Beach was home to the largest cluster of Jewish retirees in the country. Drawn by the small apartments, low cost of living, sunny weather, and thriving cultural life, they came by the thousands seeking refuge from the Northeast’s brutal winters. By the 1970s, these former New Yorkers had turned from seasonal visitors to year-round residents, making Miami Beach home to a population that was primarily over 70 and overwhelmingly Jewish. “The Last Resort” takes audiences on a journey to the iconic Miami Beach of that era through the lens of young photographers Andy Sweet and Gary Monroe. With cameras in hand, they embarked on an ambitious 10-year project to document this unique chapter in the city’s history, which would soon be erased by the turbulent 1980s. Featuring interviews with Pulitzer Prize winner Edna Buchanan, filmmaker Kelly Reichardt, photographer Gary Monroe, and more, The Last Resort is a stunning testament to a community all but forgotten … until now. From Kino Lorber.

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 March 19, 2019  Add comments

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