From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
The past comes to visit us on DVD and Blu-ray this week with releases from The Criterion Collection and Arrow:
Made during the early years of the movie musical, the exuberant revue “King of Jazz” (1930 was one of the most extravagant, eclectic, and technically ambitious Hollywood productions of its day. Starring the bandleader Paul Whiteman, then widely celebrated as the King of Jazz, the film drew from Broadway variety shows of the time to present a spectacular array of sketches, performances by such acts as the Rhythm Boys (featuring a young Bing Crosby), and orchestral numbers overseen by Whiteman himself (including a larger-than-life rendition of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”) — all lavishly staged by veteran theater director John Murray Anderson and beautifully shot in early Technicolor. Long available only in incomplete form, “King of Jazz” appears here newly restored to its original glory, offering a fascinating snapshot of the way mainstream American popular culture viewed itself at the dawn of the 1930s. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration by Universal Pictures, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a new audio commentary featuring jazz and film critic Gary Giddins, music and cultural critic Gene Seymour, and musician and bandleader Vince Giordano; new introduction by Giddins; new interview with musician and pianist Michael Feinstein; four new video essays by authors and archivists James Layton and David Pierce on the development and making of “King of Jazz”; deleted scenes and alternate opening-title sequence; “All Americans,” a 1929 short film featuring a version of the “Melting Pot” number that was restaged for the finale of “King of Jazz”; “I Know Everybody and Everybody’s Racket,” a 1933 short film featuring Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra; two Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons from 1930, featuring music and animation from “King of Jazz.” From The Criterion Collection … With “Women in Love” (1969), the audacious Ken Russell vaulted onto the international stage, drawing on the psychosexual radicalism of D. H. Lawrence’s classic novel to shatter taboos in his own time. Set in an English mining community on the crest of modernity, “Women in Love “traces the shifting currents of desire that link the emancipated Brangwen sisters (Jennie Linden and an Oscar-winning Glenda Jackson) to a freethinking dreamer (Alan Bates) and a hard-willed industrialist (Oliver Reed) — as well as the men’s own erotically charged friendship. Coupling earthy sensuality with kaleidoscopically stylized images, Russell pursues this quartet to the heights of agony and ecstasy, crafting a breathtaking drama of human sexuality at its most liberating, dominating, and destructive extremes. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include two audio commentaries from 2003, one featuring director Ken Russell and the other screenwriter and producer Larry Kramer; segments from a 2007 interview with Russell for the BAFTA Los Angeles Heritage Archive; “A British Picture: Portrait of an Enfant Terrible,” Russell’s 1989 biopic on his own life and career; interview from 1976 with actor Glenda Jackson; interviews with Kramer and actors Alan Bates and Jennie Linden from the set; new interviews with director of photography Billy Williams and editor Michael Bradsell; “Second Best,” a 1972 short film based on a D. H. Lawrence story, produced by and starring Bates; trailer; an essay by scholar Linda Ruth Williams. From The Criterion Collection … “Sacha Guitry: Four Films 1936-1938 Limited Edition”: This impressive set brings together a quartet of 1930s features by Sacha Guitry (1885-1957, the celebrated French filmmaker, playwright and actor of the stage and screen, each based on his earlier works. “Indiscretions (Le Nouveau testament)” follows a holier-than-though physician who is scuppered by his own hypocrisy. “My Father Was Right (Mon pare avait raison)” tells of a man who, after being left by his wife for another man, raises his son to be wary of women. “Let’s Dream (Faisons un reve…)” is another story of mistrust, between husband, wife and lovers. And the history of one of France’s most famous streets is retold in “Up the Champs-Élysées (Remontons les Champs-Élysées)”, featuring multiple performances from Guitry himself. Available for the first time on Blu-ray, this set presents some of Guitry’s earliest and most enjoyable works. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo, with uncompressed LPCM on the Blu-ray. Extras include two French television documentaries: “Cinéastes de notre temps: Sacha Guitry (1965)” and “Thèmes et variations du cinéma: Guitry” (1967); an interview with Guitry from the 1959 television series “Magazine du théâtre”; 60-page limited edition book featuring new writing on the films. From Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment.
From TV to Disc:
“The Americans Season 5” (2017) is a four-disc set with all 13 episodes. Danger, disillusionment and betrayal reach an all-time high in the suspense-laden fifth season. KGB agents Philip and Elizabeth Jennings’ (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) unwavering dedication to their work comes at even more of a personal cost than before. And as Paige (Holly Taylor) is drawn deeper into the reality of her parents’ secret job, she realizes she will never have a normal life. Meanwhile, as Cold War tensions continue to escalate, Philip and Elizabeth are suspicious of Stan’s (Noah Emmerich) new romance, and they become more acutely aware of the vast disparity between American abundance and Russian scarcity. From Fox … “The Brokenwood Mysteries, Series 4” (2017) features all four episodes of the hit New Zealand detective series. After transferring from a big city to the small town of Brokenwood, Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd (Neil Rea) continues to settle into country life working with his assistant, Detective Kristin Sims (Fern Sutherland). Despite the growing accord between the mismatched pair, all is not well in Brokenwood, where passions simmering beneath the sleepy surface regularly erupt into gruesome crimes. Shepherd and his team contend with the death of a skydiver whose parachute was tampered with, the killing of the eccentric owner of a Victorian reenactment village, farmers feuding over the rights to honey bees, and a nursing home full of suspects with dementia. Available in a four-DVD set, two-disc Blu-ray set. From Acorn Media … “Legion” (2017): All Eight episodes of Season 1 of the series based on the Marvel Comics by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz. Series follows the story of David Haller, a troubled young man who may be more than human. Diagnosed as schizophrenic as a child, David has been in and out of mental hospitals for years. Institutionalized once again, David spends his time with his chatterbox friend Lenny, a fellow patient whose life-long drug and alcohol addiction has done nothing to quell her boundless optimism that her luck is about to change. But a startling encounter with a new patient forces David to confront the shocking possibility that the voices he hears and the visions he sees may actually be real. A haunted man, David escapes from the hospital and with the help of a nurturing but demanding therapist and her team of specialists’ unconventional methods, David embarks on an extraordinary journey of self-discovery that leads to a new world of possibilities … and a new level of unexpected danger. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Fox … “Mr. Robot: Season Three” (2017) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes of the series that follows Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), a cyber-security engineer who, along with Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) and an anarchistic group called fsociety, starts a revolution to change the world. Picking up immediately following the Season 2 cliffhanger, Season 3 explores each character’s motivations and the disintegration between Elliot and Mr. Robot. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … “Peyton Place: Part Three” (1964-65) is a five-disc set with 33 episodes. Look past the innocent façade of small-town life and discover the shocking truth. A ratings sensation for ABC, “Peyton Place” — already a successful 1956 novel and 1957 film — made its way to network television in 1964. A prime-time soap opera whose influence can be seen in later beloved programs such as “Dallas,” “Knots Landing,” and “Twin Peaks,” “Peyton Place” examined the complex web of scandals, schemes, and sex in a New England town. Featuring Dorothy Malone, Mia Farrow, and Ryan O’Neal. Fans of the series will find this collection of episodes as deliciously addictive now as they were in their original airing. From Shout! Factory