"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Mar 062018

From the Big Screen:

“Thor: Ragnarok,” “Lady Bird,” “The Man Who Invented Christmas” and “Wonder Wheel.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets:

“The Dark Crystal” (1982), the Jim Henson classic animated film about a young hero who must find a legendary relic in order to restore harmony to the universe debuts on 4K Ultra HD and returns to Blu-ray (in a limited edition 24-page Digibook) and digital. Extras include a new featurette, “The Myth, Magic and Henson Legacy” that goes behind the scenes of this iconic film with stories from Lisa Henson and Toby Froud; deleted scenes; commentary with Brian Froud; picture-in-picture storyboard track; original Skeksis language scenes with introduction by screenwriter photo for The Dark Crystal David Odell; “The World of The Dark Crystal” documentary; “Reflections of The Dark Crystal”: “Light on the Path of Creation” and “Shard of Illusion”; photo galleries; theatrical teaser and trailer. From Sony … Agnès Varda, one of the leading figures of the French New Wave who at 89 is still expanding cinematic frontiers, and the acclaimed 34-year-old French photographer and muralist known as JR, team up to co-direct “Faces Places” (2017 — France), an enchanting documentary/road movie. Kindred spirits, Varda and JR share a lifelong passion for images and how they are created, displayed and shared. They travel in JR’s photo truck to French villages, factories, docks, farms and anywhere else their spirits take them, meeting locals, learning their stories and producing epic-size portraits of them. The photos are then prominently displayed on houses, barns, storefronts and trains, revealing the humanity in their subjects as well as in Varda and JR themselves. The film documents these heart-warming encounters, as well as the unlikely, tender friendship formed along the way by the two artists. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, from Cohen Media Group.

From TV to Disc:

“Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Ninth Season” (2017) follows Larry (David) as he dreams of a big idea that elicits promising feedback from a number of prospective investors — until a string of missteps undermines the plan, at least temporarily. Series favorites also make their return to this Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning comedy, including Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines, Susie Essman, and JB Smoove. From HBO.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

Following the success of his debut feature, “The Bird with the Crystal Plumage,” distributor Titanus tasked writer-director Dario Argento with delivering a follow-up in short order. The resulting film, granted a greatly enhanced budget and heralded in its US marketing campaign as “nine times more suspenseful” than its predecessor, photo for The Cat O' Nine Tails was “The Cat O’ Nine Tails” (1971). When a break-in occurs at a secretive genetics institute, blind puzzle-maker Franco Arno (Karl Malden), who overheard an attempt to blackmail one of the institute’s scientists shortly before the robbery, teams up with intrepid reporter Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus) to crack the case. But before long the bodies begin to pile up and the two amateur sleuths find their own lives imperiled in their search for the truth. And worse still, Lori (Cinzia De Carolis), Franco’s young niece, may also be in the killer’s sights. This second entry in the so-called “Animal Trilogy” found Argento further refining his distinctive style and cementing his reputation as the master of the giallo thriller. Co-starring Catherine Spaak and Rada Rassimov, and featuring another nerve-jangling score by the great Ennio Morricone, “The Cat O’ Nine Tails” remains one of Argento’s most suspenseful and underrated films. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo with a new 4K restoration from the original camera negative, from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … In “Curse of the Mayans” (2017), starring Olga Fonda, Steve Wilcox, Bernardo Peña and Carla Ortiz, for eons, the Mayans prophesied that on December 21, 2012 — the end-date of the 5,126-year cycle of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar — photo for Curse of the Mayans there would be a cataclysmic, earth-shattering event. As it turned out, 2012 wasn’t the end, but the beginning. In the present day, American professor Dr. Alan Green (Wilcox) discovers a manuscript that may hold the keys to the lost Mayan culture. After traveling to Mexico, he hires an expert team of cave divers, led by Danielle Noble (Ortiz), to explore a submerged labyrinth of ruins left behind by the ancient civilization before their mysterious disappearance. But when the team unwittingly stumbles upon an underwater prison and unintentionally frees the evil alien beings trapped within, they are forced to fight for their survival and prevent the extraterrestrial apocalypse predicted by the Mayans long ago. Filmed on location at the sites of actual Mayan settlements. From VMI Worldwide … In “The Crossbreed” (2017), starring Angela Durazo, Nathan Schellerup, Malina Lee Shaffer, Danny Winn, Katy Bentz, Chad Ayers, Marques Bobesich, a woman carrying twins finds that her pregnancy is linked to an evil birth, a demonic possession, that took over a village a long time ago. From (Breaking Glass Pictures … photo for Novitiate “Novitiate” (2017), starring Melissa Leo, Margaret Qualley, Julianne Nicholson, Dianna Agron, Morgan Saylor, Liana Liberato and Maddie Hasson, is a powerful film about a group of cloistered Catholic nuns coming to terms with changes in the Church during the mid-1960s. Spanning over a decade, from the early 1950s through to the mid-60s, “Novitiate” is about a young girl’s first initiation with love, in this case with God. Raised by a non-religious, single mother in rural Tennessee, a scholarship to Catholic school soon finds Cathleen drawn into the mystery and romanticism of a life devoted to the worship and servitude of God. With the dawn of the Vatican II era, radical changes in the Church are threatening the course of nuns’ lives. As she progresses from the postulant to the novitiate stage of training, she finds her faith repeatedly confronted and challenged by the harsh, often inhumane realities of being a servant of God. Cathleen finds herself struggling with issues of faith, sexuality, and recent changes in the life of the Church. From Sony … “Gintama” (2017 — Japan), starring Shun Oguri, Masami Nagasawa and Takayuki Yamada, is a visually spectacular feature film based on the long-running, best-selling action comedy manga by Hideaki Sorachimanga. The live-action film takes place in an alternate Edo-period Japan, where an Alien race has taken control, forcing Samurai to lay down their swords. Once feared as the “White photo for Gintama Demon,” former samurai Gintoki Sakata now works as an everyday handyman — until a master swordsman tasks Gintoki and his friends with finding the cursed sword Benizakura to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, from Well Go USA … “Con Man” (2018), starring Barry Minkow, James Caan, Ving Rhames, Justin Baldoni, Elisabeth Röhm, Mark Hamill, Talia Shire and Armand Assante, is the real life story of Barry Jay Minkow, a son, businessman, fraud buster, actor, pastor…and felon. Born in 1967, Barry Minkow went on to set up a highly successful carpet cleaning company but was imprisoned in 1988 for one of the world’s largest investment and accounting frauds through a Ponzi scheme. The scheme that Minkow set up is often used as a case study in accounting fraud. He was released from prison and went on to be a pastor and fraud investigator. Imprisoned again in 2011 for securities fraud and, in 2014, after pleading guilty to a multitude of charges including defrauding his church as well as the federal government, Minkow currently owes more than $600 million in restitution.On DVD, Blu-photo for The Strangers [Collector's Edition] ray Disc, from Sony … After a 4 a.m. knock at the door and a haunting voice, Kristen McKay and James Hoyt find that their remote getaway becomes a night of psychological terror as three masked strangers invade in “The Strangers [Collector’s Edition]” (2008). Faced with inscrutable tormentors, Kristen and James must go beyond what they think they’re able to endure if they have any hope to survive. Stars Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman. Disc One includes a new HD master of the theatrical cut taken from the 2K digital intermediate; “The Element of Terror” interviews with the cast and crew; “Strangers at the Door” interviews with writer-director Bryan Bertino and the cast; deleted scenes; TV spots; theatrical trailer. Disc Two: features a new HD master of the unrated cut taken from the 2K digital intermediate; new “Defining Moments” interview with writer-director Bryan Bertino; new “All the Right Moves” interview with actor Kip Weeks ((Man in the Mask); new “Brains and Brawn” interview with actress Laura Margolis (Pin Up Girl); new “Deep Cuts” interview with editor Kevin Greutert; still gallery. On Blu-ray Disc from Scream Factory.

For the Family:

“Aliens Ate My Homework” (2017), starring William Shatner, Jayden Greig, Lauren McNamara, Kirsten Robek, Dan Payne, Ty Consiglio and Alex Zahara, is the film adaptation of the first book from the popular “Rod Allbright and the Galactic Patrol” series by Bruce Coville, and follows a pair of middle schoolers racing to save the world from destruction after photo for Aliens Ate My Homeworkextraterrestrials invade Earth. When a tiny spaceship flies through his window and lands on his science project, Rod and his cousin Elspeth meet a group of friendly aliens, extraterrestrial lawmen known as the Galactic Patrol, including Phil, a talking plant (voiced by William Shatner). The Earthlings quickly join the aliens’ adventurous mission to help defeat an evil alien criminal. After discovering the evil alien is disguised as a human — someone he knows all too well — Rod and Elspeth race to save the world from total planetary disaster. From Universal … Coming off the smash hit “Love to Learn,” “Sesame Street: Love to Learn 2” (2018) showcases Elmo’s love of learning new things all the time. One of the fundamentals of learning is that we can all do it – kids, grown-ups, and monsters alike. Through fun, educational and age-appropriate topics like music, school, cooking, and animals, segments help children learn important skills such as friendship, kindness, empathy, self-confidence, and perseverance. Elmo also makes some new friends along the way, including Golden Globe winner and Academy Award nominee Amy Adams, singer/songwriter and YouTube sensation Tori Kelly, and Fifth Harmony. From Warner.

Special Interest:

The documentary “The Paris Opera” (2017 — France) offers a candid look behind the scenes of one of the world’s foremost performing arts institutions. Over the course of one tumultuous season, director Jean-Stéphane Bron nimbly juggles multiple storylines — from ballet and opera rehearsals, to strike negotiations, last minute crises and ticket disputes — revealing the photo for The Paris Opera dedication of the talented personnel who bring breathtaking spectacles to the stage night after night. It’s Autumn 2015 and, at the Paris Opera, new director Stéphane Lissner is putting the finishing touches to his first press conference. Backstage, artists and crew diligently prepare to raise the curtain on a new season with Schönberg’s opera, “Moses and Aaron.” However, the announcement of a strike and arrival of a 2000-pound bull in a supporting role complicate matters greatly. As the season progresses, more and more characters appear, playing out the human comedy in the manner of a documentary Opera. Enter promising young Russian singer, Mikhail Tymoshenko, who begins at the Opera’s Academy; in the hallways of Opera Bastille, his destiny will cross paths with that of Bryn Terfel, one of the greatest voices of his time. And Lissner will have to weather star choreographer Benjamin Millepied jumping ship soon after taking over as director of ballet at Palais Garnier. But when the terrorist attack at The Bataclan plunges the city into mourning, the company recognizes the show must go on. From Film Movement.

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.

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