"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
May 142018

From the Big Screen:

“Black Panther.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets:

Director Andrei Tarkovsky’s final masterpiece “The Sacrifice” (1986 — Russia) is a haunting vision of a world threatened with nuclear annihilation. As a wealthy Swedish family celebrates the birthday of their patriarch Alexander (Erland Josephson), news of the outbreak of World War III reaches their remote Baltic island — and the happy mood turns to horror. The family descends into a state of psychological devastation, brilliantly evoked by Tarkovsky’s arresting palette of luminous grays washing over the bleak landscape around their home. The film’s masterful cinematography is by Sven Nykvist, Ingmar Bergman’s longtime collaborator. Made as he was dying of cancer, “The Sacrifice” is Tarkovsky’s closing artistic testament, a profoundly moving, redemptive tragedy steeped in unforgettable imagery and heart-wrenching emotion. In a 4K Restoration.In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Kino Classics … photo for Two Thousand Maniacs! After shocking and outraging the world with his genre-defining 1963 gore-fest “Blood Feast,” exploitation pioneer Herschell Gordon Lewis would seek (and positively succeed) to outdo himself with the deliciously depraved “Two Thousand Maniacs!” (1964). When a group of Yankee tourists take a detour and wind up in the small Southern town of Pleasant Valley — which has magically rematerialized 100 years after its destruction during the Civil War — they find themselves welcomed by the eager townsfolk as guests of honor at their centennial celebrations. Little do the Northerners know that the festivities are set to include torture, death and dismemberment. Stars Connie Mason, William Kerwin and Jeffrey Allen. Also includes H.G. Lewis’ fist fightin’, hooch-swillin’ epic “Moonshine Mountain.” In a Special Edition, on Blu-ray, with original Uncompressed PCM Mono Audio. Extras include an introductions to the films by Lewis; archive audio commentary on “Two Thousand Maniacs!” by Lewis; “David Friedman: photo for The It’s Alive Trilogy The Gentlemen’s Smut Peddler” tribute to legendary producer David F. Friedman featuring interviews with Lewis, filmmakers Fred Olen Ray and Tim Sullivan and editor Bob Murawski; “Herschell’s Art of Advertising” in which Lewis shares his expert opinion on the art of selling movies; outtakes; trailers; reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil; more. From Arrow Video … For the first time on Blu-ray, and in a new, deluxe box set, the “The It’s Alive Trilogy” is reborn. It’s newborn and … It’s Alive … and murder is what it knows best. A proud couple’s bundle of joy is really a newborn terror in filmmaker Larry Cohen’s cautionary cult hit “It’s Alive” (1974) that tapped into environmental fears. The horror grows when multiple child monsters rampage in the first sequel “It Lives Again” (1978) as two brave parents try to stop them by becoming the bait for their spree. The now global mutants are rounded up and relocated to a far-flung island in It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987). Will a parent’s greatest nightmare become the world’s gravest fear? On Blu-ray, with new 2K scans of the original film elements of all three films, commentary by Cohen on all three films, new “Cohen’s Alive: Looking Back at the It’s Alive Films” featuring interviews with writer-producer-director Larry Cohen, actors James Dixon, Michael Moriarty and Laurene Landon and more. From Scream Factory … photo for The Other Side of Hope The wry, melancholic comedy “The Other Side of Hope” (2015 — Finland) from director Aki Kaurismäki, a response to the ongoing global refugee crisis, follows two people searching for a place to call home. Khaled (Sherwan Haji), a displaced Syrian, lands in Helsinki as a stowaway; meanwhile, middle-aged Finnish salesman Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen) leaves his wife and his job and buys a conspicuously unprofitable seafood restaurant. Khaled is denied asylum but decides not to return to Aleppo — and the paths of the two men cross fortuitously. As deadpan as the best of the director’s work, and with a deep well of empathy for its down-but-not-out characters (many of them played by members of Kaurismäki’s loyal stock company), “The Other Side of Hope” is a bittersweet tale of human kindness in the face of official indifference. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 2K digital transfer, approved by director Aki Kaurismäki, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

“The Jackie Gleason Show in Color: Deluxe Edition” (2017): From 1966-1970, Jackie Gleason, everyone’s favorite working-class hero, entertained enthralled audiences across the country with his eponymous TV variety show featuring hilarious sketches, celebrity guest stars and much more. Taped in Miami Beach, “The Jackie Gleason Show “delivered an unforgettable gallery of characters Gleason himself created and fine-tuned, including his most indelible and legendary creation — Ralph Kramden — as he and Art Carney revived their Honeymooners roles (with Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean added as the new Alice and Trixie), all presented in glorious color for the first time. Across three beautifully-remastered collector’s discs, “The Jackie Gleason Show in Color: Deluxe Edition” contains 12 never-before-released episodes — including seven unreleased Honeymooners sketches that haven’t been seen since they first aired, including “Six Months to Live,” “Alice’s Birthday,” “Lawsuit,” “Hot Tip,” “The New Bowling Ball,” “Norton Moves In” and “he New Manager.” Includes photo for The Jackie Gleason Show in Color: Deluxe Edition guest appearances by Jack Benny, George Burns, Milton Berle, Tony Bennett, Red Buttons, Phil Silvers, Florence Henderson, Frankie Avalon, Nipsey Russell, Edie Adams, Sid Caesar, Alan King, Robert Goulet, Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra Jr., Victor Borge and more. From Time Life … “The Shannara Chronicles Season Two” (2017) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes. Season Two finds the Four Lands in chaos. The re-emergence of magic has the populace terrified, and an organization called The Crimson is hunting down magic users, using fear and intimidation to sow discord among the races. Wil Ohmsford, scarred by the loss of Amberle and his separation from Eritrea, has turned his back on his magical destiny to become a healer. But when a mysterious woman named Mareth saves Wil from a Crimson attack, he is forced to rejoin the fight. After reuniting with Eretria, Wil and Mareth seek out Allanon, only to learn that the Druid’s former protégé, Bandon, is on a mission to resurrect a creature of darkest evil: The Warlock Lord. Together, our heroes must band together to take down The Crimson and prevent Bandon from unleashing an even greater threat upon the Four Lands…before it’s too late. On DVD, Blu-ray from Paramount … “Unforgotten Season 2” (2017) is a two-disc set with six episodes of the UK crime drama. Season 2 starts innocently enough with a routine river dredging operation. When the scoop brings up a soggy, old suitcase, the workers open it and find a corpse sealed up so long that the tissues have turned to a soapy substance. Gruesome forensic work identifies the victim as David Walker, a businessman missing for 25 years. The case tests the wits of crime-solving duo Detective Chief Inspector Cassie Stuart and Detective Sergeant Sunny Khan. On DVD, Blu-ray, from PBS Distribution.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Bent” (2018), starring Karl Urban, Sofía Vergara, Grace Byers and Andy Garcia, when a drug bust goes wrong, ex-cop Danny Gallagher’s (Urban) quest for justice leads him to the car-bomb murder of a government official’s wife. As Gallagher learns that the woman’s secret lover was a seductive federal agent (Vergara) he finds himself under fire. But from whom — his own cops, a vengeful drug lord, the CIA, or someone even more ruthless? On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In “The Forgiven” (2018), starring Forest Whitaker, Eric Bana, Jeff Gum, Morne Visser, Terry Norton, Rob Gough and Debbie Sherman, Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Whitaker) is appointed to head a nationwide investigation, and he’s summoned to a photo for The Monkey King 3 maximum-security prison by a notorious murderer seeking clemency (Bana). Inside the brutal prison’s walls, Tutu is drawn into a dangerous, life-changing battle with the cunning criminal in this captivating film based on real events, from Oscar-nominated director Roland Joffe. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In “The Monkey King 3” (2018 — China), starring Aaron Kwok, Feng Shaofeng, Gigi Leung, Xiao Shenyang and Chung Him Law, this third installment of the blockbuster fantasy series sees the return of the Monkey King (Kwok). While continuing their epic journey to the West, the Monkey King and his companions are taken captive by the Queen of an all-female land, who believes them to be part of an ancient prophecy heralding the fall of her kingdom. With a lot of sorcery and a little bit of charm, the travelers devise a plan to escape. But, when their trickery angers the mighty River God, they realize they might just bring about the foretold destruction — unless they can find a way to quell her wrath. On Blu-ray, from Well Go USA … In “The Manor” (2017), starring Christina Robinson, Kevin Nash and Rachel True, Amy (Robinson), still haunted by the demons of a childhood tragedy, checks out of an asylum on her eighteenth birthday. But things get weird when Amy’s mother takes her to a rustic resort to visit her strange, sadistic relatives. When hunters and religious fanatics join the party, Amy can no longer tell fantasy from reality, watching helplessly as the blood spills anew. From Lionsgate.

On the Indie Front:

photo for Landing Up In “Landing Up” (2018), starring Stacey Maltin, E’dena Hines and Ben Rappaport, Chrissie (Maltin) is young, wild, and living on the streets of NYC. She and her best friend Cece (Hines) use their youth and good looks to their advantage,playing a con game with strangers to put a roof over their heads, while all the time fantasizing about having enough money to score their dream apartment. When Chrissie meets David (Rappaport), a funny, genuine guy who works his way into her heart, she falls for him and must decide whether to confess the real circumstances of her life or continue her carefully crafted lie at all costs. From Random Media … “Play the Devil” (2016), starring Petrice Jones, Melanie Archer, Blair Cameron and Gareth Jenkins, is set against the backdrop of Trinidad and Tobago’s mystical Carnival. A gifted and struggling young man becomes the object of intrigue for an older, well-meaning businessman until their worlds collide. From Breaking Glass Pictures.

Foreign Films:

In “The Sweet Escape” (2015– France), starring Bruno Podalydès, Sandrine Kiberlain and Agnès Jaoui, middle-aged graphic artist Michel (Podalydès) is seized by a sudden crazy impulse and orders a canoe and paddles — everything he needs for an adventure. His wife Rachelle (Kiberlain) encourages him to set out alone on his escapades. So what if he’s never rowed a boat in his life? Adventure is adventure! His big trip on the water turns out to be full of surprises and unexpected encounters. From Distrib Films US Collection/Icarus Films.

For the Family:

“LEGO DC Super Hero Girls: Super-Villain High” (2018) is a new animated film. After a mysterious school opens across the street, the students of Super Hero High find themselves up against a new threat. Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl and the rest of the DC Super Hero Girls not only have to worry about the well-being of their grades, but the safety and security of friends, family and the rest of civilization. The girls must figure out how to put a stop to this evil, new cross-town rival and save the world once again. From Warner.

Special Interest:

“ACORN and the Firestorm” (2017): If you were impoverished and politically voiceless, ACORN hoped to change your mind. For 40 years, the community-organizing group sought to empower marginalized communities. Its critics, though, believed ACORN exemplified everything wrong with liberal ideals. Fueled by a YouTube video made by two young conservatives who posed as pimp and prostitute in a sting, ACORN’s very existence would be challenged. “ACORN and the Firestorm” goes beyond the 24-hour news cycle and cuts to the heart of the great political divide. From First Run Features … “Forbidden Films” (2014 — Germany): 1,200 feature films were made in Germany’s Third Reich. According to experts, some 100 of these were blatant Nazi propaganda. Nearly 70 years after the end of the Nazi regime, more than 40 of these films remain under lock and key. Director Felix Moeller interviews German film historians, archivists and filmgoers in an investigation of the power, and potential danger, of cinema when used for ideological purposes. Utilizing clips from the films photo for Forbidden Filmsand recorded discussions from public screenings (permitted in Germany in educational contexts) in Munich, Berlin, Paris and Jerusalem, Moeller shows how contentious these 70-year-old films remain, and how propaganda can retain its punch when presented to audiences susceptible to manipulation. From Zeitgeist Films/Kino Lorber … “Beuys” (2017 — Germany): Thirty years after his death, Joseph Beuys still feels like a visionary and is widely considered one of the most influential artists of his generation. Known for his contributions to the Fluxus movement and his work across diverse media — from happening and performance to sculpture, installation, and graphic art — Beuys’ expanded concept of the role of the artist places him in the middle of socially relevant discourses on media, community, and capitalism. Using previously untapped visual and audio sources, director Andres Veiel has created a one-of-a- kind chronicle: Beuys is not a portrait in the traditional sense, but an intimate and in-depth look at a human being, his art and ideas, and the way they have impacted the world. 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 May 14, 2018  Add comments

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