From the Big Screen:
Donna Deitch’s swooning and sensual first narrative feature, “Desert Hearts” (1985), was groundbreaking upon its 1985 release: A love story about two women, made entirely independently, on a self-financed shoestring budget, by a woman. In the 1959-set film, an adaptation of a novel by Jane Rule, straitlaced East Coast professor Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) arrives in Reno to file for divorce but winds up catching the eye of someone new, the younger free spirit Cay (Patricia Charbonneau), touching off a slow seduction that unfolds against a breathtaking desert landscape. With undeniable chemistry between its two leads, an evocative jukebox soundtrack, and vivid cinematography by Robert Elswit, “Desert Hearts” beautifully exudes a sense of tender yearning and emotional candor. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Robert Elswit and created by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in conjunction with the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project and the Sundance Institute, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … Also from Criterion this week is the superb French masterpiece “Le samouraï” (1987), starring Alain Delon in a career-defining performance. Delon plays Jef Costello, a contract killer with samurai instincts. After carrying out a flawlessly planned hit, Jef finds himself caught between a persistent police investigator and a ruthless employer, and not even his armor of fedora and trench coat can protect him. An elegantly stylized masterpiece of cool by maverick director Jean-Pierre Melville, “Le samouraï” is a razor-sharp cocktail of 1940s American gangster cinema and 1960s French pop culture — with a liberal dose of Japanese lone-warrior mythology. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
The folks at Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment have put together a fitting homage to the great director George A. Romero, who died this year at age 77. “George Romero “Between Night and Dawn”” is a limited Edition six-disc box set. Three films made between “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” showcase the extraordinary versatility and dynamism of this irreplaceable American auteur. When Romero passed away in July, the film world didn’t just lose its beloved “King of Zombies,” but also a groundbreaking and fearless innovator who inspired not only generations of genre directors, but also experimental and guerilla filmmakers for whom he laid down the template. The three films collected in this box set — two early Seventies “lost films” and a classic plague panic thriller — show there’s more to the legendary director than simply gut-munching ghouls. The comedy romance “There’s Always Vanilla,” psychological thriller “Season of the Witch,” and infection horror “The Crazies” — all filmed in and around Pittsburgh — serve to display the broader thematic concerns and auteurist leanings of a skilled craftsman too often pigeonholed within the genre. “The Crazies” is one of his strongest horror offerings, with memorable performances from Lynn Lowry and Richard Liberty. Romero managed to inject his films with subtle social allegories, nuanced examinations of the human condition, and just the right amount of black humor, so that they were immediately recognized as his and his alone. The box set showcases the director feeling his way towards the mainstream and showing a formidable assurance in three very distinct genres. Includes brand new restorations of the three films, a lavish 60-page booklet featuring new writing on this fascinating chapter of Romero’s career, a wealth of extras including interviews, featurettes and behind the scenes documentaries, reversible sleeves for all three films featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork, and a beautifully designed and striking slipcase featuring an iconic image of the man himself. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo.
From TV to DVD:
“D.C. Follies: The Complete Series” (1987-89) is a four-disc set with all 44 episodes. Brought to you by those masters of trippy TV, Sid & Marty Krofft (“H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Land of the Lost”), “D.C. Follies” stars the one and only Fred Willard as the bartender in the hottest joint our nation’s capital has ever seen … and where the clientele is made up of puppet caricatures of the biggest names in show biz and affairs of state. From the world stage to the puppet stage, Fred and his most-irregular regulars sock it to the culture of the day with a satiric style like none other: President Reagan tries to wipe out the national debt with a TV home shopping show, Dolly Parton gives makeup tips to Barbara Bush, Margaret Thatcher confers with Madonna to find a new image, and Nixon’s Presidential Library … is a bookmobile. Includes non-puppet guest stars such as Betty White, Martin Mull, Bob Uecker, Mike Tyson, Whoopi Goldberg, Leslie Nielsen, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and many more. From Shout! Factory … “Indiscretion” (2016) is a TV movie starring Mira Sorvino, Cary Elwes, Katherine McNamara, Christopher Backus. While her politician husband (Elwes) and precocious teenage daughter (McNamara) are away, New Orleans psychiatrist Veronica Simon (Sorvino) enjoys a weekend fling with Victor (Backus), an alluring young sculptor. But after Veronica calls off the affair, Victor refuses to let go — and will stop at nothing to have Veronica for himself. From MPI Home Video … “Preacher: Season Two” (2017) is a three-disc set with all 13 episodes. The second season is a genre-bending thrill ride that follows West Texas preacher Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), his bad ass ex-girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga) and Irish vampire Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) as they embark on a road trip to find God (upon learning He is absent from Heaven) and are thrust into a twisted battle spanning Heaven, Hell and everywhere in between. Finding themselves in New Orleans, the gang must dodge local gangsters, dangerous secret agents and the Saint of Killers, an unstoppable murderous cowboy from Hell.On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Sony … “Thanks For The Memories: The Bob Hope Specials Deluxe Collection”: Bob Hope, America’s greatest entertainer of the 20th century, is celebrated with the most complete collection of his television specials ever assembled, culled from the very best of Hope’s 250 network specials spanning five decades, many in support of the U.S. Armed Forces. This one-of-a-kind collection is packed with comedy, music, dancing, movie stars, and, of course, Bob’s memorable monologues — all perfect for family viewing. Across 19 DVDs, fans will find more than 37 hours of specials, including 20 that have not been seen since their original broadcast, as well as an incredible collection of celebrity guest appearances from the biggest stars of the era such as John Wayne, Bing Crosby, Raquel Welch, Desi Arnaz, Jack Benny, Don Rickles, Barbra Streisand, George Burns, Dean Martin, Ann-Margret, Lucille Ball, Steve McQueen, Lola Falana, Tom Jones, Carol Burnett, Angie Dickinson, Andy Williams, Lana Turner, Jayne Mansfield, Redd Foxx, Zsa Zsa Gabor and many others. Included here: “Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials” (six discs) featuring 13 specials from 1956 to 1996; “Bob Hope: Entertaining the Troops” (four discs) featuring 10 shows from 1950 to 1993, including several USO Christmas specials filmed in front of troops serving in locations all over the world, from the Cold War through the Vietnam years to the Persian Gulf; “Bob Hope: TV Legend” (eight discs), a collection of 16 classic variety specials from 1958-1973; “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Bob Hope” (one disc). Includes a 32-page memory book filled with rare, archival photos and stories, all housed in a deluxe collector’s box. Formats: On DVD, $249.95 from Time Life.