From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
Our top pick for the week is a foreign gem — Bulgaria’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards — and a “social-realist parable exploring the themes of corruption, class differences, and the rural-urban divide, in contemporary Bulgarian society.” Frank Capra by way of Bulgaria, “Glory” (2016 — Bulgaria), the third collaboration between directors Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov (“Jump,” “The Lesson”), starts with a simple premise, but deepens into a portrait of a bureaucracy riven with cynicism, and a government happy to swallow its most idealistic citizens whole. When Tsanko Petrov (Stefan Denolyubov), a stuttering, scraggle-bearded railroad linesman discovers millions of dollars on some rural train tracks, he decides to turn the entire amount over to the police. The authorities, ever grateful, reward him with a televised ceremony and a new wristwatch. But when the glitzy new watch stops working, Julia Staikova (Margita Gosheva), the workaholic PR head of the corrupt Ministry of Transport, can’t seem to find Petrov’s old watch, a family heirloom. And, as Tsanko’s humble reality collides with a bureaucracy determined to use his “heroism” to distract the public from an emerging scandal, he desperately struggles to recover both his old watch and his dignity. Funny and sad at the same time, bursting with life, with superb direction and acting. A must see. From Film Movement … next up is “Hana-Bi (Fireworks)” (1997 — Japan), considered writer-director-actor and cult hero Takeshi Kitano’s first true cinematic masterpiece. Former police officer Nishi feels responsible for the shattered lives of his loved ones. His partner Horibe has been crippled in a disastrous stakeout, a colleague is shot dead by the same villain, and his own wife has a terminal illness. In debt to a yakuza loanshark, Nishi conceives a bank robbery to provide for his partner, help the dead cop’s widow, and take one last holiday throughout Japan with his wife and share a final taste of happiness. The yakuza, however, are not so easily bought off, sending Nishi down a road paved with nihilism and violence. Restored in HD. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Film Movement Classics.
Next up is “Close Encounters of the Third Kind 40th Anniversary Edition” (1977) New 4K restoration available on three-disc 4K Ultra HD, a Limited Edition three-disc 4K Ultra HD “Light and Sound” Gift Set, and in high-def on two-disc remastered Blu-ray. The highly collectible Limited Edition Gift Set features illuminated packaging that plays the iconic 5-tone motif. Also included is an expanded booklet with rare archival photos. Both Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD releases include all three restored versions of the film, including the 1977 theatrical version, the 1980 Special Edition and the 1997 Director’s Cut. In addition to the legacy bonus materials, the “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” Blu-ray comes with new bonus content, including rare, never-before-seen home movies and gags from the set, and the all-new featurette “Three Kinds of Close Encounters.” This featurette includes a new interview with director Steven Spielberg on the legacy of the film, as well as new interviews with directors J.J. Abrams and Denis Villeneuve on the impact of Close Encounters. From Sony.
From TV to DVD:
“Arrow: The Complete Fifth Season” (2016-17) is a five-disc DVD, four-disc Blu-ray set with all 23 episodes. In Season Five, newly appointed Mayor Oliver Queen finds himself challenged as he fights on two fronts for the future of Star City. With his right hand, John Diggle, back in the military and his sister Thea adamant about hanging up her vigilante hood as Speedy, Team Green Arrow is down to just Oliver and Felicity — but they’re no longer the only vigilantes in town. Green Arrow’s public defeat of Damien Darhk at the end of Season Four has inspired a new crop of masked heroes to step up and defend the city, though their painful inexperience makes them obstacles rather than allies in the field. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Warner … “Code Black: Season Two” (2016-17) is a four-disc set with all 16 episodes of the series that takes place in the busiest, most notorious ER in the nation, where the influx of patients can outweigh the limited resources available to the extraordinary doctors and nurses whose job is to treat them all — creating a condition called “Code Black.” At the heart of the ER is Dr. Leanne Rorish (Marcia Gay Harden), a residency director whose job is to save lives in an often impossible environment, and who is known to the group of residents as “Daddy.” From CBS/Paramount … “Lethal Weapon: The Complete First Season” (2016-17) is a four-disc DVD, three-disc Blu-ray set with all 18 episodes. Based on the hit movie franchise, Lethal Weapon, tells the story of a slightly unbalanced former Navy SEAL joining forces with a veteran detective as partners on the Los Angeles police force. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, from Warner … “Madam Secretary: Season Three” (2016-17) is a six-disc set with all 23 episodes of the series that stars Tea Leoni as Elizabeth McCord, the Secretary of State who drives international diplomacy, battles office politics and circumvents protocol as she negotiates global and domestic issues, both at the White House and at home. A college professor and former CIA analyst, Elizabeth returned to public life at the request of President Conrad Dalton (Keith Carradine), who values McCord’s apolitical leanings, deep knowledge of the Middle East, flair for languages and ability to not just think outside the box, but to not even acknowledge there is a box. McCord’s team includes chief of staff Nadine Tolliver (Bebe Neuwirth); policy advisor Jay Whitman (Sebastian Arcelus); speechwriter Matt Mahoney (Geoffrey Arend); press coordinator Daisy Grant (Patina Miller); and charming assistant, Blake Moran (Erich Bergen). McCord’s debates on third world problems at work and her battles with the president’s combative chief of staff, Russell Jackson (Zeljko Ivanek), are just a warm-up for when she goes to where “politics” and “compromise” take on new meaning, home to her husband, theology professor turned intelligence operative Henry (Tim Daly), and their three children. From CBS/Paramount … “Timeless: Season One” (2016-17) is a four-disc set with all 16 episodes. A history professor (Abigail Spencer), a soldier (Matt Lanter) and a scientist (Malcolm Barrett), chase a dangerous fugitive (Goran Višnjic) with plans to re-write American history after he steals a secret experimental time machine. Running with the likes of Bonnie and Clyde, Ian Fleming and Al Capone, the team — using the machine’s prototype — must make every effort not to affect the past themselves as they jump through time in this unique historical fiction/sci-fi series. From Sony … “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends: The Complete Collection” is a 10-disc set with 27+ hours of the best episodes from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s — including original commercials — bringing together Carson’s greatest guests: Robin Williams, David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, Burt Reynolds, Rodney Dangerfield, Bob Hope, Don Rickles, Dolly Parton, Eddie Murphy, Bob Newhart, Tony Bennett and many, many more. Carefully selected from the vaults by Carson archivists. The set is comprised of three distinct collections: “Johnny and Friends” (six discs; some previously available at retail); “The Ultimate Carson Collection” (three discs — never before available at retail) with “The Best of the ’60s & ’70s,” “The Best of the ’70s & ’80s” and “The Best of the ’80s & ’90s”; “Three Decades of Christmas on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” (single disc — never before available at retail). Also included is a specially-produced 28-page memory book filled with rare archival photos and nearly two hours of bonus features. From Time Life … “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series, Volumes 1-6” is a six-disc set of comedy and unforgettable moments from 12 complete, unedited shows (with commercials). Includes some of the most requested shows ever: Carson’s 10th and 11th anniversary shows, Johnny’s birthday episodes, and others, with an incredible collection of guests, including Dean Martin, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Don Rickles, Bob Hope, Dom DeLuise, John Denver, Peter Fonda, Michael Caine, Charlton Heston, Michael Landon, Billy Crystal, Paul McCartney, Orson Welles, Muhammad Ali and many, many more. From Time Life.