New DVD and Blu-ray Releases for the Week of June 29


Have a Safe and Sane Fourth of July


This Week’s Best Bets:

“Poison” (1991) is the second feature directed by Todd Haynes, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker of “Far from Heaven” and “Carol.” It is a groundbreaking American Indie and a trailblazing landmark of queer cinema. A work of immense visual invention, Haynes’ spectacular follow-up to his legendary “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story” is audacious, disturbing and thrillingly cinematic. Inspired by the writings of Jean Genet, “Poison” deftly interweaves a trio of transgressive tales — “Hero,” “Horror” and “Homo” — that build toward a devastating climax. “Hero,” shot in mock TV-documentary style, tells a bizarre story of suburban patricide and a miraculous flight from justice; “Horror,” filmed like a delirious 50s B-movie melodrama, is a gothic tale of a mad sex experiment which unleashes a disfiguring plague; while “Homo” explores the obsessive sexual relationship between two prison inmates. On Blu-ray from Zeitgeist Films … photo for Major Dundee [2-Disc Limited Edition] After making his first bonafide classic in “Ride the High Country,” director Sam Peckinpah took a step towards the epic with “Major Dundee” (1965). The film would, in many ways, define the rest of his career both on screen and off, as the drama behind the camera matched the action in front of it. Charlton Heston stars as Major Amos Dundee, a vainglorious Union Cavalry officer, who mounts an expedition to hunt down Apache war chief Sierra Charriba. Building his own army of criminals, ex-slaves and Confederate POWs — among them one Captain Ben Tyreen (Richard Harris), whose intense former friendship with Dundee is tainted with a sense of betrayal on both sides — Dundee heads into Mexico, his eye fixed firmly on a last shot at greatness. Legendarily acerbic, “Major Dundee” would be the first time that Peckinpah had a movie taken away from him. While a director’s cut may be lost to us, this Limited Edition shows us the thrilling, morally complex epic that photo for PariahPeckinpah was aiming for. Beautifully shot and with a stellar supporting cast including James Coburn, Warren Oates, and L.Q. Jones, it remains a stunning achievement and an essential experience for anyone interested in the life and cinema of “Bloody Sam.” Includes the 136-minute Extended Version of the film from a 4K scan, as well as the original 122-minute Theatrical Version. On Blu-ray in a 2-Disc Limited Edition from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … The path to living as one’s authentic self is paved with trials and tribulations in “Pariah” (2011), the revelatory, assured feature debut by Dee Rees — the all-too-rare coming-of-age tale to honestly represent the experiences of queer Black women. Grounded in the fine-grained specificity and deft characterizations of Rees’s script and built around a beautifully layered performance from Adepero Oduye, “Pariah” follows Brooklyn teenager Alike, who is dealing with the emotional minefields of both first love and heartache and the disapproval of her family as she navigates the expression of her gender and sexual identities within a system that does not make space for them. Achieving an aching intimacy with its subject through the expressive cinematography of Bradford Young, this deeply felt portrait finds strength in vulnerability and liberation in letting go. On DVD, Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … photo for Pickup On South Street In “Pickup On South Street” (1953), petty crook Skip McCoy (Richard Widmark) has his eyes fixed on the big score. When the cocky three-time convict picks the pocketbook of unsuspecting Candy (Jean Peters), he finds a more spectacular haul than he could have imagined: a strip of microfilm bearing confidential U.S. information. Tailed by manipulative Feds and the unwitting courier’s Communist puppeteers, Skip and Candy find themselves in a precarious gambit that pits greed against redemption, right against Red, and passion against self-preservation. With its dazzling cast and writer-director Samuel Fuller’s signature hard-boiled repartee and raw energy, “Pickup on South Street” is a true film noir classic by one of America’s most passionate cinematic craftspeople. In a Blu-ray debut, with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. From The Criterion Collection … In an era when women were allowed to be ornaments, mothers or drudges, young Marie Sklodowska of Poland dreamed of something more. She defied convention to study physics and mathematics at the Sorbonne and – with Pierre Curie, the professor who became her husband – to make one of the greatest breakthroughs in 20th-century science. In “Madame Curie” (1943), Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon reunite (after “Mrs. Miniver”) to portray the courageous couple who won the 1903 Nobel Prize for their discovery of radium. In a Blu-ray debut from Warner Archive.

From TV to Disc:

“His Dark Materials: The Complete Second Season” (2020) is a two-disc set with all seven episodes of the HBO series that follows young orphan Lyra (Dafne Keen) on a journey through a parallel world where a human’s soul exists outside one’s body — in the form of a talking animal called a daemon. Season Two begins as Lyra, distraught over the death of her best friend, embarks upon a journey in a strange and mysterious abandoned city. There she meets Will (Amir Wilson), a boy from our world who is also running from a troubled past. Lyra and Will learn their destinies are tied to reuniting Will with his father but find their path is constantly thwarted as a war begins to brew around them. Meanwhile, Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) searches for Lyra, determined to bring her home by any means necessary. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Wildcat” (2021), starring Georgina Campbell, Luke Benward, Ibrahim Renno, Mido Hamada, Ali photo for Wildcat Olomi and Maz Siam, an ambitious reporter (Georgina Campbell) stationed in the Middle East is taken captive after a militant group ambushes her convoy. Convinced that the young woman is hiding her true identity, they’ll stop at nothing to extract information crucial to the success of their upcoming terrorist attack. With time running out, she must find a way to survive and turn the tables on her assailants. From Paramount. Read more here … In “Just a Gigolo” (1978), starring David Bowie, Sydne Rome, Kim Novak, David Hemmings, Maria Schell and Curd Jürgens, it’s after World War I and a war hero (Bowie) returns to Berlin to find that there’s no place for him — he has no skills other than what he learned in the army, and can only find menial, low-paying jobs. He decides to become a gigolo to lonely women. On DVD, Blu-ray from Shout! Factory … “Here Are the Young Men” (2020 – Ireland), starring Dean-Charles Chapman, Finn Cole, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Travis Fimmel and Conleth Hill, catalogs the last hurrah of three high school graduates intent on celebrating their newfound freedom with an epic, debaucherous bender. However, when a horrible accident sends them spiraling, the trio must grapple with the most daunting challenge of their lives: facing their own inner demons. On DVD, Blu-ray from Well Go USA.

On the Indie Front:

“Stardust” (2020), starring Johnny Flynn, Marc Maron and Jena Malone, is a bio-drama that offers a glimpse into the moments that inspired the creation of David Bowie’s first and most memorable alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust, illuminating the turning point in 1971 that cemented his legacy as one of the world’s greatest cultural icons. Stateside, Bowie is quickly met with an audience that’s not yet ready for him. During the tumultuous journey, Bowie slowly begins to realize a need to reinvent himself; it’s with that realization that his iconic, celestial alter-ego Ziggy Stardust is born. Made against the wishes of the Bowie family and thus does not include any of his music. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC/Shout! Factory.

Foreign Films:

In “The Perfect Candidate” (2019 — Saudi Arabia), starring Mila Alzahrani, Dhay, Khalid Abdulrhim and Shafi Al Harthy, when Maryam, a hardworking young doctor in a small-town clinic, is prevented from flying to Dubai for a conference without a male guardian’s approval, she seeks help from a politically connected cousin but inadvertently registers as a candidate for the municipal council. Maryam sees the election as a way to fix the muddy road in front of her clinic, but her campaign slowly garners broader appeal. Maryam’s creative and ambitious campaign builds momentum, becoming a symbol for a larger movement. From Music Box Films. Read more here.

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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