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"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
May 172021
 

From the Big Screen:

The Father

photo for The Father Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) is 80, mischievous, living defiantly alone and rejecting the carers that his daughter, Anne (Olivia Colman), encouragingly introduces. Yet help is also becoming a necessity for Anne; she can’t make daily visits anymore and Anthony’s grip on reality is unravelling. As we experience the ebb and flow of his memory, how much of his own identity and past can Anthony cling to? How does Anne cope as she grieves the loss of her father, while he still lives and breathes before her? The film warmly embraces real life, through loving reflection upon the vibrant human condition; heart-breaking and uncompromisingly poignant — a movie that nestles in the truth of our own lives. Hopkins won the Best Actor Oscar. Vitals: Director: Florian Zeller. Stars: Olivia Colman, Anthony Hopkins, Mark Gatiss, Olivia Williams, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Ayesha Dharker, Roman Zeller, Scott Mullins. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 97 min., Drama, US box office gross: $1.707 million, worldwide $4.000 million, Sony. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, Digital. Extras: Deleted scenes, “Homecoming: Making The Father,” “Perception Check: Portrait of The Father.” Read more here. 3 stars

Raya and the Last Dragon

photo for Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the last dragon in order to finally stop the Druun for good. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than dragon magic to save the world — it’s going to take trust as well. Vitals: Director: Don Hall, Carlos Lopez Estrada. Stars: Voices of Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Izaac Wang, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, Jona Xiao, Sandra Oh, Thalia Tran, Lucille Soong, Alan Tudyk, Gordon Ip, Dichen Lachman, Patti Harrison, Jon Park. 2021, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 107 min., Animated Family, US box office gross: $39.977 million, worldwide $112.047 million, Disney. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo with digital code, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo, VOD, Digital. Extras: “Us Again” animated short: An elderly man and his young-at-heart wife rekindle their passion for life on one magical night; “Taste of Raya: Dine along with Kelly Marie Tran and the film’s creative team–virtually–over a Southeast Asian menu inspired by the countries that influenced the film as they discuss their experiences creating the world of Kumandra; “Raya: Bringing it Home” featurette; “Martial Artists” featurette; “We are Kumandra” featurette; “Outtakes”; “Fun Facts & Easter Eggs”; “The Story Behind the Storyboard with co-director John Ripa”; deleted scenes. Read more here. 3 stars

Minari

photo for Minari A tender and sweeping story about what roots us, the film follows a Korean-American family that moves to an Arkansas farm in the 1980s in search of their own American Dream. The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, Minari shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home. Vitals: Director: Lee Isaac Chung. Stars: Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Yuh-jung Youn, Will Patton. 2021, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min., Drama, US box office gross: $2.078 million, worldwide $9.754 million, Lionsgate. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray with digital code, VOD, Digital. Extras: Deleted scenes, “Sowing Seeds: Making Minari,” commentary with writer-director Lee Isaac Chung and actress Yuh-jung Youn. Read more here. 3 stars

The Nest

photo for The Nest Rory (Jude Law), an ambitious entrepreneur and former commodities broker, persuades his American wife, Allison (Carrie Coon), and their children to leave the comforts of suburban America and return to his native England during the 1980s. Sensing an opportunity, Rory rejoins his former firm and leases a centuries-old country manor, with grounds for Allison’s horses and plans to build a stable. Soon the promise of a lucrative new beginning starts to unravel, the couple has to face the unwelcome truths lying beneath the surface of their marriage. Vitals: Director: Sean Durkin. Stars: Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Charlie Shotwell, Oona Roche, Adeel Akhtar, Wendy Crewson, Anne Reid, Michael Culkin. 2020, CC, MPAA rating: R, 107 min., Drama, US box office gross: $.137 million, worldwide $1.042 million, Universal. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, Digital. 2 stars

Supernova

photo for Supernova (2021 — UK) Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci), partners of 20 years, are travelling across England in their old campervan visiting friends, family and places from their past. Following a life-changing diagnosis, their time together has become more important than ever until secret plans test their love like never before. Vitals: Director: Harry Macqueen. Stars: Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, Pippa Haywood, Peter MacQueen, Nina Marlin, Ian Drysdale, Sarah Woodward. 2021, CC, MPAA rating: R, 93 min., Drama, US box office gross: $.241 million, worldwide $.351 million, Bleecker Street/Wolfe Video. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, Digital. 3 stars

This Week’s Best Bets:

“Santa Sangre” (1989) has been hailed as “extraordinary” (The Guardian), “visionary and haunting” (Rolling Stone) and “a grand work of art, full of symbols and imagery that reach beyond language to something primal and original” (AV Club). Now forget everything you have ever seen as the modern masterpiece from director Alejandro Jodorowsky returns like never photo for Santa Sangre Two-Disc Special Edition before, with 8+ hours of archival & all-new special features produced exclusively for this collection. Severin Films is proud to present Jodorowsky’s epic odyssey through ecstasy and anguish, belief and blasphemy, beauty and madness — and the surreal genius behind it all — now featuring a 4K scan from the original negative supervised by the director himself. Also available as a 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo with a CD of the soundtrack. In a two-disc special edition from Severin Films … In “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse” (1948), New York adman Jim Blandings is ready to say goodbye to his cramped city apartment and build, from the ground up, a Connecticut home with room enough for his growing family and dreams. All it will cost him is his time and money…and perhaps his job, marriage, happiness and what’s left of his sanity. Goodbye, Manhattan. Hello, comedy. As Jim, Cary Grant is a flustered poster boy for homeowner anxiety in this gleeful laughfest. Myrna Loy, her voice and line phrasing like musical chimes, plays Jim’s ever-patient wife. Louise Beavers is the sunny housemaid whose enthusiasm for Wham Ham saves Jim’s career bacon. And Melvyn Douglas is the perhaps-too-friendly family friend. “Drop in and see us sometime,” Jim says. Invitation accepted! 1080p HD Master sourced from 4k scan of original nitrate camera negative. In a Blu-ray debut from Warner Archive … photo for Flowers of Shanghai An intoxicating, time-bending experience bathed in the golden glow of oil lamps and wreathed in an opium haze, the gorgeous period reverie “Flowers of Shanghai” (1998 — China) by Hou Hsiao-hsien traces the romantic intrigue, jealousies, and tensions swirling around four late-19-century Shanghai “flower houses,” where the courtesans live confined to a gilded cage, ensconced in opulent splendor but forced to work to buy back their freedom. Among the regular clients is the taciturn Master Wang (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), whose relationship with his longtime mistress (Michiko Hada) is roiled by a perceived act of betrayal. Composed in a languorous procession of entrancing long takes, “Flowers of Shanghai” evokes a vanished world of decadence and cruelty, an insular universe where much of the dramatic action remains tantalizingly offscreen — even as its emotional fallout registers with quiet devastation. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director Hou Hsiao-hsien and director of photography Mark Lee Ping-bing, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … photo for It Happened Tomorrow BLU-RAY DEBUT What would happen if someone could get tomorrow’s newspaper headlines today? The charming period comedy “It Happened Tomorrow” (1944), starring Dick Powell, Linda Darnell, Jack Oakie and Edgar Kennedy. tells the story of a reporter (Powell) who wishes he could scoop his colleagues by knowing about events before they occur. When a mysterious old man gives him the news a day in advance, his life is turned upside down. Racing to prevent a headline predicting his own death, he gets mixed up with a beautiful fortune teller (Darnell) and her overprotective uncle (Oakie). “It Happened Tomorrow” was acclaimed French director René Clair’s (“Beauty of the Devil”) follow up to his equally enchanting “I Married a Witch,” both made during his exile in Hollywood during World War II. Clair’s famous whimsical style is evident in this cautionary tale; be careful — what you wish for might come true. This sparkling black and white film was restored from a 4K scan. In a Blu-ray debut from Cohen Film Collection … Bette Davis and Errol Flynn made “The Private Lives of Elizabeth & Essex” (1939) fascinatingly public, striking sparks in this lavish Technicolor tale of the ill-fated love between the aging Elizabeth I and the dashing Earl of Essex. Thoroughly unglamorous here — eyes and hairline shaved, face painted chalky white — double Academy Award winner Davis exudes such intelligence, energy and ardor that her romance with the decades-younger Essex (Flynn at the peak of his remarkable good looks and athletic verve) is completely believable. Based on Maxwell Anderson’s play “Elizabeth the Queen” and directed by Michael Curtiz, this nominee for five Oscars takes liberties with historical accuracy, but none with dramatic impact. Long may these tempestuous, titled lovers reign! 1080p HD Master sourced from 4k scan of original Technicolor negatives. In a Blu-ray debut from Warner Archive.

From TV to Disc:

“The Alienist: Angel of Darkness” (2020) contains all eight episodes of Season Two of the TNT series. It’s June 1897. A year has passed since Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a pioneer in forensic psychiatry, tracked down the brutal serial killer John Beecham with the help of a team of trusted companions and a revolutionary application of the principles of his discipline. Kreizler and his friends have returned to their former pursuits and tried to forget the horror of the Beecham case. But when the distraught wife of a Spanish diplomat begs Sara’s aid, the team reunites to help find her kidnapped infant daughter. It is a case fraught with danger since Spain and the United States are on the verge of war. In a three-disc DVD, two-disc Blu-ray. From Warner … photo for Beverly Hills 90210: The Ultimate Collection “Beverly Hills 90210: The Ultimate Collection” (1990-2000) is a 74-disc set with all 10 seasons. Includes the debut season of the 2019 series “BH90210.” The iconic series follows siblings Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley) and Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty) as they navigate the treacherous halls of West Beverly High after moving from Minnesota to Beverly Hills. The famous ensemble cast also includes Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth), Donna Martin (Tori Spelling), Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering), David Silver (Brian Austin Green), Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris), and Dylan McKay (Luke Perry). Taking place 19 years after the original series, “BH90210” also features original cast members as heightened, dramatized versions of themselves. From CBS/Paramount … photo for CSI: New York: The Complete Series “CSI: New York: The Complete Series” (2004-2013) is a 55-disc set featuring all nine seasons with 197 episodes. The long-running crime drama follows forensic investigators Mac Taylor (Gary Sinse), Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes), Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo), Aiden Burn (Vanessa Ferlito) and Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper) as they track down evidence to unveil the truth behind numerous crimes in the Big Apple. Guest stars throughout the series include Edward James Olmos, Peter Fonda, John Larroquette, Robert Forster, Cassidy Freeman, Aly Michalka, Scott Lowell, Robbie Amell, Ted Danson, recording artist Josh Groban and more. From CBS/Paramount … “Star Trek: Lower Decks: Season One” (2020) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes. The first animated Star Trek series in almost 50 years. It focuses on the support crew serving on one of Starfleet’s least important ships, the U.S.S. Cerritos, in 2380. Ensigns Beckett Mariner, Brad Boimler, Samanthan Rutherford and D’Vana Tendi have to keep up with their duties and their social lives, while the ship is being rocked by a multitude of sci-fi anomalies. On DVD, Blu-ray, Steelbook, from CBS/Paramount.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

“Cosmic Sin” (2021) is a sci-fi adventure set in the year 2524, four hundred years after humans started colonizing the outer planets. Retired Military General James Ford (Bruce Willis) is called back into service after soldiers on a remote planet are attacked by a hostile alien photo for Cosmic Sin fleet. The threat against the human race escalates into an inevitable interstellar war. General Ford teams up with General Eron Ryle (Frank Grillo) and a team of elite soldiers in a race to stop the imminent attack before it is too late. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Paramount … In “Amityville Poltergeist” (2019), starring Parris Bates, Sydney Winbush, J. Rebecca Morse and Conor Austin, a young man encounters a weekend of horror after taking a housesitting job from an unusually spooky old woman. While interviewing for the housesitting job, the old woman says that she is not scared about anyone getting into the house, she is more afraid about what’s already in the house. As day turns to night, doors start slamming, steps begin to creak, and the ghosts come out to play, or kill. From Breaking Glass Pictures Read more here. … In “Hunted” (2020), starring Lucie Debay, Arieh Worthalter and Ciaran O’Brien, a young woman, Eve, decides to let loose at a local nightclub after work one evening, where she meets a seemingly charming man who invites her back to his place. But Eve quickly realizes she’s being abducted as he knocks her over the head and shoves her into the trunk of his car. As he makes his way to their final destination, they are struck by a wild boar, giving Eve the chance to escape. Now she must find her way out of the nearby woods and flee the big bad wolf before it’s too late. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … “Grizzly” (1976) is 18 feet of gut-crunching, man-eating terror, remastered. Less than a year after the release of Steven Spielberg’s shark blockbuster, director William Girdle and infamous distributor Film Ventures International brazenly unleashed their own ‘Jaws with photo for Grizzly claws’ sensation that would become one of the most successful independent horror films in history. Christopher George, Andrew Prine and Richard Jaeckel star in this trash classic about an 18-foot-tall ursus arctos horribilis on a carnivorous rampage through a state park full of campers, and the ranger, chopper pilot and naturalist who must stop it. “Grizzly” now roars with a 2k scan from the internegative. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Severin Films … In “3 Tickets to Paradise” (2021) Michelle Manhart, Joseph Bell and Jeffrey Bentley, AJ Parker is fresh out of prison with a head full of trouble: she’s wanted by everyone. The cartels have a price on her head, the federales are suspicious of her, and her own government is about to kick her to the dogs. Her last chance is a return trip to a ghost town she knows too well – Paradise, Mexico. Meanwhile, Jake Slaughter knows there’s gold in Paradise, hidden during the Spanish-American War, but needs AJ to show him the way in. The second they cross the Mexican border, the hounds are hunting her down as Jake, AJ, and Chris, AJ’s greedy ex-husband, set off on a wild adventure, full of guns, snakes, bandits, cartels, and treacherous partners. From Indican Pictures … “Day of the Animals” (1977) is the infamous follow-up to “Grizzly,” remastered. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the wilderness, director William Girdler and producer Ed Montoro sought to top their surprise blockbuster “Grizzly” with a bigger budget, larger cast, and even more nature-gone-berserk carnage: When a hole in the Earth’s ozone layer triggers bloodthirsty madness throughout the animal kingdom, all mankind — photo for Day of the Animals particularly a group of tourists on an overnight hike — will become their prey. Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Richard Jaeckel, Michael Ansara, Andrew Stevens and Leslie Nielsen — in his now-legendary pre-“Airplane!” – star in one of the most outrageous offerings the drive-in has ever known, now featuring a 2K scan from the internegative. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Severin Films … In “Son” (2021), starring Andi Matichak, Emile Hirsch and Luke David Blumm, after a mysterious group of individuals breaks into Laura’s home and attempts to abduct her eight-year-old son, David, the two of them flee town in search of safety. But soon after the failed kidnapping, David becomes extremely ill, suffering from increasingly sporadic psychosis and convulsions. Following her maternal instincts to save him, Laura commits unspeakable acts to keep him alive, but soon she must decide how far she is willing to go to save her son. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … “Above Suspicion” (2019), starring Emilia Clarke, Jack Huston and Sophie Lowe, is the chilling true story of a newly married F.B.I. poster-boy assigned to an Appalachian mountain town in Kentucky. There he is drawn into an illicit affair with an impoverished local woman who becomes his star informant. She sees in him her means of escape; instead, it’s a ticket to disaster for both of them. This scandal shook the foundations of the nation’s top law enforcement agency, ending in the first ever conviction of an F.B.I. agent for murder. From Lionsgate.

On the Indie Front:

In “S#!%HOUSE” (2020), starring Cooper Raiff and Dylan Gelula, lonely college freshman Alex (writer-director Raiff) has closed himself off from his peers, who all appear to have this whole “college thing” figured out. But everything changes one night when Alex takes a leap and attends a party at S#!%HOUSE — a legendary party fraternity — where he forges a strong connection with Maggie (Gelula). The next day, she ignores him completely and seems to have forgotten about their amazing night. Desperately clinging to his social breakthrough, Alex pulls out all the stops with one more night at S#!%HOUSE, hoping to rekindle that moment of connection. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC Films.

Foreign Films:

In “Nina Wu” (2021 — Taiwan), starring Wu Ke-Xi, Vivian Sung and Kimi Hsia, after years of toiling in bit parts, aspiring actress Nina Wu (Wu Ke-Xi) finally gets her break as photo for Nina Wuthe female lead in a big-budget espionage thriller. The role, which calls for nudity and explicit sex scenes, is made all the more challenging by the director’s savage belittlements. Hovering on the brink of stardom, Nina’s psychological resolve begins to crack under the pressure. As she clings to her sanity, a traumatic past event begins to resurface. From Film Movement Read more here.

For the Family:

It’s time to celebrate 30 years of adventures, fun, and laughs with the Rugrats. For the first time, fans will be able to enjoy all nine seasons from the Emmy Award-winning show in one giant, 26-disc collection. “Rugrats: The Complete Series” (1991-2006) follows the secret photo for Rugrats: The Complete Series life of babies Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, Kimi, and Dil, plus toddlers Angelica and Susie, as they embark on misguided adventures (in reality and their vivid imaginations) right under the noses of their unsuspecting parents and grandparents. From Nickelodeon/Paramount … In the animated adventure “The Prince’s Voyage” (2019 — Luxembourg/France), when an old monkey prince named Laurent runs aground on an unknown shore, he is found, injured and lost, by 12-year-old Tom. Prince Laurent is then taken in by Tom’s parents, a couple of scientists who were banished from their community because they believe in the existence of other monkey civilizations. With Tom’s help, the Prince discovers a society he knows nothing about, while Tom’s parents decide to use him to prove that their theory was indeed correct. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Shout! Factory.

Special Interest:

“Peace Piece: The Immersive Poems of Mindy Kahn” (2019) is an experiential introduction to the critically acclaimed Shakespeare Prize Award-winning poet Mandy Kahn and the process behind her completely unique style of bringing poetry to life. Filmmaker Courtney Sell, who photo for Peace Piece: The Immersive Poems of Mindy Kahn first encountered Kahn and her work at the Philosophical Research Society where she’s the Artist-in-Residence, spent a year carefully documenting her peace-focused works of immersive poetry, which are performed by casts of actors and opera singers, and often include crowd participation, as well as props like bubbles and beach balls. This unique portrait culminates in selections from her 2019 performance “Gateways to Peace” at the Getty Center museum in Los Angeles, which features large-scale interactive poems that incorporate musical techniques, a site-specific work in the museum’s tram, and a work that occupies the museum’s fountain. Themes of meditation, nature, unity, and, of course, peace heighten a perfect blend of new age gratitude and intentions, playfulness, musicality, and poetry. From Indipix Films.

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 17, 2021  Add comments

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