(2021) Seeking an ancient tree with healing abilities, Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) team up for the adventure of a lifetime on Disney’s Jungle Cruise, a rollicking ride down the Amazon. Amidst danger and supernatural forces lurking in the jungle, secrets of the lost tree unfold as their fate – and mankind’s – hangs in the balance.Vitals: Director: Jaume Collet-Serra. Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Edgar Ramírez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, Paul Giamatti, Veronica Falcón. 2021, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 127 min., Action Adventure, US box office gross: $82.266 million, worldwide $154.466 million, Studio. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo with Digital Code, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo, VOD, Digital. Extras: “Jungle Cruise Expedition Mode” allows viewers to climb aboard a ramshackle tramp steamer (or your own couch) to learn fun facts, discover Easter eggs and catch some pop-up trivia throughout the movie; “It’s A Jungle Out There: Making Jungle Cruise”; “Dwayne and Emily: Undoubtedly Funny”; “Creating the Amazon” effects featurette; “Once a Skip, Always a Skip” panel of “Skippers” at the Disneyland Resort as they reminisce about the rewards, challenges and surprises they’ve experienced while helming the world-famous “Jungle Cruise” attraction; outtakes; deleted scenes. Read more here.
(2021) For as long as residents can remember, the housing projects of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green neighborhood were terrorized by a word-of-mouth ghost story about a supernatural killer with a hook for a hand, easily summoned by those daring to repeat his name five times into a mirror. In present day, a decade after the last of the Cabrini towers were torn down, visual artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his partner, gallery director Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris), move into a luxury loft condo in Cabrini, now gentrified beyond recognition and inhabited by upwardly mobile millennials. With Anthony’s painting career on the brink of stalling, a chance encounter with a Cabrini-Green old-timer (Colman Domingo) exposes Anthony to the tragically horrific nature of the true story behind Candyman. Anxious to maintain his status in the Chicago art world, Anthony begins to explore these macabre details in his studio as fresh grist for paintings, unknowingly opening a door to a complex past that unravels his own sanity and unleashes a terrifying wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with destiny. Sequel to the 1992 “Candyman.” Vitals: Director: Nia DaCosta. Stars: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Colman Domingo, Tony Todd, Vanessa Estelle Williams. 2021, CC, MPAA rating: R, 91 min., Drama, US box office gross: $61.045 million, worldwide $77.270 million, Universal. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Code, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo + Digital Code, VOD, Digital. Extras: Alternate ending; deleted and extended scenes; “Say My Name” featurette; “Body Horror” featurette with director Nia DaCosta on the subgenre of body horror; “The Filmmaker’s Eye: Nia Dacosta” featurette; “Painting Chaos” behind-the-scenes featurette; “The Art Of Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe” featurette on the film’s composer; “Terror in the Shadows” behind-the-scenes look at how the analogue shadow puppetry scenes were created; “Candyman: The Impact of Black Horror” roundtable discussion moderated by Colman Domingo about the nuanced relationship Black Americans have with “Candyman,” the horror genre and the overall idea of monsters and victims. Read more here
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
(2021) An intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. In the 1970s and 80s, Tammy Faye and her husband, Jim Bakker, rose from humble beginnings to create the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and theme park, and were revered for their message of love, acceptance and prosperity. Tammy Faye was legendary for her indelible eyelashes, her idiosyncratic singing, and her eagerness to embrace people from all walks of life. However, it wasn’t long before financial improprieties, scheming rivals, and scandal toppled their carefully constructed empire. Vitals: Director: Michael Showalter. Stars: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Vincent D’Onofrio, Cherry Jones, Sam Jaeger. 2021, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 126 min., Drama, US box office gross: $2.400 million, worldwide $2.400 million, Fox. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, Digital. Extras: “A Look Inside The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
Read more here
(2021) Jennifer Vogel’s father John taught her so much about love and joy, but he also happened to be the most notorious counterfeiter in US history. An intimate family portrait of a young woman who struggles to rise above the wreckage of her past while reconciling the inescapable bond between a daughter and her father. Vitals: Director: Sean Penn. Stars: Dylan Penn, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Norbert Leo Butz, Dale Dickey, Eddie Marsan, Bailey Noble, Hopper Jack Penn, Katheryn Winnick. 2021, CC, MPAA rating: R, 109 min., Drama, US box office gross: $.424 million, worldwide $.657 million, MGM. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, Digital.
This Week’s Best Bets:
A perky high-schooler takes on the mob in “Sailor Suit And Machine Gun” (1981 — Japan), a one-of-a-kind genre-bender that riffs on the yakuza film, coming-of-age drama and “idol movie,” inventively adapted from Jiro Akagawa’s popular novel by director Shinji Somai, a massively influential figure in Japanese cinema whose work has been little seen outside his homeland. Hoshi Izumi is a young innocent forced to grow up quickly when her father dies and she finds herself next in line as the boss of a moribund yakuza clan. Wrenched from the security of her classroom and thrust into the heart of the criminal underworld, she must come to terms with the fact that her actions hold the key to the life or death of the men under her command as they come under fire from rival gangs. Presented in both its original theatrical and longer complete versions, and the first time one of Somai’s films has been released on home video in the West, this landmark work from his early career was responsible for launching teen talent Hiroko Yakushimaru as the iconic face of a generation, with the catchy theme song she performs indelibly etched into the zeitgeist of early-1980s Japan. High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of the original theatrical version and the 1982 complete version (kanpeki-ban) re-issue of the film, restored by Kadokawa Pictures from a 4K scan of the original negative. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … Master filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa (“Pulse,” “Cure,” “Tokyo Sonata”) won the Silver Lion (Best Director) at the Venice Film Festival for “Wife of a Spy” (2021 — Japan), a riveting, gorgeously crafted, old-school Hitchcockian thriller shot in stunning 8K. The year is 1940 in Kobe, on the eve of the outbreak of World War II. Local merchant and amateur filmmaker Yusaku (Issey Takahashi) senses that things are headed in an unsettling direction. Following a trip to Manchuria, he becomes determined to bring to light the things he witnessed there, and secretly filmed. Meanwhile, his wife Satoko (Yû Aoi) receives a visit from her childhood friend, now a military policeman. He warns her about Yusaku’s seditious ways and reveals that a woman her husband brought back from his trip has died. Satoko confronts Yusaku, but when she discovers his true intentions, she is torn between loyalty to her husband, the life they have built, and the country they call home. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber … There’s new Blu-ray versions of several classic films due this week: “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers, in a 75th anniversary collectible, limited-edition two-disc Blu-ray set with a beautifully colorized version of the film in high definition as well as the original, digitally remastered black-and-white movie in high definition, and access to a digital copy of the film. Perfect for gift-giving, the set also includes 10 collectible recipe cards from Insight Editions’ “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Official Bailey Family Cookbook” with cuisine inspired by the film. Additionally, the set includes over 45 minutes of previously released bonus content exploring the meticulous process of preserving and revitalizing this iconic masterpiece, a look at the movie’s extraordinary sound, music, cinematography and visual effects, and vintage footage from the film’s wrap party, from Paramount … “Ragtime” (1981), based on E.L. Doctorow’s best-selling novel of the same name, tells an unforgettable story of disparate characters in New York City in the early 1900s. From the emerging New York suburb of New Rochelle to the flashy spectacle of Atlantic City, a family faces racial tensions, scandals, and violence that will test everything they believe in. With music by Randy Newman, the film features a spectacular cast including James Cagney, Brad Dourif, Moses Gunn, Elizabeth McGovern, Kenneth McMillan, Pat O’Brien, Donald O’Connor, James Olson, Mandy Patinkin, Howard E. Rollins, Jr., Mary Steenburgen, Debbie Allen, Jeff Daniels, Fran Drescher, Samuel L. Jackson, Norman Mailer, John Ratzenberger. 40th anniversary Blu-ray edition of director Milos Forman’s film has been remastered from a 4K film transfer and is presented in collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments. Includes a newly discovered director’s cut workprint version of the film (along with the theatrical version), deleted and extended scenes, a look back with Larry Karaszewski and screenwriter Michael Weller, commentary by Forman, and executive producer Michael Hausmanaccess to a Digital copy of the theatrical version. From Paramount Presents … From Warner Archive comes the Blu-ray debut of “National Velvet” (1945), starring Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Donald Crisp, Angela Lansbury and Anne Revere. In her star-making role, Taylor plays Velvet Brown, a wide-eyed adolescent who, assisted by her jockey pal (Rooney), trains Pie, a horse she won in a raffle, for the Grand National Steeplechase. Of course, no girl can ride in the National, can she? Yet Velvet, posing as a boy, assuredly does. M-G-M was so impressed with their young new star’s work on the film, that the studio gave Pie to Miss Taylor after filming completed … “Some Came Running” (1958), directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine and Martha Hyer, also makes its Blu-ray debut this week. After a round of partying he can’t remember, World War II veteran Dave Hirsh is placed on a bus headed for the last place he’d choose Parkman, Indiana, the hometown Hirsh hasn’t seen in well over decade. Frank Sinatra plays Hirsh, whose arrival in Parkman brings small-town hypocrisy to the unforgiving light of day in this character-driven tale based on a novel by James Jones (whose “From Here to Eternity” led to Sinatra’s 1953 Oscar). In his first screen pairing with Sinatra, Dean Martin plays a sharp-witted card sharp. And Shirley MacLaine earned one of the movie’s five Academy Award nominations as the good-hearted floozy with a potentially fatal attraction to Hirsh … Nicholas Meyer’s “The Deceivers” (1988) makes its Blu-ray debut via the Cohen Film Collection in a new digital restoration of this Merchant Ivory classic. “The Deceivers,” starring stars Pierce Brosnan, Shashi Kapoor, Saeed Jaffrey and Helena Mitchell, is adapted from the John Masters novel, set in India in 1825, which depicts the exploits of William Savage (based on William Sleeman of the Indian Political Service), who disguises himself as an Indian in order to expose and destroy a secret cult whose members, the infamous Thugees, ritually murdered and robbed travelers in the name of the goddess Kali. Merchant had read the novel years before, been struck by it, and later decided to film it. The movie was slow in getting into production, however, and once into that stage presented such an array of problems as to stagger even Merchant. An entire book, “Hullabaloo in Old Jeypore: The Making of The Deceivers,”, was needed for Merchant to set down all that occurred … “Once Upon A Time In China: The Complete Films” is one of the pinnacles of Hong Kong cinema’s 1990s golden age; the series set a new standard for martial-arts spectacle and launched action star Jet Li to international fame. It brings to vivid life the colorful world of China in the late 19th century, an era of immense cultural and technological change, as Western imperialism clashed with tradition and public order was upended by the threats of foreign espionage and rising nationalism. Against this turbulent backdrop, one man — the real-life martial-arts master, physician, and folk hero Wong Fei-hung — emerges as a noble protector of Chinese values as the country hurtles toward modernity. Conceived by Hong Kong New Wave leader Tsui Hark, this epic cycle is not only a dazzling showcase for some of the most astonishing action set pieces ever committed to film but also a rousing celebration of Chinese identity, history, and culture. The six-Blu-ray special edition collector’s set features 4K digital restorations of “Once Upon a Time in China” (1991), “Once Upon a Time in China II” (1992) and “Once Upon a Time in China III” (1993), and new 2K digital restorations of “Once Upon a Time in China IV” (1993) and “Once Upon a Time in China V” (1993), all presented with their original Cantonese theatrical-release sound mixes in uncompressed monaural or stereo. Alternate stereo Cantonese soundtracks for “Once Upon a Time in China” and “Once Upon a Time in China II,” featuring the original theatrical sound effects, and monaural Cantonese soundtrack for “Once Upon a Time in China III”;” Once Upon a Time in China and America” (1997) in a 2K digital transfer, featuring 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio and monaural Cantonese soundtracks, along with a stereo Mandarin track with the voice of actor Jet Li. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
From TV to Disc:
“Future Boy Conan: The Complete Series” (1978 — Japan) is a four-disc Blu-ray set containing all 26 episodes of the show as well as an exclusive 16-page booklet featuring character artwork. The directorial debut of acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki, released for the first time in North America, featuring a new 4K restoration and English language Dub. Twenty years ago, a terrible war fought with magnetic weapons caused the earth’s axis to tilt, and earthquakes and tidal waves destroyed civilization. Conan is born into this new world, raised by his adopted grandfather on an isolated island. But his life is forever changed when a mysterious girl named Lana washes ashore, pursued by shadowy operatives who seek to use her in a new scheme to control what’s left of the world. On Blu-ray from GKIDS/Shout! Factory … “Hinterland: Complete Collection” (2013-16) is a seven-disc set with 12 episodes. Weighed down by grief and guilt, DCI Tom Mathias comes to coastal Aberystwyth after a decade on the London police force. Escaping recent hurts and long-simmering trauma, he’s on a journey of recovery, healing himself by bringing justice to others. But the beautiful seaside vistas and close-knit mountain villages hide a multitude of sins. Partnered with hardworking local DI Mared Rhys, Mathias confronts mystifying murders that push him to the edge in a place with secrets as dark and destructive as his own. From Acorn Media … “Kevin Can F*** Himself” (2021) is a two-disc set with eight episodes. Allison McRoberts (Annie Murphy) is the prototypical Sitcom Wife married to Kevin, her self-centered husband. When she learns that the perfect future she envisioned is impossible, she teams up with her neighbor Patty as she attempts to escape her confines and take control of her life. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Caveat” (2021), starring Ben Caplan, Jonathan French, Leila Sykes, Inma Pavon and Conor Dwane, a lone drifter, Isaac, suffering from partial memory loss accepts a job from his old landlord to look after his niece Olga, a psychologically troubled woman living in an abandoned house on an isolated island. When Barrett convinces Isaac to confine his movements to the house and leaves the two of them alone, a game of cat and mouse ensues with Isaac fighting to survive amid the terrifying resurgence of his own memory. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … “Cryptozoo” (2021), with the voices of Lake Bell, Michael Cera, Zoe Kazan, Louisa Krause, Angeliki Papoulia, Thomas Jay Ryan, Peter Stormare and Grace Zabriskie, is a fantastical animated feature that follows cryptozookeepers through a richly-drawn hallucinatory world as they struggle to capture a baku, a legendary dream-eating hybrid creature. In the visually stunning animation, the cryptozookeepers soon begin to wonder if they should display these rare beasts in the confines of a zoo, or if these mythical creatures should remain hidden and unknown.On Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment. Read more here … In “Our Ladies” (2021), starring Eve Austin, Tallulah Greive, Abigail Lawrie, Sally Messham, Rona Morison, Marli Siu, Stuart Martin, Jack Greenlees and Kate Dickie, a group of Catholic school girls in 1990s Scotland gets an opportunity to go into Edinburgh for a choir competition, but they’re more interested in drinking, partying and hooking up than winning the competition. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony. Read more here … “Prisoners of the Ghostland” (2021), starring Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Nick Cassavetes, Bill Moseley, Tak Sakaguchi and Yuzuka Nakaya, is set in the treacherous frontier city of Samurai Town, where a ruthless bank robber (Cage) is sprung from jail by wealthy warlord The Governor (Moseley), whose adopted granddaughter Bernice (Boutella) has gone missing. The Governor offers the prisoner his freedom in exchange for retrieving the runaway. Strapped into a leather suit that will self-destruct within three days, the bandit sets off on a journey to find the young woman — and his own path to redemption.On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … In “Never Back Down: Revolt” (2021), starring James Faulkner, Olivia Popica, Gianni Calchetti, Michael Bisping, Neetu Chandra, Raffaello Degruttola and Hannah Al Rashid, when an amateur fighter is unwilling to throw a fight, his sister Anya (Popica) must travel to Rome and fight for an elite audience to help pay back her brother’s debt to crime boss, Julian (Faulkner). When she arrives, she’s taken by the merciless Janek (Bisping) and quickly realizes she is among many women who have been abducted and forced to fight for a deadly trafficking syndicate. Anya’s only options are to surrender to Janek’s demands or band together with the other women and take down their captors. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony … “Yakuza Princess” (2019), starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Masumi, is set in the expansive Japanese community of Sao Paulo in Brazil — the largest Japanese diaspora in the world. The film follows Akemi (Masumi), an orphan who discovers she is the heiress to half of the Yakuza crime syndicate. Forging an uneasy alliance with an amnesiac stranger (Rhys Meyers) who believes an ancient sword binds their two fates, Akemi must unleash war against the other half of the syndicate who want her dead. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Magnolia Home Entertainment/Magnet Label.
“The Lost Leonardo” (2021), is the inside story behind the Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting ever sold — $450 million. From the moment the painting is bought for $1175 at a shady New Orleans auction house, and the restorer discovers masterful Renaissance brushstrokes under the heavy varnish of its cheap restoration, the Salvator Mundi’s fate is determined by an insatiable quest for fame, money and power. As its price soars, so do questions about its authenticity: is this painting really by Leonardo da Vinci? On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony). Read more here … “The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” (2020) is an HBO documentary that chronicles the triumphs and hurdles of brothers Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb, otherwise known as the Bee Gees. The Bee Gees, who found early fame in the 1960s, went on to write over 1,000 songs, including twenty #1 hits throughout their storied career. The film follows the iconic trio’s meteoric rise as they rode the highs of fame and fortune, negotiated the vagaries of the ever-shifting music business and navigated the complexities of working so intimately alongside family. The critically acclaimed documentary is an intimate exploration of the Gibb story, featuring revealing interviews with oldest brother Barry and archival interviews with the late twin brothers Robin and Maurice. The film features a wealth of never-before-seen archival footage of recording sessions, concert performances, television appearances and home videos, as well as interviews with musicians Eric Clapton, Noel Gallagher, Nick Jonas, Chris Martin, Justin Timberlake, music producer Mark Ronson, singer Lulu, record company executive Bill Oakes, among others. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner.
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.