This Week’s Best Bets
February, 1983. Detectives are called to a residential address in the London suburbs following reports that the drains have been clogged by human remains. One of the property’s residents, Dennis Nilsen – a mild-mannered and unassuming civil servant – is brought in for questioning, leading to the discovery of one of the most shocking and disturbing cases of serial murder ever to rock Britain. Offering a grim and gritty retelling of the story of “Des” Nilsen, often dubbed the “British Jeffery Dahmer,” 1989’s “Cold Light of Day” stars Bob Flag (the face of Big Brother in Michael Radford’s “1984”) as Nilsen-cipher Jorden March, delivering one of the most chilling and credible portrayals of a serial killer ever committed to screen. From writer-director Fhiona-Louise, the film – which picked up the UCCA Venticittà Award at the 1990 Venice International Film Festival – is a hugely underseen and underrated British effort that can stand proudly alongside the likes of “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” as one of the most unflinching true-crime films of all time. Brand new 2K restoration from the original 16mm camera negative approved by director Fhiona-Louise. Limited Edition of 2000 units. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video … “Mr. Topaze (aka I Like Money)” (1961), starring Peter Sellers, Nadia Gray, Herbert Lom, Leo McKern, Billie Whitelaw and Michael Gough, is Peter Sellers’ long lost 1961 directorial debut, newly-restored in 2k from the lone surviving 35mm print, available for the first time ever in North America. Albert Topaze (Sellers), a poor but proud French schoolmaster, loses his job after he refuses to alter the failing grades of one of his students. Seizing the opportunity to exploit his honesty, actress Suzy Courtois (Gray) convinces her lover, the corrupt city council member Castel Benac (Lom), to hire Topaze as a managing director for one of his shady businesses. On> DVD, Blu-ray, from Film Movement … “Waterloo Bridge” (1940) makes its Blu-ray debut this week. Myra and Roy meet and fall in love on Waterloo Bridge during an air raid. Their love will be one of the war’s unspoken casualties. Heartbroken after Roy is reportedly killed in action, Myra turns to prostitution to make her way. The report, however, is false. Roy later returns from a POW camp, eager to begin life anew with his beloved. But Myra’s shattered spirit may no longer hold any room for happiness. Vivien Leigh plays Myra, at once winning and breaking viewers’ hearts in this exquisite melodrama. In a compassionate performance that was his all-time favorite, Robert Taylor is gallant Roy. Under Mervyn LeRoy’s astute direction, they make “Waterloo Bridge” a meeting place for lovers. 1080p master from 4K scan of best surviving nitrate elements. From Warner Archive … A zeitgeist-defining sensation that distilled a global reckoning over class inequality into a tour de force of pop-cinema subversion, Bong Joon Ho’s genre-scrambling black-comic thriller “Parasite” (2019 — South Korea) confirms his status as one of the world’s foremost filmmakers. Two families in Seoul — one barely scraping by in a dank semibasement in a low-lying neighborhood, the other living in luxury in a modern architectural marvel overlooking the city — find themselves on a collision course that will lay bare the dark contradictions of capitalism with shocking ferocity. A bravura showcase for its director’s meticulously constructed set pieces, bolstered by a brilliant ensemble cast and stunning production design, “Parasite” cemented the New Korean Cinema as a full-fledged international force when it swept almost every major prize from Cannes to the Academy Awards, where it made history as the first non-English-language film to win the Oscar for best picture. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital master, approved by director Bong Joon Ho and director of photography Hong Kyung Pyo, with Dolby Atmos soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.
From TV to Disc:
“Black Lightning: The Complete Second Season Blu-Ray Debut” (2018-19): Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is a man of many faces. A former Olympic athlete, respected educator and father of two, he’s also Black Lightning, superpowered protector of Freeland. But Jefferson is not alone. His oldest daughter, Anissa (Nafessa Williams), is a med student, part-time teacher and social activist. She is also the Super Hero known as Thunder, possessing invulnerability and super strength for as long as she can hold her breath. Jefferson’s youngest daughter, Jennifer (China Anne McClain), is a fiery teen who inherited her father’s athletic gifts but not his desire to be an athlete. Jennifer also inherited his powers. Her body generates pure electrical energy, and she possesses the potential to be more powerful than Anissa or Jefferson. Lynn (Christine Adams), Jefferson’s ex-wife, is fast becoming an expert in metahuman medicine. Together, the Pierce family fights the gang known as the One Hundred for the soul of Freeland. On Blu-ray from Warner … “Black Lightning: The Complete Third Season” (2019-20): In this season, Freeland has been plagued by government-sponsored experiments and drug trafficking, creating metahumans and addicts while making Freeland the target of a dangerous foreign power, Markovia. Fortunately, the family still has allies in their fight: former covert superspy Peter Gambi (James Remar) and Jefferson’s neighbor, the scrupulously honest deputy police chief Bill Henderson (Damon Gupton). On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “Bonanza: The Official Eleventh Season, Volumes One and Two” (1965-66) Digitally remastered and restored from the original 35mm elements. One of the longest running and most popular classic Western series, “Bonanza” follows wise patriarch Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene) and his three sons, Adam (Pernell Roberts), Hoss (Dan Blocker) and Little Joe (Michael Landon). Cartwright’s sons all come from different marriages, and they seek life counsel from their father throughout their lives. The Cartwright family runs and defends the Ponderosa, their thousand-square mile ranch above the shores of Lake Tahoe, during and after the Civil War, while helping the surrounding community. Volume 1: Four-disc set with 16 episodes. Volume 2: Three-disc set with 12 episodes. On DVD from CBS/Paramount … “The Comey Rule” (2020), starring Jeff Daniels, Brendan Gleeson, Holly Hunter, Michael Kelly, Jennifer Ehle, Jonathan Banks and Oona Chaplin, follows FBI director James Comey (Daniels) and his relationship with President Donald Trump (Gleeson). This two-part limited series is an immersive, behind-the-headlines account of the historically turbulent events surrounding the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath, which divided a nation. The intense drama is not a biopic of one man, but is instead the story of two powerful figures, Comey and Trump, whose strikingly different personalities, ethics and loyalties put them on a collision course. Based on former FBI director James Comey’s #1 New York Times bestselling book “A Higher Loyalty.” From Showtime/Paramount … “The Flintstones: The Complete Series” (1960-66) is a 10-disc set with all 166 episodes. “The Flintstones” first premiered on ABC in 1960 and became a hit. It was the first animated series to air in primetime on US television and was the first adult-targeted cartoon on TV. At one point, “The Flintstones” was the longest-running series of its genre and was the first animated series to be nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series. On Blu-ray from Warner … “Head of the Class: The Complete Second Season” (1987-88) is a three-disc set with all 22 episodes. Howard Hesseman (“WKRP in Cincinnati”) returns as good-natured substitute teacher Charlie Moore for the sophomore season of this sitcom. Charlie is assigned to the Individualized Honors Program, a very different kind of class. The IHP students are so gifted that their teachers are expected to be glorified babysitters, but the unconventional Charlie upsets the applecart by deciding to actually teach! He guides his charges — classic nerd Arvid, overachiever Maria, debate dynamo Darlene, Indian immigrant Jawaharlal, child prodigy Janice, too-cool-for-school Eric, chemistry whiz Dennis, academic Renaissance woman Sarah, ultraserious Alan and ethereal bibliophile Simone – through academic challenges and real-life problems alike. From Warner.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
“Fatima” (2020), starring Joaquim de Almeida, Goran Višnjic, Stephanie Gil, Alejandra Howard, Jorge Lamelas, Lúcia Moniz, Marco D’Almeida, Joana Ribeiro, Sônia Braga and Harvey Keitel is an historical drama based on the captivating story of one of the Catholic Church’s most fabled places of pilgrimage. In 1917, outside the parish of Fátima, Portugal, a 10-year-old girl and her two younger cousins witness multiple visitations of the Virgin Mary, who tells them that only prayer and suffering will bring an end to WWI. Word of the sighting spreads across the country, inspiring religious pilgrims to flock to the site in hopes of witnessing a miracle. From Universal … “Daughters of Darkness” (1971) gets a 50th Anniversary 4K restoration on a three-disc limited edition 4K UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, soundtrack CD, collectable booklet, reversible sleeve, and 3D lenticular slipcover (first pressing). International screen icon Delphine Seyrig stars as Elizabeth Bathory, an ageless Countess with a beautiful young “companion” (Goth goddess Andrea Rau) and a legendary legacy of perversion. But when the two women seduce a troubled newlywed couple (Danielle Ouimet and John Karlen), they unleash a frenzy of sudden violence and depraved desire that shocked both art house audiences and grindhouse crowds worldwide. Co-written and directed by Harry Kümel, “Daughters of Darkness” remains one of the most exquisitely mesmerizing adult horror films ever made. This is the uncensored Director’s Cut of this classic psychosexual shocker in a gorgeous restoration, scanned in 4K 16-bit from its long-lost original 35mm camera negative, with Dolby Vision HDR and a new Dolby Atmos audio mix. From Blue Underground … From Luigi Cozzi, the writer/director of “Starcrash,” “Contamination” and “Paganini Horror,” comes the over-the-top meta-shocker “The Black Cat” (1989 — Italy), about a production company filming a new sequel to one of the ‘70s Italian horror’s best-known classics and the resurrected supernatural demon that may destroy them all. Caroline Munro, Brett Halsey, Florence Guérin, and Urbano Barberini star in this long-unseen fan favorite, originally released in Italy as “Demons 6.” Transferred in 2k from pristine vault elements for the first time ever. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Severin Films … Shortly after the Ozploitation shocker “Patrick” (1978) became a worldwide hit, director Mario Landi (“Giallo in Venice”) went way beyond ‘unofficial sequel’ or ‘unauthorized remake’ to instead create “Patrick Still Lives” (1980 — Italy), starring Sacha Pitoëff, Gianni Dei and Mariangela Giordano, this “mind-boggling example of Italian exploitation that has to be seen to be believed.” When a young man becomes comatose after a freak accident, his father invites six strangers to a secluded villa for a weekend packed with relentless nudity, outrageous violence, and perhaps the most depraved sex/gore death in all of Italian horror. Scanned uncut from the original negative for the very first time in 40 years. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Severin Films … Greetings Starfighter! You have been recruited by Arrow Video to experience the 1984 sci-fi classic as you’ve never experienced it before! Directed by Nick Castle, the man behind the Michael Myers mask in the original “Halloween,” “The Last Starfighter” (1984) tells the story Alex Rogan (Lance Guest), an arcade game whizz-kid whose wildest dreams comes true when he finds himself enlisted to fight in an interstellar war. Sadly, this featured the last big-screen appearance by the great Robert Preston. Now newly restored from a 4K scan of the original negative and featuring a 4.1 mix originally created for the film’s 70mm release – never included on previous home video formats – “The Last Starfighter” arrives loaded with brand new and archival bonus features. Strap yourself in: the Blu-ray adventure of a lifetime is about to begin! On Blu-ray from Arrow Video … French film legends Alain Delon and Annie Girardot star in “Shock Treatment” (1972 — France), a thriller from writer-director Alain Jessua that became a cause célèbre of international cinema. When a career woman (Girardot) checks into the exclusive seaside clinic of a doctor (Delon), famed for his unorthodox rejuvenation treatments, she discovers a nightmare of bourgeois depravities, medical atrocities, and the eye-popping full-frontal nudity that sparked worldwide headlines. Released in the UK as”Doctor in the Nude” and now scanned uncut in 2k from the original interpositive for its US debut.On DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray Limited Edition, from Severin Films … In “Welcome to the Circle” (2020), starring Matthew MacCaull, Taylor Dianne Robinson and Ben Cotton, a camping misadventure forces a young girl and her father into the realm of a madman worshiping cult known as The Circle. As the pair become trapped in The Circle’s increasingly frightening sphere of indoctrination, a case-hardened professional cult deprogrammer and his two clients attempt to kidnap/reclaim one of group’s members. Grizzly rituals are soon revealed to be part of a terrifying, surreal, alternate reality that has been constructed by the cult’s mysterious, isolated leader. From Artsploitation Films … In “Friendsgiving” (2020), starring Malin Akerman, Kat Dennings, Aisha Tyler, Chelsea Peretti, Wanda Sykes, Christine Taylor, Jane Seymou, Margaret Cho and Fortune Feimster, Abby (Dennings) is looking forward to a laid-back Thanksgiving with her best friend, Molly (Akerman). But the friends’ plans for a quiet turkey dinner go up in smoke when they’re joined by Molly’s new boyfriend and her flamboyant mother (Seymour). Throw in some party crashers including Molly’s old flame, a wannabe shaman, and a trio of Fairy Gay Mothers (Sykes, Cho, Feimster), and it’s a recipe for a chaotic holiday no one will ever forget. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “I’ve waited a whole year to grow claws like these. Jungle Red!” One of film’s greatest lines belongs to a wronged wife who wins back her man with the aid of an aggressive shade of nail polish in “The Opposite Sex” (1956), making its Blu-ray debut this week. First a hit play, then an all-star 1939 (and later, 2008) movie, “The Women” resurfaces here as a musical, complete with an all-star cast, lines dipped in acid wit, big production numbers and fabulous ‘50s couture in scintillating CinemaScope. June Allyson portrays the betrayed woman. Joan Collins is the siren who steals her husband. And Dolores Gray, Ann Sheridan, Ann Miller, Agnes Moorehead, Charlotte Greenwood and Joan Blondell are assorted gal pals (true-blue and envy-green) who convince their demure friend to paint her claws – then use them. From Warner Archive.
On the Indie Front:
Like a David Lynch thriller through a queer lens, Ryder Houston’s “Rapture In Blue” (2020), starring Bryce Lederer, Sarah Greenfield, Tanner Garmon and Ariana Kelly, follows a young man’s quest through flickering neon and hazy noir shadows to find his true self. After Jason tries to use his childhood home for a steamy rendezvous with his girlfriend Valerie, they discover it’s newly occupied by the smoldering Sebastian who eagerly warms up to anxious Jason. Wracked with desires he’s long tried to ignore while also being pressured by his girlfriend’s sensual advances, a growing sense of unease and dread permeates his life. After receiving an “impossible” photo of him embracing Sebastian, Jason realizes he needs to confront the madness consuming him from all sides. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Altered Innocence.
In “The President” (2013 — Georgia), director Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s modern fable about power, reconciliation and the never-ending hope for freedom and democracy, a dictator of an imaginary country in the Caucasus is forced to escape following a coup d’état, and begins a journey to discover his country in the company of his five-year-old grandson. The two travel across the lands that the president once governed. Now, disguised as a street musician to avoid being recognized, the former dictator comes into contact with his people, which he comes to know from a different point of view. From Corinth Films … Set in the fake news era of present-day St. Petersburg, “Three Comrades” (2020 — Russia) is a politically incorrect drama about three mid-level sales managers, twenty-somethings, socializing after hours. Friday night bar-hopping gives way to a range of contemporary topics, from the inhumanity of capitalism to sexism. Only one comrade will survive — the romantic, the cynic, or the indifferent? What was supposed to be an uneventful night out soon enough turns into an unexpected and, sometimes, violent adventure. From Indiepix Films.
For the Family:
In “My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising” (2020), the number one hero anime is back for a battle beyond anything fans have ever seen. Class 1-A visits Nabu Island where they finally get to do some real hero work. The place is so peaceful that it’s more like a vacation … until they’re attacked by a villain with an unfathomable Quirk. His power is eerily familiar, and it looks like Shigaraki had a hand in the plan. But with All Might retired and citizens’ lives on the line, there’s no time for questions. Deku and his friends are the next generation of heroes, and they’re the island’s only hope. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Funimation … “Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale Special Edition” (2007) is the story of Jerry Mouse, a devoted fan of “The Nutcracker,” who is magically transported into his own version of the classical ballet one Christmas Eve. The animated film is inspired by classic Tom and Jerry cartoon shorts that were originally created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. It is a new take on the world-famous holiday ballet about a little girl who goes to the Land of Sweets on Christmas Eve with her favorite gift, a toy nutcracker, which ultimately transforms into a handsome prince. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “Garfield: Garfield & Friends, Season 3” (1990) is a two-disc set with all 18 episodes of the animated series based on the beloved newspaper cartoon created by Jim Davis. These episodes all center around the world’s most lovable (and grumpy) feline Garfield, his owner Jon Arbuckle, and his canine pal Odie ss they get into trouble and learn valuable lessons. Garfield becomes a stowaway after Jon goes on a cruise in “Ship Shape,” Garfield hosts a televised debate on “why cats are better than dogs” in “The Great Debate,” and much more. The set also includes the episode shorts from U.S. Acres, based on another comic strip from Jim Davis, which stars a group of barnyard animals. From PBS Distribution … In “Ben 10 vs. The Universe: The Movie” (2020), Ben Tennyson is back on the alien-fighting scene, and expanding to take on the universe. The action-packed animated movie, which will air globally first on Cartoon Network, focuses around a blast from Ben’s past returning to do double the damage on Team Tennyson and planet Earth itself, forcing Ben to go interstellar to save the day. Meanwhile, Gwen and Grandpa Max team up to help protect the world in Ben’s absence. But when Ben is confused for the villain in space, he must figure out a way to get back to Earth to help save it. From Warner.
The “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets” (2020) genre-bending docudrama focuses on a Las Vegas dive bar named “The Roaring 20s” as it prepares to close its doors forever. Its longtime bartenders and patrons come together for one last night of alcohol-charged camaraderie, commemoration and consolation as they contemplate their place in a fracturing and downcast late-2016 America. It’s a mosaic of disparate lives, teetering between dignity and debauchery, reckoning with the past as they face an uncertain future, and singing as their ship goes down. On Blu-ray, from Giant Pictures.
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.