From the Big Screen:
“Nightcrawler,” “Kill the Messenger,” “Rosewater” and “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” For more information on these and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week’s Highlights:
The Movie Gods have been kind this week, opening up their vaults for a slew of wonderful films that have been newly transferred to DVD and Blu-ray.
The Criterion Collection has on hand this week two lyrical films from both ends of the filmic spectrum: The bittersweet “A Day in the Country” (1936) from Jean Renoir and the frightening “Don’t Look Now” (1973) from Nicolas Roeg. Based on a story by Guy de Maupassant, “A Day in the Country” is a tenderly comic idyll about a city family’s picnic in the French countryside and the romancing of the mother and grown daughter by two local men. Conceived as part of a larger project that was never completed, shot in 1936, and released 10 years later, this warmly humanist vignette ranks among Renoir’s most lyrical films, with a love for nature imbuing its every beautiful frame. New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christi mesmerize as a married couple on an extended trip to Venice following a family tragedy in “Don’t Look Now.” While in that elegantly decaying city, they have a series of inexplicable, terrifying, and increasingly dangerous experiences. A masterpiece from Roeg, “Don’t Look Now,” adapted from a story by Daphne du Maurier, is a brilliantly disturbing tale of the supernatural, as renowned for its innovative editing and haunting cinematography as its explicit eroticism and unforgettable denouement, one of the great endings in horror history. New 4K digital restoration, approved by Roeg, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
From the Cohen Film Collection comes “Syncopation” (1942), director William Dieterle’s long-unseen 1942 musical feature, restored in 2K from one-of-a-kind cinematic extravaganza, “Syncopation” is both a love story about two young musicians and a celebration of some of the greatest popular music of the first half of the 20th century. The romance between a young trumpeter (Jackie Cooper) and a New Orleans-born piano player (Bonita Granville, the silver screen’s original Nancy Drew) serves as the narrative plot line. But the core of the film is its an archival 35mm fine grain master struck by the Library of Congress from the nitrate negative. A celebratory history of “syncopated” music — jazz — tracing it from the turn-of-the-century sounds of ragtime, through Dixieland, the blues, Chicago jazz and the swing era. Musical greats of the day are featured in performance, including Benny Goodman, Harry James, Gene Krupa, Charlie Barnet and many more. Also in the cast are Adolphe Menjou, George Bancroft, Robert Benchley and singers Todd Duncan and Connee Boswell. Putting all of the elements together is prolific golden age director William Dieterle “(The Life of Emile Zola,” “Portrait of Jennie,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”). Formats: DVD, Blu-ray Disc. Extras: Nine short musical films showcasing some of the most iconic performers in jazz history: “Symphony in Black” (1935 w/Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday), “Rhapsody in Black and Blue” (1932, w/Louis Armstrong), “St. Louis Blues” (1929, w/Bessie Smith), “Cab Calloway’s Hi De Ho” (1933), “Bundle of Blues” (1933, w/Duke Ellington), “Hoagy Carmichael” (1939, w/Carmichael and Jack Teagarden), “Artie Shaw’s Class in Swing” (1939, w/Shaw), “Jazz a la Cuba” (1933, w/Don Azpiazu), “Black and Tan Fantasy” (1929, w/Duke Ellington and Fredi Washington). A must have.
Disney has opened its vaults for “101 Dalmatians Diamond Edition” (1961). Pongo, Perdita and their super-adorable puppies are in for thrills, hilarious spills and an epic action-packed adventure when they face off with Cruella De Vil, Disney’s most fabulously outrageous villainess. When Cruella dognaps all of the Dalmatian puppies in London, brave animal heroes launch a daring plan to save all puppies from Cruella’s clutches. With the voices of Rod Taylor, J. Pat O’Malley, Betty Lou Gerson, Martha Wentworth, Ben Wright, Cate Bauer.
The beginning of the 20th century was known as “The Age of Beauty” (La Belle Epoque), a period before the first World War that saw an incredible blossoming of literature and art as well as the birth of the cinema. One of cinema’s first explorations was erotica, and “Forbidden Films From the Age of Beauty: Anthology of Erotic Cinema – The 1900s” (2015) presents some of the earliest film adventures from around the world during 1900-1910, erotica that featured straights, trios, bisexuality and sadomasochistic acts. Wild fantasies range from and include vacuum cleaners, family life, nuns, priests, satanic rituals and school teachers, just to name a few. On DVD only from Risque Cinema.
And, lastly, Scream Factory has put together two new Blu-ray double bill debuts: “Love at First Bite/Once Bitten” and “Vampire’s Kiss/High Spirits.” “Love At First Bite” (1979) stars George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Richard Benjamin, Arte Johnson, Dick Shaw, Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford. “Once Bitten” (1985) stars Jim Carrey, Lauren Hutton, Karen Kopins and Cleavon Little. “Vampire’s Kiss” (1988) stars Nicolas Cage and “High Spirits” (1988) stars Daryl Hannah, Peter O’Toole, Steve Guttenberg, Beverly D’Angelo, Jennifer Tilly, Peter Gallagher and Liam Neeson.
From TV to DVD:
“Batman: The Second Season, Part 1” is a four-disc set with 30 episodes from the 1966 original Batman series. Batman and Robin take on more perilous plots with fiendish foes trying to undo the undaunted heroes. From the torturous King Tut to a straying Catwoman to the provoking Joker, Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) take on a cape-full of calamity. But wait! There are still plenty of Bat-gadgets and plot twists in the race against time and adrenalin laced adventure. With ever-popular guest stars Julie Newmar, Casear Romero and many more. Re-mastered. $29.99 from Warner … “Mama’s Family: The Complete Sixth Season” (1989-90) is the final DVD installment in the “Mama’s” franchise. Across the last 20 episodes, which originally ran from September 1989 to February 1990, fans will be treated to Mama’s swan song, in which she does not go silently into that good night. Instead, in “Mama Fights Back,” she chews out K-RAY radio’s consumer watchdog on the air and promptly gets hired as his replacement. After watching TV detective movies for a week, and hearing that Iola’s mother is missing, Mama dreams she’s a film-noir private eye hired to find her client’s mother in “The Big Nap.” And, in “Bubba’s House Band,” Bubba mistakenly books The Bone Crushers, an all-female heavy metal band, for his college’s homecoming, and it’s up to Mama to rein the hellions in. However, the big news in the show’s final season involves Vint and Naomi: they finally move out of the basement into an RV parked in Mama’s driveway, and after much anticipation, Naomi gives birth to Tiffany Thelma Harper in “Bye Bye – Baby!” From StarVista Entertainment/Time Life … In the most recent season of the high-flying comedy series “Nurse Jackie: Season Six” (2014), Jackie realizes that sobriety is the ultimate cover for getting high, and now she’s saving lives at work, taking care of her kids, and even her boyfriend loves the new her. She’s got everyone fooled, but what goes up must come down. 12 episodes from Lionsgate … “Maison Close: Season One” (2014 — France) is an edgy, provocative and ratings-busting Canal Plus+ series set in a lavish 19th century Parisian bordello. Set in Paris in 1871, right after the suppression of la Commune, a workers’ revolutionary movement that briefly took power, this richly compelling period drama with unmistakably modern sensibilities follows a cast of gorgeous women trapped by circumstances beyond their control in the luxury brothel Paradise. Considered a first class “closed house” reserved for aristocratic or bourgeois clientele and noted for strange and refined practices during a time when prostitution was legalized, Paradise is populated by a fascinating cast of characters, each of whom struggles to find escape and solace in their own way. Hortense (Valerie Karsenti) is the manipulative and, in turn, manipulated mistress of the Paradise who runs her business with iron hand; Vera (Anne Charrier), the star of the bordello, is a beautiful courtesan in her thirties whose career is nearing its end; and Rose (Jemima West), the heroine, is a country ingenue raised by nuns who goes to the Paradise searching for her mother, only to be blackmailed into becoming a prostitute. All eight unrated and uncut 55-minute episodes. Three-disc DVD: $34.95, two-disc Blu-ray: $39.95, from Music Box Films … “Olive Kitteridge” (2014), directed by Lisa Cholodenko and starring Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, Bill Murray, Zoe Kazan and Rosemarie DeWitt, is a literary feast for the eyes. McDormand and Jenkins star in this HBO miniseries drama. Based on Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, this four-part drama tells the story of a seemingly placid New England town wrought with illicit affairs, crime and tragedy, told through the lens of Olive (McDormand), whose wicked wit and harsh demeanor mask a warm but troubled heart and staunch moral center. On DVD and Blu-ray from HBO.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
“Predestination” (2015), starring Ethan Hawke, Noah Taylor, Sarah Snook, Christopher Kirby, Madeleine West and Freya Stafford, is based on the short story “All You Zombies” by Robert A. Heinlein. The well-acted and finely directed sci-fi thriller chronicles the life of a Temporal Agent (Ethan Hawke) sent on an intricate series of time-travel journeys designed to prevent future criminals from committing their crimes. Now, on his final assignment, the Agent must recruit his younger self while pursuing the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time and prevent a devastating attack in which thousands of lives will be lost. The time travel twists are mind-bending but the film could have used some tighter editing — there’s far too much exposition. On DVD, Blu-ray from Sony … “Laggies” (2014), starring Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell, Mark Webber, Ellie Kemper, Jeff Garlin and Gretchen Mol, packs a lot of stars in a very light comedy. In the throes of a quarter-life crisis, Megan (Keira Knightley) panics when her boyfriend proposes; then, taking an opportunity to escape for a week, she hides out in the home of her new friend, 16-year-old Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz), who lives with her world-weary single dad. Naturally love bubbles up. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate … in “The Lookalike” (2014), starring Justin Long, Jerry O’Connell, Gillian Jacobs, Scottie Thompson, John Corbett, Gina Gershon, Steven Bauer, John Savage and Luis Guzman, drug lord William Spinks (Savage) has a curious obsession with a young woman, Sadie Hill, and uses family friends Bobby and Frank (Corbett and O’Connell) to get to her. But when her death jeopardizes a major deal, Bobby and Frank set out to find a replacement — a lookalike (Jacobs) — and the shady plan propels an ex-basketball champion, a deaf beauty, an addict, and an aspiring actress into an unlikely romance and a desperate quest to fool Spinks. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Well Go USA … “In Your Eyes” (2014) is a romance with a supernatural twist. Rebecca (Zoe Kazan), a lonely housewife in New Hampshire, suddenly discovers that she shares a strange connection with Dylan (Michael Stahl-David), a struggling ex-con in New Mexico … they can see through one another’s eyes and experience sensations felt by the other. Though they’ve never met, the two share a unique, unparalleled intimacy by being in each other’s heads and begin a long-distance relationship unlike any other. Also stars Nikki Reed, Jennifer Grey, Steve Howey, Mark Feuerstein. From Anchor Bay … The period film “Brotherhood of Blades” (2014 — China) is set in the late Ming Dynasty, where a young emperor is determined to take down the all-powerful eunuch Wei and purge his supporters. Caught in the midst of the intrigue are three lowly, cash-strapped warriors from the Imperial Assassins, the secret police, who are given the orders to find and kill Wei. Stars Chang Chen, Cecilia Liu, Qing Ye, Nie Yuan. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Well Go USA … In “Frankenstein vs. the Mummy” (2015), starring Ashton Leigh, Brandon DeSpain, Constantin Tripes, Max Rhyser and Robert MacNaughton, Dr. Victor Frankenstein and Egyptologist Naihla Khalil are both professors at a leading medical university. Victor’s latest grisly “experiment” is the re-animated corpse of a sadistic madman and Naihla’s most recent find is the cursed mummy of an evil pharaoh. When the two monsters face-off in an epic showdown, no one is safe from the slaughter. From Image Entertainment … A young detective is caught in a sadistic game of cat-and-mouse when he is kidnapped and tormented by a masked serial killer and, in order to survive, he must use the wisdom imparted to him by senior detectives on their regular “Poker Night” (2014), starring Ron Perlman, Giancarlo Esposito, Beau Mirchoff, Titus Welliver, Michael Eklund, Ron Eldard and Corey Large. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from XLrator Media … For 10 hours, 10 aging millionaires from around the world are transferred to attractive and healthy younger bodies, to live in a world of temporary rejuvenation, in a game of real thrills, where every hour someone must die in “RPG (aka Real Playing Game)” (2013), starring Rutger Hauer. From ARC Entertainment … When trauma-induced phobias begin to re-emerge in five survivors a year after their horrifying tragedy, they return to the “Fear Clinic,” where a doctor works to cure patients suffering from crippling phobias by placing them inside his invention, which induces and controls hallucinations in “Fear Clinic” (2015), starring Robert Englund, Fiona Dourif, Corey Taylor, Angelina Armani and Thomas Dekker. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay … In “The Song” (2014), starring Alan Powell, Ali Faulkner, Caitlin Nicol-Thomas and Danny Vinson, an aspiring singer-songwriter’s life and marriage suffer when the song he writes for his wife propels him to stardom. Inspired by the Song of Solomon. From Sony … One rule of real estate that buyers and sellers ignore at their peril: Ghosts don’t move out. A broken family moves into the home of a recently deceased relative and strives to stay together while a curse and the ghosts of a haunted house try to tear them apart in “Foreclosure” (2014), starring Michael Imperioli, David Costabile, Wendell Pierce, Spencer List and Matt Servitto. From Virgil Films … “Addicted” (2014), starring Sharon Leal, Boris Kodjoe, Kat Graham, Tyson Beckford and Tasha Smith, is a sexy thriller about desire and the dangers of indiscretion. Successful businesswoman Zoe Reynard (Sharon Leal) appears to have attained it all – the dream husband she loves (Boris Kodjoe), two wonderful children and a flourishing career. As perfect as everything appears from the outside, Zoe is still drawn to temptations she cannot escape or resist, and she finds herself risking it all when she heads down a perilous path of indiscretion. Based on the best-selling novel by Zane. From Lionsgate.
“Vandal” (2013 — France), starring Zinedine Benchenine, Chloe Lecerf, Emile Berling and Jean-Marc Barr, is the story of a wayward young man who comes of age in the world of graffiti art. Like the stolen car he is driving in circles, Cherif’s life is going nowhere in a hurry. When he is arrested for the umpteenth time, Cherif’s exasperated mother strikes a last-chance deal with a judge to send the troubled juvenile to live quietly with his aunt and uncle and attend vocational school. Cherif’s earnest attempt to go straight is sending him directly to the doldrums, until he discovers that his even straighter-laced cousin Thomas is actually part of a local gang of taggers, who roam the night bombing walls and overpasses in the shadow of a mysterious tagger whose death-defying works have made him a legend. From First Run Features.
For the Family:
- “Chuggington: Turbo Charged Chugger” (2014): Six turbo-charged train episodes. The trainees are taking their responsibilities to a whole new level when Wilson and the Chug Patrollers attempt a daring bridge rescue, Brewster helps the Chuggineers build a new station, Koko tries to break her Chug-A-Sonic record, the Speed Fleet competes in the Track Dash, and everybody learns how to use the Piggy-Back Wagon. $14.98 from Anchor Bay.
- “Digimon Fusion” (2013-14): The anime franchise continues with the sixth and all-new installment currently airing on Nickelodeon and Nicktoons. Seventh grader Mikey Kudo is transported into the Digital World along with his two best friends and they’re charged with saving the Digimon against annihilation, leading Fusion Fighters against the evil Bagra Army. Six-disc set with 30 episodes, $44.99. From Cinedigm.
- “Digimon Tamers Volume 1” (2001): A new generation of Digidestined take over protecting the Digital World from evil Digimon. Through a new gadget called the D-Arc, Takato and his friends can draw Digimon and make them come to life with one swipe through the D-Arc. After creating new Digimon, Takato and his friends battle constant evil, finally defeating the last major threat. They all return to the Real World only to find another portal to the Digital World in jeopardy. Three-disc set, $19.99 from Cinedigm.
- “Dorothy in the Land of Oz” (1980): With her beloved aunt and uncle preparing to move away, Dorothy’s carried back to Oz where she meets Jack Pumpkinhead, the Hungry Tiger, Tik-Tok and others before facing off against Tyrone the Terrible Toy Tinker. Animated, $9.99 form CBS/Paramount.
- “Family Classics: The Easter Promise/Addie and the King of Hearts”: Two TV movies about the Mills family living in 1940s Nebraska. In “The Easter Promise” (1975), Addie befriends a famous actress and encourages her to give back to the community by hosting a school fashion show. In “Addie and the King of Hearts” (1976), Addie becomes jealous when her father starts to woo a beautician. Stars Jason Robards, Lisa Lucas. $19.99 from CBS/Paramount.
- “Greatest Heroes of the Bible: Volumes One, Two and Three”: Volume One includes The Ten Commandments, The Story of Noah, David & Goliath, Samson and Delilah; Volume Two includes The Story of Moses, The Story of Esther, Joshua and Jericho, Abraham’s Sacrifice; Volume 3 includes Tower of Babel, Jacob’s Challenge, Sodom and Gomorrah, Joseph in Egypt. Animated, $14.99 each from CBS/Paramount.
- “Peter & The Magic Egg” (1983): Peter’s family farm is in danger of being repossessed by the greedy Tobias Tin Whiskers; with no money to save the home, Peter meets the Easter Bunny and joins with him to save the farm and the holiday. Animated, $9.99 from CBS/Paramount.
- “Power Rangers Super Megaforce: The Silver Warrior” (2015): The next chapter in the boys live-action franchise. As the fight against evil Prince Vekar’s alien Armada gets tougher, the Power Rangers Super Megaforce (Troy, Noah, Emma, Gia and Jake) find themselves receiving help from the Legendary Samurai and Jungle Fury Red Rangers. The odds are further evened when the Rangers are joined by an unexpected new ally from another planet — Orion, the all-new Silver Ranger. From Lionsgate.
- “Puff the Magic Dragon Triple Feature” (2015): Three animated adventures: “Puff the Magic Dragon,” “Puff the Magic Dragon in the Land of Living Lies,” “Puff and the Incredible Mr. Nobody.” $12.99 from CBS/Paramount.
- “Strawberry Shortcake Double Feature” (2015): “The World of Strawberry Shortcake” and “Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City,” $12.99 from CBS/Paramount.
- “Tarzan” (2015): The classic re-imagined for a new generation in CGI-animation. During an expedition to a remote African jungle, the Greystoke family’s helicopter crashes, leaving one survivor: the young boy J.J., nicknamed Tarzan. Raised by gorillas, Tarzan lives by the laws of the jungle — until he encounters another human being, the courageous and beautiful Jane Porter. For Tarzan and Jane, it-s love at first sight — and the beginning of a thrilling adventure — as Tarzan uses his instincts and intellect to protect his jungle home and the woman he loves. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate.
- “20 Stories for Spring” (2014): Single disc with 20 stories celebrating Spring and Easter, including Max & Ruby, Curious George, Chicken Little, The Red Hen and other favorite characters: “Max’s Chocolate Chicken,” “Chicken Little,” “The Red Hen,” “Reading to Your Bunny,” “Voyage to Bunny Planet,” “Curious George Rides a Bike,” “Bear Wants More,” “Scaredy Squirrel,” “Chicka Chicka 123,” “My Garden,” “Chrysanthemum,” “Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms,” “Goodnight Moon,” “Runaway Ralph,” “Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present,” “And Then It’s Spring,” “Caterpillar and the Polliwog,” “The Most Wonderful Egg in the World,” “Giggle Giggle Quack Quack,” “Dooby Dooby Moo.” $5.97 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures: The Classic Collection.
Ropes, belts, pneumatic devices and clothes pins are put to eye-opening use in the feel-good-through-pain documentary “Kink” (2014), a look at an adult entertainment website devoted to sexual extremes. Director-cinematographer Christina Voros and her frequent collaborator, James Franco, pull back the curtain on the fetish empire of Kink.com, the Internet’s largest producer of BDSM content. Voros and producer Franco go behind the scenes at the San Francisco studios of Kink.com and introduce us to those who work in front of and behind the camera. From Dark Sky Films/MPI Media Group.