From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets
Due this week from The Criterion Collection is a fabulous anthology of documentaries about John F. Kennedy: “The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates.” Seeking to invigorate the American documentary format, which he felt was rote and uninspired, Robert Drew brought the style and vibrancy he had fostered as a Life magazine correspondent to filmmaking in the late fifties. He did this by assembling an amazing team — including such eventual nonfiction luminaries as Richard Leacock (“Louisiana Story”), D. A. Pennebaker (“Don’t Look Back”), and Albert Maysles (“Grey Gardens”) — that would transform documentary cinema. In 1960, the group was granted direct access to John F. Kennedy, filming him on the campaign trail and eventually in the Oval Office. This resulted in three films of remarkable, behind-closed-doors intimacy — “Primary” (1960), “Adventures on the New Frontier” (1961) and “Crisis” (1963) — and, following the president’s assassination, the poetic short “Faces of November” (1964). Collected here are all four of these titles, early exemplars of the movement known as Direct Cinema and featuring the greatest close-up footage we have of this American icon. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 2K digital restorations of all four films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray … two love stories get the Blu-ray treatment this week: “Brief Encounter” (1945), David Lean’s tearjerker about an ultimately doomed love affair between a married doctor (Trevor Howard) and a suburban housewife (Celia Johnson) in fog-enshrouded London, from The Criterion Collection, and “Death Becomes Her” (1992), Robert Zemeckis’ satirical treatise on love, friendship, aging and mortality, starring Goldie Hawn, Bruce Willis, Meryl Streep and Isabella Rossellini, from Scream Factory.
From TV to DVD:
“The Beverly Hillbillies: The Official First Season” (2015) is a five-disc set with all 36 episodes. This special collection not only includes digitally remastered episodes with upgraded picture and sound, but also features the original extended pilot episode. Rarely seen, this episode offers a special glimpse into TV history with an unfamiliar intro to the new series, “The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills,” extended scenes, and staged vignettes featuring as-yet unseen characters destined to become one of America’s most favorite TV families. The debut season follows the Clampetts — Jed (Buddy Ebsen), Granny (Irene Ryan), Elly May (Donna Douglas), and Jethro (Max Baer Jr.) — as they accidentally strike oil on their land and move from their backwoods cabin to a Beverly Hills mansion. On their journey to fulfill their dreams of swimming pools and movie stars, their humorous hillbilly lifestyle clashes with the “city folk” of Beverly Hills. From CBS/Paramount … “A French Village – Season 3” (2010-11 — France) is the blockbuster French drama, starring Audrey Fleurot and Thierry Godard (“Spiral”), that chronicles the impact of World War II on a small village in central France. The German occupation changes the life of the village of Villeneuve forever, and as its residents come under the pressures of war, they make choices that are inspiring and heartbreaking. In this gripping drama, ordinary citizens become patriots, traitors, Nazi employees or activists. Beginning with the Germans’ arrival in June 1940, they endure five years of rationing, fighting and betrayals, and strain to keep some semblance of their existence intact. The war shatters all their lives, but a few of them, even in the shadow of destruction, reach out to find fleeting moments of connection and love. Four-disc DVD, $39.95 from MHz Home Entertainment … “Hot in Cleveland Season Six” (2014-15) is a three-disc set with all 24 episodes of the final season of the TV Land series that stars Valerie Bertinelli Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and Betty White. From Paramount … “Inspector Rex: Season One: Vienna” (1994-95 — Austria/Germany) There’s a new crime-fighter in town: the international sensation, police dog Inspector Rex. The crime series that became one of the most successful franchises in the world revolves around amazing German Shepherd Rex, with his unerring instinct and phenomenal intelligence. He may have four legs but he puts them all to use: unlatching doors, pushing trolleys, disarming criminals, and even charming the ladies when necessary. After his handler is killed in an explosion, Rex gets paired up with the handsome, recently-divorced Inspector Richard Moser to investigate crimes and clean up the streets of Vienna. Along with Moser’s two-legged partner, Ernst Stockinger, they become the meanest crime-fighting team to hit the streets of Vienna, tracking down a serial teddy bear bomber, an old-lady killer and even Beethoven’s head. Four-disc DVD, $39.95 from MHz Home Entertainment … “19-2, Season 1” (2014) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes of the Canadian series that follows partners in the Montreal Police Department who must put their differences aside as their lives intertwine professionally and personally. Officer Nick Barron (Adrian Holmes) patrols the streets of Montreal with Station 19’s newest squad member, Ben Chartier (Jared Keeso). Back on the job after a shooting incident, guilt-ridden Nick immediately clashes with overzealous Ben. As the wary new partners respond to some of the city’s most violent and bizarre crimes, they learn the high cost of life on the force—both on and off duty. From Acorn Media.