"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Apr 292019

From the Big Screen:

“Miss Bala,” “Serenity” and “Arctic.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets

“Police Story/Police Story 2” (1985/1988 — Hong Kong): The jaw-dropping set pieces fly fast and furious in these breathtakingly inventive action comedies, two smash hits that made Jackie Chan a worldwide icon of daredevil spectacle. The director/star/one-man stunt machine photo for Police Story/Police Story 2 plays Ka-Kui, a Hong Kong police inspector whose methods are, ahem, unorthodox; the phenomenal Maggie Cheung, in a star-making role, plays his much-put-upon girlfriend, May. Packed wall-to-wall with astoundingly acrobatic fight choreography, epic explosions, charmingly goofball slapstick, and awesomely 1980s electro soundtracks, “Police Story” and “Police Story 2” set a new standard for rock-’em-sock-’em mayhem that established Chan as a performer of unparalleled grace and daring and would influence a generation of filmmakers, from Hong Kong to Hollywood. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restorations of both films, with alternate 5.1 surround and English-dubbed soundtracks for both films. From The Criterion Collection … photo for Khrustalyov, My Car! [Limited Edition] “Khrustalyov, My Car! [Limited Edition]” (1998 — Russia): Named after the apocryphal exclamation of Soviet security chief Lavrentiy Beria as he rushed to Stalin’s deathbed, this blackly funny, deliriously immersive satire distils the anticipation and anxiety in the Moscow air as the Soviet despot lay dying. Late winter 1953. The lives of nearly half the planet are in Stalin’s hands. A military surgeon, General Yuri Georgievich Klensky (Yuri Tsurilo), finds himself a target of the “Doctors’ Plot”: the anti-Semitic conspiracy accusing Jewish doctors in Moscow of planning to assassinate the Soviet elite. Pursued, abused, and marked for the gulags, Yuri is chased and dragged through a Stalinist Soviet nightmare. His desperate, jolting journey encapsulates the madness of the era. Directed by Aleksei German (“Hard to Be a God”), “Khrustalyov, My Car!” proved wildly provocative when it was screened at the 1998 Cannes film festival, despite being championed as the best film of the festival by the president of the Cannes jury that year, Martin Scorsese. A one-of-a-kind collision of nightmare and realism, German’s film is presented here in a new 2K restoration from the original camera negative.On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … photo for My Brilliant Career “My Brilliant Career” (1979 — Australia): For her award-winning breakthrough film, director Gillian Armstrong drew on teenage author Miles Franklin’s novel, a celebrated turn-of-the-twentieth-century Australian coming-of-age story, to brashly upend the conventions of period romance. Headstrong young Sybylla Melvyn (Judy Davis, in a star-making performance), bemoans her stifling life in the backcountry, where her writerly ambitions receive little encouragement, and craves independence above all else. When a handsome landowner (Sam Neill), disarmed by her unruly charms, begins to court her, Sybylla must decide whether she can reconcile the prospect of marriage with the illustrious life’s work she has imagined for herself. Suffused with generous humor and a youthful appetite for experience, My Brilliant Career is a luminous portrait of an ardently free spirit. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 2K digital restoration, approved by director Gillian Armstrong, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

From TV to Disc:

“Finding Joy” (2018) is a single disc with all six episodes of the Acorn TV Original Irish comedy created by, written by and starring beloved Irish actress and IFTA Award winner Amy Huberman (“Striking Out,” “The Clinic”). The Irish comedy follows a single woman, Joy (Huberman), after a painful breakup, who looks for happiness in all the wrong places. Joy is having a tough time after a messy breakup with her live-in boyfriend, Aidan. Then a promotion forces her to step out of her comfort zone as she replaces her network’s star vlogger, the Happy Hunter. The job sends Joy to unusual places where people find bliss: wrestling matches, wellness retreats, hot yoga, and more, all while filming her discomfort. But despite the new gig and help from her free-spirited roommate, Joy can’t seem to get over Aidan, or even stop running into him and his beautiful new girlfriend. Will Joy be able to accept the changes in her life and find happiness of her own? From Acorn Media … “Wire in the Blood: The Complete Collection” (2002 -09) is a 13-disc set with all 23 episodes of the Edgar Award-winning British mystery series. Possessing an uncanny insight into criminal behavior, Dr. Tony Hill (Robson Green) is called upon to assist the police in building profiles of serial killers in Northern England. His unorthodox methods and off-putting personality alienate people at first, but he soon proves to be a considerable asset to the force. Along with his colleagues, DI Carol Jordan (Hermione Norris) and, later, DI Alex Fielding (Simone Lahbib), Tony investigates the atrocious crimes committed by psychopaths, serial killers, and other deviants. From Acorn Media.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Dragged Across Concrete” (2018), starring Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles, Jennifer Carpenter, Michael Jai White, Don Johnson and Udo Kier, two hard-boiled veteran cops attempt to hijack a bank heist after they’re suspended after a video of their strong-arm tactics is leaked to the media. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Lionsgate … “Mission of Honor” (2018 — UK/Poland), starring Iwan Rheon, Milo Gibson, Stefanie Martini, Krystof Hádek and Marcin Dorocinski, is the story of Squadron 303, a group of heroic pilots who fought in the skies over England in the Battle of Britain during WWII. These brave men were not just fighting to keep Great Britain free from the Nazis, but also to keep alive the memories of their own countries; which had been caught in the crossfire as Germany tore across Eastern Europe. Equipped with nothing more than obsolete RAF planes and second-hand uniforms, they flew for all of those who had become casualties. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Cinedigm … photo for Living Dark Based on the internationally popular “Ted the Caver” Internet legend, the horror-thriller “Living Dark” (2013), starring Chris Cleveland, Matthew Alan and Mark Hayter, tells the story of two estranged brothers reunited for their father’s funeral. Attempting reconciliation, the brothers stumble upon the sealed entrance to a cave, and are slowly forced to confront the true, nightmarish cause of their father’s death. From Monarch Home Entertainment … In “Level 16” (2018), starring Katie Douglas, Celina Martin, Sara Canning and Peter Outerbridge, 16-year-old Vivien is trapped in The Vestalis Academy, a prison-like boarding school, keeping to herself and sticking her neck out for no one. Until she is reunited with Sophia — the former friend who betrayed her. Together the girls embark on a dangerous search to uncover the horrifying truth behind their imprisonment. Soon running for their lives, the girls must save themselves or die trying. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Dark Sky Films … Suspense, terror, and the supernatural meet when Sarah and her young son Chris move to a new home in the Irish countryside in “The Hole in the Ground “ (2018), starring Seána photo for The Brain Kerslake, James Cosmo and James Quinn Markey. One night, Chris vanishes; when he reappears, he seems unharmed and unchanged. But as Chris’s behavior grows increasingly disturbing, Sarah fears the boy who has returned may not be her son. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “The Brain” (1988), starring Tom Bresnahan, Cynthia Preston and David Gale, makes its Blu-ray debut this week. Imagine a pulsating mass of grey matter, exploding in size and strength as it takes control of human minds and devours human bodies. It could never happen, right? Just watch Independent Thinking, starring Dr. Anthony Blakely, a hot new TV program. But as the show’s ratings continue to soar, so does the suicide and murder rate among its viewers. What they don’t know is that Dr. Blake has teamed with an alien brain and plans to gain control of all humanity. New 4K scan of the original negative. From Shout! Factory/Scream Factory … Also making its Blu-ray debut this week is photo for Tarantula BLU-RAY DEBUT “Tarantula” (1955). Biochemist Gerald Deemer (Leo G. Carroll) has a plan to feed the world by using a special growth formula on plants and animals. Instead he creates terror beyond imagining when his work spawns a spider of mammoth proportions. Feeding on cattle and humans, this towering tarantula has the people of Desert Rock, Arizona running for their lives. Can this horrifying creature be stopped, or will the world succumb to this oversized arachnid? This classic sci-fi film from director Jack Arnold (“Creature From the Black Lagoon,” “It Came From Outer Space”) stars John Agar and Mara Corday and features a cameo by Clint Eastwood as a jet squadron leader. New 2K scan of the original film elements. From Shout! Factory/Scream Factory.

Foreign Films:

In “Marilyn” (2018 — Argentina), starring Walter Rodríguez, Catalina Saavedra and Germán de Silva, Marcos, a 17-year-old farm worker, discovers his sexuality in a hostile environment. Nicknamed Marilyn by other teenagers in town, he becomes the target both of human desire and discrimination. While his father photo for Moscow Never Sleeps and brother handle the heavier tasks, Marcos stays home close to his mother. Each one has their future laid out before them, but Marcos is just waiting for the arrival of Carnival, the one moment when he can let his true self out to shine and show everyone just the way he feels inside.From Breaking Glass Pictures … “Moscow Never Sleeps” (2017 — Russia), starring Anastasiya Shalonko, Yuriy Stoyanov and Aleksey Serebryakov, is a multi-narrative drama about the hidden bonds that connects people: the volatile intersections of contemporary Moscow and the intimate lives of five people: An ENTREPRENEUR whose business empire comes under siege by powerful bureaucrats, a TEENAGE GIRL mired in the misery of a broken home, A YOUNG MAN forced to choose between his girlfriend and his grandmother, a beautiful SINGER torn apart by the pursuit of two men, and an ailing FILM STAR who gets embroiled in a bizarre kidnapping. Over the course of one day, their lives will change forever. These stories weave through Moscow’s choked cityscape as it celebrates its birthday with a massive fireworks display. From IndiCan Pictures.

Special Interest:

“The Dr. Andrew Weil Collection” (1996-2007): Two-disc set gathers five of Dr. Weil’s landmark programs on health and nutrition in one essential DVD set. For decades Dr. Weil has been one of integrative medicine’s most authoritative voices, and these shows are pivotal to learning his approach to healthy living. It features his eight-week program to maximize the potential of your mind and body (“8 Weeks to Optimum Health”), how to discover and enhance your body’s natural ability to maintain and heal itself (“Spontaneous Healing”), how to make the best dietary choices (“Eating Well for Optimum Health”), tips for growing old gracefully (“Dr. Andrew Weil’s Healthy Aging”), and what makes up an ideal diet for long-term health (“Dr. Andrew Weil’s Guide to Eating Well”). Plus there is a new interview with Dr. Weil reflecting on his legacy. From Kino Lorber … “Wildland” (2019) takes viewers inside the lives and experiences of a group of men who spend a summer fighting wildfires. Every summer the American West burns. As climate change has increased, average temperatures have risen, resulting in a swift rise in wildfires in both frequency and intensity. Inside every one of these fires are small crews who work to contain the fire by hand — using shovels, photo for Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki pickaxes and methods that haven’t changed in 60 years. “Wildland” goes inside the lives and experiences of the men who battle these fires by following a 20-man wildland firefighting crew over the course of a single fire season. Together these men are tasked with facing nature’s most elemental force and finding their way through boredom, fear, and a job that is frequently described as “long hours of hard labor punctuated by moments of sheer terror.” Late in the film, the crew is dispatched to the largest fire in the country. It’s here that they’ll make a stand and engage in a hectic final battle that they’ll carry with them forever. From FilmRise … The documentary “Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki” (2018 — Japan) offers a new look at the rarely-interviewed filmmaker as he faces the challenges of working with unfamiliar CGI technology to create a new short film. In 2013, Academy Award-winning film director and animator Hayao Miyazaki suddenly announced his retirement at the age of 72. But he can’t shake his burning desire to create. After an encounter with young CGI animators, Miyazaki embarks on a new project to utilize CGI for the first time ever. But the artist, who has been adamant about hand-drawn animation, confronts many challenges that threaten to cancel the film. Can an old master who thinks he’s past his prime shine once again? This program goes behind the scenes over two years as Miyazaki overcomes struggles to create his short film “Boro the Caterpillar” using CGI. This release contains two different versions: a 70-minute version in Japanese with English subtitles, and an alternate cut, a 48-minute broadcast version with English narration, which includes footage not included in the 70-minute version. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from GKIDS/Shout! Factory.

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 April 29, 2019  Add comments

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