From the Big Screen:
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 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 … “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 … “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 … 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 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 “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.