From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets
Master director Alain Resnais (“Last Year At Marienbad”) blurs the line between cinematic technique and theatrical artifice in his acclaimed “Mélo” (1986 — France), adapted from Henri Bernstein’s classic play about a doomed love triangle in 1920s Paris. Pierre (Pierre Arditi) and Marcel (André Dussollier) are both celebrated concert violinists and lifelong friends, in spite of their differing temperaments. Pierre is modest, sensitive and content with his lot; Marcel is hungry, driven, and pursues a solo career that takes him to the four corners of the world. After years apart, the two friends reunite when Pierre invites Marcel to his home for dinner. It is then that Marcel first meets Pierre’s wife Romaine (Sabine Azéma), sparking a passionate affair that can only end in tragedy before the curtain falls. As thrillingly intimate on film as it was on the stage, “Mélo’s” César award-winning cast and inventive direction are highlighted in a stunning new restoration, revealing a hidden gem in Resnais’ celebrated body of work waiting to be rediscovered. Brand new 2K restoration of the film. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment … The Criterion Collection has on hand two films from Jim Jarmusch this week: “Night on Earth” (1991): Five cities. Five taxicabs. A multitude of strangers in the night. Jim Jarmusch assembled an extraordinary international cast of actors (including Gena Rowlands, Winona Ryder, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Beatrice Dalle, and Roberto Benigni) for this quintet of transitory tales of urban displacement and existential angst, all staged as encounters between cabbies and their fares. Spanning time zones, continents, and languages, “Night on Earth” winds its course through scenes of uproarious comedy, nocturnal poetry, and somber fatalism, set to a moody soundtrack by Tom Waits. Jarmusch’s lovingly askew view of humanity from the passenger seat makes for one of his most charming and beloved films, a freewheeling showcase for the cosmopolitan range of his imagination. On DVD and Blu-ray, with High-definition digital restoration, supervised and approved by director Jim Jarmusch, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray … “Stranger Than Paradise” (1994): With this breakout film, Jim Jarmusch established himself as one of the most exciting voices in the burgeoning independent-film scene, a road-movie poet with an affinity for Americana at its most offbeat. Jarmusch follows rootless Hungarian émigré Willie (John Lurie), his pal Eddie (Richard Edson), and his visiting 16-year-old cousin Eva (Eszter Balint) as they drift from New York’s Lower East Side to the snowy expanses of Lake Erie and the drab beaches of Florida, always managing to make the least of wherever they end up. Structured as a series of master-shot vignettes etched in black and white by cinematographer Tom DiCillo, “Stranger Than Paradise” is a nonchalant masterpiece of deadpan comedy and perfectly calibrated minimalism. On DVD and Blu-ray, with high-definition digital restoration, supervised and approved by director Jim Jarmusch, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
From TV to Disc:
“Project Blue Book: Season 1” (2019): From Academy Award-winner Robert Zemeckis, the series is inspired by the real-life experiences of Dr. J. Allen Hynek. A brilliant college professor, Hynek is recruited by the U.S. Air Force to spearhead a clandestine operation, code-named Project Blue Book, which investigates UFO sightings and alleged extraterrestrial encounters. Each episode draws from those actual case files, blending UFO theories with authentic historical events from one of the most mysterious eras in United States history. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
“Berlin, I Love You” (2019 — Germany) is an anthology that contains 10 romantic stories set against the backdrop of the German capital, with an ensemble cast headed up by Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren and Luke Wilson. From the producers of “Paris, Je T’Aime.” On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In “Mega Time Squad” (2018), starring Anton Tennet, Jonny Brugh, Morgan Albrecht. When a low-level criminal steals an ancient Chinese time-travel device, he may not survive the demonic consequences of tampering with time in this time travel/sci-fi comedy out of New Zealand. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Dark Sky Films … In “The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires” (2018), making its Blu-ray debut this week, professor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) and Count Dracula (John Forbes-Robinson) meet again in this spectacular Kung Fu horror thriller set in the village of Ping Kuei. After learning about the seven golden vampires of the village, Hsi Ching (David Chiang), Vanessa Buren (Julie Ege) and Mai Kwei (Szu Shih) offer to guide Van Helsing and his son to Ping Kuei to free it from the curse of Count Dracula. Presented here for the first time in high definition is Hammer’s original uncut version. It was released in the US in an edited version called “The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula,” which is also included here in high definition as a bonus feature. From Scream Factory … In “Motel Mist”
(2016 — Thailand), an unusual motel on the outskirts of Bangkok, four lives intertwine and change forever. A father with kinky and somewhat dangerous sexual fetishes brings his latest partner, a school girl, to his custom-made erotic chamber in Room 7. A former child actor in the midst of wild media speculations checks into Room 5, hiding from the aliens he believes are out to get him. Throw into the mix a motel staffer determined to start a new life, and a beautiful vixen determined to save her friend from a deadly sexual fantasy by any means necessary. From Breaking Glass Pictures … In “Matriarch” (2018), starring Charlie Blackwood, Scott Vickers, Julie Hannan and Alan Cuthbert, pregnant Rachel and her husband, Matt, are stranded after wrecking their car on a remote Scottish road. Though hostile at first, a nearby farmer and his wife welcome them in after learning that Rachel is with child. Suddenly, Rachel realizes the family’s “daughter” is a local girl who’d gone missing years before, but when she and Matt attempt to escape, they’re held at gunpoint — just as Rachel goes into labor. From Lionsgate … When four-year-old Kun meets his new baby sister in “Mirai” (2018 — Japan), his world is turned upside down. Named Mirai(meaning “future”), the baby quickly wins the hearts of Kun’s entire family. Kun becomes increasingly jealous of her, until one day he storms off into the garden, where he encounters strange guests from the past and future — including his sister Mirai as a teenager! Together, Kun and Mirai go on a journey through time and space, uncovering their family’s incredible story, in this magical and emotionally soaring adventure about the ties that bring families together and make us who we are. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Universal … In “Soldier of War (aka Aux)” (2018), starring John Rhys-Davies, Tanya Franks and Rosie Fellner, deep in the forest, two boys discover the entrance to a secret military bunker hidden since World War II and inadvertently awaken an undead soldier, who embarks on a grotesque, ritualistic killing spree. A police investigation begins, but one by one the police and other locals are murdered. Only a World War II veteran holds the secret to stop the killings, but will anybody believe him? From Uncork’d Entertainment … In “Golden Job” (2018 — Hong Kong), starring Ekin Cheng, Jordan Chan, Michael Tse, Chin Ka Lok and Jerry Lamb, a group of former mercenaries reunite to plan an epic heist: boosting a truck full of medicine held by a foreign intelligence agency to supply a refugee camp in need. But when they find the truck is actually filled with stolen gold, the band of brothers realize they’ve been double-crossed by one of their own — and putting the situation right will be all out war. On Blu-ray, from Well Go USA … “The Iguana With the Tongue of Fire” (1971 — Italy) is one of several “animal-in-the-title” cash-ins released in the wake of Dario Argento’s boxoffice smash “The Bird With the Crystal Plumage,” this gloriously excessive giallo boasts a rogues gallery of perverse characters; violent, fetishized murders, and one of the genre’s most nonsensical, red-herring laden plots (which sees almost every incidental character hinted at potentially being the killer). Set in Dublin (a rather surprising giallo setting), the film opens audaciously with an acid-throwing, razor-wielding maniac brutally slaying a woman in her own home. The victim’s mangled corpse is discovered in a limousine owned by Swiss Ambassador Sobiesky (Anton Diffring) and a police investigation is launched, but when the murdering continues and the ambassador claims diplomatic immunity, tough ex-cop John Norton (Luigi Pistilli) is brought in to find the killer. Benefitting from a sumptuous score by Stelvio Cipriani and exuberant supporting performances from Valentina Cortese and Dagmar Lassander, “The Iguana With the Tongue of Fire” is a luridly over-the-top latter-day entry in the filmography of acclaimed director Riccardo Freda. New 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … In “The Charmer” (2017), starring Ardalan Esmaili, Soho Rezanejad and Lars Brygmann, Esmail (Esmaili) is a darkly handsome Iranian immigrant to Denmark, on the verge of being thrown out of the country if he can’t find a Danish woman to marry. He dresses well and frequents posh bars, easily ingratiating himself with attractive Danes who are seduced by his good looks, gentle manners, and apparent decency. But he’s a man caught between his self-interest and self-respect. Things get a lot more complicated when he meets a beautiful fellow countryman (Iranian singer Soho Rezanejad) who immediately grasps his game plan, but finds herself attracted to him nonetheless. From Film Movement … After being passed over for an advertising agency job, Alice (Antonia Liskova) launches a sexy webcam site with three of her friends in “Cam Girl” (2014 — Italy), styarring Antonia Liskova, Alessia Piovan, Sveva Alviti. Using her marketing savvy, the site becomes an instant hit and expands rapidly. But what started as a lucrative business venture quickly spirals out of control as the cam girls enter a world of dangerous risks, violent excesses and bitter rivalries. From Omnibus Entertainment.
“At the Drive-In” (2017) is an award-winning documentary about one of the last remaining drive-in theaters in the country, The Mahoning Drive-in in Lehighton, Pennsylvania. From sleeping in the concession stand to working entirely for free, the quirky film fanatics at the struggling Mahoning Drive-in face uncertainty when Hollywood announces it will switch to digital projection for all new movies. Unable to purchase an expensive digital projector, the Mahoning gang pin their hopes of survival on showing only vintage 35mm film prints on their original 1949 projectors. Relive their underdog story to save film, the Mahoning Drive-in, and drive-in theaters everywhere. From MVD Visual … Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003) did not just live in the 20th century, he strode across it: a colossus of ideas and a man of deeds. He was an influential intellectual and sociologist, policy specialist, ambassador and long-serving senator. In an age of rigid ideologies, he was a man who embraced the contradictions and complexity of public policy without ever despairing of the role of government in the lives of its citizens. Fifteen years after his death, as the nation sinks further into hyper-partisanship and politics has become dominated by the frenzy of social media, “Moynihan” (2018), the first feature length documentary about his life, captures Moynihan as never before. From First Run Features.
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.