From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
Kicking off this week are three classic French crime films from Kino Lorber Studio Classics:
“Port of Shadows (aka Le Quai Des Brumes)” (1938) is director Marcel Carné’s (“Children of Paradise”) controversial adaptation of the Pierre Mac Orlan novel of the same name. Down a foggy, desolate road to the port city of Le Havre travels Jean (Jean Gabin), an army deserter looking for another chance at life. Fate, however, has a different plan for him, when acts of both revenge and kindness turn him into front-page news. “Port of Shadows” starkly portrays an underworld of lonely souls wrestling with their own destinies, a quintessential example of poetic realism, one of the classics of the golden age of French cinema. Stars Jean Gabin, Michel Simon, Michèle Morgan, Pierre Brasseur, Robert Le Vigan and Édouard Delmont. On DVD, Blu- ray … Jacques Becker’s “Touchez Pas Au Grisbi” (1954) occupies a significant part in French cinema history; it exerted a huge influence on subsequent directors such as Jean-Pierre Melville (“Le Doulos”), Henri Verneuil (“The Sicilian Clan”) and Claude Sautet (“Classe Tous Risques”). Max (Jean Gabin) is an aging gangster who manages to pull off his final heist, a spectacular gold bullion robbery at Orly airport. All is well until Max’s former girlfriend Josy (Jeanne Moreau) tips off a rival gangster, Angelo (Lino Ventura). Angelo kidnaps Max’s partner and best friend and threatens to kill him unless Max hands over the loot from his robbery. “Touchez Pas Au Grisbi” was the birth the French policier, a European transposition of the fantastic American gangster films and film noirs of the 1940s. On DVD, Blu-ray … and “Razzia Sur La Chnouf” (1955). Based on a novel by the legendary writer Auguste Le Breton (“Rififi,” “Bob Le Flambeur”) with direction by Henri Decoin. After a spell in the U.S.A., master criminal Henri Ferré dit ‘Le Nantais’ (Jean Gabin) returns to Paris and is recruited by Paul Liski (Marcel Dalio), head of a major narcotics ring, to oversee and improve the efficiency of their distribution. Merchandise has been disappearing and unreliable dealers must be eliminated. For the latter, Henri is assigned two hitmen, Roger le Catalan (Lino Ventura) and Bibi (Albert Rémy). Released as “Razzia” in the U.S., the film thrillingly explores the criminal underworld of 1950s Paris. On DVD, Blu-ray.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
“Django the Bastard” (1969 — Italy), starring Anthony Steffen, Rada Rassimov, Paolo Gozlino and Luciano Rossi, is an intriguing spaghetti western with gothic horror genre elements. The mysterious stranger named Django — a ghost-like figure — walks into a dusty western town with vengeance on his mind. As he finds the men he’s looking for, he places a cross with the person’s name and death date in the middle of the street before enacting violent revenge. Is Django truly an unstoppable human army-of-one, or an avenging immortal angel of death? On DVD, Blu-ray from Synapse Films … “The Reflecting Skin” (1990) is a darkly humorous, nightmarish vision of the American dream. As mysterious deaths plague a small prairie town in 1950s Idaho, 8-year-old Seth (Jeremy Cooper) comes to believe that Dolphin Blue (Lindsay Duncan), the reclusive English widow living next door, is a vampire, stealing the souls of his neighborhood friends one by one. Seth’s worst nightmares come true when his older brother Cameron (Viggo Mortensen in one of his first starring roles) returns home from military service and falls in love with the widow. Could he be her next victim? On DVD, Blu-ray, from Film Movement Classics … The “Vault” (2019), starring Theo Rossi, Clive Standen, Samira Wiley, William Forsythe, Don Johnson, Vincent Pastore and Chazz Palminteri, is a stylish thriller reveals the true story of one of the largest robberies in U.S. history. While doing time for a botched heist, two small-time crooks cook up an ill-fated scheme to rip off a nearby vault for $30 million – money that belongs to the local mafia. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In “The Mummy Rebirth” (2019), starring Carter, David E. Cazares, Brittany Goodwin and Deanna Grace Congo, two treasure hunters uncover a sealed tomb and awaken a mummy that has waited years to come back and wipe humanity from the face of the Earth. It’s a race against time as they try to stop the Mummy from wreaking havoc on the modern world. From Uncork’d Entertainment … In 1992, Cameron Todd Willingham (O’ Connell), a poor, uneducated heavy metal devotee with a violent streak, was convicted of arson-related triple homicide and put on death row. “Trial By Fire” (2018), starring Jack O’ Connell, Laura Dern, Emily Meade and Jeff Perry, is the true-life Texas story of the unlikely bond that formed between Willingham and Elizabeth Gilbert (Dern), a Houston mother of two, who battled against the state for 12 years to try and save Willingham by exposing suppressed evidence and illogical conclusions. From Lionsgate … In “All Is True” (2019) directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh and co-starring Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Lolita Chakrabarti and Jack Colgrave Hirst, the year is 1613, and Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his renowned Globe Theatre burns to the ground. Devastated, Shakespeare returns home to Stratford, where he must face a troubled past and a neglected family. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Sony … After a devastating family tragedy, a priest travels to China to find deeper spirituality, but instead is endowed with an ancient ability that allows him to turn into a dinosaur in “The Velocipastor” (2018), starring Alyssa Kempinski, Greg Cohan and Claire Hsu. At first, he is horrified by his newfound superpower, but a local prostitute convinces him to use his newfound gift to fight evil – and ninjas. On DVD from Wild Eye Releasing … In “Shadow” (2018 — China), starring Chao Deng, Li Sun and Ryan Zheng, a kingdom ruled by a young and unpredictable king has a military commander who has a secret weapon: a “shadow,” a look-alike who can fool both his enemies and the King himself. Now he must use this weapon in an intricate plan that will lead his people to victory in a war that the King does not want. Director Zhang Yimou (“Hero,” “House of Flying Daggers”) once again pushes the boundaries of wuxia action to create a film like no other, masterfully painting a canvas of inky blacks and greys punctuated with bursts of color from the blood of the defeated. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Well Go USA … In “Vice Squad” (1982), starring Season Hubley, Gary Swanson and Wings Hauser, Princess (Hubley) is a single mom by day, a Hollywood prostitute by night. A volatile cop, Tom Walsh uses her to trap a sadistic pimp named Ramrod, who murdered one of her friends. But when Ramrod escapes police custody, Princess is in grave danger. No matter which way she turns, Ramrod is coming for her. New 4K scan of the negative. In a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray debut from Shout! Factory.