From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Highlights:
Two great classics of 1960s cinema make their way to DVD and Blu-ray this week, coutesy of The Criterion Collection. The revolutionary British New Wave films of the early 1960s were celebrated for their uncompromising depictions of working-class lives and relations between the sexes. Directed by Tony Richardson, a leading light of that movement, and based on one of the most controversial plays of its time, “A Taste of Honey” (1961) stars Rita Tushingham, in a star-making debut role, as a disaffected teenager finding her way amid the economic desperation of industrial Manchester, and despite an absent, self-absorbed mother. With its unapologetic identification with social outcasts and its sensitive, modern approach to matters of sexuality and race, Richardson’s classic is a still startling benchmark work of realism. In a new, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray … “Woman in the Dunes” (1964) was truly one of the 1960s’ great international art-house sensations, revealing as it did the surreal, idiosyncratic world of Hiroshi Teshigahara (“The Face of Another”). Anyone who sees this film cannot forget its unique take on sensuallity and sand dunes. Eiji Okada (“Hiroshima mon amour”) plays an amateur entomologist who has left Tokyo to study an unclassified species of beetle found in a vast desert. When he misses his bus back to civilization, he is persuaded to spend the night with a young widow (Kyoko Kishida) in her hut at the bottom of a sand dune. What results is one of cinema’s most unnerving and palpably erotic battles of the sexes, as well as a nightmarish depiction of the Sisyphean struggle of everyday life — an achievement that garnered Teshigahara an Academy Award nomination for best director. In a new high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
From TV to DVD:
“Ash vs Evil Dead” (2015) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes of the half-hour STARZ Original series that is the long-awaited follow-up to the classic horror film “The Evil Dead”; the series is executive produced by “Evil Dead” creator Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell, and stars Campbell in his iconic role as Ash, the stock boy, now an aging lothario and chainsaw-handed monster hunter who has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead. When a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind, Ash is finally forced to face his demons — personal and literal. Destiny, it turns out, has no plans to release the unlikely hero from its “Evil” grip. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay … The atmospheric four-part crime drama “Clean Break” (2015) is a gripping story of greed and revenge in a small Irish town. Car dealer Frank Mallon (Adam Fergus) is watching his life fall apart around him. His wife has left him, his cars aren’t selling, and his teenage daughter, Corrina (Kelly Thornton), is out of control. When bank manager Desmond Rane (Aidan McArdle) tells Frank he’s about to lose everything, Frank devises a plan to fix his money problems while also getting revenge on the people who are making his life miserable. But when the plan goes awry and one of his conspirators (Damien Molony) disappears, Frank’s troubles multiply as old jealousies come to light and lives are put at risk.In a two-disc DVD from Acorn Media … “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete First Season” (2016): From the creators of The Flash and Arrow comes this Super Hero team-up that combines characters from both series, as well as new heroes from the DC Comics pantheon. Focuses on time-traveling rogue Rip Hunter, who has to recruit a rag-tag team of heroes and villains to help prevent an apocalypse that could impact not only Earth, but all of time. All 16 episodes on four-disc DVD, two-disc Blu-ray sets, from Warner … “Elementary: The Fourth Season” (2015-16) is a six-disc set with all 24 episodes that follows the adventures of a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, living in NYC; Jonny Lee Miller portrays the iconic detective and Lucy Liu plays his legendary investigating partner Dr. Joan Watson. In the latest season, Holmes struggles to maintain his sobriety and attempts to keep his sanity despite the looming threat of a prison sentence. Meanwhile, the crime-solving duo continues to crack some of the NYPD’s toughest cases when old enemies resurface, former files are reopened and new crimes run rampant close to home. Yet, the biggest obstacle the duo must face follows the unexpected arrival of Sherlock’s estranged father, Morland Holmes (John Noble). Does he hold their best interest at heart or is he scheming for something far bigger than all of them combined? From CBS/Paramount … “Lucifer: The Complete First Season” (2015-16) is a three-disc set with all 13 episodes of the series that follows Lucifer, bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell, who has resigned his throne and retired to the City of Angels where he is indulging in a few of his favorite things — wine, women and song. When a beautiful pop star is brutally murdered before his eyes, he feels something awaken deep within him – for the first time in roughly 10 billion years. Is he actually capable of feelings for a human being? The murder attracts the attention of LAPD homicide detective Chloe Decker, who finds herself both repulsed and fascinated by Lucifer. As they work together to solve the murder, Lucifer is struck by Chloe’s inherent goodness. Used to dealing with the absolute worst of humanity, he begins to wonder if there’s hope yet, and he becomes a consultant for the LAPD. Based on the character from DC Entertainment’s Vertigo comic. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, from Warner … “Masterpiece Mystery!: Endeavour Series 3” (2016) is a two-disc set with four all new episodes that follow a young Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) as he and his partner, Detective Inspector Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), investigate crimes around Oxford in 1967. The crimes include a carnival that turns sinister when a young bus conductress is murdered, a horrendous house fire, a missing person’s case that contains similarities to a cold case, and a run-in with a notorious Oxford crime family. From PBS Distribution … “Masterpiece Mystery!: Inspector Lewis Season 8” (2015) is a two-disc set with three full-length episodes. Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox return for one last time as Inspector Lewis and Inspector Hathaway, investigating new cases of murder and other crimes in the seemingly perfect academic haven of Oxford. The arrival of new Chief Superintendent heralds a fresh dawn for Oxfordshire Police, although the high flyer soon clashes with Robbie Lewis over the latter’s more traditional approach to detective work. With forensic pathologist Laura Hobson contemplating early retirement, and the new boss piling on the pressure, will Lewis finally decide to call time on his policing career? From PBS Distribution … The Golden Globe-nominated series ” Narcos: Season 1″ (2015) follows the true-life story of the rise of international cocaine cartels — and the battle waged by law enforcement to stop them. At the center of the conflict are Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura), the notorious Colombian drug kingpin, and the two DEA agents sent to take him down: Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) and Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal). All 10 episodes in four-disc DVD, three-disc Blu-ray sets, from Lionsgate … “NCIS: The Thirteenth Season” (2015-16) is a six-disc set with all 24 episodes. Led by Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), the NCIS team continues to investigate all crimes with Navy or Marine Corps ties, from murder and espionage, to terrorism and stolen submarines. The popular ensemble cast also includes Michael Weatherly, Sean Murray, Pauley Perrette, Rocky Carroll, Brian Dietzen, David McCallum and Emily Wickersham. From CBS/Paramount … “Psycho IV: The Beginning” (1990), starring Anthony Perkins, Henry Thomas, Olivia Hussey and CCH Pounder, is a prequel to the classic Hitchcock thriller. A seemingly rehabilitated Norman Bates (Perkins) is drawn to a late-night radio show where the host (Pounder) encourages him to share his views on the topic of matricide. Reliving his childhood, Norman recounts his trials as a young boy (Thomas) living with his widowed schizophrenic mother (Hussey). These haunting memories are more than just disturbing visions of the past; they threaten to rekindle his killing urge. On Blu-ray Disc. from Scream factory … “Superstore: Season One” (2015-16) is a two-disc set with all 11 episodes of the workplace comedy that ventures into the world of retail hell. Starring America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”) and Ben Feldman (“Mad Men, A to Z”), the giant megastore is staffed by employees ranging from bright-eyed newbies and the seen-it-all veterans, to the clueless summer hires and the in-it-for-life managers. Together they tackle the day-to-day grind of rabid bargain hunters, riot-causing sales and nap-worthy training sessions. From Universal … The mysterious epidemic transforming the citizens of New York into horrifying creatures continues to rage during the second season of “The Strain” (2015), with 13 episodes on four-disc DVD, three-disc Blu-ray sets. From Fox … “The Walking Dead: The Complete Sixth Season” (2015-2016) starts with Alexandria’s safety shattered by multiple threats. To make it, the people of Alexandria will need to catch up with Rick and the other survivors’ hardness, while many of Rick’s people will need to take a step back from the violence and pragmatism they’ve needed to embrace. These reversals won’t happen easily, or without conflict. But now Rick’s group is fighting for something more than survival … They’re fighting for their home, and they will defend that at any cost, against any threat, even if that threat comes from within. Five-disc set with all 16 episodes from Starz/Anchor Bay … “The Wonder Years: The Complete Series” (1988-1993) is a 22-disc set with all 115 landmark episodes and nearly 12 hours of exclusive bonus features, repackaged from $119.95 from Time Life.