From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Highlights:
There’s plenty of collectible DVDs, Blu-rays and sets this week, listed here in alphabetical order:
Michael Curtiz brings a master skipper’s hand to the helm of the thriller “The Breaking Point” (1950), Hollywood’s second crack at Ernest Hemingway’s “To Have and Have Not.” John Garfield stars as Harry Morgan, an honest charter-boat captain who, facing hard times, takes on dangerous cargo to save his boat, support his family, and preserve his dignity. Left in the lurch by a freeloading passenger, Harry starts to entertain the criminal propositions of a sleazy lawyer (Wallace Ford), as well as the playful come-ons of a cheeky blonde (Patricia Neal), making a series of compromises that stretch his morality — and his marriage — farther than he’ll admit. Hewing closer to Hemingway’s novel than Howard Hawks’s Bogart-Bacall vehicle, “The Breaking Point” charts a course through daylight noir and working-class tragedy, guided by Curtiz’s effortless visual fluency and a stoic, career-capping performance from Garfield. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … In the seven-time Oscar-nominated “Fargo” (here in a 20th Anniversary Edition Steelbook) (1996), things go terribly awry when small-time Minnesota car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) hires two thugs (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife so he can collect the ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. Once people start dying, the very chipper and very pregnant Police Chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) takes the case. Is she up for this challenge? You betcha. Limited to 10,000 copies. On Blu-ray Disc from Shout! Factory/Shout Select … The “John Wayne Double Feature” is a two-disc collection featuring “Rio Lobo” (1970) and “Big Jake” (1971), two of the iconic star’s most beloved films. Directed by Howard Hawks, the Civil War adventure “Rio Lobo” stars Wayne as Cord McNally, a Union leader on the hunt for the Confederate men who betrayed his unit while they were protecting a gold shipment. After learning the raiders had help from the inside, McNally vows to uncover the two traitors within his troop. Jorge Rivero, Jack Elam and Victor French also star. In “Big Jake,” Wayne teams up with his real-life son, Patrick Wayne, and the incomparable Maureen O’Hara, to lead the search for his kidnapped grandson and the ruthless outlaw John Fain (Richard Boone). The aging gunfighter sets off to deliver the ransom to his grandson’s kidnappers, but has little intention of handing it over without a good fight. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Paramount … One of the most wildly popular horror movies of all-time, Stuart Gordon’s enduring splatter-comedy classic “Re-Animator” (1985) returns to Blu-ray in a stunning restoration packed with special features. When medical student Dean Cain advertises for a roommate, he soon finds one in the form of Dr. Herbert West. Initially a little eccentric, it soon becomes clear that West entertains some seriously outlandish theories — specifically, the possibility of re-animating the dead. It’s not long before Dean finds himself under West’s influence, and embroiled in a series of ghoulish experiments that threaten to go wildly out of control. Based on H.P. Lovecraft’s classic terror tale “Herbert West – Reanimator” and featuring a standout performance from Jeffrey Combs as the deliciously deranged West, “Re-Animator” remains the ground-zero of ’80s splatter mayhem and one of the genre’s finest hours. The Limited Edition Blu-ray features a 4K restoration of the Unrated (86 minutes) and Integral versions (105 minutes) of the film, in original Stereo 2.0 and 5.1 Audio, with Digipak packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Justin Erickson. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … After over a decade in the wilderness following his firing from Nikkatsu for “Branded to Kill” (1967), maverick director Seijun Suzuki returned with a vengeance with “Seijun Suzuki’s The Taisho Trilogy Limited Edition,” his critically-praised tryptic of cryptic supernatural dramas set during the liberal enlightenment of Japan’s Taisho Era (1912-26). In the multiple Japanese Academy Award-winning “Zigeunerweisen” (1980), two intellectuals and former colleagues from military academy involve their wives in a series of dangerous sexual games. In “Kageroza” (1981), a playwright is drawn like a moth to a flame to a mysterious beauty who might be a ghost, while “Yumeji” (1991) imagines the real-life painter-poet Takehisa Yumeji’s encounter with a beautiful widow with a dark past. Presented together on Blu-ray for the first time outside of Japan, the films in the Taisho Trilogy are considered Suzuki’s masterpieces in his homeland. Presenting a dramatic turn from more his familiar tales of cops, gangsters and unruly youth, these surrealistic psychological puzzles drip with a lush exoticism, distinctively capturing the pandemonium of a bygone age of decadence and excess, when Western ideas, fashions, technologies and art fused into everyday aspect of Japanese life. From Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment.
From TV to DVD:
“Blindspot: The Complete Second Season” (2016-17) is a five-disc set with all 22 episodes. Originally premiering on NBC in September 2015, “Blindspot” tells the story of a beautiful and mysterious woman who is found naked in Times Square with her body completely covered in intricate, coded tattoos. She has no memories of her past and she is clueless about her own identity. She is dubbed Jane Doe and is investigated by the FBI when they learn one of her mysterious tattoos, bears the name of FBI agent Kurt Weller. As the FBI investigates and solves the complex treasure map of her body, an ever-widening web of conspiracy and corruption is revealed. Season Two continues to unravel the conspiracy behind her missing identity and her former life with the shadowy organization known as Sandstorm – before joining Weller and the FBI. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Warner.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “The Transfiguration” (2016), an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, writer-director Michael O’Shea’s debut feature follows troubled teen Milo who hides behind his fascination with vampire lore. When he meets the equally alienated Sophie, the two form a bond that begins to challenge Milo’s dark obsession, blurring his fantasy into reality. A chilling portrait of violence, “The Transfiguration” is an atmospheric thriller set against the grit of New York City. Stars Eric Ruffin, Chloe Levine. From Strand Releasing … “The Dinner” (2017), starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, Chloë Sevigny and Rebecca Hall, is a dark psychological thriller about how far parents will go to protect their children. Two estranged brothers and their wives meet at a restaurant to discuss a dark crime committed by their sons. With their involvement still a secret, they must decide how far they’ll go to protect the ones they love. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate … In “Kung Fu Yoga” (2017 — China), starring Jackie Chan, Disha Patani, Amyra Dastur, Aarif Rahma and Sonu Sood, Jack (Chan), a world-renowned archaeology professor, and his team are on a grand quest to locate a lost ancient Indian treasure when they are ambushed by a team of mercenaries and left for dead. Using his vast knowledge of history and kung fu, Jack leads his team on a race around the world to beat the mercenaries to the treasure and save an ancient culture in this breakneck action-comedy that reunites Chan with acclaimed director Stanley Tong (“Rumble in the Bronx,” “Supercop”). On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Well Go USA … In “Hunter’s Prayer” (2017), starring Sam Worthington, Odeya Rush, Allen Leech, Amy Landecker and Veronica Echegui, Lucas (Worthington) is a solitary assassin hired to kill a young woman, Ella (Rush). When he can’t bring himself to pull the trigger the plan falls apart, setting in motion a twisted game of cat and mouse. Now both are marked for death and forced to form an uneasy alliance. Relentlessly pursued across Europe, their only hope for survival is to expose those responsible for brutally murdering Ella’s family and bring them to justice. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate … Set during WWII, the thriller “The Exception” (2016) follows German officer Captain Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney) as he goes on a mission to investigate exiled German monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II (Christopher Plummer). The Kaiser lives in a secluded mansion in the Netherlands, and as Germany is taking over Holland, the country’s authorities are concerned that Dutch spies may be watching the Kaiser. As Brandt begins to infiltrate the Kaiser’s life in search of clues, he finds himself drawn into an unexpected and passionate romance with Mieke (Lily James), one of the Kaiser’s maids whom Brandt soon discovers is secretly Jewish. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate … In “Charlotte” (2017), starring James Andrew Lee, Jack Schaefer and Dan Dowding, a teenage girl is babysitting at a new house, when she’s accosted by a vicious doll. In bondage, she’s forced to watch terrifying stories on the television, magically controlled by the unfriendly toy … and each story gets graver than the previous one. From Synergetic Distribution … In “Diamond Cartel” (2017), starring Armand Assante, Karlygash Mukhamedzhanova, Olivier Gruner, Peter O’Toole, Michael Madsen and Bolo Yeung, the charismatic and ruthless Mussa makes a deal to purchase the Star of East Diamond from the Hong-Kong triad crime boss Mr. Lo — but not before being robbed via an inside job by his own people, former lover Aliya and her new man. Aliya’s former love interest and Mussa henchman gets involved, and when Mussa’s men track them down, the couple have to fight for their lives. From Cleopatra Entertainment … New to Blu-ray this week are “Teen Wolf (Collector’s Edition)” (1985), starring Michael J Fox, in a new high-definition film transfer taken from the interpositive, and “Teen Wolf Too (Collector’s Edition)” (1987), starring Jason Bateman. Both are loaded with extras. From Shout! Factory.