From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Highlights:
There’s a bevy of classic films due out this week, starting out with the fabulous collection, “De Palma & De Niro: The Early Films (Limited Edition).”
In 1963, Robert De Niro stepped in front of a movie camera for the first time. The resulting film, a low-budget black and white comedy called “The Wedding Party,” would take three years to complete, and another three years to be released, but it would also establish a hugely important working relationship for the aspiring actor. One of the filmmakers, long before he became synonymous with suspense thanks to “Carrie”, “Dressed to Kill” and other classics, was Brian De Palma. He and De Niro would team up again in the next few years for two more comedies, both with a countercultural bent. “Greetings”, the first to receive an X certificate in the United States, is a freewheeling satire focusing on a trio of twentysomething friends — a conspiracy theorist, a filmmaker, and a voyeur played by De Niro — as they try to avoid the Vietnam War draft. “Hi, Mom!”, originally named “Son of Greetings,” returns to De Niro’s voyeur, now an aspiring maker of adult films, for another humorous glimpse at late-sixties society, this time turning its attentions to experimental theater, cinéma vérité, the African American experience, and the white middle classes. Brought together for the first time — and each newly restored by Arrow Films especially for this release — these three films offer a fascinating insight into the early careers of two of American cinema’s major talents. New restoration from a 2K scan of “The Wedding Party” from the original film negative; new restoration from a 2K scan of “Greetings” and “Hi, Mom!” from original film materials. Original uncompressed mono soundtracks. On Blu-ray, from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … From Arrow Video’s US sister label, Arrow Academy, comes “The Apartment.” In 1960, following the success of their collaboration on “Some Like it Hot,” director Billy Wilder reteamed with actor Jack Lemmon for what many consider the pinnacle of their respective careers: “The Apartment.” C.C. Bud Baxter (Lemmon) is a lowly Manhattan office drone with a lucrative sideline in renting out his apartment to adulterous company bosses and their mistresses. When Bud enters into a similar arrangement with the firm s personnel director, J.D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray), his career prospects begin to look up … and up. But when he discovers that Sheldrake’s mistress is Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), the girl of his dreams, he finds himself forced to choose between his career and the woman he loves … . Winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, “The Apartment” features a wealth of Hollywood’s finest talent on both sides of the camera at the top of their game. By turns cynical, heart-warming and hilarious, Wilder’s masterpiece now shines like never before in this all-new, 4K-restored edition from the original camera negative, with original uncompressed PCM mono audio. On Blu-ray … MVD Entertainment has on hand a new pressing of “Maniac” (1980), in a three-disc limited edition (two Blu-rays, soundtrack CD) 4K restoration from the original camera negative, packaged with a 3D lenticular slipcover — only 10,000 available. Frank Zito (a career performance by writer-executive producer Joe Spinell of “Rocky” and “The Godfather” fame) is a deeply disturbed man, haunted by the traumas of unspeakable childhood abuse. And when these horrific memories begin to scream inside his mind, Frank prowls the seedy streets of New York City to stalk and slaughter innocent young women. Now Frank has begun a relationship with a beautiful photographer (Caroline Munro of “The Spy Who Loved Me”), yet his vile compulsions remain. These are the atrocities of a human monster. This is the story of a Maniac. Directed by William Lustig and featuring landmark gore effects by Tom Savini, this relentlessly shocking and disturbing film was originally banned or censored all over the world due to its graphic violence. Now Blue Underground is thrilled to present MANIAC in a brand-new 4K Restoration from its recently discovered 16mm original camera negative, overflowing with hours of new and archival extras.
From The Criterion Collection there’s “A Dry White Season” (1989). With this bracing drama, made at the climax of the anti-apartheid movement, director Euzhan Palcy issued a devastating indictment of South Africa’s racist government — and made history in the process, becoming the first black woman to direct a Hollywood studio film. White schoolteacher Ben Du Toit (Donald Sutherland) lives in Johannesburg and remains blissfully incurious about the lives of his black countrymen until a wave of brutal repression comes crashing down on his gardener (Winston Ntshona), bringing Du Toit face-to-face with harsh political realities. Based on a celebrated novel by André Brink and rooted in the first-hand research the Martinican Palcy did in South Africa into the way black people lived under apartheid, “A Dry White Season” is unflinching in its depiction of violence and its chronicling of injustice, making for a galvanizing tribute to those willing to sacrifice everything to fight oppression. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray … and “Forty Guns” (1957). Hollywood legend Barbara Stanwyck saddled up with writer-director Samuel Fuller for the pulp maestro’s most audacious Western, a boldly feminist spin on the genre that pivots effortlessly between ribald humor, visceral action, and disarming tenderness. High-riding rancher Jessica Drummond (Stanwyck) commands a 40-strong posse of cowboys, ruling Cochise County, Arizona, without challenge. When U.S. marshal Griff Bonnell (Barry Sullivan) and his brothers arrive in town with a warrant for one of her hired guns, Jessica begins to fall for the lawman even as he chips away at her authority. With astonishing black-and-white CinemaScope photography, hard-boiled dialogue laced with double entendres, and a fiery performance by Stanwyck at her most imperious, “Forty Guns” is a virtuoso display of Fuller’s sharpshooting talents. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. .
From TV to Disc:
“Instinct: Season One” (2018) is a four-disc set with all 13 episodes. Alan Cumming stars as Dr. Dylan Reinhart, a former CIA operative who is lured back to his old life when the NYPD needs his help to stop a serial killer. He is a gifted author and university professor living a quiet life teaching psychopathic behavior to packed classes of adoring students. But when tenacious top NYPD detective Lizzie Needham appeals to him to help her catch a serial murderer who is using Dylan’s first book as a tutorial, Dylan is compelled by the case and comes out of retirement. Though Dylan and Lizzie initially clash, when it comes to catching killers, they realize they will make an ideal team if they both trust their instincts. On DVD from CBS/Paramount … “Nathan For You” (2013-17) is a nine-disc set with all 30 episodes of Comedy Central’s series. Comedian Nathan Fielder uses his business degree and life experiences to help real small businesses turn a profit. But because of his unorthodox approach, Nathan’s genuine efforts to do good often draw real people into an experience far beyond what they signed up for. On DVD from Paramount … “Our Cartoon President: Season One with World Class Amenities” (2018) is a three-disc set with 18 episodes. From executive producer Stephen Colbert comes a caricature of a president without character in an animated series that goes straight for the heartless. Go inside the revolving door that is Trump’s inner circle for an unfiltered free-for-all even Canadian healthcare would be proud of. From the president’s attempt to “win” the State of the Union to the army of Trump impersonators employed to comfort disaster victims, it’s the kind of rampant absurdity that can only be matched by the day-to-day reality of Trump’s America. On DVD from CBS/Paramount.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Christmas Blood” (2017 — Norway), starring Stig Henrik Hoff, Sondre Krogtoft Larsen, Truls Svendsen and Marte Sæteren, a psychopath dressed in a Santa Claus suit has been terrorizing Norway for the past 13 years. For as soon as the caroling starts, this demented Kris Kringle dispenses bloody ax blows regardless of whether you’ve been bad or good. As the holiday approaches on one snow-covered town filled with revelers, a pair of detectives work against time to find and arrest the bearded serial killer. Will they manage to stop this demented St. Nick before he kills again? From Artsploitation Films … “Lizzie” (2018), starring Chloë Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Jamey Sheridan, Fiona Shaw and Kim Dickens, is a chilling reimagining of the Lizzie Borden murder case that reveals the many layers of the strange and fragile Lizzie Borden, who stood accused of the infamous 1892 axe murder of her family in Fall River, Massachusetts. An unmarried woman of 32 and a social outcast, Lizzie (Chloë Sevigny) lives a claustrophobic life under her father’s cold and domineering control. When Bridget Sullivan (Kristen Stewart), a young maid, comes to work for the family, Lizzie finds a sympathetic, kindred spirit — and a secret intimacy soon blossoms into a wicked plan. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In “Deadman Standing” (2018), starring Luke Arnold, C. Thomas Howell, Richard Riehle and M.C. Gainey, a sheriff, a madam, and a dying boy risk their lives to save a troubled town in a bloodcurdling true tale of the Wild West. On DVD from Lionsgate … In “Death House” (2018), starribng a coterie of horror veterans, including Cody Longo, Cortney Palm, Adrienne Barbeau, Michael Berryman, Barbara Crampton, Sid Haig, Kane Hodder, Lloyd Kaufman, Bill Moseley, Tony Todd and Dee Wallace. a power breakdown during an exclusive tour inside a secret prison known as the Death House sends two agents fighting through a labyrinth of horrors while being pursued by a ruthless army of roaming inmates. As they fight to escape, the agents push toward the lowest depths of the facility where they learn a supernatural group of evil beings is their only chance for survival. On DVD from Cleopatra Entertainment … Bella Thorne stars in the spellbinding and romantic supernatural thriller “I Still See You” (2018). Ten years after an apocalyptic event left the world haunted by ghosts, Roni (Thorne) receives a threatening message from beyond the grave. Joining forces with Kirk, a mysterious classmate, Roni descends into a shadow world that blurs the bounds of the living and the dead — and begins a desperate race against time to stop a cunning killer. Co-stars Richard Harmon and Dermot Mulroney. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … The fantasy epic that smashed box office records in Korea reaches its thrilling climax with “Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds” (2017 — South Korea), starring Ha Jung-woo, Ju Ji-hoon, Kim Hyang-gi and Lee Jung-jae. As the deceased soul Su-hong and his three afterlife guardians face the remaining trials to obtain their reincarnation, the guardians come face to face with the buried truth of their tragic time on earth a thousand years ago, culminating in a final battle with a rogue god. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Well Go USA … In “River Runs Red” (2018), starring Taye Diggs, George Lopez, John Cusack, Luke Hemsworth and Gianni Capaldi, respected Judge Charles Coleman (Diggs) and his wife have devoted their lives to law enforcement. The two are thrilled when their son is accepted into the police academy, but everything changes when he is shot by two corrupt cops and the official investigation finds no wrongdoing. After his trusted friend detective Horace (Cusack) finds evidence to the contrary, Charles joins forces with an anguished mechanic (Lopez) whose son was killed by the same cops and together they take the law into their own hands.On DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo, from Cinedigm … In “Await Further Instructions” (2018 — UK), starring Sam Gittins, Neerja Naik, Abigail Cruttenden and David Bradley, it’s Christmas Day and the Milgram family wake to find a mysterious black substance surrounding their house. Something monumental is clearly happening right outside their door, but what exactly — an industrial accident, a terrorist attack, nuclear war? Descending into terrified arguments, they turn on the television, desperate for any information. On screen a message glows ominously: “Stay Indoors and Await Further Instructions.” As the television exerts an ever more sinister grip, their paranoia escalates into bloody carnage. On DVD, Blu-ray from Dark Sky Films … In “Galveston” (2018), starrinbg Ben Foster, Elle Fanning, Beau Bridges, Lili Reinhart and Robert Aramayo, Roy (Foster) is a heavy-drinking criminal enforcer and mob hit man whose boss set him up in a double-cross scheme. After killing his would-be assassins before they could kill him, Roy discovers Rocky (Fanning), a young woman being held captive, and reluctantly takes her with him on his escape. Determined to find safety and sanctuary in Galveston, Roy must find a way to stop his boss from pursuing them while trying to outrun the demons from his and Rocky’s pasts. On DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo, from RLJE Films … And now, three horror films released on Blu-ray for the first time, from Scream Factory: “Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 Collector’s Edition” (1984): Ricky is being released from a mental hospital, and he takes with him the terrifying memory of his brother Billy’s death and the memory of the Mother Superior who brought about his brother’s demise. For Ricky, starting a new life means avenging his brother’s death, which sets him on a blind journey of relentless revenge, leading ultimately to Mother Superior. And when he gets to her, not even her faith will be enough to stop Ricky as he follows in the family tradition of Christmas carnage. New 2K Scan of an archival theatrical print … “The Mangler” (1995): Directed by Tobe Hooper and starring Ted Levine and Robert Englund. New 4K print of the original camera negative from the uncut version. Based on Stephen King’s short story, this white-knuckle chiller follows a cop (Levine) as he investigates a series of grisly accidents — and uncovers a deadly town secret that has been hidden for years — a terrifying entity that threatens to destroy everything in its path — a laundry-folding machine has been possessed by a demon. With time running out and a young girl’s life in the balance, he races to destroy the beast before it’s too late … “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation” (1994), starring Renée Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey and Robert Jacks. This collector’s edition features both the theatrical and director’s cuts of the fourth installment of the terrifying franchise. When a helpful family invites two lost couples in for a good ol’ down-home massacre, the prom night teens find themselves all dressed up … with no place to escape. To their dismay, the old farmhouse is home to Leatherface and his insane family of cannibalistic psychopaths.
On the Indie Front:
“The Sound and the Fury” (2014), starring James Franco, Tim Blake Nelson, Scott Haze Scott Haze, Loretta Devine and Ahna O’Reilly, is a filmic look at the trials and tribulations, decline and fall, of the Comptons, a once proud, aristocratic family living in the deep south during the early part of the 20th century, revealing the secrets and betrayals that tarnished the family name and continues to haunt the Compton children. Based on the novel by Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner — considered among the 20th century’s greatest works — “The Sound and the Fury” encapsulates the universal themes of social injustice, forbidden love and the death of honor. On DVD from Monarch Home Entertainment … “In Searching” (2018) Jake Borelli, Evan Hall, Aley Underwood, Jacob Grodnik. Jon returns home on his first trip from college to visit his friends Michelle and Cole, but when he’s challenged to a dangerous bike race by his nemesis, Erik, Jon discovers a magical locket during a horrific crash. He then embarks on an auspicious journey, finding much more than love and friendship as he becomes a man.
“The Captain” (2017 — Germany), starring Max Hubacher, is based on the arresting true story of the Executioner of Emsland. The film is a World War II tale like no other — a searing historical drama with undertones of absurd black comedy that presents the evils of Nazism and fascism as a devastating kind of game to be played by those most gullible and unscrupulous. It follows a young German army deserter, Pvt. Willi Herold (Hubacher), after he finds an abandoned Nazi captain’s uniform in the final weeks of World War II. Emboldened by the authority the uniform grants him, he amasses a band of stragglers who cede to his command despite the suspicions of some. Citing direct orders from the Fuhrer himself, he soon takes command of a camp holding German soldiers accused of desertion and embarks on a brutal mission of torture and slaughter, all in the name of “justice.” Increasingly intoxicated by the unquestioned authority, the enigmatic imposter soon discovers that many people will blindly follow the leader … whomever that may be. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Music Box Films … In the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Malin (Rodrigo Santoro), a Russian literature professor at the University of Havana, is sent to translate for the Soviet children who have been brought to Cuba for medical treatment in “Un Traductor” (2018 — Cuba). While adapting to this emotionally demanding job, the Berlin Wall falls and a deep economic crisis hits the island. But Malin is so entrenched in the lives of the Chernobyl Children that he fails to notice his own family suffering. On DVD, from Film Movement … Set in 18th century Vienna, “Mademoiselle Paradis” (2017 — Germany/France) is the true story of Maria Paradis, a gifted piano player and friend of Mozart, who lost her eyesight as a child. Desperate to cure their talented daughter, her parents entrust Maria to the famous Dr. Franz Mesmer, whose theory about animal magnetism had attracted a wide following. Using the doctor’s controversial technique, Maria recovers her sight. But this miracle comes at a price as Maria progressively starts to lose her gift for music. She will have to choose: an ordinary life in the light or an extraordinary life in darkness, as a virtuoso. On DVD from First Run Features.
For the Family:
In “SK8 Dawg” (2018), starring Joey Lawrence, Sara Fletcher and David Arquette (as the voice of Buddy), everyone in Tommy’s life — his sister, his dad, his neighbor, even his dog — is an awesome skateboarder. Everyone except Tommy himself! Sick of getting teased for being a klutz, Tommy accepts a skate-off challenge from the local bully, Frankie. Can his friend Alice and his pooch, Buddy, teach Tommy to flip, ollie, grab, and slide in time for the big showdown? Recipient of the Dove Seal of Approval for all ages. On DVD from Lionsgate … “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” (2018) is based on an incredible true story and features an all-star voice cast including Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gerard Depardieu. This computer-animated feature shares the unbreakable bond between a young soldier and a stray dog who, for his valorous feats in World War I, is still recognized today as the first dog promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the U.S. Army, the most decorated dog in American history and is widely considered the forerunner to the U.S. Army’s working dog program. Returning home to a hero’s welcome, Stubby and Conroy toured the country leading victory parades and met three sitting U.S. presidents, among other honors. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Paramount.
“The Advocates” (2018): Over half a million people are homeless in the United States — 25 percent of whom are in California. Amid public outcry over the ballooning homeless population in Los Angeles — nearly 54,000 people on any given night — three advocates with three different organizations show what the lost ideal of care in the community looks like amid a changing policy landscape. Intensely human and humanizing, this documentary provides a sweeping look at the historic and current causes of LA’s unprecedented crisis, largely due to defunded affordable housing. It goes behind the headlines with pragmatic stories of the transformative work that is possible when the right resources, funding, and compassion are applied. On DVD from Cinema Libre … “Perry Como’s Olde English Christmas”: The best friend a Christmas song ever had, the legendary and beloved Perry Como celebrated the yuletide season on television, radio and records for 50 years, delighting millions worldwide. In 1977, Mr. C traveled to England for his annual holiday TV special with much of the music and merriment taking place in an historic, festively decorated castle. British singing star Petula Clark joins Como along with recording artist Leo Sayer, Olympic figure skater John Curry and Irish actress Gemma Craven for a jolly song-filled excursion featuring traditional favorites such as “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World”, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Ave Maria,” and more. On DVD from MPI Media.
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.