From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
There’s three cool entries this week from The Criterion Collection: In “Election” (1999) Perky, overachieving Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) gets on the nerves of history teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) to begin with, but after she launches her campaign for high-school president and his personal life starts to fall apart, things spiral out of control. In Alexander Payne’s satire “Election,” the teacher becomes unhealthily obsessed with cutting his student down to size, covertly backing a spoiler candidate to stop her from steamrolling to victory, and putting in motion a series of dirty tricks and reckless promises with uncanny real-world political parallels. Adapting a then-unpublished novel by Tom Perrotta, Payne grounds the absurdity of his central dynamic in the recognizable — the setting is his hometown of Omaha, and the accomplished cast is rounded out with nonprofessionals — and distills his closely observed take on deeply flawed humanity to its bitter but stealthily sympathetic essence. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised and approved by co-writer-director Alexander Payne, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray … “The Complete Monterey Pop Festival” On a beautiful June weekend in 1967, at the beginning of the Summer of Love, the first and only Monterey International Pop Festival roared forward, capturing a decade’s spirit and ushering in a new era of rock and roll. Monterey featured career-making performances by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Otis Redding, but they were just a few performers in a wildly diverse lineup that included Simon and Garfunkel, the Mamas and the Papas, the Who, the Byrds, Hugh Masekela, and the extraordinary Ravi Shankar. With his characteristic vérité style — and a camera crew that included the likes of Albert Maysles and Richard Leacock — D. A. Pennebaker captured it all, immortalizing moments that have become legend: Pete Townshend smashing his guitar, Jimi Hendrix burning his, Mama Cass being blown away by Janis Joplin’s performance. The Criterion Collection is proud to present the most comprehensive document of the Monterey International Pop Festival ever produced, featuring the films “Monterey Pop,” “Jimi Plays Monterey,” and “Shake! Otis at Monterey,” along with every available complete performance filmed by Pennebaker and his crew. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 16-bit 4K digital restoration of “Monterey Pop,” supervised by director D. A. Pennebaker, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack; restored high-definition digital transfers of “Jimi Plays Monterey” and “Shake! Otis at Monterey” with uncompressed stereo soundtracks; alternate soundtracks for all three films featuring 5.1 mixes by legendary recording engineer Eddie Kramer, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio. Extras include “The Outtake Performances”: Two hours of performances not included in “Monterey Pop,” from the Association, Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Blues Project, the Byrds, Country Joe and the Fish, the Electric Flag, Jefferson Airplane, Al Kooper, the Mamas and the Papas, Laura Nyro, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Simon and Garfunkel, Tiny Tim, and the Who … “General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait” (1974 — France) In 1974, Barbet Schroeder went to Uganda to make a film about Idi Amin, the country’s ruthless, charismatic dictator. Three years into a murderous regime that would be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Ugandans, Amin prepared a triumphal greeting for the filmmakers, staging rallies, military maneuvers, and cheery displays of national pride, and envisioning the film as an official portrait to adorn his cult of personality. Schroeder, however, had other ideas, emerging with a disquieting, caustically funny brief against Amin, in which the dictator’s own endless stream of testimony — charming, menacing, and nonsensical by turns — serves as the most damning evidence. A revelatory tug-of-war between subject and filmmaker, “General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait” is a landmark in the art of documentary and an appalling study of egotism in power. On DVD and Blu-ray, with a new, restored 2K digital transfer, supervised by Schroeder, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
From the folks at Arrow Video/Arrow Academy: “Pulp” (1972.) A year after they’d created one of the defining British gangster pictures with “Get Carter,” three Michaels — writer-director Mike Hodges, producer Michael Klinger and star Michael Caine — reunited for another crime picture, albeit with a more oddball flavor. Caine plays Mickey King, a successful pulp novelist responsible for such titles as “My Gun Is Long” and “The Organ Grinder,” who is invited to ghost-write the autobiography of a mystery celebrity. His client turns out to be a former actor, played by Mickey Rooney, well-known for his gangster roles and real-life gangster connections — but death is around the corner, and King finds his commission to be a lot more complicated than he first imagined. A favorite of J.B. Ballard, “Pulp” has long existed in the shadow of its predecessor. Tonally, it could not be more different — “Get Carter” never had the time for sight gags and one-liners — but it’s a real gem in its own right and fully deserving of a wider audience. This release aims to right that wrong. Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements, supervised and approved by director of photography Ousama Rawi, produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release, with original 1.0 mono sound. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc.
From TV to DVD:
“Doc Martin, Series 8” (2017) is a three-disc set with all eight episodes. Martin Clunes returns as Dr. Martin Ellingham in the eighth series of this smash-hit British comedy. In these all-new episodes, the doctor continues his practice in the picturesque seaside town of Portwenn, while raising his son with wife Louisa. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Acorn Media … “Fuller House: The Complete Second Season” (2016) is a two-disc set with all 13 episodes. There’s no place like home, as the Tanner-Fuller-Gibblers serve up a whole new set of adventures. D.J. finally decides between Matt and Steve. Kimmy’s ex-husband, Fernando moves into the Tanner house. Ramona thinks she’s ready for her first kiss. The entire Tanner family shows up to the house for Thanksgiving, pushing D.J.’s organizational skills to the extremes. Kimmy tries to get her childhood band Girl Talk back together again. Uncle Jesse and Becky consider making an addition to their family. A famous ‘90s boy band makes a guest appearance and much more. From Warner … The “Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season” (2017) featured the most-watched premiere and finale episodes in HBO history, and the series remains the most-awarded drama series in Emmy history, with 109 nominations to date and winning the 2015 and 2016 trophy for Best Drama Series. In Season 7, Daenerys Targaryen has finally set sail for Westeros with her armies, dragons and new Hand of the Queen, Tyrion Lannister. Jon Snow has been named King in the North after defeating Ramsay Bolton in the Battle of the Bastards and returning Winterfell to House Stark. In King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister has seized the Iron Throne by incinerating the High Sparrow, his followers and her rivals in the Sept of Baelor. But as old alliances fracture and new ones emerge, an army of dead men marches on the Wall, threatening to end the game of thrones forever. In four-disc DVD, three-disc Blu-ray sets. From HBO … In the final season of the acclaimed BBC detective drama “George Gently, Series 8” (2017), Tony-nominee Martin Shaw returns as DCI George Gently, a brilliant and honorable cop investigating murders in the rugged North East of England. It’s 1970, the start of a new decade. Radical social and political change is in the air, and Gently is on the brink of retirement. Tasked with investigating two last homicides, Gently finds himself at odds with his cocky protégé, DI John Bacchus and questioning the legacy he will leave behind. When a victim’s body is discovered eight years after his wife was convicted of killing him, Gently reopens the case against the wishes of Bacchus, who was part of the original investigation. Later, a cold case leads Gently to suspect a charismatic politician billed as a future prime minister. Along with DS Rachel Coles, Gently and Bacchus must enter a shadowy world of political intrigue and risk everything—even their own lives—to uncover the truth. In a two-disc DVD, single Blu-ray Disc, from Acorn Media … “The Strain Season 4” (2017) is a three-disc set. In the final 10 episodes of this terrifying series from the visionary minds of Guillermo del Toro, Carlton Cuse and Chuck Hogan, nuclear winter envelopes the planet and a desperate, weakened humanity — existing only as slave labor for “The Partnership” — is controlled by the bloodthirsty strigoi. Meanwhile, the sinister “Master” grooms Eph’s son Zack to rule the post-apocalyptic dystopia. With nothing left to lose, Eph and a tiny group of survivors plot to defeat The Master and save what’s left of humanity — and the planet. From Fox … “Zoo: Season Three” (2017) is a four-disc set with all 13 episodes of the CBS drama that portrays a dwindling human population battling against a devastating army of unstoppable lab-made creatures who are hell-bent on destroying mankind. The year is now 2027 and the world has reached a tipping point. The human population continues to dwindle due to a sterility problem and a devastating threat rises in the form of “the hybrids,” the army of unstoppable lab-made creatures . Although the team has become estranged over the past decade, they’re are forced to overcome their differences and reunite. As the planet’s future hangs in the balance, the team must race to stop the hybrids and their creator – a shadowy figure with a startling connection to the team’s past. From Paramount.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
“All Saints” (2017), starring John Corbett, Cara Buono, Myles Moore, Nelson Lee, Barry Corbin and David Keith, is the inspiring true story of salesman-turned-pastor Michael Spurlock. Ordered to shut down a tiny church, Spurlock (Corbett), with a group of refugees from Southeast Asia, band together to risk everything to plant seeds for a future that might just save them all. Michael’s first assignment as their new pastor is to actually close down All Saints, a quaint country church with a dozen devoted members … and a mortgage well beyond its means. But when the church hesitantly begins welcoming refugees from Burma — former farmers striving for a fresh start in America — Michael feels called to an improbable new mission. Toiling alongside the Karen people, the congregation attempts to turn their fertile land into a working farm to pay the church’s bills and feed its people. Jeopardizing his family’s future by ignoring his superiors, Michael must choose between completing what he was assigned to do — close the church and sell the property — or listening to a still, small voice challenging the people of All Saints to risk it all and provide much-needed hope to their new community. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, Digital, from Sony … “Whiskey Galore!” (2016 — UK), starring Eddie Izzard, Gregor Fisher, Sean Biggerstaff, James Cosmo, Ellie Kendrick, Kevin Guthrie and Naomi Battrick, is a remake of the 1949 Alexander Mackendrick/Ealing Studios classic. The charming and heart-warming tale of a community of Islanders on a remote Scottish Island during WW2 coming together to relieve a sinking ship of its amber cargo. Based on the true story of the cargo ship SS Politician running aground off the coast of Eriskay in 1941 and the ensuing battle between the Excise Men and the locals trying to salvage the lucrative cargo, that of 50,000 cases of Whiskey. The shipwreck and its cargo was like manna from heaven to the Islanders, whose community was totally “dry,” without any type of alcohol, which some would say is part of the life blood of the Scottish Islands. On DVD, Blu-ray from Arrow Video/Arrow Academy … When Michael (Michael Jai White), a police hostage negotiator, returns to the force following a leave of absence, he is immediately thrown into a volatile hostage situation in “Cops and Robbers” (2016). After learning that he has more in common with the suspect than anyone expected, Michael has no choice but to lead negotiations. Co-stars Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Tom Berenger. From Lionsgate … In “The Rift: Dark Side of the Moon” (2016 — Serbia), starring Ken Foree, Katarina Cas, Monte Markham and Dragan Micanovic, an American military satellite crash lands in Eastern Serbia and a team of US and Serbian agents are dispatched to secure the remains of the satellite … but when they locate the crash site all is not as it seems. Features a soundtrack of music from Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” performed by Rick Wakeman (Yes), John Wetton (Asia), Robbie Krieger (The Doors), Colin Moulding (XTC) and more. From Cleopatra Entertainment/MVD Visual … “K-SHOP” (2016 — UK), starring Ziad Abaza, Reece Noi, Darren Morfitt, Ewen MacIntosh, Scott Williams, Kristin Atherton, Chris Wright, Harry Reid and Sean Cernow, after his father is killed in an altercation with drunken thugs, Salah is forced into running the family kebab shop alone. When a fight with an angry customer goes fatally wrong, he finds himself with a dead body on his hands and he disposes of it in the one place he knows best: the kebabs. As the shop’s gullible customers devour the new recipe, Salah develops a taste for the kill and seizes the opportunity to turn vigilante, seeking vengeance on the abusive drunkards plaguing the streets. From Film Movement … The Wolf Warrior is back in “Wolf Warrior 2” (2017 — China), the sequel to the 2015 blockbuster Chinese hit. With his career in tatters, China’s deadliest Special Forces operative (Wu Jing) has settled into a quiet life on the sea. But when he crosses paths with a sadistic band of mercenaries terrorizing innocent civilians, he must reaffirm his duty as a soldier and save the day once again. Fists (and bullets, tanks, missiles and much more) fly in this tour de force of bravura action filmmaking, all culminating into a climactic battle between the Wolf Warrior and the mercenary leader (Frank Grillo). Co-stars Celina Jade, Wu Gang, Hans Zhang, Ding Haifeng, Chungyu Shanshan. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, Digital, from Well Go USA … In “Once Upon a Time at Christmas” (2017), starring Simon Phillips and Sayla Vee de Goede, Santa and Mrs. Claus terrorize a small town when they go on a spree, forcing a teen girl and local cop to solve the pattern behind the mysterious murders. From Lionsgate … In “Halloween Pussy Trap Kill! Kill!” (2017), starring Sara Malakul Lane, Richard Grieco, Demetrius Stear, Margaret O’Brien and Dave Mustaine, an all girl rock ‘n’ roll band called “Kill Pussy Kill” ventures out to play their biggest show to date on Halloween. Before hitting the road, however, they manage to unwittingly upset a man who turns out to be an evil genius dead set on revenge. He manages to lure the girls into his Hell House, and when they wake up from being gassed, they find themselves trapped inside an unescapable room filled with a vicious variety of devices that can kill them … as well as a variety of weapons that can be used on each other. The rules are simple: advance through all three rooms and you are allowed to go free. The catch is, in order to make it to the next room, someone must die. From Cleopatra Entertainment/MVD Entertainment.
In “The Unknown Girl” (2016 — Belgium), directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne and starring Adèle Haenel and Jérémie Renie, a conscientious and dedicated young doctor is devastated after making what appears to be a fatal mistake. One evening after work hours, Jenny), a young doctor, allows the door buzzer at the small clinic where she works to go unanswered. It’s only later that she learns that the person ringing was an unidentified African woman found dead shortly after by the side of a road. Consumed by the thought that she is to blame, Jenny embarks on an obsessive crusade to discover who the anonymous woman was and to see to it that she is not forgotten. From IFC Films … After accidentally killing a bearded goat with their father’s truck, two incompatible teenagers embark on a journey of reconciliation and comedic misadventure along Colombia’s breathtaking Caribbean coast in “Bad Lucky Goat” (2017 — Colombia), starring Honlenny Huffington and Kiara Howard. With no money, Cornelius “Corn” Denton and his older sister, Rita, must find a way to get the damaged truck fixed in time to pick up the tourists that will be staying at their family’s hotel. While struggling to conceal the accident, the siblings visit a butcher, rastafari drum makers, a pawn shop and even a witch doctor during the course of an amazing 24-hour odyssey around Port Paradise. Official Selection of SXSW 2017. From Omnibus Entertainment … The psychological thriller M“Inflame” (2017 –Turkey) follows Hasret, (Algi Eke) a female editor working at an Istanbul TV news channel, who has been having recurring and unsettling nightmares about her parents’ death. Are these experiences at night fictional recreations or repressed memories? Hasret edits documentaries at a local news channel. After a position shuffle, she is moved to the newsroom, which has recently been monopolized by politics. Displeased at work day after day, disagreeing with the whitewashing of any anti-government dissent that she has to splice and edit together, she finally decides to quit. Isolating herself in the flat left to her after her parents’ death 20 years earlier, paranoia and obsession slowly begin to creep in and take hold of her psyche. Did her parents really die in a car crash or was it something politically charged? Ceylan Özgün Özçelik’s feature film debut. Since bursting onto the film festival scene, Özçelik has become a vanguard of the recent Turkish cinematic movement. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, Digital, from FilmRise.
For the Family:
“Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Final Chapters” (2017) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes. In this final collection of episodes, the half-shelled heroes must band together once and for all in order to be the heroes they were destined to be. Whether they are battling mutants in another dimension, teaming up with a rabbit samurai to defeat an evil sorcerer, or clashing with classic movie monsters to protect New York City, the Turtles will have to use all of their ninja-knowledge to defeat their enemies. From Nickelodeon/Paramount.
“Architects Of Denial” (2017): The annals of history are stained with brutal purges along ethnic, racial and religious lines: among them, the Nazi “Final Solution” and latter-day genocides in Sudan, Rwanda, Cambodia and Guatemala. One of the least well known is the systematic persecution and genocide of millions of Armenians since the early 1900s. This theatrical documentary explores how the silence surrounding such tragedies and a lack of accountability may set the stage for more worldwide massacres in the future. A first person account of genocide through the eyes of survivors, the film also includes interviews with Julian Assange, Sibel Edmonds (founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition), Genocide Watch founder Dr. Gregory Stanton, and Oscar-winning actor-director George Clooney, as well as experts who graphically illustrate the real connection between historical “denial” with present day mass exterminations. Tackling the persecution of innocent individuals along with the countries — and the politicians — who refuse, even today, to acknowledge the enormity of these mass crimes, this documentary delivers the powerful and chilling message that genocide denied is genocide continued. From Omnibus Entertainment … “Mysteries of China” (2017) captures one of the great archaeological events of the modern age, telling the story of Ancient China, the First Emperor, and the literal foundation of the China we know today. Through the lens of this groundbreaking discovery, viewers explore an ancient time when a fierce warrior brought together a warring nation and how an accidental discovery changed everything we know about China’s past. The discovery of the Terracotta Warriors and the Tomb of the First Emperor offers a unique time capsule into the past, revealing many things about this great country, which tells a larger story about the growth of China into a true superpower. From modern China to ancient China and back again, “Mysteries of China” is a visual adventure, using beautiful aerial photography and cutting-edge time lapse techniques to reveal great majesty, tragedy, splendor, and growth in a nation that continues to excel quickly into the future. On 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo from Shout! Factory … “Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards” (2017) is an in-depth chronicle of celebrated fashion designer Manolo Blahnik and how his remarkable dedication to his craft led him to become the world’s most famous luxury shoemaker, an icon revered by celebrities, stylists, industry luminaries, and fashion lovers everywhere. The documentary follows Blahnik from his childhood in the remote city of Santa Cruz de la Palma, in Spain’s Canary Islands, to his beginnings as a shoemaker and designer, up through his first store opening in London in 1973 and coming of age in the fashion capitals of the world, where he now has shops and?department store concessions in over 20 countries. And through it all — through Madonna offering that his shoes are “better than sex” and Carrie Bradshaw getting mugged in an episode of “Sex and The City” as she begs to hold onto her signature — Blahnik has retained full control of his business, still creating every shoe and even hand-carving the wooden forms himself. From Music Box Films.
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.