From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
A boxing match in Brooklyn; life in postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina; the daily routine of a Nigerian midwife; an intimate family moment at home with the director: Kirsten Johnson weaves these scenes and others into her film “Cameraperson” (2016), a tapestry of footage captured over her twenty-five-year career as a documentary cinematographer. Through a series of episodic juxtapositions, Johnson explores the relationships between image makers and their subjects, the tension between the objectivity and intervention of the camera, and the complex interaction of unfiltered reality with crafted narrative. A work that combines documentary, autobiography, and ethical inquiry, “Cameraperson” is a moving glimpse into one filmmaker’s personal journey and a thoughtful examination of what it means to train a camera on the world. On DVD and Blu-ray, in a new high-definition digital master, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … “Dirty Dancing 30th Anniversary” (1987), starring Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze, Jerry Orbach, Cynthia Rhodes, Jack Weston, Jane Brucker, Kelly Bishop and Lonny Price — the iconic story of Baby and Johnny’s summer love — returns to the big screen, DVD and Blu-ray, an ongoing North American tour of “Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage,” a new consumer products program, a new mobile game and a network television presentation of a reimagined “Dirty Dancing” musical event and celebratory editions of the original “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack. There’s also a “Dirty Dancing 30th Anniversary Limited Collector’s Edition” box with both the Blu-ray and DVD in collectible, numbered packaging along with exclusive memorabilia. Extras include “Happy 30th Birthday, Dirty Dancing,” “Patrick Swayze Uncut” last in-depth “Dirty Dancing” interview, interviews with celebrity fans reflecting on the anniversary, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes, cast interviews, music videos, filmmaker commentaries and more. From Lionsgate.
From TV to DVD:
“Dynasty: The First Season” (1981-82): The first season of the night-time soap saga of the Carringtons, a wealthy family living in Denver, re-released for the first time in more than a decade. Back in 2005, Fox Home Entertainment released Season 1 on DVD. They never released another. In 2007, home videos for the show were taken over by CBS/Paramount, and they released seasons two through nine between then and 2014. In the meantime, the Fox release of the original season was discontinued, allowing CBS and Paramount to re-release those episodes on DVD. The story begins with oil tycoon Blake Carrington (John Forsythe) marrying his former secretary, Krystle (Linda Evans). But Krystle’s former lover, Matthew (Bo Hopkins), a geologist working on one of Carrington’s oil rigs, returns to town and causes problems when he tells Krystle that he’s still in love with her. Blake’s daughter Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin) doesn’t support his marriage, and chooses to marry childhood friend Jeff Colby (John James Anderson) against her father’s wishes. And so it begins. From CBS/Paramount … “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series — Season Three” (2016) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes of the series based on Robert Rodriguez’s original film. Season three follows Seth and Richie as they continue to fight their way through the chilling world of culebras, the vampire-snake hybrids that control hidden empires in Texas and Mexico. Once the baddest outlaws in the land, the Gecko brothers made a run for the Border two years ago to save their lives — and their fortune. After stumbling into a bar full of bloodsuckers and bandits, they encountered the vampire goddess Santánico, joining her cause to settle an old score, and it won them a place in the culebra world. Now that world is on the verge of violent and destructive explosion as new enemies hell-bent on domination gather to take them down. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Entertainment One … “Graves: Season 1” (2016) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes. Nick Nolte stars as a former two-term President of the United States in EPIX’s first original comedy series. President Richard Graves, a former two-term POTUS, embarks on a Don Quixote-like quest to right the wrongs of his administration and reclaim his legacy 25 years after leaving the White House. On DVD from Lionsgate … “Vice Principals: The Complete First Season” (2016) is a two-disc set with nine episodes of the HBO comedy series about North Jackson High School and the two people who almost run it, the vice principals. When the longtime principal of a suburban high school steps down, ambitious vice principals Neal Gamby (Danny McBride) and Lee Russell (Walter Goggins) to both set their sights on the vacated top spot. But when new rival Dr. Belinda Brown (Kimberly Hébert Gregory) enters the picture, these bitter antagonists must form an unholy alliance to bring down the outsider by any means necessary. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from HBO.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
After almost a month’s drought, the ranks of ‘B’ DVD releases has finally been fleshed out with a plethora of releases. In alphabetical order this week:
- “Almost Christmas” (2016) Kimberly Elise, Omar Epps, Danny Glover, Romany Malco, Mo’Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, J.B. Smoove, Gabrielle Union. Tells the festive story of a beloved patriarch who asks his family for one gift this holiday season: to get along. If they can honor that wish and spend five days under the same roof without killing one another, it will be a Christmas miracle. Extras include “Aunt May Unplugged,” “Home for the Holidays” five-part behind-the-scenes featurette, “The Director Diaires,” “Walter Meyer’s Sweet Potato Pie” with Danny Glover, “My Favorite Scene Is …”, “Even More Gags,” “Working With Actors” with director David E. Talbert. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Universal.
- “American Pastoral” (2016): Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, Peter Riegert, Rupert Evans, Uzo Aduba, Molly Parker. McGregor stars in and directs this acclaimed film adapted from Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Seymour “Swede” Levov (McGregor), a once-legendary high school athlete, is a successful businessman married to a former beauty queen, Dawn (Connelly). When Swede and Dawn’s daughter (Fanning) disappears after being accused of a violent crime, Swede’s perfect life is broken forever and he is left to make sense out of the chaos. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate.
- “Antibirth” (2016): Natasha Lyonne, Chloë Sevigny, Meg Tilly, Mark Webber. Hard-drinking, pill-popping, bong-ripping Lou (Lyonne) and her best friend Sadie (Sevigny) spend their days adrift in a druggy haze. But one wild night-out becomes a bad trip that never ends when Lou wakes up with symptoms of an unexplained, highly abnormal pregnancy. Who — or what –is growing inside of her? On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from IFC Midnight/Scream Factory.
- “Baby, Baby, Baby” (2015): Adrianne Palicki, Brian Klugman, Kelsey Grammer, James Roday, William Shatner, Cloris Leachman. A mismatched couple who try to overcome their baggage to make love work in present-day Los Angeles. When Sydney, a struggling actor meets Sunny, an artist, he thinks she might be “the one”. She’s funny, smart and gorgeous. She’s everything a guy like him never thought he would find. And everything is great … until they move in together. From Sony.
- “Beyond Redemption” (2016): Brian Ho, Bruce Fontaine, Osric Chau, Eddy Ko, Linna Huynh, Don Lew. A weary undercover cop must maintain his cover while trying to save the daughter of a notorious Triad boss from becoming collateral damage in a sting operation gone wrong. Extras include behind-the-scenes of two action sequences: “Hallway Fight” and “Mauler Opening Fight.” On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Well Go USA.
- “Burn Country” (2016): Dominic Rains, James Franco, Melissa Leo, Rachel Brosnahan, Thomas Jay Ryan. After being exiled from Afghanistan, a former war journalist settles in a small town in Northern California and takes a job with a local newspaper. But when he attempts to cover local crime, he stumbles into local corruption that puts himself and others in danger. From Samuel Goldwyn Films./Sony.
- “Call of the Wolf” (2017): Aleksander Ristic, Cynthia Bravo, Matthew Oliva. Two kidnapped and trapped strangers must survive the brutal onslaught of winter while being forced to play a deadly game of survival to outsmart their kidnapper; a sniper calling himself “Wolf.” On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Gravitas Ventures.
- “Cross Wars” (2017): Brian Austin Green, Danny Trejo, Vinnie Jones, Tom Sizemore, Tim Abell, Lori Heuring. Armed with a powerful ancient Cross amulet, Callan (Brian Austin Green) and his team of misfit weapons experts battle local thugs and heinous criminals in Los Angeles. When a ruthless villain named Muerte (Trejo) and the evil immortal Gunnar (Vinnie Jones) threaten to kill Callan’s crew and bring on the apocalypse, he and his team join forces with an all-girl crime-fighting squad to avert the end of humanity. Extras include commentary with director Patrick Durham and executive producer Gary T. Williams, alternate credits. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Sony.
- “Dead West” (2016): Jeffrey Arrington, Brian Sutherland, Meagan Karimi-Naser, Aurelio Voltaire, Michael Joseph Draper. A charismatic outlaw sets out on a murderous cross-country trip searching for true love. Each time he thinks he has found “the one,” he ends up disappointed — and she ends up dead. Managing to elude capture by traveling from one town to the next, his luck runs out when the brother of one of his victims tracks him down. From RLJ Entertainment.
- “Desierto” (2016 — Mexico): Gael Garcia Bernal, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Alondra Hidalgo, Diego Catano. From Jonás Cuarón and Alfonso Cuarón, the acclaimed filmmakers of “Gravity,” comes the modern, heart-pounding suspense-thriller starring Gael García Bernal and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. What begins as a hopeful journey to seek a better life becomes a harrowing and primal fight for survival when a deranged, rifle-toting vigilante chases a group of unarmed men and women through the treacherous U.S.-Mexican border area. In the harsh, unforgiving desert terrain, the odds are stacked firmly against them as they continuously discover there’s nowhere to hide from the unrelenting, merciless killer. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Universal.
- “Frank & Lola” (2016): Michael Shannon, Imogen Poots. The story of two people locked in a battle of passion and obsession. When talented chef Frank meets aspiring fashion designer Lola, he’s instantly and violently in love. As the secrets of Lola’s dark past are revealed, the lovers are drawn into a web of sex, jealousy and revenge. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Universal.
- “Justice League Dark” (2017): DC Universe Original Movie full-length animated film. When innocent civilians begin committing unthinkable crimes across Metropolis, Gotham City and beyond, Batman must call upon mystical counterparts to eradicate this demonic threat to the planet. Enter Justice League Dark, reluctantly led by the Hellblazer himself, John Constantine. Like Batman, Constantine is a cunning, often cynical loner who is the best at his chosen profession – but quickly realizes the sinister forces plaguing the planet will require help from other supernatural alliances. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Warner.
- “Killing Reagan” (2016): Tim Matheson, Cynthia Nixon, Kyle More. Based on Bill O’Reilly’s best-selling book, this drama explores Ronald Reagan’s rise to power as well as the assassination attempt on his life. Just two months into his presidency, President Reagan lay near death after a gunman’s bullet came within an inch of his heart. Grievously injured, he confronted an enormous challenge — could he overcome his traumatic experience while carrying out the duties of the most powerful man in the world? From Fox.
- “Life on the Line” (2015): John Travolta, Kate Bosworth, Devon Sawa, Sharon Stone. The story of power linemen, braving dangerously dizzying heights and working hundreds of feet in the air on wires carrying as much as 500,000 volts of electricity. As a huge electrical storm sweeps towards Texas, lineman Beau (Travolta) is haunted by memories of his brother’s death by lightning years earlier. Bailey (Bosworth), the niece he helped raise, has a secret she needs to share with her boyfriend Duncan. But he and Beau’s brave team are racing to replace miles of power cables before the tempest strikes their Texas town. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate.
- “Nerdland” (2016): Feature-length animated adult comedy with the voices of Paul Rudd, Patton Oswalt, Hannibal Burress, Larraine Newman, Mike Judge, Molly Shannon, Charlyne Yi, Paul Scheer. Aspiring actor John (Paul Rudd) and wannabe screenwriter Elliot (Patton Oswalt) are slacker best friends who have seen their dreams of super-stardom fizzle. With their 30th birthdays looming and desperation growing, they decide that in this 24/7, celebrity-obsessed world of over-shared navel-gazing, there are more ways to get famous than ever before — so why not become famous by the end of the day, at any cost?! With only the grudging support of a wacky collectible store owner (Hannibal Buress) and their one-sided love for a pair of equally fame hungry women (Riki Lindhome & Kate Micucci) to keep them going, John and Elliot troll Los Angeles on an attention grabbing journey of reckless publicity stunts and failed heroics. While navigating their hyper-stimulating landscape of consumerism gone wild, our disheartened duo inadvertently become key witnesses in a high profile crime that sets the news cycle on fire, making them household names… but only if they can survive the infamy and worldwide shame. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Samuel Goldwyn Films/Sony.
- “The 9th Life of Louis Drax” (2016): Jamie Dornan, Aiden Longworth, Aaron Paul, Sarah Gadon. After surviving eight near-death accidents throughout his unlucky life, Louis Drax (Aiden Longworth) plunges off a steep cliff on his ninth birthday. While police investigate the cause of Louis’s near-fatal fall and the whereabouts of his violent father, acclaimed neurologist Dr. Allan Pascal uses unorthodox techniques to try to tap into the boy’s unconscious mind and reveal the truth about the events that led to his condition. But as he’s drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery of Louis’s seeming ability to cheat death, he finds himself falling for Louis’s mother. As new clues emerge in the case, a shocking revelation changes the fates of Louis and everyone around him. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate.
- “Nocturne” (2014): Mary Krohnert, Knickoy Robinson. An urban fairy tale: a dark and strange world unfolds when Cindy, an over-medicated insomniac, becomes romantically fascinated with a sleepwalking co-worker, Armen. Their strange new “relationship” throws her unraveling family life into chaos while revealing an elaborate plot to take advantage of his condition, a plot that she must help stop. From Random Media/Winlea Pictures.
- “Spin Out” (2016): Xavier Samuel, Morgan Griffin, Travis Jeffery. Billy and Lucy have grown up together in a small, close-knit country town in the Australian Outback, where they form one of the town’s most formidable off-road driving teams. When Billy takes one risky car stunt too far, Lucy declares she is moving to the city — sending Billy into a spin. Amid the mayhem of the town’s annual block party, Billy only has one night to wake up to his true feelings for his best friend — or lose her forever.From Sony.
- “Spirit of the Game” (2016): Aaron Jakubenko, Kevin Sorbo, Wade Briggs. A never-before-told chapter in Olympic history comes to life in this inspirational sports drama that follows a group of young missionaries traveling in Australia who are recruited to help the fledgling Australian national basketball team compete in their first Olympics. In doing so, they help unite a nation still reeling from the aftermath of World War II. From Sony.
- “The Take” (2016): Richard Madden, Idris Elba, Kelly Reilly. An American pickpocket living in Paris finds himself hunted by the CIA when he steals a bag that contains more than just a wallet. The field agent on the case soon realizes that pickpocket is just a pawn in a much bigger game and is also his best asset to uncover a large-scale conspiracy. Going against commands, he recruits the American to use his expert pickpocket skills to help quickly track down the source of the corruption. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Universal.
- “Two Lovers and a Bear” (2016): Tatiana Maslany, Dane DeHaan. Set in a small town near the North Pole where roads lead to nowhere, the story follows Roman (DeHaan) and Lucy (Maslany), two burning souls who come together to make a leap for life and inner peace. From Fox.
- “Underground Kings” (2016): Christopher Mann, John Canada Terrell, Tiffany E. Green. A police officer finds out his partner was set up to be killed by a dirty cop and crime boss from Philadelphia, and he goes undercover in the city of “The Underground Kings” to expose police corruption and ties to the underworld. From Breaking Glass Pictures.
On the Indie Front:
The memory of a teenage boy haunts an aging Catholic Priest after he receives a letter confronting him about a time they spent at a winter cottage 40 years ago in “Fall” (2014), starring Michael Murphy. From Breaking Glass Pictures.
In “Come What May” (2015 — France), starring August Diehl, Olivier Gourmet, Mathilde Seigner, Alice Isaaz and Matthew Rhys, the inhabitants of a small village in northern France flee their homes, like so many millions of their compatriots, to escape the imminent German invasion in May 1940. Max, a German boy, travels with them because his father, Hans, opposed the Nazi regime and was imprisoned in Arras for having lied about his nationality. Hans is eventually set free and sets off to find his son, accompanied by a Scottish soldier who is trying to get back home. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Coen Media Group.
For the Family:
Kids can dance and sing along with Elmo and friends in “Sesame Street: Singing With the Stars 2” (2017), a collection of memorable performances from Gwen Stefani, Janelle Monae, Nick Jonas, Fifth Harmony and more. From Warner … “Sabrina Down Under” (1999) is a movie spin-off from the TV series. While on vacation in Australia, the teen witch (Melissa Joan Hart), Salem the cat (voiced by Nick Bakay) and a friend (Tara Charendoff) travel to the Great Barrier Reef, where they discover a mermaid colony threatened by pollution. And, naturally, Sabrina falls for a hunky merman. From CBS/Paramount … “Playtime With Caillou” (2017) features seven stories from the PBS Kids series about the adventures of four-year-old Caillou who has a boundless imagination that makes every experience an opportunity for fun and play. From PBS Distribution.
Narrated by Leonard Cohen himself, “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man” (2016) is an intimate portrait of a truly singular artist — poet, songwriter, cultural icon — and features performances of Cohen’s songs by such luminary artists as U2, Rufus Wainwright, Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, Antony, Martha Wainwright, and Beth Orton, among others. Formats: Blu-ray Disc, Digital. Extras include audio commentary with director Lian Lunson; “A Conversation with Leonard Cohen” featurette, additional performances of Cohen songs not seen in the movie (“Tower of Song” performed by Martha Wainwright, “Bird on a Wire” performed by Perla Batalla, “Famous Blue Raincoat” performed by The Handsome Family, “Tonight Will Be Fine” performed by Teddy Thompson, trailer. From Lionsgate … In “Look at Us Now, Mother!” (2015), a prize-winning filmmaker chronicles her relationship with her difficult mom in a story that would be tragic if it wasn’t so funny. An unflinching look at the complex bond between mother and daughter. It has its roots in “My Nose”, a humorous short in which Gayle Kirschenbaum introduced us to her hypercritical mother, Mildred, as she pressed Gayle to have a nose job. The film barely scratched the surface of what was clearly a fascinating and perhaps universal story of mothers and daughters. So, Kirschenbaum embarked on a long, miraculous and poignant journey for the full-length film that showed the transformation of a highly charged mother-daughter relationship from Mommie Dearest to Dear Mom, from hatred to love. From Virgil Films … “The Eagle Huntress” (2016) is a spellbinding documentary that follows Aisholpan, a 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian girl who is fighting to become the first female eagle hunter in 12 generations of her Kazakh family. Through breathtaking aerial cinematography and intimate verite footage, the film captures her personal journey while also addressing universal themes like female empowerment, the natural world, coming of age and the onset of modernity. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Sony.