From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bet
With “Roma” (2018), his eighth and most personal film, Alfonso Cuarón recreated the early-1970s Mexico City of his childhood, narrating a tumultuous period in the life of a middle-class family through the experiences of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio, in a revelatory screen debut), the indigenous domestic worker who keeps the household running. Charged with the care of four small children abandoned by their father, Cleo tends to the family even as her own life is shaken by personal and political upheavals. Written, directed, shot, and co-edited by Cuarón, Roma is a labor of love with few parallels in the history of cinema, deploying monumental black-and-white cinematography, an immersive soundtrack, and a mixture of professional and nonprofessional performances to shape its author’s memories into a world of enveloping texture, and to pay tribute to the woman who nurtured him. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with 4K digital master, supervised by director Alfonso Cuarón, with Dolby Atmos soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.
From TV to Disc:
“Gunsmoke: The Complete Eighteenth & Nineteenth Seasons” (1972-73, 1973-74) are two six-disc sets with 24 episodes each. The multiple award-winning classic is shooting its-way back onto TV screens. The beloved Dodge City crew going are once again negotiating with the ungoverned and rugged frontier that surrounds them. Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness) continues his mission of being the ever-steady force that keeps his town from spiraling into lawlessness. Along with the unflappable Deputy Festus Haggen (Ken Curtis), the witty Doc Adams (Milburn Stone), and the beautiful but unpredictable Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake), Marshal Dillon must stand tall against the criminals and chaos that jeopardize the sanctity of Dodge City. Guest stars include the likes of Harrison Ford, Tom Skerritt, Kurt Russell and Michael Learned. From CBS/Paramount.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Alien Outbreak” (2020), starring Katherine Drake, Ritchie Crane and Philip Alexander Baker, a small rural community is attacked by an alien presence and a pair of local police officers — Zoe and Patrick — battle through the night to take control as they become cut off from the outside world. Residents begin to behave strangely with mass suicide panic. Zoe and Patrick begin to fight back and b and soon discover things are not all as they seems. Can they save their community and the outside world before it’s too late? From High Octane Pictures … During the final days of World War I, a regiment of daring African-American “Buffalo Soldiers” is trapped deep behind enemy lines in “The Great War” (2019), starring Bates Wilder, Hiram A. Murray, Aaron Courteau, Billy Zane and Ron Perlman. After one of these soldiers manages to escape, he’s ordered to join a select team of white troops, led by a battle-scarred officer, to find and rescue the survivors. Casting aside their racial differences, the determined men join forces to find their lost comrades in this gripping action-filled tale of bravery and unity. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In “Get Gone” (2019), Hoax Busters, an internet “fake video” team take a weekend retreat after busting another online lie to do some team building. They travel to Whiskey Flats, Oregon and meet with Craig Eubanks, a shifty, bossy know-it-all outdoor guide who promises them his company – Rocks and Roots – will build their team confidence. At the same time, an invasive drilling company with the rights handed over by the Federal government are moving onto the land of a family that has lived on the property (illegally as “squatters”) for over 30 years. When the drillers attack the family and the Hoax Busters get caught in the middle, things quickly go awry. From Cleopatra Entertainment … “Hell on the Border” (2019), starring David Gyasi, Frank Grillo and Ron Perlman, is the incredible true story of Bass Reeves (Gyasi), the first black Marshal in the Wild West. Having escaped from slavery after the Civil War, he arrives in Arkansas seeking a job with the law. To prove himself, he must hunt down a deadly outlaw (Grillo) with the help of a grizzled journeyman (Perlman). As he chases the criminal deeper into the Cherokee Nation, Reeves must dodge bullets and severe discrimination in hopes of earning his star — and ends up cementing his place as a cowboy legend. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “Greener Grass” (2019), starring Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe and Beck Bennett, is a bizarre slideshow of a world of murder, braces, and plastic ball babies. In a day-glo colored, bizarre version of suburbia, soccer moms and best friends Jill (DeBoer) and Lisa ((Luebbe) are locked in a passive-aggressive battle of wills that takes a turn into the sinister when Lisa begins systematically taking over Jill’s life. Meanwhile, a psycho yoga teacher killer is on the loose, Jill’s husband has developed a curious taste for pool water, and Lisa becomes pregnant — with a soccer ball. On Blu-ray from IFC Midnight/Scream factory … In “Nighthawks: Special Edition” (2019), starring Chace Crawford, Kevin Zegers, Janet Montgomery and Michele Weaver, wide-eyed Midwest transplant Stan (Crawford) agrees to play wingman to his calculating and privileged roommate Chad (Zegers) as they embark upon an exploration of glittering New York nightlife, whose darkest secrets are held captive by an elite band of millennials known as Nighthawks. From Filmrise … After being horrendously embarrassed by the mean girls at school, Faye, a practicing witch, summons the evil “Cupid” (2019), starring Georgina Jane, Bao Tieu, Michael Owusu, Abi Casson Thompson and Sarah T. Cohen, to take revenge on all those who wronged her. On Valentine’s Day, Cupid does in fact rise and will stop at nothing until the walls are covered in blood. The students must figure out a way to stop Cupid and undo the spell before their hearts get broken … very literally. From Uncork’d Entertainment … In “Prescience (aka Intuitions)” (2019), starring René Mena, Mike C. Manning, Vannessa Vasquez, Eric Roberts and Linda Gray, a criminal attorney struggles with his sexuality, a cryptic new boyfriend, unemployment and the disturbing childhood secrets his parents hold. From Indiecan Pictures … In “My Bloody Valentine (Collectors Edition)” (1981), on Valentine’s Day, someone always loses their heart. Twenty years ago, this small town lost more than that. When supervisors abandoned their posts to attend the town’s annual holiday dance, a tragedy claimed the lives of five miners. The sole survivor, Harry Warden, was institutionalized, but returned for a vengeful massacre on the disaster’s first anniversary. Nineteen years later, the town is gearing up for another Valentine’s Day party. Teen sweethearts T.J. and Sarah, along with their friend Axel, are among the excited partygoers. But when a box of candy containing an eerie warning and blood-soaked heart arrive, the townsfolk realize that romance is as good as dead. And so are they. Two-disc set with new 4K scans of the original camera negatives of the theatrical and uncut versions. Stars Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Helene Udy, Rob Stein, Peter Cowper, Thomas Kovacs, Jim Murchison and Alf Humphreys. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory).
In “Winter Flies” (2018 — Czech Republic), starring Tomás Mrvík, Jan Frantisek Uher and Eliska Krenková, two young boys hit the road for mischievous adventure. The rebellious fourteen-year-old Mára sets out behind the wheel of a stolen Audi with his eccentric friend Hedus. Together they head out into the frozen wastelands of the Czech Republic in search of adventure. When the police finally catch up with them, the mischievous breeziness of Mára’s story provides more questions than answers for the baffled authorities. Filled with directorial playfulness, Olmo Omerzu’s winter road movie about boyhood friendship and unexpected adolescent detours was the winner of four Czech Lion Awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor and Actress; it was also Czechoslovakia’s Official Oscar Submission for Best Foreign Film in 2019. From Film Movement … “You’ll Never be Alone” (2016 — Chile), starring Sergio Hernández, Andrew Bargsted, Astrid Roldán, Jaime Leiva, Roberto Cayuqueo, Gabriela Hernández and Edgardo Bruna, the feature debut of singer/songwriter Alex Anwandter takes a piercing look at modern Chile through the eyes of a father and son. Introverted Juan, manager of a mannequin factory, lives alone with his 18-year-old gay son, Pablo, in Chile. While Pablo hangs out with his best friend Mari and secretly hooks up with the sexy, but closeted Felix, Juan channels his life into his work trying to build a business he doesn’t really even own. When Pablo is badly wounded in a brutal homophobic attack, his father starts to view the world in a new light and decides to make up his own rules in order to save his son. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Altered Innocence.
“American Experience: McCarthy” (2020): The legacy of Joseph McCarthy’s relentless search for anyone he deemed a communist or enemy of the state will forever be shrouded in infamy. The Wisconsin Senator’s crusade is now the centerpiece of any conversation involving the government’s role in decency, democracy and ethical conduct. This witch hunt, completely free of restraint or oversight, led to the trials and imprisonment of many celebrities, Americans and immigrants. This program details the rise of McCarthy’s political life which led to his belief that there was a great conspiracy threatening America, culminating in a chilling campaign full of groundless accusations, bullying intimidation, grandiose showmanship, cruel victimization and a web of lies to keep public opinion on their side. From PBS Distribution … “I Got You Babe: The Best of Sonny & Cher”: When Salvatore “Sonny” Bono and Cherilyn “Cher” Sarkisian came together it was undeniably magical. America first knew them as the duo behind the classic hit “I Got You Babe,” and their popularity exploded with the 70s smash variety show “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.” The perfect match on stage and off, millions of fans tuned in each week to watch the sparks fly and see what Cher was (or wasn’t!) wearing and the show quickly became essential viewing. After finding chart-topping success in the late 60s, Sonny and Cher found themselves performing in nightclubs in 1970 when they were “discovered” by CBS entertainment chief Fred Silverman, who decided they had great potential for a weekly variety series. “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” premiered on August 1, 1971 as a summer replacement, but quickly reached the top 20, becoming a Wednesday night draw for the network and cementing Sonny and Cher as one of Hollywood’s most beloved couples. Containing 10 hilarious, never-before-released episodes of “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” (1971-74), which feature the musical duo performing their hit songs and side-splitting sketches with must-see guest stars; the pilot episode; firsts of many classic sketches — just naughty enough for nighttime!; Cher’s incredible Bob Mackie-designed costumes and the chemistry that started it all. Also, tune in for an incredible line-up of guest stars including Dick Clark, Jerry Lewis, Jim Nabors, Joe Namath, The Righteous Brothers, Dinah Shore, Carroll O’Connor, Art Carney, Chuck Berry, The Supremes and many more. From Time Life … “In Full Bloom: Transcending Gender” (2018) follows the courageous journey of 13 transgender and two gay actors as they transform their lives through the use of monologue, dialogue and performance art while preparing for the world premiere of an original stage play. Behind-the-scenes, rehearsal and performance footage are interwoven with candid personal interviews with the cast, who talk about how they deal with family, inner conflicts, discrimination, coming out, surgery, hormones and the complexities of sexual identity and orientation. From First Run Features … “NOVA: The Violence Paradox” (2019): Violence is ubiquitous in our every day lives. We see it in the news, in movies, on TV and video games so why do some experts say that violence is decreasing and that we’re living in the most peaceful time in history? Can this actually be true? The Violence Paradox addresses these questions and explores the intricacies of how violence permeates our life, psychology and every day thoughts and actions. The program takes us through time and the human mind to investigate what impacts the violence rates and what people are doing now to reduce violence in the world. From PBS Distribution … “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Concert — The Blu-ray Collection” For more than 30 years, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has honored rock music’s greats during annual prestigious black-tie ceremonies which have become nearly as epic as the artists they celebrate. Featuring the biggest names in classic rock from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, as well as once-in-a-lifetime collaborations that can only happen at these very special events, giving home audiences front row seats to the greatest performances from the historic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concerts. Features nearly 30 hours of entertainment and over 150 unforgettable performances from 2009-2017, as well as historic, irreverent and emotional induction speeches across six discs. Among the iconic acts featured are Alice cooper, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Cheap Trick, Chicago, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Electric Light Orchestra, Heart, James Taylor, Journey, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Ringo Starr, Simon and Garfunkel, Sting, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, U2, Stevie Nicks, Glenn Frey, Green Day, Yes, Bill Withers, Joan Jell & the Blackhearts, Beastie Boys, Genesis, N.W.A., Randy Newman, Public Enemy. Housed in one handsome collector’s case are three distinct Blu-ray collections: “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert – Encore” (2 BD discs) features 44 iconic performances from the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 induction ceremonies; “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert” (2 BD discs) features 53 iconic performances from the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 induction ceremonies; and “The 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concerts” (2 BD discs)on October 29 and 30, 2009. Read more here. From Time Life.
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.