From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets
A slow-burning masterwork of the early 1990s, “To Sleep With Anger” (1990), the third feature by Charles Burnett, is a singular piece of American mythmaking. In a towering performance, Danny Glover plays the enigmatic southern drifter Harry, a devilish charmer who turns up out of the blue on the South Central Los Angeles doorstep of his old friends. In short order, Harry’s presence turns a seemingly peaceful household upside down, exposing smoldering tensions between parents and children, tradition and change, virtue and temptation. Interweaving evocative strains of gospel and blues with rich, poetic-realist images, “To Sleep with Anger” is a sublimely stirring film from an autonomous artistic sensibility, a portrait of family resilience steeped in the traditions of black mysticism and folklore. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new, restored 4K digital transfer, approved by director Charles Burnett, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … “A Bill of Divorcement” (1940), stars Maureen O’Hara, Adolphe Menjou, Fay Bainter, Herbert Marshall, C. Aubrey Smith and May Whitty. After 15 years in a mental asylum, Hilary Fairfield (Adolphe Menjou) has suddenly regained his sanity, escaped from the institution and come home. But a few things have changed in his absence. For one, his strong-willed daughter Sydney (Maureen O’Hara) has grown up and is planning to marry. For another, his wife (Fay Bainter) has divorced him and is planning to re-marry. It’s enough to drive a man crazy — or a woman, for that matter. Especially when Sydney learns it wasn’t “shell shock” that sent her father to the asylum, but family madness — and now she’s sure she’s inherited it. Brilliantly helmed by director John Farrow (“The Big Clock”), this film was a remake of the 1932 film with the same title, directed by George Cukor and starring John Barrymore and Katharine Hepburn in her film debut. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber … In honor of its 30th anniversary, two-time Academy Award-winner (Best Original Score and Best Original Song “Under the Sea,” 1989) “The Little Mermaid” (1989) dives into the highly celebrated Walt Disney Signature Collection with all-new bonus features and a sing-along mode. Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale about a beautiful mermaid princess who dreams of becoming human, “The Little Mermaid” was directed by John Musker and Ron Clements. It features the voice talents of Jodi Benson as Ariel, Pat Carroll as Ursula, Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian, Christopher Daniel Barnes as Eric, Kenneth Mar as Triton, Buddy Hackett as Scuttle, Jason Marin as Flounder and René Auberjonois as Chef Louis. The film was originally released in theaters on Nov. 15, 1989 and is the 28th film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, and the first in what many described as a new Disney animation renaissance. On Blu-ray/DVD Combo, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo, from Disney.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In the twist-filled supernatural thriller “Between Worlds” (2018), starring Nicolas Cage, Franka Potente, Penelope Mitchell and Garrett Clayton, cage stars as Joe, a struggling truck driver haunted by the memory of his deceased wife and daughter. Joe’s life takes a dramatic turn when he meets Julie (Potente), a woman with mysterious spiritual powers, whose daughter, Billie, lies in a coma. Julie enlists Joe’s help to stop Billie from crossing over to the spirit world, but when Billie awakes, her body is possessed — by the vengeful spirit of Joe’s dead wife. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Lionsgate … In “Rampant” (2018 — South Korea), starring Hyun-Bin, Jang Dong-Gun, Jo Woo-Jin, Man-Sik and Kim Eui-Sung, a darkness looms over ancient Korea: murderous creatures known as Night Demons have overrun the country. Returning from a long imprisonment abroad, Prince Ganglim discovers that it will take the strength of his entire kingdom to stop the bloody rampage spreading across the nation in this fresh new take on zombie horror from the studios that brought you “Train to Busan.” On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Well Go USA … Scream factory has two horror films making Blu-ray debuts this week: In “The Mole People” (1956), starring John Agar, Hugh Beaumont and Nestor Paiva, three archaeologists discover the remnants of a mutant five-millennia-old Sumerian civilization living beneath a glacier atop a mountain in Mesopotamia. The party of archaeologists come upon an unusual race of albino beings who shun all forms of light and have mutant mole men as their slaves. Because of their “magical cylinders of fire” (what we know as flashlights), these archaeologists are treated like gods — until they try to liberate the mole people. Can the archaeologists escape this hallowed mountain in Asia — or will they be destroyed in a strange underground world? The film is presented in two aspect ratios – 1.85:1 and 2.00:1 … “Willard” (2003) is a new version of the classic 1971 film. For years, Willard Stiles (Crispin Glover) has been trapped in a dead-end job with no friends and no future. Willard’s life seems hopeless until he makes an eerie discovery: he shares a powerful bond with the rats that dwell in his basement. Now a guy who has been trampled in the rat race his entire life is suddenly ready to tear up the competition … beginning with his boss. New 2K scan of the original film elements.
“Ships (Ferahfeza)” (2013 — Turkey), the feature-length debut from award-winning filmmaker Elif Refig, centers on Ali (Ugur Uzunel), a young shipyard worker and restless romantic who, during the day, thinks about the importance of coincidences. One such coincidence is his encounter with the strong and energetic Eda (M. Sitare Akbas), a graffiti artist. Together, they embark on a quixotic adventure through Turkey’s industrial port-cities hoping to escape the suffocating routine of their daily lives by finding the ship that Ali has only seen in his dreams. Includes Refig’s Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Foreign Filmmaker award-wining short film, “Man to Be.” On DVD from IndiePix 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.