From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
After a dry month of DVDs and Blu-rays, the Hollywood studios and independents are greeting February with an onslaught of interesting releases: First off are releases from Criterion and Arrow:
For his feature debut, 24-year-old Louis Malle brought together a mesmerizing performance by Jeanne Moreau, evocative cinematography by Henri Decaë, and a now legendary jazz score by Miles Davis. Taking place over the course of one restless Paris night, Malle’s richly atmospheric crime thriller “Elevator to the Gallows” (1958) stars Moreau and Maurice Ronet as star-crossed lovers whose plan to murder her husband (his boss) goes awry, setting off a chain of events that seals their fate. A career touchstone for its director and female star, Elevator to the Gallows was an astonishing beginning to Malle’s eclectic body of work, and it established Moreau as one of the most captivating actors to ever grace the screen. On DVD and Blu-ray, with a new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include an interview from 2005 with Moreau; archival interviews with Moreau, Malle, actor Maurice Ronet, and original soundtrack session pianist René Urtreger; footage of Miles Davis and Malle from the soundtrack recording session; program from 2005 about the score featuring jazz trumpeter Jon Faddis and critic Gary Giddins; and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Terrence Rafferty, an interview with Malle, and a tribute by film producer Vincent Malle. From The Criterion Collection … In 1964, Henri-Georges Clouzot, the acclaimed director of thriller masterpieces “Les Diaboliques” and “Wages of Fear,” began work on his most ambitious film yet. Set in a beautiful lake side resort in the Auvergne region of France, “L’Enfer (Inferno)” was to be a sun-scorched elucidation on the dark depths of jealousy starring Romy Schneider as the harassed wife of a controlling hotel manager (Serge Reggiani). However, despite huge expectations, major studio backing and an unlimited budget, after three weeks the production collapsed under the weight of arguments, technical complications and illness. In the compelling, award-winning documentary “Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno” (2009), Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea present Inferno’s incredible expressionistic original rushes, screen tests, and on-location footage, while also reconstructing Clouzot’s original vision, and shedding light on the ill-fated endeavor through interviews, dramatizations of unfilmed scenes, and Clouzot’s own notes. On Blu-ray with original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Extras include “Lucy Mazdon on Henri-Georges Clouzot”: The French cinema expert and academic talks at length about the films of Clouzot and the troubled production of “Inferno”; “They Saw Inferno,” a featurette including unseen material, providing further insight into the production of “Inferno”; filmed introduction by Serge Bromberg; interview with Serge Bromberg; stills gallery; original trailer; reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Twins of Evil. From Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment.
From TV to DVD:
“Duckman: The Complete Series” (1994-97): He’s crude. He’s rude. He’s lewd. Yes, he’s the total dick: Duckman (Jason Alexander), the slovenly, smart-mouthed, private eye ladies don’t like and men don’t want to be like. Together with Cornfed, his portly, porcine partner in crime-solving, this defective detective amazingly manages to solve crimes and be a single parent to his hilariously dysfunctional sons at the same time. Now, every irreverent episode from all four outrageous seasons of this Emmy-nominated series is available in this collection. You have been warned. Ten-disc set from Paramount … “The Guardian: The Complete Series” (2001-04) is an 18-disc set with all 67 episodes. Simon Baker (“The Mentalist”) stars as Nick Fallin, a handsome hotshot attorney busted on a drug charge and ordered to perform 1500 hours of community service. Just when Nick thought he had lost everything, he finds a true calling to help the less fortunate. However, making a difference isn’t always easy. Nick is caught between his father (Dabney Coleman), the founder of Pittsburgh’s legendary law firm Fallin & Associates, and Alvin Masterson (Alan Rosenberg), who runs the firm where Nick follows his passion as a child advocate lawyer. To help him through, Nick leans on his girlfriend Lulu (Wendy Moniz) and his friend and colleague Jake (Raphael Sbarge). From Paramount … “Homeland – The Complete Sixth Season” (2017) features all 12 episodes. Now living in New York City, Carrie (Claire Danes) gets swept up in the aftereffects of the U.S. presidential election as she struggles to deal with an injury-ravaged Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) and an increasingly suspicious Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin). When the president-elect battles the CIA during her transition to power, Carrie finds herself caught in the crossfire. In four-disc DVD, three-disc Blu-ray sets. From Fox … “The Jackie Gleason Show in Color” Everything about Jackie Gleason was big: his huge talent, his outsized personality, and his expansive waist line. Even bigger was “The Jackie Gleason Show,” his successful TV Variety show, taped in color from beautiful Miami Beach from 1966 to 1970. “The Jackie Gleason Show” had been broadcast live and later taped in New York City since 1952, but in 1964, Gleason wanted to be based where he could play golf all year round. Hank Meyer, a longtime South Florida publicist, knew just the spot and convinced Jackie to bring his show to Miami Beach, the sun and fun capital of the world. However, back in the ’60s, it was a novel undertaking to broadcast from Miami Beach, and more than a hundred families relocated to stay with the show. Plus, there was barely any production infrastructure in South Florida, which all had to be created by Jackie and his team. However, it all paid off and the revamped show was a huge success. Gleason was everyone’s working-class hero, and his smash-hit show delivered an hour of non-stop entertainment every single week. Enthralled home audiences were treated to entertainment of the highest order — singing, dancing, hilarious comedy and Jackie at his very best as Ralph Kramden and on stage with all his famous friends — Milton Berle, Red Buttons, George Carlin, Nipsey Russell, Phil Silvers and more — and all in brilliant color. This single disc release features four never-before-released, remastered episodes of the show — including three unreleased Honeymooners sketches — all unseen for more than 50 years since the master tapes had resided in a vault in South Florida … until now. From Time Life.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Inoperable” (2017), starring Danielle Harris, Jeff Denton, Katie Keene and Chris Hahn, scream queen Harris stars as Amy, a young woman who wakes up in a seemingly evacuated hospital with a hurricane approaching. She realizes the storm has awakened malevolent forces, trapping her in a time loop. She must escape the hospital before the storm passes or she will be trapped in its halls forever. From ITN Distribution … In “Day of the Dead: Bloodline” (2017), starring Johnathon Schaech and Sophie Skelton, fear goes viral in a terrifying retelling of George A. Romero’s zombie horror classic. Five years after an epidemic nearly wiped out the world’s population, Dr. Zoe Parker lives in an underground bunker among a small group of military personnel and survivalists, working on a cure while fighting armies of the undead. When a dangerous patient from Zoe’s past infiltrates the bunker, he just might hold the key to saving humanity … or ending it. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate … In “Kill Order” (2017), starring Chris Mark, Daniel Park, Denis Akiyama, Melee Hutton, Jessica Clement, Jason Gosbee, Reuben Langdon and Alain Moussi, chaos erupts when a group of armed men break into a high school classroom. They target David, a quiet kid who secretly suffers from unexplained memories of a horrifying past. Tapping into a previously unknown strength, David fights off his attackers and goes on the run. With his life and the lives of his loved ones in jeopardy, David must master the use of his new superhuman strength and fighting skills to find the people responsible and get his revenge. From RLJE Films … “Accident Man” (2017), starring Scott Adkins, Ashley Greene, Ray Park, Ray Stevenson, Michael Jai White and David Paymer, is based on the underground British comic “Toxic!” by Pat Mills (creator of the “Judge Dredd” comic) and Tony Skinner. Mike Fallon is the Accident Man — a stone cold killer and the best at what he does. But when a loved one is dragged into the London underworld and murdered by his own crew, Fallon (Adkins) is forced to rip apart the life he knew in order to avenge the one person who actually meant something to him — and face off against a rogue’s gallery of ruthless assassins. From Sony … In “Extraordinary Mission” (2017 — China), starring Huang Xuan, Yihong Duan and Jiadong Xing, Lin Kai is an undercover officer assigned to penetrate the Twin Eagles drug cartel. To gain cartel boss Eagle’s trust, Kai is forced into gradual drug addiction while attempting to locate the cartel’s production base. Stakes are further complicated when Kai realizes Eagle has been plotting a violent revenge against his supervisor Li Jianguo for over a decade, and his loyalties are put to the test. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, from Cinedigm … In “Keep Watching” (2017), starring Bella Thorne, Chandler Riggs, Natalie Martinez and Ioan Gruffudd, a family imprisoned by intruders is forced to play a terrifying game of “Kill or Be Killed.” As the night unfolds, the game’s mysterious rules become clear, and the family realizes their nightmare is streaming live to riveted viewers all over the world, who are compelled to KEEP WATCHING … not knowing if what they’re seeing is real or staged. From Sony … “Resolution Song” (2017) is an inspiring drama about two families torn apart by tragedy. When misfortune strikes, a young man’s family begins rebuilding trust and seeking healing through the only thing that speaks through pain: the healing power of music. Stars Lester Speight, Torrei Hart, Kennedy Slocum, John J. York, Ella Joyce and Cedric Williams. From Sony … In “24 Hours to Live” (2017), starring Ethan Hawke, Paul Anderson, Liam Cunningham and Rutger Hauer, Travis Conrad (Hawke) is a former special-ops marine turned mercenary who is lured out of retirement by the covert company that used to employ him. After Travis is killed during a brutal firefight, a new regeneration surgery gives him a second chance at life—and one last shot at redemption. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, from Lionsgate … “Reset” (2017 — China), starring Yang Mi, Wallace Huo, King Shih-Chieh, Liu Chang, Hummer Zhang and Wang Lidan, takes place in the near future, where scientist Xia Tian (Yang Mi) is on the verge of a major discovery: time travel. After she successfully sends living tissue back in time by 110 minutes, her years of work seem to have paid off, but everything unravels when her young son is kidnapped and held for a hefty ransom — all of her research. When the drop goes sour and her son is killed, Xia Tian desperately sends herself back in time using her prototype, where she discovers multiple versions of her future self. Now, all of the Xia Tians must band together to save their son in this action-packed sci-fi thriller from producer Jackie Chan. On Blu-ray Disc from Well Go USA … Set a decade after the events of the “Hatchet” series’ first three films, the sequel “Victor Crowley” (2017) reunites franchise mainstays Kane Hodder and Parry Shen for an all-new journey into the haunted, blood-drenched bayou. In 2007, over 40 people were brutally torn to pieces in Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp. Over the past decade, lone survivor Andrew Yong’s claims that local legend Victor Crowley was responsible for the horrific massacre have been met with great controversy, but when a twist of fate puts him back at the scene of the tragedy, Crowley is mistakenly resurrected and Yong must face the bloodthirsty ghost from his past. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, from Dark Sky Films … After dabbling in the unlikely world of children’s entertainment with the likes of “Jimmy, the Boy Wonder” and “The Magic Land of Mother Goose,” in 1967 “Godfather of Gore” Herschell Gordon Lewis returned to the genre he helped create with the delightfully depraved “The Gruesome Twosome” (1967). The young women of a small-town American college have more than just split-ends to worry about. Down at the Little Wig Shop, the batty Mrs. Pringle and her socially-inept son Rodney are procuring only the finest heads of hair — by scalping the local co-eds. Can they be stopped before they clear the entire campus of luxuriant-haired ladies? Stars Chris Martell, Rodney Bedell, Gretchen Wells and Karl Stoeber. On Blu-ray. Extras include a bonus feature: HG Lewis’ Dracula-inspired 1967 vampire epic “A Taste of Blood”; introductions to the films by HG Lewis; archive audio commentaries for both films by HG Lewis; “HG Lewis vs. the Censors”: HG Lewis discusses some of the pitfalls of the blood-and-guts business including local censorship and angry moviegoers; trailers and radio spot; reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil. From Arrow VIdeo/MVD Entertainment … In “House of Demons” (2018), starring Amber Benson, Dove Meir, Chloe Dykstra, Morgan Peter Brown, Tiffany Smith and Taliesin Jaffe, four old friends, torn apart by a terrible tragedy, reunite 10 years later in a rented house for a destination wedding. What they don’t know is that in the late ‘60s, the house was home to a Manson Family-like cult run by Frazer, a charismatic former scientist pushing the boundaries of human consciousness. His experiments echo through time and manifest everyone’s darkest fears and memories, blurring time as Frazer’s cult and the present day collide over the course of one long night, where everyone must confront their darkness or be destroyed by it. From Sony … In the animated “Batman: Gotham By Gaslight” (2018), a steampunk Batman hunts Jack the Ripper through the shadows of turn-of-the-century Gotham City as America’s continued industrial revolution is to be showcased at the World’s Fair. But while the world prepares to witness the glittery glory of Gotham’s technological advances, there is a killer loose in the city’s darkest shadows. Preying on the city’s women, this killer is as precise as he is cruel. As Police Commissioner James Gordon tries to calm the fears of Gotham’s citizens regarding the butcher called Jack the Ripper, the masked vigilante Batman enacts his own detective work — with the help of confident, capable Selina Kyle — to stop the Ripper’s murderous spree. ON DVD, Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo. From Warner.
On the Indie Front:
In “From Hollywood to Rose” (2017), Eve Annenberg stars as the focal point of a group of interconnected eccentric strangers over the course of one long night on the LA Metro system. Annenberg leads a talented cast of Angeleno artists, including Bradley J. Herman, Maxx Maulion, stage actress Nija Okoro, local standup Isadora O’Boto, MMA champion Krzysztof Soszynski, Linda Bisesti and Chia Chen. In the city of Angels, everyone is on a quest. A disheveled, middle-aged woman in a bridal gown boards a Metro bus on Hollywood Blvd in the middle of the night. As the bus heads further west, she meets an assortment of eccentrics and social outcasts who make her question where she’s been and where she’s going. Each person she meets is at their own personal crossroads, who in turn shape the course of her bizarre journey. From Random Media … In “Walking Out” (2017), starring Josh Wiggins and Matt Bomer, an estranged father and son are forced to rely on one another to survive an unforgiving wilderness in this thriller. Once a year, 14-year-old David travels from his mother’s home in Texas to visit his loner father, Cal, in the remote mountains of Montana. There, the two embark on their annual hunting excursion, during which the taciturn Cal attempts to connect with his smartphone-addicted son. But when a terrifying turn of events leaves Cal critically wounded, it’s up to the teenage David to summon enough strength for both of them. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from IFC Films/Shout! Factory … “Sebastian” (2017 — Canada), starring James Fanizza, Alex House, Brian “Katya” McCook, Guifré Bantjes-Ràfols and Amanda Martinez, is an urban gay love story in which sexy Argentinian hunk Sebastian (House) arrives in Toronto on a one week visit and meets his cousin’s boyfriend, Alex (writer-director, Fanizza). Instant attraction leads Alex to question his rocky relationship with his boyfriend. As he and Sebastian decide to explore their forbidden passion, they connect deep in emotion. Alex must confront his conflicted feelings for his boyfriend and Sebastian, as well as some surprising, long buried secrets from his past. From Wolfe Video … “Thirsty” (2017), starring Scott Townsend, Deirdre Lovejoy, Jonny Beauchamp, Cole Canzano, Christopher Rivera and Malina Weissman, is an award-winning, post-queer musical. The true-life story of Scott Townsend, who, from a tender age, was ruled by his slippery gender. Growing up a girly-boy in the projects of Cambridge, Mass, under the watch of Doris, his dysfunctional, single mom, Scott was prey to bullying and assault. Already a talented singer and performer, Scott grew up to be revered drag queen Thirsty Burlington, and to delight club-goers in Provincetown, Mass, with her spot-on impersonation of Cher. But even in a gay mecca, being Thirsty comes at a price. Inspired by events in Scott/Thirsty’s life. From Breaking Glass Pictures.
For the Family:
“Red Dog: True Blue” (2016 — Australia), starring Levi Miller, Bryan Brown and Jason Isaacs, is the heartwarming tale of an 11-year-old boy (Miller) who is shipped off to his grandfather’s ranch, where he finds adventure and friendship with a scrappy one-of-a-kind dog that will change his life forever. Prequel to the 2011 Australian hit film “Red Dog.” From Lionsgate … Woody Woodpecker is a legendary icon created by Walter Lantz in 1940, and “Woody Woodpecker & Friends” has entertained kids for more than 75 years. Woody Woodpecker cartoons first appeared in theaters until they debuted on television in 1957. Now Woody Woodpecker is back with his signature laugh, wacky antics and wisecracks in his first ever live-action/animated film “Woody Woodpecker” (2018). Woody must protect his forest home from Lance Walters, who starts building his dream mansion in the forest with his son, Tommy, and fiancée, Vanessa. To make matters worse, Woody must avoid the clutches of two grizzly poachers. With a series of crazy hijinks to sabotage their plans, Woody proves he’ll stop at nothing to defend his turf. Stars Timothy Omundson, Thaila Ayala, Graham Verchere, Jordana Largy, and Eric Bauza as the voice of Woody. From Universal … In this fantastical collection of seven episodes from Nickelodeon’s “Shimmer and Shine: Beyond the Rainbow Falls” (2017), Shimmer, Shine and Leah travel beyond the Rainbow Falls for all-new magical adventures where they explore wondrous locales and meet exciting new friends. Whether they’re recovering a magical Genie Gem, searching for Zac in the forest, or rescuing Zeta from a wild whirlpool, Shimmer, Shine and Leah are always ready to work together and lend a helping hand. From Paramount.
“Cruel and Unusual” (2017) is a profound documentary telling the story of three African-American men — Robert King, Herman Wallace, and Albert Woodfox, known as the Angola 3. Wrongfully convicted for murdering a prison guard in 1972 at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, these men have spent longer in solitary than any other prisoners in the US. On his release, Albert Woodfox had spent 43 years in a six foot by nine foot cell for a crime he did not commit. For over 40 years, the Angola 3 have maintained their innocence and have been fighting to correct the terrible human rights injustice they have endured. Attorneys, civil rights advocates, friends, family, and strangers have joined together with the Angola 3 in a fight against the U.S. criminal “injustice” system, arguing for their innocence, fighting for their freedom and against their unprecedented long term solitary confinement. This confinement was never ordered by any judge, but exacted by the Louisiana department of corrections for decades, in spite of the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment.” On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from FilmRise … In “A Fanatic Heart: Bob Geldof On W. B. Yeats” (2017 — UK — TV), musician and advocate Bob Geldof examines the life and work of one of the 20th century’s greatest poets, William Butler Yeats. “A Fanatic Heart” is the extraordinary story of revolution, nation-birth, mythology and disillusion and how one poetic genius dreamed and sang an entire country into being from the ravages of poverty and famine and into the raw dawn of a modern state. With over 30 unique performances of W. B. Yeats’ epic poetry by leading Irish and British cultural figures, Geldof argues why Yeats and his circle built the cultural scaffolding of a modern, pluralist Ireland but was pushed aside by the narrow-minded Catholic elite of the new Free State — the “Banana Republic” that Geldof in turn rebelled against half a century later. Written by Geldof and biographer Roy Foster, this incisive and moving documentary features readings by celebrity contributors Sting, Noel Gallagher, Elvis Costello, Edna O’Brien, Bono, Van Morrison, Shane MacGowan, Olivia O’Leary, Liam Neeson, Stephen Fry, Dominic West, Richard E. Grant, Bill Nighy, Anne Enright, Colin Farrell, Ardal O’Hanlon and many others. In a DVD/CD Combo, due February 9, from MVD Entertainment.
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.