From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
The Criterion Collection will release this week two classic films by the great German filmmaker G. W. Pabst:
G. W. Pabst brought the war movie into a new era with “Westfront 1918” (1930 — German), his first sound film, a mercilessly realistic depiction of the nightmare that scarred a generation, in the director’s native Germany and beyond. Digging into the trenches with four infantrymen stationed in France in the final months of World War I, Pabst illustrates the harrowing ordeals of battle with unprecedented naturalism, as the men are worn away in body and spirit by firefights, shelling, and the disillusion that greets them on the home front. Long unavailable, the newly restored “Westfront 1918” is a visceral, sobering antiwar statement that is as urgent today as when it was made. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include an hour-long French television broadcast of World War I veterans reacting to the film in 1969; 2016 interview with film scholar Jan-Christopher Horak; and an essay by author and critic Luc Sante … When a coal mine collapses on the frontier between Germany and France, trapping a team of French miners inside, workers on both sides of the border spring into action, putting aside national prejudices and wartime grudges to launch a dangerous rescue operation in “Kameradschaft” (1931 — Germany). Pabst brings a claustrophobic realism to this ticking-clock scenario, using realistic sets and sound design to create the maze of soot-choked shafts where the miners struggle for survival. A gripping disaster film and a stirring plea for international cooperation, “Kameradschaft” cemented Pabst’s status as one of the most morally engaged and formally dexterous filmmakers of his time. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
From TV to DVD:
“Masterpiece: Victoria Season 2” (2017) is a three-disc set with eight episodes. Jenna Coleman returns for a new season as the young queen who wants it all — romance, power, an heir, and personal freedom. Season 2 finds Victoria adapting to motherhood after the birth of her first child, a daughter (to the disappointment of many). Meanwhile, the disaster of the Anglo-Afghan War unfolds abroad, and the catastrophic Irish potato famine begins to wreak havoc. In other foreign affairs, a royal state visit to France is in the offing. Most intriguing to Prince Albert is the budding Industrial Revolution, which is now sweeping England. There is Charles Babbage’s mechanical calculator, a collaborative project with the bewitching Ada Lovelace, daughter of the scandalous Lord Byron. Then there is William Fothergill Cooke’s miraculous electrical telegraph, not to mention Marc Isambard Brunel’s daring — and dangerous — Thames Tunnel. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from PBS Distribution … “Ray Donovan: The Fifth Season” (2017) is a four-disc set with all 12 episodes. Stars Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Liev Schreiber and Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Jon Voight, with notable guest Stars Susan Sarandon, Lili Simmons, C. Thomas Howell and Donald Faison. In this season, Ray’s ongoing family upheaval has taken an emotional toll, leaving him more vulnerable than ever. LA’s preeminent fixer is heading into uncharted territory and will soon discover that some damage can’t be controlled. Extras include “Dog the Dog” documentary, three-part featurette “On Death & Dying,” “Nothing Goes Right for Bunchy,” “Terry Donovan and Parkinson’s,” commentary on Episode 508. From Showtime/Paramount.