From the Big Screen:
“What We Do in the Shadows.” For more information on this and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week’s Best Bets:
Ah, the summer doldrums. We can’t recall the last time there’s been such a paucity of DVD and Blu-ray releases entering the marketplace … and it doesn’t look much better until September. But never fear, though the quantity is low, the quality is high. Read on:
“Love Unto Death and Life Is a Bed of Roses” is a double feature with two 1980s masterworks by visionary French auteur Alain Resnais — both starring Cesar Award Winner Fanny Ardant — paired on double-disc Blu-ray and DVD Sets. As a leading member of the French New Wave, Resnais transformed cinema with such landmarks as “Hiroshima Mon Amour,” “Last Year at Marienbad” and “Muriel.” Continuing through the decades to expand the vocabulary of cinema, Resnais followed his acclaimed drama/documentary hybrid “Mon Oncle d’Amerique” with these thematically linked but tonally divergent films. In “Life Is a Bed of Roses” (1983), Resnais pays tribute to three influential French filmmakers: Georges Melies, Marcel L’Herbier and Eric Rohmer. The film interweaves three stories from different eras but all sharing the same location, the Ardennes Forest. In legendary times, the infant son of a murdered king grows up to slay a dragon, rescue a maiden and reclaim his kingdom. In 1914, a wealthy count announces his plan to build a magnificent castle for himself and the family he intends to have with the woman he loves, but the onset of World War I changes everything. In the 1980s, the count’s dream castle has been turned into an institute dedicated to advancing educational techniques, where an array of delegates convene only to break off into ideological disputes. These stories, punctuated by episodes of song, come together in what Sight & Sound called “a delicious celebration of imaginative possibility and narrative cunning.” In “Love Unto Death” (1984), Resnais again employs music (by Hans Werner Henze) in a unique way — as a fifth character in an intense chamber piece centering on two couples. Simon, an archaeologist, and Elisabeth are deeply in love, but the sudden death and miraculous revival of Simon throws their life into turmoil. Eventually, Elisabeth turns to another couple, both ministers, to find meaning in her own deeply altered life. The films’ stars include Ardant, Andre Dussollier, Sabine Azema, Pierre Arditi, Vittorio Gassman, Geraldine Chaplin, Ruggero Raimondi, Jean Daste. From Cohen Media Group.
The folks at The Criterion Collection offer up the delightfully off-center “My Beautiful Laundrette” (1985), directed by Stephen Frears, who was at the forefront of the British cinematic revival of the mid-1980s when this delightfully transgressive triumph was released. Working from a richly layered script by writer Hanif Kureishi, soon to be internationally renowned, Frears tells an uncommon love story that takes place between a young South London Pakistani man (Gordon Warnecke), who decides to open an upscale laundromat to make his family proud, and his childhood friend, a skinhead (Daniel Day-Lewis, in a breakthrough role), who volunteers to help make his dream a reality. This culture-clash comedy is also a subversive work of social realism, which dares to address racism, homophobia, and sociopolitical marginalization in Margaret Thatcher’s England. On DVD and Blu-ray.
From TV to DVD:
“Ancient Aliens: Season 7” (2014) continues the exploration of unexplained events and phenomena as more and more information comes to light from the Earth’s darkest recesses, evoking just as many questions: “Underground Portals” explores the 10,000-year-old prehistoric artwork discovered in a cave in India while “Mysteries of the Sphinx” postulates that face of Giza’s Great Sphinx may prove to be older than once thought, perhaps representing an otherworldly being. This collection offers a detailed account of the mysteries of life that continue to elude us, while traveling across 75 million years of the most credible alien evidence right here on earth. On three-disc DVD, two-disc Blu-ray. From Lionsgate … “Seeds of Yesterday” (2015) is the fourth and final installment of Lifetime’s “Flowers in the Attic” film series. The four-part Dollanganger tale — starring Heather Graham and Jason Lewis — comes to a dramatic conclusion as the sins of the past rise to the surface: The Dollangangers continue to coexist miserably, as their deeply troubled relationships, dark secrets and tragedies come to a head in a way that will haunt the family and its progeny forever. Based on the best-selling V.C. Andrews book series.From Lionsgate.