From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
There’s something about down-and-out antihero detectives that endears then to book readers, TV viewers and moviegoers; from Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade to Johnny Staccato and Jim Rockford, from Jackson Brodie to Harry Hole, these guys are damaged yet have strong moral compasses; they’ve been beat down by the system yet stand up and fight back again and again; they’re world-weary with a dash of dark humor. Which brings us to Jack Irish, a former criminal lawyer reeling from his wife’s murder (as a result of one of his cases) who reinvents himself as a part-time private investigator and debt collector; he also works as an apprentice carpenter and has a penchant for drowning his demons at the local pub. Fans of Australian Peter Temple’s charismatic Jack Irish and Guy Pearce (who plays Irish) will rejoice this week when Acorn Media releases two great sets of Jack Irish DVDs. The first is “Jack Irish, Season 1” (2016 — Australia), a new six-part noir thriller that co-stars Marta Dusseldorp (“A Place to Call Home,” “Janet King”). From the island of Mindanao in the Philippines to Melbourne, Jack is caught in a global web of religious zealotry among right-wing Christians and media-savvy jihadists. When Jack is contracted to find a man with a criminal past who is then killed in front of him, Jack suspects a set-up. The case spirals into a larger international conspiracy involving Muslim extremists and born-again Christians. Meanwhile, Jack’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, journalist Linda Hillier (Marta Dusseldorp), leaves Melbourne to further her career as a foreign correspondent in Manila. Though the job is not exactly what she had planned, Linda quickly realizes she may be on to a big story. As their cases eventually intertwine, Jack and Linda’s reunion is tested by the arrival of Sarah Longmore (Claudia Karvan), a metal sculptor with connections. In two-disc DVD and Blu-ray sets. Acorn has also repackaged for a new audience three previously released Jack Irish movies, appropriately titled “Jack Irish: The Movies” These three television movies — “Bad Debts” (2012), “Black Tide” (2012) and “Dead Point” (2014) — are all based on the award-winning novels by Temple. When an old client dies, Jack is thrust back into the criminal underworld that took everything away from him — but might offer his only chance at redemption. Jack takes on cases that dig into the dregs of Australian society and expose conspiracy and corruption among the power elite. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc.
“Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection” (1972) stars the iconic and beautiful Meiko Kaji (“Lady Snowblood,” “Stray Cat Rock”) in a role that came to define her career. This four-film “Female Prisoner Scorpion” series charts the vengeance of Nami Matsushima, who assumes the mantle of “Scorpion,” becoming an avatar of vengeance and survival, and an unlikely symbol of female resistance in a male-dominated world. “Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion” introduces Nami, a gullible young woman unjustly imprisoned, who must find a way to escape in order to exact revenge upon the man who betrayed her. The visually avant-garde “Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41” sees director Shunya Ito and star Meiko Kaji re-unite as Nami and six other female convicts escape prison once more. The Gothic horror-inspired “Beast Stable” finds Nami branded public enemy No. 1 and on the run. She soon finds refuge with a sympathetic prostitute, but runs afoul of a local gang. The final film in the series, “#701’s Grudge Song” (from director Yasuharu Hasebe, “Retaliation,” “Massacre Gun”), shows a gentler side of Nami as she falls in with Kudo, an ex-radical suffering from physical and psychological trauma caused by police torture. Spiritual kin to “Ms. 45,” “Coffy” and “The Bride Wore Black,” the “Female Prisoner Scorpion” is the pinnacle of early 1970s exploitation cinema from Japanese grindhouse studio Toei, and one of the greatest female revenge sagas ever told. In a Blu-ray/DVD combo set, with a brand new 2K restorations of all four films, with the original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays) for all films. There’s also a Limited Edition Blu-ray collection (3000 copies). From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.
“The New World” (2005) is a singular vision of early 17-century America from Terrence Malick, a work of astounding elemental beauty, a poetic meditation on nature, violence, love, and civilization. It reimagines the apocryphal story of the meeting of British explorer John Smith (Colin Farrell) and Powhatan native Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher, in a revelatory performance) as a romantic idyll between spiritual equals, then follows Pocahontas through her marriage to John Rolfe (Christian Bale) and her life in England. With art director Jack Fisk’s raw re-creation of the Jamestown colony, Emmanuel Lubezki’s marvelous, naturally lit cinematography, and James Horner’s soaring musical score, “The new World” is a film of uncommon power and technical splendor, one that shows Malick at the height of his visual and philosophical powers. On Blu-ray and DVD, with a new 4K digital restoration of the 172-minute extended cut of the film, supervised by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and director Terrence Malick and featuring material not released in theaters, with both theatrical and near-field 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks on the Blu-ray. High-definition digital transfers of the 150-minute first cut and the 135-minute theatrical cut of the film, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks on the Blu-rays. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray Disc. From The Criterion Collection.