From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets
In 1977, German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder was 32-years old and had already directed more than 25 feature films. That summer, he embarked on a project to trace the postwar history of West Germany in a series of films told from the perspectives of three remarkable women. Fassbinder’s “The Marriage of Maria Braun” (1979), “Veronika Voss” (1982) and “Lola” (1981) — “BRD Trilogy” — would garner him his greatest commercial success, both at home and abroad, and cement his position as one of the foremost figures of the New German Cinema. Formats: Blu-ray Disc with new 4K digital restorations of The “Marriage of Maria Braun” and “Lola,” with uncompressed monaural soundtracks; and high-definition digital restoration of “Veronika Voss,” with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. From The Criterion Collection … As World War II splits Europe, 16-year-old German Jew Salomon (Marco Hofschneider) is separated from his family after fleeing with them to Poland, and finds himself reluctantly assuming various ideological identities in order to hide the deadly secret of his Jewishness. He is bounced from a Soviet orphanage, where he plays a dutiful Stalinist, to the Russian front, where he hides in plain sight as an interpreter for the German army, and back to his home country, where he takes on his most dangerous role: a member of the Hitler Youth. Based on the real-life experiences of Salomon Perel, Agnieszka Holland’s wartime tour de force “Europa Europa” (1990) is a breathless survival story told with the verve of a comic adventure, an ironic refutation of the Nazi idea of racial purity, and a complex portrait of a young man caught up in shifting historical calamities and struggling to stay alive. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray Disc with new 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Agnieszka Holland, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … “This Island Earth” (1955), starring Jeff Morrow, Faith Domergue and Rex Reason, one of the all-time great classic sci-fi films, makes its Blu-ray debut this week. When atomic scientist Dr. Meacham (Rex Reason) is chosen to take part in a top-secret research experiment in a remote lab, he quickly discovers that he is really involved in a scheme by alien Metalunans to create a new weapon to fight their enemies. After he and the gorgeous Dr. Adams (Faith Domergue) make their escape shortly before the lab explodes, they are whisked away in a flying saucer to Metaluna, where they discover that the Metalunans have been fighting with the warlike people of the planet Zagon and, in lieu of a new weapon that they had hoped that the Earth scientists would help them build, they would now have to take over the Earth. New 4K scan of the inter-positive: Two aspect ratios: 1.85:1 and 1.37:1. New: The original Perspecta Stereophonic Sound restored by 3-D Film Archive. From Scream Factory … “The Buster Keaton Collection Volume 2: Sherlock Jr. and the Navigator” (1924) is a two-disc set with 4K restorations of the Buster Keaton classics. In “Sherlock Jr.”, Buster plays a movie projectionist who daydreams himself into the movies he is showing and merges with the figures and the backgrounds on the screen. While dreaming he is Arthur Conan Doyle’s master detective, he snoops out brilliant discoveries. This landmark cinematic achievement features jaw-dropping special effects as Buster repeatedly enters the film within the film. In the equally hilarious “The Navigator,” Keaton and his sweetheart are cast adrift on a deserted ocean liner. The ship finally runs aground on a desert island where the two unfortunates are chased by cannibals. On DVD, Blu-ray, from the Cohen Film Collection.
From TV to Disc:
“Gotham: The Complete Fifth and Final Season” (2019) arrives in three-disc DVD and two-disc Blu-ray sets, containing all 12 episodes. The fifth and final season of “Gotham” wraps up the iconic series in an unforgettable event that focuses on Bruce Wayne’s ultimate transformation into the Caped Crusader, while Jim Gordon struggles to hold together a city on the edge of chaos. From Warner.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
They’re going nowhere… Fast! The United States, late 1950s. A time of generational conflict, of immense social change, of bold fashions and toe-tapping music — just some of the elements that collide in thrilling fashion in “The Loveless” (1981), the feature debut of both its star, Willem Dafoe, and its directors, Monty Montgomery (producer, David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart”) and future Academy Award-winner Kathryn Bigelow. A motorcycle gang roars into a small southern town en route to the Daytona races, unnerving and angering the locals with their standoffish attitude and disrespect for social niceties. When one of their number, the charismatic Vance (Dafoe), hooks up with sports car-driving Telena (Marin Kanter), he incurs the wrath of the girl’s father, setting the gang on a collision course with the rest of the town as simmering tensions boil over into violent retribution. Raw, angry and honest, “The Loveless” evokes, with unflinching clarity, both an attitude and a bygone era, exploring the tensions between two very different Americas. Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative by Arrow Films, approved by co-writer/co-director Monty Montgomery and director of photography Doyle Smith. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … In “The Dark Within” (2019), starring Paul Flannery, Kendra Carelli and Stephanie Lynn Styles, a disturbed man with unknown psychic abilities tries to unravel the mystery of his parent’s disappearance while battling his own demons. From Uncork’d Entertainment … The “Mojin: The Worm Valley” (2018 — China) is a sequel to hit actioner “Mojin: The Lost Legend,” and is based on the bestselling novel series. In this mystical action-adventure, legendary tomb explorer Hu Bayi sets off with the Mojin Six on a dangerous mission across an island of monstrous creatures to find the Tomb of Emperor Xian. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Well Go USA … Umberto Lenzi, the legendary director of “Cannibal Ferox,” kicked off the Italian police film craze with this hyper-kinetic, ultra-violent, brain-blasting action thriller, “The Tough Ones” (1976 — Italy). Maurizio Meril stars as an Italian Dirty Harry, punching and shooting his way through the sleazy drug, sex, and crime infested cesspool of mid-70s Rome, on the trail of a sadistic, machine gun-toting hunchback, played by Tomas Milian (star of “The Big Gundown”). Original unrated, uncensored director’s cut. On Blu-ray from Grindhouse Releasing … In “High Life” (2019), starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin and Mia Goth, visionary director Claire Denis brings this eerie sci-fi film to life. Monte (Pattinson) and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to the outer reaches of the solar system. The crew — death-row inmates led by a doctor (Binoche) with sinister motives — has vanished. As the mystery of what happened unravels, father and daughter must rely on each other to survive. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “Silent Hill” (2006), starring Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Deborah Kara Unger, Kim Coates, Tanya Allen, Alice Krige and Jodelle Ferland, is based on the best-selling horror/action video game. Rose is a desperate mother who takes her adopted daughter, Sharon, to the town of Silent Hill in an attempt to cure her of her ailment. After a violent car crash, Sharon disappears, and Rose begins a desperate search to get her back. She descends into the center of the twisted reality of a town’s terrible secret. Pursued by grotesquely deformed creatures and townspeople stuck in permanent purgatory, Rose begins to uncover the truth behind the apocalyptic disaster that burned the town 30 years earlier. In a Collector’s Edition with an HD master approved by director Christophe Gans. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory … After learning he has six months to live, Richard (Johnny Depp), a buttoned-down college lecturer, transforms into a rebellious party animal in “The Professor” (2018), co-starring Roasmarie DeWitt and Ron Livingston. To the shock of his wife (DeWitt) and school chancellor (Livingston) –and the delight of his students –Richard leads a hilarious crusade against authority and hypocrisy in this dark comedy. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate.
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.