"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Jun 122017

From the Big Screen:

“John Wick: Chapter Two,” “The LEGO Batman Movie,” and “Table 19.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Highlights:

Legendary director Nicholas Ray began his career with the lyrical film noir “They Live By Night” (1948), the first in a series of existential genre films overflowing with sympathy for America’s outcasts and underdogs. When the wide-eyed fugitive Bowie (Farley photo for They Live By NightGranger), having broken out of prison with some bank robbers, meets the innocent Keechie (Cathy O’Donnell), each recognizes something in the other that no one else ever has. The young lovers envision a new, decent life together, but as they flee the cops and contend with Bowie’s fellow outlaws, who aren’t about to let him go straight, they realize there’s nowhere left to run. Ray brought an outsider’s sensibility honed in the theater to this debut, using revolutionary camera techniques and naturalistic performances to craft a profoundly romantic crime drama that paved the way for decades of lovers-on-the-run thrillers to come. On DVD, Blu-ray in a new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

From TV to DVD:

“Bones Season 12: The Final Chapter “ (2017) contains all 12 episodes of the last season. One of television’s most popular crime series draws to a close with even more suspense, fun and sexiness than ever. Brennan’s (Emily Deschanel) uncanny forensic skills help resolve even grislier cases, including a retirement home murder, a possible death by robot, and the slaying of a close friend. Along the way, family tragedy strikes and Booth (David Boreanaz) lands in the crosshairs of a serial killer. And a former Jeffersonian accused of murder kidnaps Brennan, prompting a shocking move by Booth. From Fox … photo for The Borgias: The Complete Series “The Borgias: The Complete Series” (2011-13) is a nine-disc set with all 29 episodes from the series’ three seasons. The Borgias is the epic saga of one of the most powerful crime families in history. Led by Academy Award Winner Jeremy Irons, the critically acclaimed series follows family patriarch Rodrigo Borgia (Irons) as he ascends to the papal throne and rules 15th century Italy with a heavy hand, seizing enormous control, wealth, and influence for his clan while also gaining a formidable list of enemies that conspire to overthrow his growing empire. To defend the family name, son Cesare (Francois Arnaud) commands armies across Renaissance Europe, daughter Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger) seduces political friends and foes alike, and both hold desires that threaten to bring down the dynasty from within. From Showtime/Paramount … “Grimm: Season Six” (2017) includes all 13 episodes of the final season of the series about Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), who discovers he’s descended from a long line of Grimms, who are charged with keeping balance between humanity and the creatures of myth. With newly awoken abilities to detect the evil lurking among us, Nick tackles gruesome and bizarre crimes linked to creatures of lore. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Universal … photo for Hee Haw: Pfft! You Was Gone! “Hee Haw: Pfft! You Was Gone!” is a two-disc collection that showcases four classic episodes (1969-1973) featuring favorite Kornfield Kounty Sketches such as “Pfft! You Was Gone,” “Pickin’ and Grinnin,” “Hey Grandpa, What’s for Supper?” and “Archie’s Barbershop,” along with live performances from country music legends including Merle Haggard, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Marty Robbins, Tammy Wynette and more. From Time Life … “Power: The Complete Third Season” (2016) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes of the Starz series about James “Ghost” St. Patrick, a wealthy New York night club owner who has it all, catering for the city’s elite and dreaming big, who lives a double life as a drug kingpin. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate … “Shooter” (2016-17) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes. Ryan Phillippe stars as Bob Lee Swagger, a highly-decorated veteran coaxed back into action after learning of a plot to kill the president. When Swagger’s former commanding officer, Isaac Johnson (Omar Epps), solicits Swagger’s expertise for the clandestine operation, Swagger discovers that he has been framed and must do everything in his power to protect his family and clear his name. From Universal … “South Park: The photo for South Park: The Complete Twentieth SeasonComplete Twentieth Season” (2016) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes of the Emmy Award-winning animated series about four boys living in a screwed-up Colorado town. Between tragedies global and local, as well as parental and celebrity interference, Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny manage to have themselves a time.On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Paramount … “The Vampire Diaries: The Eighth and Final Season” (2016-17) includes all 16 episodes. In season eight, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Enzo (Michael Malarkey) continue their killing spree, both following the commands of a sinister and unnatural force. While Bonnie (Kat Graham), Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Caroline (Candice King) are grieving their loss, they team up to investigate who or what may be the cause of their disappearance at the end of season seven. Alaric (Matt Davis) joins the search and continues to look for clues on how they escaped the Armory vault, and Matt’s (Zach Roerig) family history will reveal a deeper connection to Mystic Falls and how he may be able to save the town from destruction. Four-disc DVD, three-disc Blu-ray from Warner.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

“Alone in Berlin” (2016 — UK) stars Brendan Gleeson, Emma Thompson and Daniel Brühl in a thriller set against the tumultuous backdrop of Berlin in 1940. Otto and Anna Quangel are a working-class husband and wife doing their best to ride out the war. Everything changes, however, when their son is killed fighting on the front lines. They begin pouring their rage and grief into postcards emblazoned with anti-Nazi slogans, risking everything to disseminate their messages of protest across the city. But this seemingly small act of subversion rattles the regime, including a police inspector who will not rest until the culprits have been caught. Based on the bestselling novel” Every Man Dies Alone” by Hans Fallada. From IFC … photo for Madhouse Helmed by legendary producer-director Ovidio Assonitis, the man behind such cult favorites as “The Visitor” and “Piranha II: The Spawning,” “Madhouse” (1981) is a crimson-soaked tale of sibling rivalry taken to a terrifying and bloody extreme. Julia has spent her entire adult life trying to forget the torment she suffered at the hands of her twisted twin Mary … but Mary hasn’t forgotten. Escaping hospital, where she’s recently been admitted with a horrific, disfiguring illness, Julia’s sadistic sister vows to exact a particularly cruel revenge on her sibling this year — promising a birthday surprise that she’ll never forget. An Italian production shot entirely in Savannah, Georgia, “Madhouse” (aka “And When She Was Bad” and “There Was a Little Girl”) fuses slasher elements with the over-the-top excess of ’80s Italian terror — resulting in a cinematic bloodbath so gut-wrenching that the British authorities saw fit to outlaw it as a “video nasty.” In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo with new 2K restoration from the original camera negative and original stereo audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray). From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … photo for 3 Generations “3 Generations” (2017) stars Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning, Susan Sarandon and Tate Donovan in an inspirational and witty film about one teen’s courageous journey through gender reassignment. Ray (Fanning) is a teenager who has struggled with the body assigned to him at birth and is determined to start transitioning. His single mother, Maggie (Watts), must track down Ray’s biological father (Donovan) to get his legal consent to allow Ray’s transition. Dolly (Sarandon), Ray’s lesbian grandmother, is having a hard time accepting that she now has a grandson. They must each confront their own identities and learn to embrace change and their strength as a family in order to ultimately find acceptance and understanding. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate … photo for Chapter & Verse: A Harlam Story “Chapter & Verse: A Harlam Story” (2015) stars Daniel Beaty, Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine, Selenis Leyva and Justin Martin. After serving eight years in prison, reformed gang leader S. Lance Ingram (Beaty) reenters society and struggles to adapt to a changed Harlem. Living under the tough supervision of a parole officer in a halfway house, and unable to find a job that will let him use the technological skills he gained in prison, Lance is forced to take a job delivering for a food pantry. He befriends Ms. Maddy (Devine), a strong and spirited grandmother, and assumes responsibility for her 15-year-old grandson, Ty, a promising student who is pulled into a dangerous street gang. When gang members decide to punish Ty for disobeying the “law of the streets,” Lance risks sacrificing his “second chance” at freedom so that Ty photo for Bitter Harvest can have a “first chance” at a better life. From Anchor Bay … “Bitter Harvest” (2017), starring Max Irons, Samantha Barks, Barry Pepper and Terence Stamp, is set during one of the most overlooked and tragic periods of the 20th century. The film is a powerful story of love, honor, rebellion and survival as seen through the eyes of two young lovers caught in the ravages of Joseph Stalin’s policies of intolerance against Ukraine in the 1930s. As Stalin advances the ambitions of the burgeoning Soviet Union, a young artist named Yuri (Irons) overcomes famine, imprisonment, and torture to save his childhood love, Natalka (Barks), from the “Holodomor,” the death-by-starvation program that ultimately killed millions of Ukrainians. Against this explosive backdrop, Yuri escapes from a Soviet prison and joins the anti-Bolshevik resistance movement as he battles to reunite with Natalka and continue the fight for a free Ukraine. Filmed on location in Ukraine, and based on true historical events. From Lionsgate … In “Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire” (2017), starring Patrick Stewart, Tom Rhys Harries, Jessamine-Bliss Bell, André Eriksen, Richard Cordery and Marlin Hutson, Stewart voices Drago, the magnificent dragon who became bonded with King Gareth. When the king dies, his potential heirs, twin grandchildren who possess the dragon’s unique strengths, use their inherited powers against each other to vie for the throne. When Drago’s source of power — known as the Heartflre — is stolen, more than the throne is at stake; the siblings must end their rivalry with swords and sorcery or the kingdom may fall. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Universal … photo for Cheech and Chong's Next Movie BLU-RAY DEBUT Shout! Factory Shout Select has released the Blu-ray debut of “Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie” (1980). In his follow-up to 1978’s “Up in Smoke,” the zany pair is back for some smoke-enhanced misadventures. Cheech must deal with an angry neighbor and losing his job, all while trying to score with a sexy young lady. Meanwhile, Chong meets Cheech’s cousin, Red (Cheech Mann in a dual role), and the two buds have a wild time buzzing around Hollyweird in a bad Ferrari. Along the way, the dynamic duo find time for some mishaps at a movie set, the welfare office, a hotel, a brothel, a music store, a rich girl’s house, a comedy club, the ultimate weed field and on a UFO! Features early film appearances by Paul “Pee-wee Herman” Reubens, Edie McClurg, Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson, John “Jambi” Paragon and Phil Hartman … In “Mine” (2016), starring Armie Hammer, Annabelle Wallis, Tom Cullen, Clint Dyer, Geoff Bell and Juliet Aubrey, a U.S. soldier who, in the desert for 52 hours after a mission falls apart, trapped with one foot resting on a landmine, unable to move if he wants to stay alive, must fight for survival against his enemies, the hostile environment and the creeping psychological toll of his situation. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Well Go USA.

On the Indie Front:

In the midst of mourning the untimely death of her wife, Jo resolves to move forward with their plan to have a baby, and asks her brother-in-law to be her sperm donor. But unexpected dalliances photo for The Wedding Partywith her two best friends change the equation in “As Good As You” (2017), starring Bryan Dechart, Raoul Bhaneja and Karis Campbell. From First Run Features … In “The Wedding Party” (2016), starring Debia Adkeniz, Michael Adler, Molly Burnett, Meg Cionni and Blake Lee, chaos ensues at Paul and Margene’s wedding and Jim, a recently heartbroken groomsman, is tasked with managing the reception. In part with his former high school sweetheart, Alex, he’s forced to wrangle his unruly friends to maintain order, all while learning to love again. Stakes rise and cakes fall throughout an unforgettable evening of chaos. One of the very few feature-length films in cinematic history to be captured in one single, continuous 119 minute take. From Candy Factory Films.


Ivan Poddubny was a rare champion, having a professional career for over 40 years. This richly rendered biopic “The Iron Ivan” (2014 — Russia), starring Mikhail Porechenkov, Katerina Shpitsa, Yuri Kolokolnikov and Denis Lavant, follows the incredible journey of an early 20th century world celebrity, from his modest roots in rural Russia, to the world photo for The Iron Ivan stage in Paris and 1920s America. From Synergetic Distribution/MVD Entertainment) … Set in Germany and France in the aftermath of the First World War, “Frantz” (2016 — France), directed by Francois Ozon and starring Paula Beer, Pierre Niney, Ernst Stötzner and Marie Gruber, recalls the mourning period that follows great national tragedies as seen through the eyes of the war’s “lost generation.” They are Anna (21 year-old Paula Beer in a breakthrough performance), a bereft young German woman whose fiancé, Frantz, was killed during trench warfare, and Adrien (Pierre Niney), a French war veteran who shows up mysteriously in Anna’s town, placing flowers on Frantz’s grave. Adrien’s presence is met with resistance by the small community still reeling from Germany’s defeat, yet Anna gradually gets closer to the handsome and melancholy young man, as she learns of his deep friendship with Frantz. What follows is an exploration of how Anna and Adrien wrestle with their conflicting feelings — survivor’s guilt, anger at one’s losses, the overriding desire for renewed happiness, and the longing for sexual, romantic and familial attachments. Director Ozon drew his inspiration from a post-WWI play by Maurice Rostand that inspired the 1932 film adaptation by Ernst Lubitsch under the title “Broken Lullaby.” On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Music Box Films … photo for Un Padre No Tan Padre (From Dad to Worse) In “Un Padre No Tan Padre (From Dad to Worse)” (2016 — Mexico), starring Hector Bonilla, Benny Ibarra de Llano, Jacqueline Bracamontes and Sergio Mayer Mori, 85-year old Don Servando Villegas (Bonilla), an old-fashioned Mexican patriarch, gets kicked out of his retirement home for bad behavior and his estranged son, Francisco (de Llano), is forced to take him into the house full of hippies he shares with his girlfriend and young son. “New age” collides with old age as Don Servando and his son experience a series of conflicts and situations that put their home’s stability in jeopardy. From Lionsgate … In “Tomcat” (2016 — Germany), starring Philipp Hochmair, Lukas Turtur, Andreas and Stefan lead a happy and passionate life: together with their beloved tomcat Moses, they live in a beautiful old house in Vienna’s vineyards. They work as a musician and as a scheduler in the same orchestra and they love their large circle of friends. An unexpected and inexplicable outburst of violence suddenly shakes up the relationship and calls everything into question — the blind spot that resides in all of us. From First Run Features.

For the Family:

“Dinosaurs Take Flight” (2016) include eight episodes of the five-time Emmy-nominated PBS kids series set in a whimsically realistic, prehistoric world of jungles, swamps, active volcanoes and oceans. Each day, the show helps kids ages 3 to 6 apply scientific thinking as they discover new types of dinosaur species, compare and contrast dinosaurs to today’s creatures and embrace the living sciences of paleontology and natural science. In four of the eight episodes on this DVD, viewers take to the sky with Buddy and his family as they ride in one of Dinosaur Train Industry’s newest creations — the Dinosaur Train Zeppelin. As they soar above the clouds, the Pteranodon family visits a waterfall, explores a crater made by an asteroid, and more. From PBS Distribution … photo for Kuu Kuu Harajuku: Music, Baby! “Kuu Kuu Harajuku: Music, Baby!” (2017) features 14 episodes from Season One of Gwen Stefani’s Nick animated series, created for girls to encourage and celebrate creative self-expression, imagination and individuality. The show’s setting is inspired by the exuberant street fashion and creative youth culture of the Harajuku district but takes place in a magical fantasy world. HJ5 is a super cool band made up of five super cool girls: Love, Angel, Music, Baby and their inspirational leader G. With help from their lovably incompetent manager Rudie, HJ5 travels all over to put on shows for their fans, but every time they start a gig, something wild and crazy happens: they’re attacked by space aliens, adorable (and ravenous) monster pets or hunger (you don’t want to mess with Baby when she’s hungry). No matter what challenges (or creatures) come their way, they always work together to save the day. Fom Shout! Factory Kids … In “Americano” (2016 — Mexico), with the voices of Rico Rodriguez, Kate Del Castillo, Cheech Marin, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, Lisa Kudrow and Edward James Olmos, Cuco is a Mexican boy parrot that would rather imitate the crazy stunts of his TV parrot superhero, El Americano, than help with his chores at the family bird circus. Yet when a gang of bully birds threatens his ringmaster father and takes over the circus, Cuco sets off on a hilarious and perilous journey to Hollywood to enlist his hero in his fight, only to discover the true hero within himself. In Spanish and English. From Lionsgate.

Special Interest:

“Three Sisters” (2012 — France/Hong Kong)is a documentary that follows the lives of 10-year-old YingYing, 6-year-old Zhenzhen and 4-year-old Fenfen, who live alone in Xiyangtang — a tiny rural village located in the high mountains of China’s Yunnan province. Their father is away working in the city; their mother left the family long ago. The eldest, Yingying, is the primary caretaker and shoulders responsibilities far beyond photo for Art and Heart: The World of Isaiah Shefferher years. The girls spend their days at grueling tasks: herding sheep, goats and pigs, searching for firewood and collecting dung. When they’re not working, the siblings do homework or play, which consists of standing in a field looking at herds and picking lice off of each other. Composed entirely of hand-held footage, Wang Bing’s observational style film beautifully captures the region’s dramatic landscapes as well as the everyday lives of the three young sisters. From Icarus Films … “Art and Heart: The World of Isaiah Sheffer” (2016) is a documentary on Isaiah Sheffer, one of New York’s great Renaissance men, who left an indelible mark on music, theater, television, and culture across three decades in the Big Apple. He was the founder and artistic director of Symphony Space, the originator of Bloomsday on Broadway, and the comic genius behind the Thalia Follies. He hosted the popular WNYC program Selected Shorts and earned an Emmy nomination for his Road to the White House series on NBC. A celebration of his life and work, this warmly affectionate documentary includes archival material, stage performances, and interviews with friends and colleagues. From First Run Features.

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.

 Posted by on June 12, 2017  Add comments

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