From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Highlights:
There’s two classic films on hand this week from The Criterion Collection:
“La chienne” (1931 — France), is Jean Renoir’s ruthless love triangle tale that is a true precursor to his brilliantly bitter “The Rules of the Game,” displaying all of the filmmaker’s visual genius and fully imbued with his profound sense of humanity. A hangdog Michel Simon cuts a tragic figure as an unhappily married cashier and amateur painter who becomes so smitten with a prostitute that he refuses to see the obvious: that she and her pimp boyfriend are taking advantage of him. Renoir’s elegant compositions and camera movements carry this twisting and turning narrative — a stinging commentary on class and sexual divides — to an unforgettably ironic conclusion. On DVD and Blu-ray; with a new, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray … “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” (1941) is a sophisticated supernatural Hollywood comedy whose influence continues to be felt — and copied. The fantasy-comedy stars the eminently versatile Robert Montgomery as a working-class boxer and amateur aviator whose plane crashes in a freak accident. He finds himself in heaven but is told, by a wry angel named Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains), that his death was a clerical error, and that he can return to earth by entering the body of a corrupt (and about-to-be-murdered) banker — whose soul could use a transplant. Having inspired a sequel with Rita Hayworth and two remakes (the first starring Warren Beatty and the second Chris Rock), Alexander Hall’s effervescent “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” is comic perfection. Co-stars Evelyn Keyes, Rita Johnson, Edward Everett Horton, James Gleason and John Emery. On DVD, Blu-ray, in a new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
The folks at Arrow Video (distributed in the States by MVD Entertainment) will bring home this week “Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Vol 2” (1960), the second volume of 1960s genre films from Nikkatsu, the oldest film studio in Japan, which inaugurated a star system in the late 1950s and produced a series of wild pictures. This collection celebrates these “Diamond Guys” with three classic films from directors Buichi Saito, Ko Nakahira and Haruyasu Noguchi, who is a new discovery for the West. In Saito’s “Tokyo Mighty Guy,” mega star Akira Kobayashi stars as Jiro in the rambunctious tale of a chef who opens a restaurant in the busy Ginza district. His culinary skills and dashing good looks bring in the women as well as unwanted trouble, while an explosive political scandal builds around his girlfriend’s business. Next, Jo Shishido (“Massacre Gun,” “Retaliation”), one of the most popular Diamond Guys in the West, stars in “Danger Pays,” a crime caper from Ko Nakahira about counterfeiting. When one billion yen goes AWOL, “Joe the Ace” (Shishido) spies an opportunity to get rich quick, but things soon go wrong as it turns out he isn’t the only one who’ll stop at nothing to get his hands on the missing cash. Finally, Shishido stars once again in Noguchi’s screwball classic “Murder Unincorporated.” When the mysterious “Joe of Spades” executes one of the bosses of a powerful syndicate, his colleagues, fearing for their own lives, call on the services of assassin agency Murder Unincorporated to take care of the problem. Presented on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time in the West, these thrilling genre films feature some of Nikkatsu’s leading talent at the top of their game. Limited edition Blu-ray collection (3000 copies), high definition digital transfers of all three films from original film elements by Nikkatsu Corporation, with original uncompressed mono audio. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo.
From TV to DVD:
“Ballers: The Complete First Season” (2015) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes. Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne Johnson) is a retired football superstar trying to reinvent himself as a financial manager for players in sun-soaked Miami. His inner circle includes Ricky (John David Washington, former pro-football player), a talented but volatile wide receiver who seeks to balance his off-field antics with his passion for the game; Charles (Omar Miller), a reluctantly retired lineman who’s finding it hard to adjust to civilian life; and Vernon (Donovan Carter), a player with a rookie contract, whose promise never to forget “where he came from” brings scores of hangers-on into his life, and lands him in big financial trouble. Though they’re pros when it comes to playing the game, each one has a harder time navigating life off the field.On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from HBO … “Toni Braxton: The Movie Event” (2016) is a Lifetime tell-all based on the life of the 90s R&B superstar. Based on her memoir “Unbreak My Heart,” the film follows the seven-time Grammy Award-winning R&B icon from her discovery by L.A. Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds through a very public divorce and her son’s autism to her recent battle with lupus. From Lionsgate … “Underground: Season One” (2016) is a 10-episode journey that follows a group of slaves striving for their freedom from the Macon plantation in 1857 Antebellum Georgia. As they plan to escape, the immense sacrifices and uncertainty of where to go and who to trust will test those who have the courage to leave and decide who has the endurance to survive. From Sony … Almost 14 years after the original series run, the next mind-bending chapter of “The X-Files” is a six-episode event series from creator-executive producer Chris Carter, with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reinhabiting their roles as iconic FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in “The X-Files – The Event Series” (2016). On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Fox.