"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Jun 172019

From the Big Screen:

“Us” and “Wonder Park.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets

There’s a delcious bounty of collectible DVDs and Blu-rays this week. Let’s start off with three releases the master of modern French cinema, Jean-Luc Godard:

“Detective” (1985 — France)” Godard’s “Detective” is an invigorating deconstruction of film noir that adds a dash of “Grand Hotel” (1932) melodrama and “Body and Soul” (1947) boxing drama, all tied into an arresting Godardian knot. In a luxury Paris hotel, two detectives (Laurent Terzieff and Jean-Pierre Leaud) are working on the vexing case of an assassinated prince. In a nearby room, boxing trainer Jim Fox Warner (Johnny Hallyday) is getting his young protege´ ready for a fight. But Jim owes big money to the mob, as well as to the Chenals, a bickering husband and wife (Claude Brasseur and Nathalie Baye). In Godard’s fractured, poetic style, the tension ratchets up between these groups until they reach a bloody breaking point … “First Name: Carmen” (1983 — France) Godard’s “First Name: Carmen” is a photo for Detective radical reinvention of Bizet’s opera, updating the story of sexual obsession with bank robbery and kidnapping. Godard himself appears as doddering Uncle Jean, who lends his house to his niece Carmen (Maruschka Detmers) while he is recovering in a mental institution. Carmen and her gang of youthful pals stage a bloody robbery of a bank, during which she falls in love with one of the security guards (Jacques Bonnaffé). Her gang is in the planning stages of an even bigger crime — the kidnapping of an industrialist (or his daughter), using the shooting of a documentary on luxury hotels as a pretext. This bizarre crime spree of sex and death is told via Godard’s dizzying deconstructive style and DP Raoul Coutard’s eye-popping colors, creating a singular work of art to rival Bizet … “Helas Pour Moi” (1993 — France) Godard’s “Hélas pour moi” is a provocative film about faith and desire. Inspired by the Greek myth of Alcmene and Amphitryon, it photo for La vie de Jésus investigates the story of a god inhabiting the body of a man to experience the pleasures of the flesh. The incident is told through the eyes of a publisher, Abraham Klimt (Bernard Verley), who is interviewing the inhabitants of a Swiss village regarding the strange story of Rachel (Laurence Masliah) and Simon Donnadieu (Gérard Depardieu). One summer Simon leaves on a business trip, but soon after a doppelgänger arrives in the village purporting to be Simon. He appears to be a god in human form, and he pursues Rachel in a series of philosophical seductions that explore divine and physical ecstasy. One of Godard’s most beautiful films (shot by DP Caroline Champetier), “Hélas pour moi” is a thought- provoking and sensuous work of art. All three films are available on DVD and Blu-ray from Kino Classics … The Criterion Collection has on hand two amazing films from French filmmaker Bruno Dumont: “La vie de Jésus” (1997): With his stunning debut feature, the risk-taking auteur Dumont immediately established his reputation as an uncompromising iconoclast on the cutting edge of French cinema. Blending unflinching realism with moments of startling, light-filled beauty, La vie de Jésusfinds unexpected philosophical richness in the quotidian, small-town existence of Freddy (nonprofessional David Douche in a revelatory, one-off performance), an aimless young man with epilepsy who, in his childlike simplicity, embodies both great tenderness and terrifying photo for L'humanité brutality. Leaving the film’s cryptic title tantalizingly open to interpretation, Dumont dares viewers to see the divine in a seemingly dead-end world. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, approved by Dumont, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray … “L’humanité” (1999): The transcendent second feature by Dumont probes the wonder and horror of the human condition through the story of a profoundly alienated police detective (the indelibly sad-eyed Emmanuel Schotté, winner of an upset best actor prize at Cannes for his first film performance) who, while investigating the murder of a young girl, experiences jolting, epiphanous moments of emotional and physical connection. Demonstrating Dumont’s deftness with nonactors and relentlessly frank depiction of bodies and sexuality, L’humanité is at once an idiosyncratic police procedural and a provocative exploration of the tension between humankind’s capacity for compassion and our base, sometimes barbarous animal instincts. On DVD and Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, approved by Dumont, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

Over a decade after re-defining the thriller with “The Third Man,” director Carol Reed returned to the genre with “The Running Man” (1963). Reuniting with that film’s cinematographer Robert Krasker (BAFTA-nominated for his work here), Reed goes in the opposite direction visually, framing the twisty plot in sun-kissed widescreen color. Rex Black (Laurence Harvey) has successfully faked his death in a plane crash and escaped to sunny Málaga under a new identity, waiting for his wife Stella (Lee Remick) to arrive with £50,000 of life insurance money. photo for The Running Man	It’s the start of a blissful, trouble-free new life for the couple — until Stephen (Alan Bates), the insurance agent in charge of investigating Rex’s death, suddenly arrives in town. Is he just holidaying in Spain, as he claims, or is he on assignment to foil Rex’s scheme? Adapted by John Mortimer (later the creator of “Rumpole of the Bailey”) from the novel “The Ballad of the Running Man” by Shelley Smith, this underappreciated entry in Reed’s celebrated oeuvre makes its official worldwide home video premiere. 2K restoration of the film by Sony Pictures. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment … Making its Blu-ray debut this week is the rather bizzare but absorbing “Thirst” (2009 — South Korea), from Chan-wook Park, the director of “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance,” “Oldboy,” “Lady Vengeance” and “Stoker” In this shockingly original vampire story with a chilling, erotic style, a blood transfusion saves the life of a priest (Kang-ho Song), but also transforms him into a vampire. He struggles to control his insatiable thirst for photo for Thirst blood until a love affair unleashes his darkest desires in deadly new ways. Daring and operatic, “Thirst” is a truly wicked love story that takes classic vampire lore to twisted new heights. From Kino Lorber Studio Classics … “Between the Lines” (1977) is the second feature film from pioneering American independent director Joan Micklin Silver. Set in the offices of a Boston alternative newspaper where the writers and editors enjoy a positive and open-minded work environment. Music critic Max (Jeff Goldblum) uses his influence to score dates, while news reporter Harry (John Heard) is dating the lovely Abbie (Lindsay Crouse), the publication’s lead photographer. However, it seems as though their relatively carefree days are numbered when the owner of a major publishing company buys the paper, leading to more money, but even more changes. Co-stars Gwen Welles, Bruno Kirby, Marilu Henner and Michael J. Pollard. In a 2K restoration. On DVD, Blu-ray, Digital, from Cohen Film Collection … And, lasltly, for all you classic horror fns out there, there’s “Universal Horror Collection Vol. 1,” a four-disc set with hi-def verions of four films celebrating horror icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi: “The Black Cat” (1934), “The Raven” (1935), “The Invisible Ray” (1936) and “Black Friday” (1940). On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.

From TV to Disc:

“Suits: Season Eight” (2018) is a four-disc set with all 16 episodes of the series that centers on a fast-paced Manhattan corporate law firm led by legendary lawyer Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), his intelligent but delicate partner, Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman), and secretary-turned-COO Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty). After surviving leadership turmoil and the loss of key partners, the trio continues to tackle top corporate cases. After muscling her way into the firm, powerhouse attorney Samantha Wheeler (Katherine Heigl) joins the ranks of Specter Litt and challenges the status quo. From Universal … “Swingtown: The photo for Swingtown: The First Season First Season” (2018) is a four-disc set with all 13 episodes. The 1970s themed series follows married couple Susan Miller (Molly Parker) and Jack Miller (Jack Davenport) as they move into a suburban neighborhood in Chicago next door to Trina Decker (Lana Parrilla) and Tom Decker (Grant Show), a couple with a peculiar marriage arrangement. Seeking new connections with each other in the midst of the sexual revolution, the swinger couples explore newfound relationships through open marriages, rendezvous and provocative gatherings. From CBS/Paramount … “Will & Grace (The Revival): Season Two” (2018) is a two-disc set with all 16 episodes. Yasss, Queen! The witty ensemble of Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally reprise their infamous roles as Will, Grace, Jack and Karen for Season 2 of the revival. This season they return with new looks, new loves, and new guest stars. The legendary James Burrows, director of every original “Will & Grace” episode, returns with a slew of razor-sharp jabs and dirty martinis. From Universal.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

With the current rise of cryptocurrency, people will always find ways to exploit the system and the global economy. In “Crypto” (2019), starring Beau Knapp, Alexis Bledel, Luke Hemsworth, Kurt Russell and Vincent Kartheiser, when Wall Street banker Martin (Knapp) is sent to a bank branch in upstate New York, he uncovers suspicious cash flow through a local gallery selling million-dollar paintings. As Martin traces links to a violent global mob, he realizes he’s put his nearby family in grave danger. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … photo for Lords of Chaos In “Lords of Chaos” (2019), starring Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Jack Kilmer, Sky Ferreira and Sam Coleman, it’s Oslo, 1987, and 17-year-old Euronymous is determined to escape his idyllic Scandinavian hometown and create “true Norwegian black metal” with his band, Mayhem. He’s joined by equally fanatical youths — Dead and Varg. Believing that they’re on the cusp of a musical revolution, the group gets even darker, driven by the black metal dogma to spread evil. They begin burning down churches throughout the countryside and stealing tombstones for their record store. But when the press catches up with them and Euronymous takes more credit than he’s earned for the group’s violent acts, Varg, fresh out of jail, arranges a dark encounter to settle the score and ultimately determine who the darkest black metal musician is. Inspired by a true story. From Unobstructed View … Welcome to Slaughterhouse, an elite boarding school where boys and girls are groomed for power and greatness… and they’re about to meet their match. In “Slaughterhouse Rulez” (2019), starring Asa Butterfield, Finn Cole, Hermione Corfield, Michael Sheen, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, this ancient and ordered world is about to be shaken to its foundations — literally — when a controversial frack site on prized school woodland causes seismic tremors, a mysterious sinkhole and an unspeakable horror is unleashed. Soon a new pecking order will be established as pupils, teachers and the school matron become locked in a bloody battle for survival. From Sony … “The Beach Bum” (2019), starring Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Stefania LaVie Owen, Jimmy Buffett, Zac Efron and Martin Lawrence, folloes the misadventures of Moondog (McConaughey), a rebellious stoner rogue who always lives life by his own rules. Directed by Harmony Korine (“Kids,” “Spring Breakers”). On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … photo for Run the Race The faith family drama “Run the Race” (2018) tells the dramatic journey of two high school athletes and brothers who see their relationship tested as they seek different paths out of their troubled lives. Reeling from his mother’s death and his father’s abandonment, Zach, an All-State athlete, finds glory on the football field, working to earn a college scholarship and the brothers’ ticket out of town. When a devastating injury puts Zach -— and his dreams — on the sidelines, brother David laces up his track cleats to salvage their future and point Zach toward hope. Stars Mykelti Williamson, Frances Fisher, Kristoffer Polaha and Tanner Stine. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … “Hotel Mumbai” (2018), starring Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Anupam Kher and Jason Isaacs, is the true story of humanity and heroism that vividly recounts the 2008 siege of the famed Taj Hotel by a group of terrorists in Mumbai, India. Among the dedicated hotel staff is the renowned chef Hemant Oberoi (Kher) and a waiter (Patel) who choose to risk their lives to protect their guests. As the world watches on, a desperate couple (Hammer and Boniadi) is forced to make unthinkable sacrifices to protect their newborn child. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Universal … In “Under the Silver Lake” (2018), starring Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough and Topher Grace, Sam (Garfield) is a disenchanted 33-year-old who discovers a mysterious woman, Sarah (Keough), frolicking in his apartment’s swimming pool. When she vanishes, he embarks on a surreal quest across Los Angeles to decode the secret behind her disappearance, leading him into the murkiest depths of mystery, scandal and conspiracy in the City of Angels. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate.

On the Indie Front:

In “Felix Austria!” (2013), compelled by the inheritance of a mysterious box of letters, American aesthete Brian Pfeifle, a young man from Modesto, California, begins the journey of a lifetime to reach the source of the correspondence: the last heir of the Holy Roman Emperors, aging Archduke Otto von Habsburg, in this quirky documentary. Assuming the name of Felix Etienne-Eduoard Pfeifle, spiritual heir to the Habsburg Empire, the quest takes him from the barrio of Los Angeles to Vienna itself, with an unlikely detour to upstate New York, allowing him, along with viewers, to explore matters that are exceptionally timely within the context of contemporary American culture –questions of identity, sexuality, appropriation and use — as well as issues that resonate within our own lives. What does it take to construct, and become, an independent self? From IndiePix Films.

Foreign Films:

“Modest Heroes” (2018 — Japan) is a collection of three animated stories exploring ideas of heroism in their own unique way. “Kanini & Kanino” is directed by Academy Award-nominee Hiromasa Yonebayashi (“When Marnie Was There”, “Mary and The Witch’s Flower”); “Life Ain’t Gonna Lose,” featuring the voice of Maggie Q (“Nikita,” “Designated Survivor”), is helmed by Yoshiyuki Momose, who was a key animator on Isao Takahata’s films at Studio Ghibli; and “Invisible” director Akihiko Yamashita was a key animator on many of Hayao Miyazaki’s best-known photo for Modest Heroes films. Each is produced by Studio Ponoc’s Yoshiaki Nishimura. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from GKIDS/Shout! Factory … K-pop star Do Kyung-soo, Jared Grimes, Park Hye-Su, Oh Jung-Se and Kim Min-Ho star in “Swing Kids” (2018 — South Korea), a swinging musical drama set during the Korean War in which the soldiers at a POW camp plan a tap show to distract both themselves and the prisoners from the hardships of war. Led by a former Broadway dancer and a rebellious North Korean soldier, the band of prisoners find a new sense of freedom in dancing. On Blu-ray from Well Go USA … In “Kanarie” (2018 — South Africa), starring Schalk Bezuidenhout, Hannes Otto and Germandt Geldenhuys, drafted during apartheid by the South African Army, Johan Niemand’s love for Boy George and Depeche Mode lands him a spot in the SADF Choir called the Canaries. Against a landscape where law and religion oppress individuality, Johan and the Canaries have to survive military training and go on a nationwide tour of the country, entertaining people whilst fortifying the belief in the military effort and promoting the cause of both Church and State. An unexpected romance on the battlefield forces Johan to reckon with his long-repressed sexual identity. From Breaking Glass Pictures.

Special Interest:

“The Brink” (2018): When Steve Bannon left his position as White House chief strategist less than a week after the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017, he was already a notorious figure in Trump’s inner circle, known for bringing a far-right ideology into the highest echelons of American politics. Unconstrained by an official post — though some say he still has a direct line to the White House — he became free to peddle influence as a perceived kingmaker and market his nativist views as a global movement. The documentary follows Bannon through the 2018 mid-term elections in the US, shedding light on his efforts to mobilize and unify far-right parties in order to win seats in the May 2019 European Parliamentary elections. To maintain his power and influence, the former Goldman Sachs banker and media investor reinvents himself — as he has many times before — this time as the self-appointed leader of a global populist movement. From Magnolia Home Entertainment.

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 17, 2019  Add comments

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