From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Highlights:
“Fantastic Planet” (1973 — France, Czechoslovakia) was a knock-out when it first screened in the mid-1970s, and nothing else has ever looked or felt like director Rene Laloux’s animated marvel, a politically minded and visually inventive work of science fiction. The film is set on a distant planet called Ygam, where enslaved humans (Oms) are the playthings of giant blue natives (Draags). After Terr, kept as a pet since infancy, escapes from his gigantic child captor, he is swept up by a band of radical fellow Oms who are resisting the Draags’ oppression and violence. With its eerie, coolly surreal cutout animation by Roland Topor; brilliant psychedelic jazz score by Alain Goraguer; and wondrous creatures and landscapes, this Cannes-awarded 1973 counterculture classic is a perennially compelling statement against conformity and violence. On DVD and Blu-ray, in a new, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.
From TV to DVD:
“Janet King, Series 1: The Enemy Within” (2016): Marta Dusseldorp stars in this new eight-part Australian legal drama as Janet King, a senior crown prosecutor. Determined to prove she still has her edge, Janet returns from maternity leave to find her workplace even more demanding than when she left. She quickly becomes involved in high-profile and controversial cases, and, as she makes connections between seemingly unrelated crimes, she unearths a scandal that could damn both the police and the judiciary — along the way creating enemies that will threaten her career, family, and ultimately her life. In a two-disc DVD set from Acorn Media … “Workaholics Season 6” (2016) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes, from Paramount.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “The Midnight After” (2014 — Hong Kong), starring Simon Yam, Wong You Nam, Janice Man, Kara Hui, Chui Tien You and Lam Suet, a group of 16 people on a city bus in Hong Kong emerge from a tunnel to find the entire population of the city has vanished. Based on a cult internet novel by “Mr. Pizza,” the film follows the eclectic group as they seek refuge in a deserted café and discuss what they should do. Then they make a horrific discovery. An end-of-the-world satire that blends a variety of genres — including mystery, thriller, sci-fi and comedy. From Well Go USA … Multiple lives intersect surrounding the violent mugging of a Columbia University philosophy professor in “Anesthesia” (2015), starring Sam Waterston, Kristen Stewart, Gretchen Mol, K. Todd Freeman, Tim Blake Nelson, Glenn Clos and Gloria Reuben. While on his way home one evening, Walter Zarrow (Sam Waterston), a popular Columbia University philosophy professor, is violently attacked on the street. Flashing back one week to the beginning of a domino effect of events that led up to this seemingly senseless assault, actor-director Tim Blake Nelson traces hidden connections between an apparently disparate group of people including a self-destructive student (Stewart), a hard-drinking suburban housewife (Mol), and a desperate junkie (Freeman) forming a complex, engrossing mosaic of lost souls united by tragedy. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from IFC Films … When his girlfriend becomes pregnant, a lovable loser must choose to either repeat his family history, in which the men become absent as soon as a baby becomes present, change his lifestyle, … or just go play softball in “Crackerjack” (2013), starring Wes Murphy, Bethany Ann Lind, L. Warren Young, Aaron Beelner and Phillip DeVona. From Monarch Home Video … In “All American Bikini Car Wash” (2015), starring Kayla Collins, Jack Cullison and Mindy Robinson, an enterprising college student agrees to run his professor’s Las Vegas car wash to avoid flunking out of school. But it’s “Vegas gone wild” when he decides to staff it with gorgeous bikini-clad girls. From Monarch Home Entertainment … Romantic obsession has harrowing consequences in the ’90s cult-classic, suspense thriller “The Crush” (1993), finally arriving on Blu-ray. A captivating tale of obsession and revenge, the film stars Cary Elwes and Alicia Silverstone in her breakthrough role. When Nick (Elwes) moves into a garage apartment in a picturesque suburb, his landlady’s daughter (Silverstone) takes more than a passing interest in him. Her infatuation turns violent when he rejects her, and she sets out to ruin him, his work and his girlfriend. If she can’t have him, no one will. Stars Cary Elwes, Alicia Silverstone, Kurtwood Smith, Jennifer Rubin. From Scream Factory … Also making its Blu-ray debut this week is “Rollercoaster” (1977), starring George Segal, Timothy Bottoms, Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Harry Guardino, Susan Strasberg and Helen Hunt. This suspense yarn has a determined terrorist (Bottoms) turning America’s amusement parks into battlefields. The tension mounts as affable safety inspector Harry Calder (Segal) attempts to track down the saboteur who has targeted the country’s most popular rollercoasters and its riders for senseless destruction. Includes the original SENSURROUND soundtrack. From Shout! Factory.
On the Indie Front:
The lives of a beautiful divorcee and a troubled detective intersect during the investigation of a vicious murder on the grimy, rain-soaked streets of London, sparking a tangled web of passion, intrigue and deceit in “I, Anna” (2015), starring Charlotte Rampling, Gabriel Byrne, Eddie Marsan and Hayley Atwell. The modern film noir is told from the perspective of the intriguing woman, a key suspect in the murder case, who becomes an obsession for the detective in charge of the investigation. From Icarus Films.
The exciting thriller “The Wave” (2015 — Norway), starring Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp, Jonas Hoff Oftebro, Edith Haagenrud-Sande, puts a typically Scandinavian spin on disasters. Nestled in Norway’s Sunnmøre region, Geiranger is one of the most spectacular tourist draws on the planet. With the mountain Akerneset overlooking the village — and constantly threatening to collapse into the fjord — it is also a place where cataclysm could strike at any moment. After putting in several years at Geiranger’s warning center, geologist Kristian (Joner) is moving on to a prestigious gig with an oil company. But the very day he’s about to drive his family to their new life in the city, Kristian senses something isn’t right. The substrata are shifting. No one wants to believe that this could be the big one, especially with tourist season at its peak, but when that mountain begins to crumble, every soul in Geiranger has 10 minutes to get to high ground before a tsunami hits, consuming everything in its path. On DVD, Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment … In “Going Away” (2015 — France), starring Pierre Rochefort, Louise Bourgoin and Mathias Brezot, Baptiste, a loner, is a gifted primary teacher living in the south of France who never remains in the same job for more than a term. His unremarkable appearance masks cracks, even violence. When he’s left unwittingly in charge of Mathias one weekend by the child’s negligent father, the boy takes Baptiste to his mother Sandra, a dazzling but fragile woman who works on the beach near Montpellier. For one enchanted day, a powerful spell unites them. But it doesn’t last. Sandra owes money and her creditors are moving in, and she’s forced to flee again. To help her, Baptiste must return to the roots of his life, and to the darkest, most painful secrets within him. From Cohen Media Group … The ravages of colonialism cast a dark shadow over the South American landscape in “Embrace of the Serpent” (2015), a blistering and poetic film, the first shot in the Amazonian rainforest in over 30 years. Filmed in stunning black-and-white, the film centers on Karamakate (portrayed in various stages by Nilbio Torres and Antonio Bolívar Salvado), an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people, and the two scientists (Evan and Theo, portrayed by Brionne Davis and Jan Bijvoet) who, over the course of 40 years, build a friendship with him. The film was inspired by the real-life journals of two explorers (Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes) who traveled through the Colombian Amazon during the last century in search of the sacred and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna plant. The Oscar-nominated “Embrace of the Serpent” premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it was awarded the top prize, and also screened at the 2015 Toronto, AFI, and Palm Springs film festivals. On DVD and Blu-ray from Oscilloscope Laboratories.
For the Family:
In “Transformers Rescue Bots: Heroes of Tech” (2016), Chase, Heatwave, Blades and Boulder return for five brand-new adventures with their Griffin Rock friends, the Burns family. This time, they learn the valuable lesson that new technology can definitely be awesome … but it can also be… dangerous. from Shout! Kids … The new animated feature “Tom and Jerry: Back to Oz” (2016) has everyone’s favorite cat and mouse return to the captivating Land of Oz for another exciting adventure with Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion and their companions. When the Gnome King and his army surface from beneath Oz and capture the Good Witch, the wizard turns to Tom, Jerry and Dorothy for help. He brings them back to Oz to help stop the evil monarch, who has threatened to take control of Emerald City. $19.98 from Warner.