"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Mar 262018

From the Big Screen:

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets:

The past comes to visit us on DVD and Blu-ray this week with releases from The Criterion Collection and Arrow:

Made during the early years of the movie musical, the exuberant revue “King of Jazz” (1930 was one of the most extravagant, eclectic, and technically ambitious Hollywood productions of its day. Starring the bandleader Paul Whiteman, then widely celebrated as the King of Jazz, the film drew from Broadway variety shows of the time to present a spectacular array of sketches, performances by such acts as the photo for King of JazzRhythm Boys (featuring a young Bing Crosby), and orchestral numbers overseen by Whiteman himself (including a larger-than-life rendition of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”) — all lavishly staged by veteran theater director John Murray Anderson and beautifully shot in early Technicolor. Long available only in incomplete form, “King of Jazz” appears here newly restored to its original glory, offering a fascinating snapshot of the way mainstream American popular culture viewed itself at the dawn of the 1930s. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration by Universal Pictures, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a new audio commentary featuring jazz and film critic Gary Giddins, music and cultural critic Gene Seymour, and musician and bandleader Vince Giordano; new introduction by Giddins; new interview with musician and pianist Michael Feinstein; four new video essays by authors and archivists James Layton and David Pierce on the development and making of “King of Jazz”; deleted scenes and alternate opening-title sequence; “All Americans,” a 1929 short film featuring a version of the “Melting Pot” number that was restaged for the finale of “King of Jazz”; “I Know Everybody and Everybody’s Racket,” a 1933 short film featuring Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra; two Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons from 1930, featuring music and animation from “King of Jazz.” From The Criterion Collection … With “Women in Love” (1969), the audacious Ken Russell vaulted onto the international stage, drawing on the psychosexual radicalism of D. H. Lawrence’s classic novel to shatter taboos in his own time. Set in an English mining community on the crest of modernity, “Women in Love “traces the shifting currents of desire that link the emancipated Brangwen sisters (Jennie Linden and an Oscar-winning Glenda Jackson) to a freethinking dreamer (Alan Bates) and a hard-willed industrialist (Oliver Reed) — as well as the men’s own erotically charged friendship. Coupling earthy sensuality photo for Women in Love with kaleidoscopically stylized images, Russell pursues this quartet to the heights of agony and ecstasy, crafting a breathtaking drama of human sexuality at its most liberating, dominating, and destructive extremes. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include two audio commentaries from 2003, one featuring director Ken Russell and the other screenwriter and producer Larry Kramer; segments from a 2007 interview with Russell for the BAFTA Los Angeles Heritage Archive; “A British Picture: Portrait of an Enfant Terrible,” Russell’s 1989 biopic on his own life and career; interview from 1976 with actor Glenda Jackson; interviews with Kramer and actors Alan Bates and Jennie Linden from the set; new interviews with director of photography Billy Williams and editor Michael Bradsell; “Second Best,” a 1972 short film based on a D. H. Lawrence story, produced by and starring Bates; trailer; an essay by scholar Linda Ruth Williams. From The Criterion Collection … “Sacha Guitry: Four Films 1936-1938 Limited Edition”: This impressive set brings together a quartet of 1930s features by Sacha Guitry (1885-1957, the celebrated French filmmaker, playwright and actor of the stage and screen, each photo for Sacha Guitry: Four Films 1936-1938 Limited Editionbased on his earlier works. “Indiscretions (Le Nouveau testament)” follows a holier-than-though physician who is scuppered by his own hypocrisy. “My Father Was Right (Mon pare avait raison)” tells of a man who, after being left by his wife for another man, raises his son to be wary of women. “Let’s Dream (Faisons un reve…)” is another story of mistrust, between husband, wife and lovers. And the history of one of France’s most famous streets is retold in “Up the Champs-Élysées (Remontons les Champs-Élysées)”, featuring multiple performances from Guitry himself. Available for the first time on Blu-ray, this set presents some of Guitry’s earliest and most enjoyable works. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo, with uncompressed LPCM on the Blu-ray. Extras include two French television documentaries: “Cinéastes de notre temps: Sacha Guitry (1965)” and “Thèmes et variations du cinéma: Guitry” (1967); an interview with Guitry from the 1959 television series “Magazine du théâtre”; 60-page limited edition book featuring new writing on the films. From Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment.

From TV to Disc:

“The Americans Season 5” (2017) is a four-disc set with all 13 episodes. Danger, disillusionment and betrayal reach an all-time high in the suspense-laden fifth season. KGB agents Philip and Elizabeth Jennings’ (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) unwavering dedication to their work comes at even more of a personal cost than before. And as Paige (Holly Taylor) is drawn deeper into the reality of her parents’ secret job, she realizes she will never have a normal life. Meanwhile, as Cold War tensions continue to escalate, Philip and Elizabeth are suspicious of Stan’s (Noah Emmerich) new romance, and they become more acutely aware of the vast disparity between American abundance and Russian scarcity. From Fox … “The Brokenwood Mysteries, Series 4” (2017) features all four episodes of the hit New photo for The Brokenwood Mysteries, Series 4Zealand detective series. After transferring from a big city to the small town of Brokenwood, Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd (Neil Rea) continues to settle into country life working with his assistant, Detective Kristin Sims (Fern Sutherland). Despite the growing accord between the mismatched pair, all is not well in Brokenwood, where passions simmering beneath the sleepy surface regularly erupt into gruesome crimes. Shepherd and his team contend with the death of a skydiver whose parachute was tampered with, the killing of the eccentric owner of a Victorian reenactment village, farmers feuding over the rights to honey bees, and a nursing home full of suspects with dementia. Available in a four-DVD set, two-disc Blu-ray set. From Acorn Media … “Legion” (2017): All Eight episodes of Season 1 of the series based on the Marvel Comics by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz. Series follows the story of David Haller, a troubled young man who may be more than human. Diagnosed as schizophrenic as a child, David has been in and out of mental hospitals for years. Institutionalized once again, David spends his time with his chatterbox friend Lenny, a fellow patient whose life-long drug and alcohol addiction has done nothing to quell her boundless optimism that her luck is about to change. But a startling encounter with a new patient forces David to confront the shocking possibility that the voices he hears and the visions he sees may actually be real. A haunted man, David escapes from the hospital and with the help of a nurturing but demanding therapist and her team of specialists’ unconventional methods, David embarks on an extraordinary journey of self-discovery that leads to a new world of possibilities … and a new level of unexpected danger. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Fox … “Mr. photo for Peyton Place: Part Three Robot: Season Three” (2017) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes of the series that follows Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), a cyber-security engineer who, along with Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) and an anarchistic group called fsociety, starts a revolution to change the world. Picking up immediately following the Season 2 cliffhanger, Season 3 explores each character’s motivations and the disintegration between Elliot and Mr. Robot. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … “Peyton Place: Part Three” (1964-65) is a five-disc set with 33 episodes. Look past the innocent façade of small-town life and discover the shocking truth. A ratings sensation for ABC, “Peyton Place” — already a successful 1956 novel and 1957 film — made its way to network television in 1964. A prime-time soap opera whose influence can be seen in later beloved programs such as “Dallas,” “Knots Landing,” and “Twin Peaks,” “Peyton Place” examined the complex web of scandals, schemes, and sex in a New England town. Featuring Dorothy Malone, Mia Farrow, and Ryan O’Neal. Fans of the series will find this collection of episodes as deliciously addictive now as they were in their original airing. From Shout! Factory

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “The Man From Earth: Holocene” (2017), starring David Lee Smith, William Kat, Vanessa William, Michael Dorn, Sterling Knight, Akemi Look, Brittany Curran and Carlos Knight, the immortal 14,000 year-old “Man from Earth” John Oldman is now comfortably hiding in plain sight as a college professor in Northern California. His existence comes crashing down when four students discover his deepest secret, putting his life in grave danger and potentially shaking mankind to its very soul. photo for The Man From Earth: Holocene From director Richard Schenkman, the sequel to the smash cult hit “Jerome Bixby’s The Man From Earth” stars David Lee Smith and William Kat reprising their roles from the original film. On DVD, Blu-ray, from MVD Visual … “The Last Movie Star” (2017) stars Burt Reynolds, Chevy Chase, Ariel Winter, Clark Duke and Ellar Coltrane. Vic Edwards (Reynolds) was the biggest star in Hollywood, a college football legend turned stunt double turned leading man. Now in his eighties, he’s convinced by an old friend (Chase) to accept an invitation to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at a two-bit film festival in Nashville. The trip launches him on both a hilarious fish-out-of-water adventure and an unexpectedly poignant journey into his past. On DVD, Blu-ray from Lionsgate … When four friends go on a retreat to a secluded lakeside cabin, they soon realize they’re not alone in “The Executioners” (2017). Masked intruders try to take them hostage, but as they fight back, the friends get a taste for something more than the will to survive. Stars Jemma Dallender, Natalie Burn, Rachel Rosenstein and Justin Fischer. From Lionsgate … photo for The Thousand Faces of Dunjia With “The Thousand Faces of Dunjia” (2017 — Hong Kong), legendary director Yuen Wo Ping and writer-producer Tsui Hark breathe new life into the wuxia genre, weaving together fantasy, humor, and breathtaking martial arts action. Dao, a naïve young constable, discovers a secret society with supernatural abilities that has protected mankind for centuries. As he’s drawn into a power struggle within their ranks, they learn that an ancient creature with the power to destroy the world is rising — and it will take all of their powers combined to stop it. Stars Chengpeng Dong, Ni Ni, Arif Rahman, Dongyu Zhou and Wu Bai. On DVD, Blu-ray from Well Go USA … When his fiancée is kidnapped by human traffickers, Roman and his ex-military brothers team up with Detective Avery to take down both the syndicate and the corrupt bureaucracy that’s been protecting it in “Acts of Violence” (2018), starring Cole Hauser, Ashton Holmes, Shawn Ashmore, Bruce Willis, Sophia Bush and Mike Epps. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, from Lionsgate.

Foreign Films:

“Last Men in Aleppo” (2017 — Syria) was an Academy Awards nominee for Best Documentary Feature and winner of the Grand Jury documentary prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad’s breathtaking work — a searing example of boots-on-the-ground reportage — follows the efforts of the internationally recognized White Helmets, an organization consisting of ordinary citizens who are the first to rush towards military strikes and attacks in the hope of saving lives. Incorporating moments of both heart-pounding suspense and improbable beauty, the documentary draws us into the lives of three of its founders Khaled, Subhi, and Mahmoud, as they grapple with the chaos around them and struggle with an ever-present dilemma: do they flee or stay and fight for their country as — after five years of war in Syria — Aleppo’s remaining residents prepare themselves for a siege. From Grasshopper Film.

For the Family:

“Nicholas on Holiday” (2014 — France), starring Mathéo Boisselier, Valérie Lemercier and Kad Merad, was adapted from Jean-Jacques Sempé (cartoonist for The New Yorker) and René Goscinny’s (creator of “Asterix”) “Little Nicholas” children’s book series, the film follows the adventures of Nicholas and his new friends on vacation at the sea at the Beau-Rivage Hotel. There’s Ben, who isn’t on holiday because he lives there, Freddy, who eats anything, Jocky, who talks funny because he’s English, Crispin the constant crybaby, and Christopher, who always wants to be right From photo for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: It’s A Beautiful Day Collection Icarus Films … “Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz: We’re not in Kansas Anymore Season One Volume One” (2017) is a single disc with all 10 episodes. Centers on the animated adventures of Dorothy after she and her friends defeat the Wicked Witch of the West. Dorothy is now responsible for reining in the chaos and tracking down whichever magical person, place or thing has caused mischief in Oz, and putting a stop to it. It’s no easy task however, not even for a plucky Kansas farm girl turned royal princess. With her good friends at her side, including Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion (whose newly found courage is often still fleeting), Dorothy takes on her new role with great determination. From Warner … “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: It’s A Beautiful Day Collection” is a four-disc collection with 32 memorable episodes that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the beloved “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” the pioneering children’s television series from The Fred Rogers Company. From PBS Kids.

Special Interest:

One of the biggest stars in rap history continues to inspire those around him, even after his death. The six-hour limited series “Who Killed Tupac?” (2016) focuses on the investigation into one of the most infamous unsolved crimes in music history: the death of prolific and influential rapper and actor Tupac Shakur. Each installment includes aspects from the legendary artist’s life, and follows famed civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump as he conducts a full-scale, intensive investigation into key theories behind Tupac’s murder. 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.

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