From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
There’s several interesting releases coming out of the Hollywood vaults this, courtesy of The Criterion Collection, Arrow Video and Scream factory.
“One-Eyed Jacks” (1961) is a western like no other. The film combines the mythological scope of that most American of film genres with the searing naturalism of a performance by Marlon Brando, all suffused with Freudian overtones and male anxiety. In his only directing stint, Brando captures the rugged landscapes of California’s Central Coast and Mexico’s Sonoran Desert in gorgeous widescreen, Technicolor images, and elicits from his fellow actors (including Karl Malden and Pina Pellicer) nuanced improvisational depictions of conflicted characters. Though overwhelmed by its director’s perfectionism and plagued by production setbacks and studio re-editing, “One-Eyed Jacks” stands as one of Brando’s great achievements, thanks above all to his tortured turn as Rio, a bank robber bent on revenge against his one-time partner in crime, the aptly named Dad Longworth (Malden). Brooding and romantic, Rio marks the last, and perhaps the most tender, of the iconic outsiders Brando imbued with such remarkable intensity throughout his career. On DVD and Blu-ray, in a new 4K digital restoration, undertaken with the support of The Film Foundation and supervised by filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … Also from Criterion this week is “The Squid and the Whale” (2005), a chronicle of the experiences of two young brothers growing up in 1980s Park Slope, Brooklyn, as they navigate the jagged contours of the divorce of their parents, both writers. The acclaimed third feature by Noah Baumbach marked a critical development for the filmmaker as he turned toward an increasingly personal style — a move that garnered him an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay. Shot in Super 16 mm and featuring a quartet of nuanced, understated performances from Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline, this comic and poignant drama, peppered with autobiographical elements, deftly captures the heartache and confusion of a fracturing family. On DVD and Blu-ray, with a new, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Robert Yeoman and director Noah Baumbach, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
From the subterranean depths it crawls. Finally making its long-awaited debut on Blu-ray, director Douglas Cheek’s cult ’80s favorite “C.H.U.D.” (1984) is the ultimate “underground movie experience.” In downtown Manhattan, a police captain’s hunt for his missing wife leads to the discovery of a series of mysterious disappearances in the area. Extending his search into the tunnels and sewers below the city streets, it soon becomes clear that something monstrous is lurking in that subterranean world — and it won’t stay there much longer … Starring John Heard and Christopher Curry alongside an early appearance from John Goodman, “C.H.U.D.” has built up a huge cult following in the years since its release in 1984, with one of the most iconic creature designs of the period. C.H.U.D. stands for: “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller” or “Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal.” Stars John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry. Brand new restoration from the original film elements in a new 2K film transfer of the original theatrical cut. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … “Rabid” (1977), David Cronenberg’s provocative take on the vampire mythos, makes its Blu-ray debut. After undergoing radical emergency surgery, Rose (former adult film star Marilyn Chambers in her first leading role in a mainstream film) develops an insatiable desire for blood. She searches out victims to satisfy her incurable craving, infecting them with an unknown disease which, in turn swiftly drives them insane … and makes them equally bloodthirsty. In a new 2K scan from the negative at the director David Cronenberg’s preferred aspect ratio (1.66:1). From Scream Factory.
From TV to DVD:
“Masterpiece: Poldark Season 2” (2015)is a three-disc set on Blu-ray and DVD. Neither pestilence, starvation, nor betrayal can stop Ross Poldark from fighting for justice in his native Cornwall in the imaginative world created by Winston Graham in his bestselling “Poldark” novels, published between 1945 and 2002. Comprising an even dozen volumes, the epic commences in 1783, as British officer Ross Poldark returns to Cornwall, fresh from the American Revolutionary War. In the second season, Ross stands accused of murder and “wrecking” — luring a cargo ship to the rocks for plunder. It’s a capital offense, the judge is unsympathetic, hostile witnesses have been bribed and Ross appears headed for the gallows.From PBS Distribution.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “I.T.” (2016), starring Pierce Brosnan, Anna Friel, Stephanie Scot, James Frecheville and Austin Swift, Mike Regan (Pierce Brosnan) is a successful, self-made man who has it all: a gorgeous wife, a beautiful teenage daughter and a sleek, state-of-the-art “smart home.” But he soon finds himself in a deadly, high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse when his I.T. consultant, Ed (James Frecheville), starts using his skills to stalk Mike’s daughter and endanger his family, his business, and his life. In a world where there is no privacy, and personal secrets can go viral by the click of a mouse, Mike needs to rely on his old connections to defeat a new kind of nemesis. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from RLJ Entertainment … From the acclaimed animation studio LAIKA (“Coraline”) comes the original action adventure “Kubo and the Two Strings” (2016). Kubo mesmerizes the people in his village with his magical gift for spinning wild tales with origami. When he accidentally summons an evil spirit seeking vengeance, Kubo is forced to go on a quest to solve the mystery of his fallen samurai father and his mystical weaponry, as well as discover his own magical powers. Features the voices of Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Brenda Vaccaro, Rooney Mara and Matthew McConaughey. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo and 3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray Combo from Universal … The Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers return in “C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud” (1988), starring Brian Robbins, Bill Calvert, Tricia Leigh Fisher, Gerrit Graham and Robert Vaughn. A military experiment to create a race of super-warriors go awry, and legions of murderous zombies are unleased upon a suburban neighborhood. On Blu-ray Disc from Vestron Video Collector’s Series … In “Return of the Living Dead 3”
(1993), starring Melinda Clarke and J. Trevor Edmond, a young man uses the chemical Trioxin to bring his girlfriend back to life after a motorcycle accident. Unfortunately, she’s driven to eat the only thing that will nourish her … human brains! She tries to stop her own feeding frenzy but a chain reaction has already begun, as hordes of undead are unleashed from their graves. On Blu-ray Disc from Vestron Video Collector’s Series … “Texas Rising/Sons of Liberty” (2016), two of HISTORY’s highly celebrated miniseries, arrive together on one double-feature DVD set. “Texas Rising” is the true story of how the state of Texas fought for its freedom from the rule of Mexican General Santa Anna and the formation of America’s most legendary law enforcement agency — The Texas Rangers. Stars Bill Paxton, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Thomas Jane, Olivier Martinez, Chad Michael Murray, Max Thieriot, Kris Kristofferson and Jake Busey. “Sons of Liberty” follows the stirring drama of the infamous Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s ride, and the Battle of Lexington as the colonies join forces as a single, united country in the most epic revolution of our time. Stars Ben Barnes as Sam Adams, Henry Thomas as John Adams, Dean Norris as Ben Franklin, Michael Raymond-James as Paul Revere, Jason O’Mara as George Washington and Ryan Eggold as Dr. Joseph Warren. From Lionsgate … “War Dogs” (2016), starring Miles Teller and Jonah Hill, is based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo from Warner.
On the Indie Front:
A child’s angelic face conceals a budding sociopath in the audacious, senses-shattering “The Childhood of a Leader” (2015), the feature debut from actor Brady Corbet. Set amidst the turmoil of World War I and its aftermath, the film follows the young son of an American diplomat living in France as he learns to manipulate the adults around him — a monstrous coming of age that ominously parallels the rising tide of Fascism in Europe. Stars Robert Pattinson, Stacy Martin, Liam Cunningham, Bérénice Bejo and Rebecca Dayan. From IFC Films … “The Land” (2016) is an inner-city saga set amidst Cleveland’s hip-hop underground. Teenage buddies Cisco, Junior, Boobie and Patty Cake shrug off school to practice skateboarding, which they hope will be their ticket to a better life. In the meantime, they steal cars to finance their dream. But when they get mixed up in a drug deal and cross a ruthless crime queen-pin, they put their friendship — and lives — on the line. Stars Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Moises Arias, Ezri Walker, Rafi Gavron, Linda Emond, Michael K. Williams, Erykah Badu, Machine Gun Kelly From IFC Films … In “Nestor” (2016), disoriented and alone, a man (Daniel Robinson) awakes in the snow, clad only in yellow swim trunks, and finds himself in a place long abandoned. With only vague memories of his surroundings, he’s forced to rely on his instincts to discover his purpose and survive the raw elements and crippling isolation. Written, filmed and edited in the wilds of Northern Ontario by filmmaker Robinson, “Nestor” was shot using a standard-issue DSLR camera (a Canon T3i). He also recorded ambient noise on his iPhone and hid a small shotgun mic wherever he could to capture sound. There were no costumes, no special effects and a budget that crept into the low four figures. The film, a blend of fiction, metafiction and documentary, is about one man, made entirely by one man. From Candy Factory Films … In “Throuple” (2015), starring Samantha Scaffidi, Todd Litzinger, Ingrid Vollset and Mikaal Bates, a conflicted young couple, a poly amorous trio trying to dig a hole, and a mysterious recluse spin a tale of love, murder and madness in a secluded Hawaiian jungle town on the edge of an active volcano. From Candy Factory Films.
“Almayer’s Folly” (2011 — Belgium) is visionary director Chantal Akerman’s final narrative film, a loose adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novel of the same name, an eccentric exploration of cultural conflict, identity and colonialism. It’s a tale of an occidental merchant, Kaspar Almayer, whose dreams of riches for his beloved daughter, Nina, collapse under the weight of his own greed and prejudice. Stars Stanislas Merhar, Marc Barbé, Aurora Marion. From Icarus Films.
“Sneakerheadz” (2015) is an in-depth look into the exploding subculture of sneaker collecting and the widespread influence it has had on popular culture around the world. From Filmrise/MVD Visual … “Chicken People” (2016) is a documentary that details the trials and tribulations of those who breed exotic birds in the world of competitive poultry. The film follows three remarkably diverse personalities whose shared passion of raising the perfect chicken brings them together in competition. From the Ohio National Poultry Show, considered the Westminster of Chickens, to the Dixie Classic in Tennessee, the movie chronicles the struggles and triumphs of the primary protagonists, along with a wide array of competitors, both human and chicken. From Sony … In “Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World” (2015), Oscar-nominated documentarian Werner Herzog chronicles the virtual world from its origins to its outermost reaches, exploring the digital landscape with the same curiosity and imagination he previously trained on earthly destinations as disparate as the Amazon, the Sahara, the South Pole and the Australian outback. Herzog leads viewers on a journey through a series of provocative conversations that reveal the ways in which the online world has transformed how virtually everything in the real world works — from business to education, space travel to healthcare, and the very heart of how we conduct our personal relationships. Features interviews with famed internet pioneers and visionaries including Bob Kahn (co-Inventor of Transmission Control Protocol and the Internet Protocol), Elon Musk (founder and CEO of SpaceX) and Kevin Mitnick (hacker, author and computer security consultant). From Magnolia Home Entertainment.