From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
“Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection BLU-RAY DEBUT”
All 28 of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello’s iconic films from the height of their popularity at Universal Pictures, spanning 1940-1965, now available on Blu-ray for the first time: “Abbott and Costello Go to Mars,” “Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion,” “Abbott and Costello Lost in Alaska,” “Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,” “Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops,” “Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff,” “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy,” “Buck Privates,” “Buck Privates Come Home,” “Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet the Invisible Man,” “Comin’ Round the Mountain,” “Here Come the Co-Eds,” “Hit the Ice,” “Hold that Ghost,” “In Society,” “In the Navy,” “It Ain’t Hay,” “Keep ‘Em Flying,” “Little Giant,” “Mexican Hayride,” “One Night in the Tropics,” “Pardon My Sarong,” “Ride ‘Em Cowboy,” “The Naughty Nineties,” “The Time of Their Lives,” “The Wistful Widow,” “Who Done It?” Extras include 10 new audio commentaries, a collectible book, a bonus disc with more than eight hours of content. Read more here. From Shout! Factory … “Betty Blue” (1986) When the easygoing would-be novelist Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade) meets the tempestuous Betty (Béatrice Dalle in a magnetic breakout performance) in a sunbaked French beach town, it’s the beginning of a whirlwind love affair that sees the pair turn their backs on conventional society in favor of the hedonistic pursuit of freedom, adventure, and carnal pleasure. But as the increasingly erratic Betty’s grip on reality begins to falter, Zorg finds himself willing to do things he never expected to protect both her fragile sanity and their tenuous existence. Adapted from the hit novel “37°2 le matin” by Philippe Djian, Jean-Jacques Beineix’s (“Diva”) art-house smash — presented here in its extended director’s cut — is a sexy, crazy, careening joyride of a romance that burns with the passion and beyond-all-reason fervor of all-consuming love. This is the 185 minute director’s cut and it is a revelation — it has to be one of the most involving and gloriously directed and acted love stories of all time. It’s amazing and a must-see. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, with high-definition digital restoration, approved by director Jean-Jacques Beineix, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … The sweeping, delirious romance “Cold War” (2018) begins in the Polish countryside, where Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), a musician on a state-sponsored mission to collect folk songs, discovers a captivating young singer named Zula (Joanna Kulig). Over the next 15 years, their turbulent relationship will play out in stolen moments between two worlds: the jazz clubs of decadent bohemian Paris, to which he defects, and the corrupt, repressive Communist Bloc, where she remains — universes bridged by their passion for music and for each other. Photographed in luscious monochrome and suffused with the melancholy of the simple folk song that provides a motif for the couple’s fateful affair, Pawel Pawlikowski’s timeless story — inspired by that of his own parents — is a heart-stoppingly grand vision of star-crossed love caught up in the tide of history. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with new 4K digital master, supervised and approved by director Pawel Pawlikowski and director of photography Lukasz Zal, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio Soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … Gabba hey! Hard to believe, but it’s been 40 years since we first saw Riff Randall and the Ramones take the halls of “Rock ‘N’ Roll High School” (1979). Executive produced by Roger Corman and directed by Allan Arkush, “Rock ’N’ Roll High School” boasts performances by the Ramones and stars P.J. Soles (“Halloween”) in the lead role of Riff Randell, Vince Van Patten (“Hell Night”), Clint Howard (“Grand Theft Auto”), Dey Young (“Spaceballs”), Mary Woronov (“Death Race 2000”), Dick Miller (“Piranha”) and Paul Bartel (“Hollywood Boulevard”). Based on Arkush’s own high school fantasy, the film takes place at Vince Lombardi High School — the wildest, most rockin’ high school around. That is, until a thug of a principal, Miss Togar, comes along and tries to make the school a totalitarian state. With the help of the Ramones, the students of Vince Lombardi battle Miss Togar’s iron-fisted rule and take their battle to a truly rockin’ conclusion. “Rock ’N’ Roll High School” quickly developed a devoted following after its release in and became a mainstay of the midnight movie cult circuit. As with films like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” audience members began to dress up like the cast and the Ramones for screenings. New 4K scan from the original camera negative. In a 40th Anniversary Blu-ray Steelbook edition from Shout! Factory.
From TV to Disc:
“Catch-22” (2018), starring George Clooney, Christopher Abbott, Grant Heslov, Kyle Chandler, Hugh Laurie and Giancarlo Giannini, is a two-disc set with all six episodes of the limited series based on the celebrated Joseph Heller novel. “Catch-22” follows the adventures and misadventures of a U.S. air squadron in Italy during World War II. Yossarian is a bombardier whose frantic obsession every time he goes up on a mission is “to come down alive.” The real enemy for Yossarian and his rag-tag bunch of friends is the bureaucracy of the military, inverting logic at every turn. The pinnacle of this is Catch-22, a military by-law which states that if you fly your missions, you’re crazy, and don’t have to fly them; all you have to do is ask. But if you ask not to, then you’re sane, and so you have to fly them. From Paramount … “Deadline” (1959-61) is a three-disc set with 39 episodes. Lost and forgotten in a garage in New Jersey for over 50 years, the “Deadline” TV series, which dramatized stories drawn from actual newspaper headlines of the 1950’s, has been rediscovered to remind us of a time when newspaper reporters were revered as heroes and the guardians of truth and justice. Reporters are the first line of defense of the principles rooted in our Constitution and protected under the First Amendment. They uphold everything that our civil society stands for. At a time when print news media is rapidly disappearing and news reporters are being vilified as “enemies of the people,” “Deadline” has emerged from hibernation and is making its home video debut. Hosted and narrated by Paul Stewart and starring Peter Falk, Diane Ladd, George Maharis, Robert Lansing, and many more, this anthology series is available for the first time since it aired on primetime TV nearly 60 years ago. On DVD from Film Chest … “The Kominsky Method: The Complete First Season” (2019) is a two-disc set with all eight episodes of the Netflix series that centers on the life of acting coach Sandy Kominsky (Michael Douglas) and his long-time agent and best friend Norman Newlander (Alan Arkin), as they deal with the ups and downs of growing older while living in youth-obsessed Los Angeles. Sandy Kominsky’s (Douglas) life didn’t turn out the way he’d planned. His dream of having a successful acting career was slowly and inexorably replaced with the reality of being a mere acting coach. Clinging to his best friend and long-time agent Norman Newlander (Arkin), the two men are forced to confront loneliness, health issues, the loss of loved ones, financial calamity, grown-up children with grown-up problems, and estrangement from a world that is undergoing constant and rapid change. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “Taken Down” (2018) is a two-disc set with all six episodes. In Dublin, a young Nigerian girl, Esme Lukasa, is found dead at a bus stop opening an investigation into her violent death. This leads Inspector Jen Rooney and her team of detectives to a Direct Provision Centre for asylum-seekers. It is soon discovered that another girl from the center has disappeared. The police enter a murky underworld of slumlords and traffickers to find out who killed Esme and rescue the missing girl before she suffers a horrific fate. From Acorn Media.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Once Upon a Time in Deadwood” (2019), starring Robert Bronzi, Michael Pare, Karin Brauns, Lauren Compton and Chris Matteis, a notorious gunslinger is slipped a slow-acting poison by an heiress and told he has three days to track down and rescue her sister, who has been kidnapped by a gang of hoodlums and holds the antidote. From Uncork’d Entertainment … In “American Dreamer” (2018), starring Jim Gaffigan and Robbie Jones, a down-on-his-luck ride-share driver, who makes extra cash chauffeuring a low-level drug dealer around town, finds himself in a serious financial bind and decides to kidnap the dealer’s child. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate) … in “The Divine Fury” (2019 — South Korea), starring Park Seo-joon, Ahn Sung-ki and Woo Do-hwan, after losing his father at a young age in a terrible accident, Yong-hu (Park) abandons his Christian faith and chooses to only believe in himself. Now as an adult, Yong-hu is a champion fighter and has everything he has ever wanted, that is until a mysterious wound appears in the palm of his hand. And he himself in the middle of a dangerous fight against otherworldly evil forces seeking to wreak havoc on the human world. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Well Go USA … In “The Fare” (2019), starring Gino Anthony Pesi and Brinna Kelly, when a charming woman named Penny climbs into his taxi, Harris finds himself entranced. That is, right up until she disappears from the back seat without a trace. As he desperately tries to make sense of what happened, he resets his meter and is instantly brought back to the moment she first climbed into his cab. He and Penny find themselves trapped in an endlessly looping ride that changes their lives forever. On Blu-ray, from Epic Pictures … In “The Gliksmans” (2017), starring Jon Jacobs, Bryna Weiss, Cloris Leachman, Richard Portnow, Edward Asner and Ron Jeremy, two elderly people are being forced out of their home and decide to rob a bank. Unfortunately, they eat psychedelic mushrooms instead of their pills, and it puts the robbery in a whole new perspective. From Indican Picture … In “Animal Among Us” (2019), starring Christian Oliver, Larisa Oleynik, Don Frye, Christine Donlon and Jonathan Murphy, 15 years ago, two teenage girls were murdered at Merrymaker Campgrounds. The case was filed as an animal attack, the camp was condemned, and the killer never found. But something horrific still waits in those woods, ready to kill again. From Uncork’d Entertainment … Screen legend Alain Delon stars in the provocative French thriller “Diabolically Yours” (1967 — France) as a wealthy man at the center of an extraordinary plot after a car crash leaves him unable to remember who he is. With his wife (Senta Berger) convinced he is faking his amnesia, he sets out to discover who and why someone wants him to believe he is going crazy and should end his life. Wonderfully directed by Julien Duvivier (“Panique”) and beautifully shot by Henri Decaë (“Le Samouraï”). On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … “Un Flic” (1972 — France) is directed by Jean-Pierre Melville and stars Alain Delon, Richard Crenna, Catherine Deneuve, Michael Conrad, Riccardo Cucciolla and Jean Desailly. From Jean-Pierre Melville, the legendary director of “Bob Le Flambeur,” “Le Doulos,” “Le Deuxième Souffle” and “Le Cercle Rouge” comes this action-packed neo-noir. A Paris police chief (Alain Delo) discovers that his nightclub owner friend (Richard Crenna) also leads a group of bank robbers. When he’s tipped off that the same robbers are planning a drug heist, the police chief races to defeat his two-faced friend. Meanwhile, the police chief has engaged in some double-crossing himself-by sharing the same woman (Catherine Deneuve) with the man he calls his friend. Melville’s last film plays beautifully with all his trademark silences, grim faces and gloomy colors, featuring stunning photography by the great Walter Wottitz (“Army of Shadows,” “The Train”). On DVD, Blu-ray. from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … All roads lead to terror in the delightfully sleazy cautionary tale “Hitchhike to Hell” (1977) from cult director Irvin Berwick (“Malibu High,” “The Monster of Piedras Blancas”). Howard is a mild-mannered momma’s boy whose job running deliveries for a cleaning agency affords him a lot of time out on the road. It’s not until he picks up young women who’ve run away from home that he transforms into a twitching, homicidal maniac, hellbent on meting out punishment for their “transgressions.” Can the cops put a stop to Howard’s demented spree before he claims yet another victim? Influenced by the depraved crimes of the likes of “Co-ed Killer” Edmund Kemper, “Hitch Hike to Hell” is a bona fide American nightmare from the vaults of legendary exploitation producer Harry Novak (“The Child,” “Toys Are Not for Children”). New 2K restoration from original film elements with 1.33 and 1.78 versions of the feature. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … “The Boys Next Door” (1984), is the moment 80s teen movies turned harrowing, frightening and all too real. Maxwell Caulfield and Charlie Sheen star as high-school outcasts who head to Los Angeles for a spree of petty crime, senseless violence, and savage murder. Patti D’Arbanville and Christopher McDonald co-star in this descent into hell featuring music by Iggy Pop, Tex & The Horseheads and The Cramps, scanned in 4K from the original negative. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Severin Films … In “The Fan” (1981), starring Lauren Bacall, Michael Biehn, James Garner, Maureen Stapleton, Hector Elizondo, Sally Ross (Bacall) is a renowned Broadway star, glamorous celebrity, and the object of adoration for countless admirers. But among all the loving little people lurks a young man (Biehn) whose devotion teeters on the edge of madness. His impassioned letters to her are initially a source of pleasure, but as he attempts to realize his ultimate fantasy — and is met with rejection — the stakes are raised to terrifying heights … which might bring on the final curtain for Sally. In a Blu-ray debut from Scream factory … In “Jawbreaker 20th Anniversary” (1999), starring Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart, Julie Benz, Judy Greer, Chad Christ, Ethan Erickson, Carol Kane and Pam Grier, in what was meant as a harmless birthday prank, three of Reagan High School’s most popular girls, Julie, Marcie, and Courtney, pretend to kidnap their friend, the latter shoving a jawbreaker into the victim’s mouth to keep her from screaming. Their plan goes awry when the girl accidentally swallows the jawbreaker, choking to death. The cool and calculating Courtney tries to cover the crime but is found out by school geek Fern Mayo. In return for her silence, Courtney transforms the gawky Fern into the stylishly beautiful Vylette, leaving the conscience-stricken Julie out in the cold, threatening to set her up for the girl’s murder if she breaks her silence.On Blu-ray from Sony.
On the Indie Front:
In “Genèse” (2018 — Canada), three teenagers encounter the turmoils of love and youth. While the charismatic Guillaume (Théodore Pellerin) wrestles with his sexual identity at boarding school, his older half sister Charlotte (Noée Abita) navigates an adult world filled with casual cruelty. Separately, Félix (Édouard Tremblay-Grenier) meets his first girlfriend while away at summer camp. At a time when others are conforming, these three individuals stand their ground and assert their right to love and be free. From Film Movement … In “The Demons” (2015 – Canada), while Montreal is in the throes of a string of kidnappings targeting young boys, 10-year-old Felix (Edouard Tremblay-Grenier) is finishing his school year in the seemingly quiet suburb where he lives. A sensitive boy with a vivid imagination, Felix is afraid of everything. Little by little, his imaginary demons begin to mirror those of the truly disturbing world around him. From Film Movement.
“Eva Perón: The True Story” (1996 — Argentina): At the time of the film’s release, the darling of Argentina had been immortalized not only in the collective consciousness of her country, but also in literature, theater, and film. “Eva Perón: The True Story,” however, presents not the public image of Evita, but the personal life, with all of its struggles and successes, of a woman who rose from rural anonymity to become the most beloved figure in the country. The film zooms in on the years before Eva Perón’s death, with flashbacks highlighting key moments of her story, from childhood to her relationship with Juan Perón. Though these moments from her past illuminate the legend Evita has become, the film does not attempt to present a complete biography. Rather, it is an intimate portrait of a woman in the last years of her life who wants to achieve so much more than the time left to her will allow. Stars Esther Goris, Víctor Laplace and Cristina Banegas. From Facets … In “Queen of Hearts” (2019 — Denmark/Sweden), starring Trine Dyrholm, Gustav Lindh and Magnus Kreppe, Anne, a brilliant and dedicated lawyer specializing in children and young adults, lives what appears to be the picture perfect life with her doctor-husband, Peter, and their twin daughters. When her estranged teenage stepson, Gustav, moves in with them, Anne’s escalating desire leads her down a dangerous rabbit hole which, once exposed, unleashes a sequence of events that threatens to destroy her world. The film celebrated its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it won The Audience Award for World Cinema Dramatic. From Breaking Glass Pictures.
The life and music of legendary rock pioneer Chuck Berry are celebrated in “Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock ‘N’ Roll (Collector’s Edition)” (1987), capturing a once-in-a-lifetime gathering of rock ‘n’ roll’s finest. In 1986, Keith Richards invited a roster of brilliant musicians to honor Chuck Berry for an evening of music to commemorate Berry’s 60th birthday, including performances by Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Linda Ronstadt, Etta James, and Julian Lennon, along with archival footage of an unforgettable duet by Chuck and John Lennon. This dynamite crowd pleaser is from director Taylor Hackford and Stephanie Bennett, producer of “Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock ‘N’ Roll” and author of the new book “Johnny B. Bad: Chuck Berry and the Making of Hail! Hail! Rock ‘N’ Roll.” On DVD, Blu-ray, from Shout! Factory … “Cold Case Hammarskjöld” (2019 — Denmark/Norway/Sweden/Belgium) is a documentary investigation into the fatal and mysterious plane crash of U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld. In 1961, United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld’s plane mysteriously crashed, killing Hammarskjöld and most of the crew. With the case still unsolved 50-plus years later, Danish journalist, filmmaker and provocateur Mads Brügger leads viewers down an investigative rabbit hole to unearth the truth. Scores of false starts, dead ends and elusive interviews later, Brügger and his sidekick, Swedish Göran Björkdahl, begin to sniff out something more monumental than anything they’d initially imagined. On DVD, 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.