From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
The folks at Shout!/Scream factory have put together a nice Blu-ray Collector’s Edition of Rob Reiner’s 1990 tour-de-force adaptation of Stephen King’s “Misery,” starring James Caan and Kathy Bates, in a two-disc set with a 4K restoration from the original film elements. The storyline: After a serious car crash in the mountains, novelist Paul Sheldon (Caan) is rescued by former nurse Annie Wilkes (Bates), who claims to be his biggest fan. Annie brings him to her remote cabin to recover, where her obsession takes a dark turn when she discovers Sheldon is killing off her favorite character (Misery) from his novels. As Sheldon devises plans for escape, Annie grows increasingly controlling, even violent, as she forces the author to shape his writing to suit her twisted fantasies. Grueling. Extras include a new interview with Reiner, new interview with special makeup effects artist Greg Nicotero, audio commentary with Reiner, audio commentary with screenwriter William Goldman, “Misery Loves Company” featurette, “Marc Shaiman’s Musical Misery Tour” featurette, “Diagnosing Annie Wilkes” featurette, “Advice For The Stalked” featurette, “Profile of a Stalker” featurette, “Celebrity Stalkers” featurette, “Anti-Stalking Laws” featurette, and trailers.
From TV to DVD:
Take a stroll down memory lane with four 90-minute seasonal chapters in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” (2017), directed, written, and executive produced by series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino. This special series begins nearly 10 years after the original series ended. Lorelai still runs the Dragonfly Inn (and chugs coffee like it’s water) and Rory, now 32, has experienced some career success. As Rory works through job-related struggles and Lorelai deals with some unresolved issues of her own, Emily Gilmore has been handling the loss of her husband. Emily is at a major crossroads in her life, trying to figure out what to do next. Richard’s death forces Emily and Lorelai to finally reexamine their own fraught relationship, which hasn’t changed much since the beginning of the series. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc. From Warner.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Animal Factory” (2000), troubled youth Ron Decker (Edward Furlong) is sentenced to a 10-year stint in the notorious San Quentin State Prison for a drug-dealing conviction. Inexperienced in the ways of prison life, he’s taken under the wing of Earl Copen (Willem Dafoe), an experienced con with the entire prison in the palm of his hand — inmates and guards alike. But as Ron grows increasingly cocky in his privileged role as Earl’s confidant, is he in danger of biting off more than he can chew with some of the jail’s more volatile inhabitants? Based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Eddie Bunker (“Reservoir Dogs”), “Animal Factory” was Steve Buscemi’s second stint in the director’s chair and sees him marshaling a formidable ensemble cast, including Bunker, Danny Trejo and Mickey Rourke, for a powerful and sincere account of the men caught up in the penal system and the deals they cut with each other, and themselves, in order to survive. On DVD, Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … “M.F.A.” (2017), starring Francesca Eastwood, Clifton Collins Jr. and Peter Vack, is a powerful thriller about campus sexual assault: a young woman is forced to take action to protect herself in this rape-revenge outing. Noelle (Eastwood), an art student struggling to find her voice, is sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate. Attempting to cope with her trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker, leading to a violent altercation that culminates in his accidental death. Noelle tries to return to normalcy, but when she discovers she is only one of many silenced sexual assault survivors on campus, she takes justice into her own hands. A vigilante is born — and retribution is the inspiration she’s been waiting for.On DVD, Blu-ray from Dark Sky Films … “Woodshock” (2017), starring Kirsten Dunst, Joe Cole and Pilou Asbæk, is a psychological thriller about a haunted young woman who spirals in the wake of profound loss, torn between her fractured emotional state and the reality-altering effects of a potent cannabinoid drug. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, from Lionsgate … In “Acts of Vengeance” (2017), starring Antonio Banderas and Karl Urban, a fast-talking lawyer transforms his body and takes a vow of silence, not to be broken until he finds out who killed his wife and daughter and has his revenge. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, from Lionsgate … “Rememory” (2017), starring Peter Dinklage, Julia Ormond, Martin Donovan, Anton Yelchin and Henry Ian Cusick, explores the unexplained death of Gordon Dunn (Donovan), a visionary scientific pioneer whose body is found shortly after the unveiling of his newest work: a device able to extract, record and play a person’s memories. Gordon’s wife, Carolyn (Ormond), retreats into her house and cuts off contact with the outside world when a mysterious man (Dinklage) shows up. After stealing the machine, he uses it to try and solve the mystery, beginning an investigation of memories that lead him to unexpected and dangerous places. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, from Lionsgate.
On the Indie Front:
“Candy Apple” (2015) is the first feature-length narrative film from visual artist Dean Dempsey (who also stars). Dempsey uses his biological father and a handful of true stories to weave an eccentric, eclectic and compelling black comedy in an homage to New York’s gritty Lower East Side of the 70s and 80s. Features a cast of familiar art world and nightlife faces like the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black and Sophia Lamar. After burning bridges out west, double-amputee punk rocker Terry Trash moves back to New York to room with his adult son Bobby (Dempsey) in a small apartment on the Lower East Side. Bobby is reluctant, but committed, to helping his ex-junkie father, all the while trying to stay focused on his own creative pursuits. A fledgling filmmaker, Bobby tries to cast Trash and the neighborhood characters that inspire him, but constantly fails to finish a project, so he turns to sex work organized by his confidant, Lady (Lamar). Meanwhile, Trash has all but abandoned landing a job or reigniting his band, and, instead, has befriended local eccentric, Roxy (Neon Music). With the help of hallucinogens, the two embark on regular adventures through New York and other worlds. From IndiePix Films.
With his highly perceptive attention to character, acclaimed director Kôji Fukada creates an explosive family drama that captures the collapse of a seemingly ordinary Japanese family in “Harmonium” (2016 — Japan). Toshio (Kanji Furutachi) sees his seemingly ordinary life take an ominous turn when Yasaka (Tadanobu Asano), a mysterious friend from his past, arrives unexpectedly — recently released from prison and in need of a helping hand. Toshio gives him a job and generously takes him in to live with his wife and daughter, but he soon regrets this decision as Yasaka gradually disrupts the family before finally causing irreparable damage. Winner of the prestigious Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the 2016 Cannes International Film Festival. From Film Movement … Filmed in Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon’s signature whimsical style, “Lost in Paris” (2016 — France/Belgium) stars the filmmakers as a small-town Canadian librarian and a strangely seductive, oddly egotistical vagabond. When Fiona’s (Gordon) orderly life is disrupted by a letter of distress from her 88-year-old Aunt Martha (delightfully portrayed by Emmanuelle Riva) who is living in Paris, Fiona hops on the first plane she can and arrives only to discover that Martha has disappeared. In an avalanche of spectacular disasters, she encounters Dom (Abel), the affable, but annoying tramp who just won’t leave her alone. Replete with the amazing antics and intricately choreographed slapstick that has come to define Abel and Gordon’s work, “Lost in Paris” is a wondrously fun and hectic tale of peculiar people finding love while lost in the City of Lights. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Oscilloscope Laboratories.
“Mario Lanza: The Best of Everything” (2017): Mario Lanza was an opera singer and Hollywood film star, but the most dramatic role he ever played was that of Mario Lanza himself. It was a life overflowing with fame, passion, tantrums, success, vices, generosity and incomprehensible tragedies. Featuring interviews with his daughter Ellisa and contemporary musicians including Joseph Calleja and Gianluca Terranova, as well as rare archival concert footage, the film is an intimate portrait of a true superstar. Lanza was a tenor like no other, and was the first true crossover artist when MGM made him a matinee idol. As his daughter says in the film, “He could act, he could sing and he was handsome!” Pavarotti, Carreras, Domingo, and Bocelli all trace their inspiration back to Lanza. Lanza’s voice even impressed pop-stars Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. Lanza’s Hollywood career catapulted in the 1950s when he starred in the box office hits “The Toast of New Orleans,” “The Great Caruso,” and “Because You’re Mine.” His singing voice was also featured in “The Student Prince.”On DVD, Blu-ray from FilmRise … With the four-part documentary “The Defiant Ones” (2017), director Allen Hughes (“Menace II Society,” “Dead Presidents”) has made an unquestionably bold film about the unlikely but unbreakable bond of trust and friendship between Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, two street-smart men from different worlds who have shaped many of the most exciting and extreme moments in recent pop culture. The series includes extensive interviews with Dre and Iovine, who speak frankly about their highs and lows as well as interviews with major music icons including: Snoop Dogg, Bruce Springsteen, Gwen Stefani, Bono, David Geffen, Eminem, Nas, Stevie Nicks, Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, Jon Landau, Patti Smith, Lady Gaga, Doug Morris, Tom Petty, Trent Reznor, Diddy, Alonzo Williams and will.i.am. The series also features never-before-seen footage from a multitude of recording and writing sessions with Eazy-E, JJ Fad, Stevie Nicks, N.W.A., Tom Petty, The D.O.C., Bruce Springsteen and U2, among others. Set amid many of the defining societal and cultural events of the past four decades, “The Defiant Ones” tells the stories of two men from different tough neighborhoods and their improbable partnership and surprising leading roles in a series of transformative events in contemporary culture. This revealing, compelling and often-gritty story takes place in recording studios, in humble homes, in criminal courts and in the highest corridors of corporate power. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Universal.
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.