From the Big Screen:
“Pitch Perfect 2.” For more information on these and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week’s Best Bets:
“Mister Johnson”: A decade after he broke through with “Breaker Morant” (1980) — and one year after his American hit “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989) — Australian director Bruce Beresford returned to the theme of colonialism and its effects on individuals with this acclaimed film starring Maynard Eziashi (“Bopha!”), Pierce Brosnan and Edward Woodward. Eziashi, who won the Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Bear for best actor for his role here, plays a Nigerian villager in 1923 British Colonial Nigeria desperate to take on British airs, please the authorities and, on the side, become upwardly mobile by making money and shunning his tribesmen. As a civil servant for a sympathetic district officer (Brosnan), Mister Johnson is at the intersection of the clash of two cultures, highlighting the ultimate folly of the “white man’s burden.” Bright and ambitious to a fault — and despite his endearing nature — Mister Johnson has a tragic downfall. Beresford captures both the humor and tragedy of the colonial situation, pointing out the foibles of both hoise who rule and those who are ruled. The cinematography is luscious, the acting superb, the story — based on a 1939 novel by Joyce Cary — imminently affecting. “Mister Johnson” ranks right up there with such great films about colonial Africa as Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “Black and White in Color” (1976) and Bertrand Tavernier’s “Coup de torchon” (1981). On DVD and Blu-ray, in a new 4K digital restoration, supervised and approved by Beresford with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include new video interviews with Beresford, producer Michael Fitzgerald, and actors Maynard Eziashi and Pierce Brosnan. From The Criterion Collection. (PS: For a look at the wild and wooly Beresford before he became Americanized, check out the 1976 quirky Australian drama “Don’s Party.”
The aforementioned “Breaker Morant” gets the Criterion treatment this week with a 4K digital restoration, supervised and approved by Beresford: At the turn of the 20th century, three Australian army lieutenants are court-martialed for alleged war crimes committed while fighting in South Africa. With no time to prepare, an Australian major, appointed as defense attorney, must prove they were just following the rules of war and are being made into political pawns by the British imperial command. Stars Edward Woodward, Bryan Brown and Jack Thompson. Also from Criterion this week is a restored 2K digital transfer of director Wes Anderson’s masterpiece, “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012): On an island off the New England coast during the summer of 1965, two 12-year-olds, Sam and Suzy, fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As local authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing offshore … The gorgeously framed and shot “Moonrise Kingdom” stars Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the young couple on the run, Bruce Willis as Island Police Captain Sharp, Edward Norton as Khaki Scout troop leader Scout Master Ward, and Bill Murray and Frances McDormand as Suzy’s attorney parents, Walt and Laura Bishop. The cast also includes Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman and Bob Balaban. The magical soundtrack features the music of Benjamin Britten.
Sony has released anniversary editions of three “kids” films to Blu-ray this week in wonderful transfers: “Jumanji: 20th Anniversary Edition” (1995), starring Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Bradley Pierce, Bonnie Hunt, Bebe Neuwirth, David Alan Grier, Patricia Clarkson; “The Indian in the Cupboard: 20th Anniversary” (1995) starring Hal Scardino, Litefoot, Lindsay Crouse, Richard Jenkins; and “Zathura: 10th Anniversary Edition” (2005) starring Josh Hutcherson, Kristen Stewart, Jonah Bobo, Dax Sheppard, Tim Robbins. And, last but not least, Scream Factory will release this week a Blu-ray edition of “The Sentinel” (1977), starring Cristina Raines, Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner, Jose Ferrer, John Carradine, Arthur Kennedy, Eli Wallach, Martin Balsam, Burgess Meredith, Beverly D’Angelo, Deborah Raffin, Jerry Orbach, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Berenger and Christopher Walken. When a beautiful model, Alison Parker (Raines), rents an apartment in a gloomy New York brownstone, little does she realize that an unspeakable horror awaits her behind its doors … a mysterious gateway to hell. Alison likes her eccentric new neighbors, so it comes as a shock when she’s told that, except for a strange old priest, she’s the only tenant. Amazing special makeup effects by the legendary Dick Smith.