From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
“Andrei Rublev”: (1966) Tracing the life of a renowned icon painter, the second feature by Andrei Tarkovsky vividly conjures the murky world of medieval Russia. This dreamlike and remarkably tactile film follows Andrei Rublev as he passes through a series of poetically linked scenes — snow falls inside an unfinished church, naked pagans stream through a thicket during a torchlit ritual, a boy oversees the clearing away of muddy earth for the forging of a gigantic bell — gradually emerging as a man struggling mightily to preserve his creative and religious integrity. Appearing here in the director’s preferred 185-minute cut as well as the version that was originally suppressed by Soviet authorities, the masterwork “Andrei Rublev” is one of Tarkovsky’s most revered films, an arresting meditation on art, faith, and endurance. On DVD, Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … “The Day of the Jackal”: (1973) In 1971, Frederick Forsythe shot to bestseller status with his debut novel, “The Day of the Jackal” — taut, utterly plausible, almost documentarian in its realism and attention to detail. Two years later, director Fred Zinnemann (“High Noon”) turned a gripping novel into a nail-biting cinematic experience. August 1962: the latest attempt on the life of French President Charles de Gaulle by the far-right paramilitary organization, the OAS, ends in chaos, with its architect-in-chief dead at the hands of a firing squad. Demoralized and on the verge of bankruptcy, the OAS leaders meet in secret to plan their next move. In a last desperate attempt to eliminate de Gaulle, they opt to employ the services of a hired assassin from outside the fold. Enter the Jackal (Edward Fox): charismatic, calculating, cold as ice. As the Jackal closes in on his target, a race against the clock ensues to identify and put a stop to a killer whose identity, whereabouts and modus operandi are completely unknown. Co-starring a plethora of talent from both sides of the Channel, including Michael Lonsdale (“Munich”), Derek Jacobi (“The Odessa File”) and Cyril Cusack (“1984”) and featuring striking cinematography by Jean Tournier (“Moonraker”), “The Day of the Jackal” remains one of the greatest political thrillers of all time. And Edward Fox, whom many viewers will recognize from “A Bridge Too Far” (1977) and “Gandhi” (1982), plays one of the most frightenly perfect hitman of all time. Trivia: He’s the older brother to actor James Fox, who starred alongside Mick Jagger in “Performance” (1970). On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … “Exorcist II: The Heretic”: (1977) Linda Blair, Richard Burton, Louise Fletcher, Max von Sydow, Paul Henreid, James Earl Jones. Following upon the enormous success of the original, this sequel opened in June 1977 and has come to be labeled one of the worst films of all-time; director Williamn Friedkin thought it diminished the value of the original and called it “one of the worst films I’ve ever seen” and director John Boorman has disowned it. Still, it has gathered some cult status by now: here’s your chance to be the judge with two different cuts of the film, the original and a second cut by Boorman to salvage the work. New 2K scans from original film elements of the 118 minute and 102 minute cuts. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory … “The Farmer’s Daughter”: (1947) Loretta Young, Joseph Cotten, Ethel Barrymore, Charles Bickford, Harry Davenport. Young is The Farmer’s Daughter – blonde, brash and so hilariously heartwarming that she won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. As Katrin, she romps through one uproarious romantic adventure after another, an independent farm girl who becomes a politician and captures the heart of a Congressman along the way. The outrageous antics begin when Katrin, fresh from the farm, arrives in Capitol City ready to take on the metropolis. She takes the very first job she can find: housemaid in the wealthy home of urbane Congressman Glenn Morley, charmingly played by Cotten. But she’s no sooner tied the apron strings around her waist than she’s running for Congress. To complicate matters further, Morley is developing a case of infatuation for Katrin — and it’s looking like love that knows no political bounds. Directed by H. C. Potter (“Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”).On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber Studio Classics …
“A Raisin in the Sun”: (1961) Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” was the first play by a black woman to be on Broadway and is now an immortal part of the theatrical canon. Two years after its premiere, the production came to the screen, directed by Daniel Petrie. The original stars — including Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee — reprise their roles as members of an African-American family living in a cramped Chicago apartment, in this deeply resonant tale of dreams deferred. Following the death of their patriarch, the Youngers await a life insurance check they hope will change their circumstances, but tensions arise over how best to use the money. Vividly rendering Hansberry’s intimate observations on generational conflict and housing discrimination, Petrie’s film captures the high stakes, shifting currents, and varieties of experience within black life in midcentury America. On DVD, Blu-ray. from The Criterion Collection.
From TV to Disc:
“Billions: The Third Season” (2018) is a four-disc set with all 12 episodes about the battle between two powerful New York figures, hedge fund king Bobby “Axe” Axelrod and U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades. The third season finds Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) and Axelrod (Damian Lewis) in a world that has shifted on its axis. Both men are still determined to destroy the other, but must also battle for their own survival amid new forces and powerful enemies. Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Sift), Chuck’s wife and Axe’s performance coach, is all in for both men, an uneasy and dangerous position for her, and one that ultimately puts her to a decision that could alter the direction of her life irrevocably. Money, power, justice and revenge are all on the line. From Showtime/Paramount … “The Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special” (2017): When “The Carol Burnett Show” turned 50, CBS honored the groundbreaking comedy series with this Anniversary Special, which aired to a whopping 15.4 million viewers on Sunday, December 3, 2017. Nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Special, the one-night event, which was filmed at the series’ original soundstage at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, features Burnett, original cast members Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner, costume designer Bob Mackie, and a slew of special guests, including Jon Batiste, Beth Behrs, Jim Carrey, Kristin Chenoweth, Stephen Colbert, Harry Connick Jr., Kaley Cuoco, Bill Hader, Steve Lawrence, Jay Leno, Jane Lynch, Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Amy Poehler, Tracee Ellis Ross, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short and more. Highlights include the most uproarious clips from the landmark series; Carol’s beloved Q&A with the star-studded 50th Anniversary audience including questions from Pat Boone and Tom Selleck; Carol’s guests try out her famous Tarzan yell – Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Tracee Ellis Ross all give it a go; Stephen Colbert, Steve Lawrence, Bernadette Peters, Kristin Chenoweth and Carol all come together for a brand-new musical number; more. From Time Life … “C.B. Strike: The Series” (2017) is Cinemax’s compelling detective drama adapted from popular crime novel trilogy by Robert Galbraith, a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling. Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke), a war veteran turned private detective, operates out of a tiny office in London’s Denmark Street. He is wounded both physically and psychologically but his unique insight and his background as an SIB investigator prove crucial in solving complex cases, which the police seem unable to solve. Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger) is Strike’s new office temp who is in charge of managing his chaotic life. She soon becomes involved with his caseload and begins to see her true potential. Together they crack some of London’s most intriguing cases. From Warner … “The Chi Season One” (2018) includes all 10 episodes. On Chicago’s South Side, an average day finds kids prepping for school as their parents head off to work, young adults trying to make a living, and the elders keeping an eye on things from their front porches. But in this tough neighborhood, real dangers threaten daily to squelch dreams, and the simplest decisions can have life-or-death consequences. The series is a timely coming-of-age drama series, centered on a group of South Side residents who become linked by coincidence but bonded by the need for connection and redemption. From Fox … “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Third Season” (2017-18) includes all 18 episodes. After defeating the Legion of Doom, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow face a new threat created by their actions. By revisiting a moment in time that they had already participated in, they’ve essentially fractured the timeline and created anachronisms all across time! In Season Three, the Legends must find a way to return all the anachronisms to their original timelines before the time stream falls apart. Four-disc DVD, three-disc Blu-ray, from Warner … “Dynasty: Season One” (2017-18) is a four-disc set with all 22 episodes. A modern re-imagining of the iconic primetime soap that follows two of America’s wealthiest families as they feud for control over their fortune and their children. The series centers on the lavish and powerful Carrington family as they defend their throne against the Colbys, new rivals and threats, and even each other. Fallon Carrington is a charismatic, cunning young woman, poised to become the new COO of her father’s global energy empire — or so she thinks. When her father, Blake Carrington, summons Fallon and her brother, Steven, home to the family compound in Atlanta, Fallon is horrified to learn that the reunion isn’t to announce her promotion, but rather to meet her stepmother-to-be, Cristal. Cristal is stunning — and almost as young as Fallon — but she isn’t just some gold-digger to be scared off. Cristal is a driven, principled and savvy publicity maven at Carrington Atlantic, and she truly loves Blake. However, the wealth and privilege of the Carringtons’ world proves challenging to her, as she clashes with Fallon, who all make it very clear Cristal doesn’t belong. Family dynasties flow through blood, and Fallon would sooner draw blood than call Cristal “Mom,” so she asks Cuihane, the family’s chauffeur — and Fallon’s secret lover — to help expose Cristal for the fraud Fallon thinks she is. But, when that backfires and Blake chooses Cristal over his own daughter, Fallon sides up to Blake’s biggest rival, Jeff Colby, mixing business and pleasure to seek her revenge, leaving a jealous Cuihane to watch from the sidelines. From CBS/Paramount.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
“Gotti” (2018), starring John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Chris Mulkey and Spencer Lofranco, is a biographical crime-thriller that follows infamous crime boss John Gotti’s (Travolta) rise to become the “Teflon Don” of the Gambino crime family in New York City. Spanning three decades, and recounted by his son John Jr. (Lofranco), Gotti examines Gotti’s tumultuous life as he and his wife (Preston) attempt to hold the family together amid tragedy and multiple prison sentences. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In “Hot Summer Nights” (2018), starring Timothée Chalamet, Alex Roe, Maika Monroe, Maia Mitchell, William Fichtner and Thomas Jane, a likable but socially awkward high school graduate finds confidence — and trouble — when he spends the summer dealing marijuana with the local bad boy and beginning a secret romance with his new partner’s younger sister. From Lionsgate … “The Seagull” (2018), starring Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan, Corey Stoll, Elisabeth Moss, Mare Winningham, Jon Tenney, Glenn Fleshler, Michael Zegen, Billy Howle and Brian Dennehy, is based on the play by renowned Russian author Anton Chekhov. One summer at a lakeside Russian estate, friends and family gather for a weekend in the countryside. While everyone is caught up in passionately loving someone who loves somebody else, a tragicomedy unfolds about art, fame, human folly and the eternal desire to live a purposeful life. From Sony … “All Styles” (2018), starring Du-Shaunt “Fik-Shun” Stegall, Keon Motakhaveri, Tetona Jackson, Erica Klein and Heather Morris, is a teen dance drama about a young hip hop artist who’s rejected by his old dance crew for heading off to college before a major competition. As result, he assembles his own ragtag crew — a break-dancer, a performance artist, a Bhangra dancer, an animator, a ballerina, and a ballroom dance mom — to face off against his former friends. From Shout! Factory … In “The Row”(2018), starring Lala Kent, Shea Buckner, Dylan Sprayberry, Natali Yura, Mia Frampton, Jennifer Titus, Colin Egglesfield and Randy Couture, the anxiety of rush week turns into sheer terror when sisters of a sorority are slain — and turned into dolls — by a serial killer. New pledge Riley (Kent) and her best friend, Becks (Frampton), must endure late-night hazing rituals as the murderer watches and waits. Can Riley uncover the terrible secret shared by her cop father (Couture) and deceased mother, a former Phi Lambda sister, before becoming a victim herself? On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … “Epidemic” (2018), starring Andrew Hunsicker, Amanda K. Morales, Gina Destra and Mike Sutton, is a psychological horror film, examining how human beings are beset by addiction and sickness that arises when our desire to feel good gets out of control and turns into a disease. A deadly pathogen is unleashed and unknowingly carried to Dana’s 30th birthday party, where her estranged father, Rufus, is coming to make amends. What begins as a family drama soon escalates to a horrific turning point as the epidemic spreads and Rufus fights to save his daughter’s life. From Breaking Glass Pictures … After their small Australian country town is annihilated by an overwhelming airborne attack, a group of civilians evade capture and discover they are now among the last remaining survivors of an extraterrestrial invasion engulfing the entire planet in “Occupation” (2018), starring Dan Ewing, Temuera Morrison and Stephany Jacobsen. As humanity falls under world-wide occupation, they form a home-grown army to fight back against vastly superior enemy forces. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In “Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich” (2018), starring Thomas Lennon, Jenny Pellicer, Nelson Franklin, Charlyne Yi, Michael Paré, Barbara Crampton ande Udo Kier, recently divorced Edgar (Lennon) returns to his childhood home where he finds a nefarious looking puppet in his deceased brother’s room. He decides to sell the doll for some quick cash at a small-town convention celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the infamous Toulon Murders. All hell breaks loose when a strange force animates the puppets at the convention, setting them on a bloody killing spree that’s motivated by an evil as old as time. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … In “Cynthia” (2018), starring Scout Taylor-Compton, Sid Haig, Rebecca Marshall, Bill Moseley and Robert LaSardo, Robin and Michael are college sweethearts who have everything — a perfect marriage, adorable cat, a beautiful home. But one thing is missing from this idyllic setting — a baby. After years of fertility treatments their dreams come true when Robin finds out she is pregnant. But the dream turns into a nightmare when the conception grows into a slimy six-fingered one-legged nightmare that terrorizes the neighborhood. Due Sept. 28. from Indiecan Pictures … Italian actress-writer-director Asia Argento, daughter of famed genre director Dario Argento, has spent much of her life in the spotlight and under the glare of media scrutiny. In her dark, voyeuristic and semi-autobiographical directorial debut, “Scarlet Diva” (2000), Argento plays Anna Battista, a rising young actress who, despite her popularity and success, experiences despair and degradation at the hands of the film industry. Her harrowing journey towards redemption leads her on a sordid spree of excess across America and Europe while trying to recapture her innocence and find true love. Co-stars Jean Shepard, Herbert Fritsch, Gianluca Arcopinto and Joe Coleman. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Film Movement … “The [REC] Collection” (2007, 2009, 2012, 2014 — Spain) is a four-disc Blu-ray set featuring a quadrilogy of terror, including “[REC],” “[REC] 2,” “[REC] 3: Genesis,” and “[REC] 4.” In the first film, “[REC],” a TV reporter and her crew are asked to cover a crew of firemen on duty. What seems like a routine story about a night at the fire station soon turns into a nightmare. Trapped inside a quarantined building, the crew must try to survive the terror that rages inside. “[REC] 2” picks up minutes after the end of “[REC].” The authorities have lost contact with the people trapped inside the quarantined building and chaos reigns. A Special Operations Unit has been tasked with entering the premises … only to discover that this is anything but a straightforward mission. “[REC] 3: GENESIS” leaves the confines of the quarantined building to follow the wedding of Koldo and Clara. Everything appears to be running smoothly and the bride and groom are enjoying a wonderful day … until some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness and unleash a torrent of violence. “[REC] 4: APOCALYPSE” returns focus to Ángela Vidal, the young reporter who has managed to make it out of the building alive. But she hasn’t made it out of the building alone as she carries the seed of the strange infection. She is taken to a provisional quarantine facility: the perfect location for the virus to be reborn. On Blu-ray, from Scream Factory … In “The Baby” (1973), still traumatized by the loss of her husband, well-meaning social worker Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer) throws herself into her latest assignment: the case of “Baby” (David Mooney), a 21-year-old man with the mind of an infant — who crawls, cries and has yet to make it out of nappies. But Baby’s family — the tyrannical “Mama” Wadsworth (Ruth Roman) and her two demented daughters — aren’t the only ones with a warped conception of familial relations, and the full horror only begins when Ann sets her sights on liberating the drooling man-child … and in so doing unleashes the wrath of the Wadsworth women. Forty-five years after its original release, this film remains one of the most bizarre horror movies ever committed to celluloid. Directed by Ted Post (“Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” “Magnum Force”) and co-starring Marianna Hill, “The Baby” is a twisted, psychedelic nightmare of suburban depravity. 1.85:1 and 1.33:1 versions of the feature. On Blu-ray, from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … “The Bride” (1985), starring Sting, Jennifer Beals, Clancy Brown and David Rappaport, is a remake of “The Bride of Frankenstein.” On Blu-ray from Scream Factory … “The Trouble With Terkel” (2010) is an animated film with the voices of Toby Stephens, Danny Trejo, Craig Ferguson, Carrie Keagan, Eve Mauro. Terkel is a miserable sixth grader constantly picked on by two merciless bullies, Nigel and Saki. So what’s a modern kid to do when bullied? Tease the other oddball in class — a girl. Doris finds the abuse unbearable and throws herself out a window, which ironically makes Terkel popular. Terkel now embraces everything American: booze, violent videogames and rap. But life takes a turn for the weird when he starts receiving strange death threats and, unable to confide in his annoying sister, alcoholic Uncle or dimwitted parents, Terkel turns to his sexually inappropriate hippie teacher for guidance. Due Sept. 28. from Indiecan Pictures.
On the Indie Front:
“Izzy Gets The F*ck Across Town” (2018), starring Mackenzie Davis, Alia Shawkat, Haley Joel Osment, Carrie Coon and Alex Russell, is a charmingly profane indie dramedy and a delightfully chaotic look at Los Angeles. Riot grrrl rocker and shameless hot mess Izzy wakes up hungover AF to find out that her ex-boyfriend is celebrating his engagement to her ex-best friend tonight at a bougie party across town. Enraged and desperate, Izzy embarks on a frenetic quest across Los Angeles to break up the party in order to fulfill what she believes to be her destiny … before it’s too late. On DVD, Blu- ray, from Shout! Studios … In “Pin Cushion” (2017 — UK), starring Lily Newmark, Joanna Scanlan, Loris Scarpa, Sacha Cordy-Nice and Bethany Antonia, super close Mother Lyn and daughter Iona are excited for their new life in a new town. Determined to make a success of things after a tricky start, Iona becomes “best friends” with three local girls and Lyn makes friends with her neighbor, Belinda. As much as Lyn and Iona pretend to each other that things are going great, they aren’t: Iona struggles with the girls, who act more like frenemies than friends, and Belinda won’t give Lyn her stepladders back. Both Mother and Daughter retreat into fantasy and lies. From Cleopatra Entertainment.
For the Family:
“Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series” (1983-97) is a 12-disc set with all 96 episodes, remastered in HD with lossless audio. Described by its legendary creator Jim Henson as “a high-energy, raucous musical romp,” “Fraggle Rock” stars a cast of puppet creatures called Fraggles, quirky cave-dwellers who live in an underground world alongside their industrious green neighbors, the Doozers, and a family of enormous Gorgs. The series follows the fun adventures of the furry subterranean creatures and features a unique mix of music from all genres including folk, blues, gospel, country and rock, all while embracing themes of friendship, tolerance, diversity and caring for the planet. From Sony … In “Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series” (1986), “Fraggle Rock” gets animated. The fun-loving Fraggles — Gobo, Red, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, and all their friends — explore new horizons, frolicking about in the wondrous maze of colorful caverns that make up the fantastic, fairy-tale landscape that the Fraggles call home. From Sony … “Power Rangers: Chojin Sentai Jetman: The Complete Series” is a fan-favorite installment of the original Japanese series that inspired the iconic Power Rangers franchise. Available for the first time on DVD. The hugely popular season “Chojin Sentai Jetman” is the last Sentai season released that was not adapted for Power Rangers. Sky Force, a defense organization tasked with guarding peace on Earth, has developed a new technology that gives the subjects superhuman powers. These people, now known as Jetmen, must band together to protect the planet after an attack by Vyram, an evil outer-dimensional organization bent on inter-dimensional domination. From Shout! Factory … “Freaky Friday: A New Musical” (2018), starring Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Heidi Blickenstaff, Ricky He, Alex Désert and Jason Maybaum, is a Disney Channel musical based on Disney Theatrical Productions’ stage adaptation of the Disney comedy — filmed three times so far, in 1976, 1995, and 2003 — about a mother and her teen daughter who magically switch bodies for one day. From Disney.
“King Cohen” (2018): Buckle up for the true story of writer, producer, director, creator and all-around maverick, Larry Cohen (“Black Caesar,” “It’s Alive,” “Q: The Winged Serpent,” “The Stuff”). Told through compelling live interviews, stills and film/TV clips, the people who helped fulfill his vision, and industry icons such as Martin Scorsese, J.J. Abrams, John Landis, Michael Moriarty, Fred Williamson, Yaphet Kotto and many more, including Larry himself, bring one-of-a-kind insight into the work, process and legacy of a true American film auteur. Few can boast of a career as remarkable or prolific, spanning more than 50 years of entertaining audiences worldwide. On Blu-ray from La-La Land 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.