From the Big Screen:
“Central Intelligence,” “The Neon Demon,” “The Shallows,” “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” and “Warcraft.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week’s Highlights:
There’s rich viewing bounty this week, ranging from the serious and sublime to the frivolous and fun. From the Criterion Collection comes the impressive “Dekalog” (1988 – Poland) Krzysztof Kieslowski’s masterwork of visual storytelling. Originally made for Polish television, “Dekalog” focuses on the residents of a housing complex in late-Communist Poland whose lives become subtly intertwined as they face emotional dilemmas that are at once deeply personal and universally human. Using the Ten Commandments for thematic inspiration and an overarching structure, “Dekalog’s” 10 hour-long films deftly grapple with complex moral and existential questions concerning life, death, love, hate, truth, and the passage of time. Shot by nine different cinematographers, with stirring music by Zbigniew Preisner and compelling performances from established and unknown actors alike, “Dekalog” arrestingly explores the unknowable forces that shape our lives. Also presented are the longer theatrical versions of “Dekalog’s” fifth and sixth films: “A Short Film About Killing” and “A Short Film About Love.” On DVD and Blu-ray, with a new, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray … Next up is two films by one of the 20th century’s greatest filmic dramatists, Douglas Sirk: “Two Films By Douglas Sirk: A Scandal In Paris and Lured.” “A Scandal In Paris” (1946): From the memoirs of François Eugène Vidocq, the elegant thief turned chief of police of all Paris, comes this rediscovered classic of melodrama and romance. George Sanders is at his debonair best as we see him climb from clever criminal through the ranks of French society in the early 1800’s, with seemingly nothing to stop him from the biggest heist of his career … except, perhaps, the charms of a young lady. “Lured” (1947): A serial killer is on the loose in London, luring young women into his web through ads placed in the personal column. Scotland Yard’s bait to ensnare the villain is a young American dance hall girl (played by a stunning Lucille Ball), who encounters a series of likely suspects, including the always dashing George Sanders as a sophisticated playboy and an unforgettable Boris Karloff as a mad fashion designer.” Restored from 35mm nitrate and safety material. On Blu-ray from Cohen Media Group.
Two young (or too old) to remember the late-1960s and early 70s? Then these two offerings from Criterion are for you: “Valley of the Dolls” (1967) offers cutthroat careerism, wild sex, and fierce female protagonists in this adaptation of Jacqueline Susann’s sensational and wildly popular novel. Patty Duke, Barbara Parkins, and Sharon Tate star as three friends attempting to navigate the glamorous, pressurized world of big-time show business — the “valley” is not a place but a narcotized state of mind, and the “dolls” are the pills that rouse them in the morning and knock them out at night. Blending old-fashioned gloss with Madison Avenue grooviness, this slick look by director Mark Robson at the early days of sexual liberation and an entertainment industry coming apart was a giant box-office hit and has become an unforgettably campy time capsule of the 1960s. On DVD and Blu-ray with a new 2K digital restoration, with 3.0 LCR DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray … In 1970, 20th Century-Fox, impressed by the visual zing “King of the Nudies” Russ Meyer brought to bargain-basement exploitation fare, handed the director a studio budget and the title to one of its biggest hits, Valley of the Dolls. With a satirical screenplay by Roger Ebert, “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” follows three young female rockers going Hollywood in hell-bent sixties style under the spell of a flamboyant producer—whose decadent bashes showcase Meyer’s trademark libidinal exuberance. Transgressive and outrageous, this big-studio version of a debaucherous midnight movie is an addictively entertaining romp from one of the movies’ great outsider artists. On DVD and Blu-ray, with a high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
For pure joy this week there’s the fabulous box set, “Motown 25: Yesterday – Today – Forever” When “Motown 25: Yesterday – Today – Forever” aired on NBC on May 16, 1983, it was an immediate sensation and became one of the most talked about concerts and TV specials ever. In an era before social media, “Motown 25” was a true water-cooler event, marking the first time that music fans saw Michael Jackson do the moonwalk, in addition to many other buzzworthy moments — reunions by the Miracles and the Supremes; the first battle of the bands between The Temptations and Four Tops; and the hottest comedian in the world at the time, Richard Pryor, as host. Taped before a live audience, “Motown 25” featured virtually every Motown artist from the company’s inception, including Jackson moonwalking during “Billie Jean” and performing “I Want You Back” with The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye crooning “What’s Going On,” Smokey Robinson with “The Tears of a Clown,” Stevie Wonder soulfully singing “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” Diana Ross with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” The Temptations with “My Girl,” Four Tops with “Baby I Need Your Loving” and many more. A new-to-retail configuration, this set includes an extended version of the “Motown 25” concert with over 20 additional minutes not seen in the original broadcast, brand-new 5.1 surround sound, over 14 hours of specially-produced bonus features, and an exclusive 48-page collector’s booklet packed with information about the show and artists, and never-before-scene photos from the production and essays on Motown performers. The six-disc DVD sets sells for $79.95. From Time Life … and for pure, silly fun check out “Bill & Ted’s Most Excellent Collection.” History’s favorite time traveling duo — Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter — land in a deluxe, bodacious, Blu-ray box set that includes “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (1989), the Blu-ray debut of the sequel “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” (1991) and an entire disc of bonus features, including new interviews and commentary, deluxe packaging, a “Wyld Stallyns” branded guitar pick, vinyl stickers for both films, and previously released extras including “The Original Bill & Ted,” “The Most Triumphant Making-Of,” “Air Guitar Tutorial,” “The Linguistic Stylings of B&T,” “From Scribble to Script,” “The Hysterical Personages of B&T,” and radio spots. Also available in a limited edition set with an exclusive lithograph and exclusive action figure of George Carlin’s character “Rufus.” From Shout! Factory.