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 Originally made for Polish television, “Dekalog” focuses on the residents of a housing complex in late-Communist Poland whose lives become subtly intertwined as they face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.
From TV to DVD:
“The Disappearance” (2015 — France) is a two-disc set with all eight episodes of the exceptionally well-acted, well-directed French thriller-police procedural with more twists and turns than a road in the French Alps. The crime drama follows the disappearance of Léa, a teenage girl in inner-city Lyon, and the subsequent police investigation to find her. As more of Léa’s secrets come to light, her family wonders how well they really knew their daughter. The Morels are a typical family living in Lyon, France. But when their 17-year-old daughter, Léa, fails to return home after a night out celebrating her birthday, the Morels are unexpectedly thrown into their worst nightmare. Mother Florence (Alix Poisson) tries to remain strong for her other children and hopeful that her daughter will return home safely, while father Julien (Pierre-François Martin-Laval) begins an investigation of his own. As the police — led by Commander Bertrand Molina (François-Xavier Demaison) and his lieutenant, Camille Guerin (Alice Pol) — desperately search to find the missing teen — and come up with one prime suspect after another — shocking truths begin to come to light, revealing secrets hidden by Léa and those closest to her. From Acorn Media … “Jericho” (2016 — UK) is a three-disc set with eight episodes. Love, loss, and intrigue abound in this British western set in 1870s Yorkshire. Jessica Raine stars as Annie Quaintain, a recently widowed mother forced to sell her house and possessions to pay off her late husband’s debts. Penniless and shunned by society, Annie and her two children set out for Culverdale Valley, where an enormous railway viaduct is being built. She sets up a lodging house in Jericho, a lawless shanty town full of rough and rowdy workers. In a town where people come to start afresh, it seems that everyone has something to hide — and a desperate crime soon threatens to shatter her family’s chance at a new life. From Acorn Media … “Reign: The Complete Third Season” (2016) is a four-disc set with all 18 episodes, $39.99 from Warner … “The Wonder Years: The Complete Sixth Season” (1992-93) is a four-disc set with all 22 complete episodes, over two hours of specially-produced bonus features and more than two dozen songs as featured in the original broadcasts, including classics by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, Steely Dan and many others. One of the most critically lauded sitcoms of the late 80s and early 90s, “The Wonder Years” captured the angst of growing up in suburban middle-class America in the late ’60s, as seen through the life and times of Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage). Audiences eagerly followed his evolution as a typical teenager who remembered every moment of his transition from childhood with excruciating detail and remarkable hindsight. After six Emmy Award-winning seasons, “The Wonder Years” comes to a close as Kevin, Paul, and Winnie enter 11th grade and are growing up — dealing with sex, lies, and the lure of rock and roll. The final DVD installment contains all 22 episodes from Season 6 (September 23, 1992-May 12, 1993) in their original broadcast versions. From Time Life.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Cell” (2016), starring John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson and Stacy Keach, two men race against the clock to stop a horde of rabid killers as their city descends into apocalyptic madness. At the Boston airport, Clay (Cusack) witnesses a scene of chaotic mayhem when an electronic signal turns hundreds of cell phone users into rabid killers. Desperate to find his estranged wife and son, Clay teams with a train driver (Jackson) to battle the horde of murderous “phoners.” Based on Stephen King’s chilling book. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate … When Ben and Linda Williams move their family into a dream home in a last ditch effort to save their troubled marriage in “A House Is Not a Home” (2015), starring Gerald Webb, Bill Cobbs, Richard Grieco, Eddie Steeples, Diahnna Nicole Baxter, Aurora Perrineau and Melvin Gregg, they can’t shake the feeling that they’re being watched by something. Their unimaginable fears are realized when things inside the house take a supernatural and sinister turn, and when they try to leave, the house isn’t finished with them, and traps them in its labyrinth. The Williams must come together as never before to fight for their family, their lives and to escape. From MVD Entertainment Group … June 6, 1944, resistance bombings relentlessly bombard the enemy causing dissension to rise amongst the Nazi forces. As Operation Valkyrie prepares to assassinate Adolph Hitler, an Allied special ops team prepares to extract the man destined to lead a Fourth Reich. But when Valkyrie fails, the mission changes. Now, unlikely allies must work to free a Resistance fighter from behind enemy lines before it’s too late in “Beyond Valkyrie: Dawn of the Fourth Reich” (2016), starring Sean Patrick Flanery, Tom Sizemore, Rutger Hauer, Kip Pardue and Stephen Lang. From Sony … Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh new start in the New Zealand countryside in “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (2016 — New Zealand), starring Julian Dennison, Sam Neill and Rima Te Wiata. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family. From Sony … From celebrated Spanish director Juan Piquer Simon, the man behind the truly demented slasher flick “Pieces” (1982), comes a terrifying tale of mutant “Slugs” (1988 — Spain/USA) on the rampage in small-town America. The townsfolk of a rural community are dying in strange and gruesome circumstances. Following the trail of horrifically mutilated cadavers, resident health inspector Mike Brady is on the case to piece together the mystery. He soon comes to a terrifying conclusion — giant slugs are breeding in the sewers beneath the town, and they’re making a meal of the locals. Based on the novel by acclaimed British horror author Shaun Hutson, “Slugs” outdoes its creature feature peers by adding an extra dose of gross-out gore into the equation, culminating in one of the most squirm-inducing animal attack movies ever to slither its way across screens. Brand new restoration from original film elements with original uncompressed PCM mono audio. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … Recently divorced and laid off from his job, Elliot Baker is desperate to spend more time bonding with his sons, Bradley and Caleb in “Edge of Winter” (2016), starring Joel Kinnaman, Tom Holland and Percy Hynes. What starts as family day trip to teach his boys how to shoot turns into a nightmare when they become stranded. As they retreat to a desolate cabin, Elliot’s mounting fear of losing custody pushes him to the edge. The brothers quickly realize that the man responsible for keeping them safe has now become their biggest threat. From Sony … “Francesca” (2015 — Argentina) is a new giallo film from Argentinian brothers Luciano and Nicolás Onetti (“Sonno Profondo,” 2013). The film made its world premiere at SITGES Film Festival in October 2015. It’s been 15 years since the disappearance of little Francesca, daughter of the renowned poet and playwright, Vittorio Visconti. The community is stalked by a psychopath bent on cleaning the city of “impure and damned souls.” Moretti and Succo are the detectives in charge of finding the killer of these “Dantesque” crimes. Francesca has returned, but she is not be the same girl they once knew. Includes a CD of the soundtrack. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Unearthed Films/MVD Entertainment Group … From Scream Factory comes the Blu-ray debut of “Lady in White” (1988), starring Lukas Haas, Alex Rocco, Katherine Helmond and Len Cariou. Two-disc set features both a director’s cut and an extended director’s cut. Frankie Scarlatti (Haas) lives in a small town with a deadly secret. For a decade, a serial child killer has eluded police, and the death toll continues to rise. Then, one night Frankie gets locked in his school and witnesses the ghost of the first victim being murdered. Now, aided by the girl’s restless spirit, Frankie takes it upon himself to bring her assailant to justice. But in a town with no strangers, the killer may be closer than he knows … “Transpecos” (2015), starring Johnny Simmons, Gabriel Luna and Clifton Collins Jr., is a tense thriller about three border patrol agents who man a check point on a remote highway. Rookie Davis (Johnny Simmons) and seasoned Flores (Gabriel Luna) work with the callous, world-weary Hobbs (Clifton Collins Jr.) to round out the trio. On what feels like another routine stop, the contents of one car will throw their lives out of control as they uncover an insidious plot within their own ranks. As dark secrets are revealed, each passing hour will bring them closer to a nightmarish conclusion that could cost them their lives, in a world where the line between right and wrong shifts like the desert itself. From Sony.
In “Finding Altamira” (2015 — UK/France/Spain), Antonio Banderas stars as Marcelino Santuola, an amateur archaeologist living in nineteenth century Spain. When he discovers Paleolithic cave art of galloping bison, his findings are immediately decried as heresy by the Catholic Church and forgery by French specialists. Looking for the truth, Sautuola vows to spend his life fighting to prove that the paintings were real and to restore his reputation amid the controversy. Co-stars Golshifteh Farahani, Rupert Everett, Pierre Niney, Henry Goodman, Clément Sibony. From Sony … In “The Innocents” (2016 — France), directed by acclaimed filmmaker Anne Fontaine, the second World War is finally over and doctor Mathilde (Lou de Laage) is treating the last of the French survivors of Nazi work camps in Poland. When a panicked Benedictine nun appears at the clinic begging Mathilde to follow her back to the convent, what she finds there is shocking: a holy sister about to give birth and several more in advanced stages of pregnancy. A non-believer, Mathilde enters the sisters’ fiercely private world, dictated by the rituals of their order and the strict Rev. Mother (Agata Kulesza). Fearing the shame of exposure, the hostility of the occupying Soviet troops and local Polish communists, the nuns increasingly turn to Mathilde as they face an unprecedented crisis of faith. Director Fontaine based her story on the diaries of Madeleine Pauliac that document the little known but, by most independent accounts, widespread sexual violence that occurred throughout Poland and elsewhere on the Eastern Front in the wake of the advancing Soviet Red Army. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Music Box Films … Winner of the Best Feature at the Flickers Rhode Island Film Festival and the Orson Welles award at the California Film Awards, “Now We’re Alive” (Et maintenant nous sommes en vie) (2015 — France/Belgium), a French-Belgian co-production, offers a poetic take on modern-day love in the
For the Family:
The new animated feature“Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom” (2016) is the highly-anticipated movie adaptation of Arcana Studio’s popular graphic novel of the same name and features an all-star voice cast including Jane Curtin, Ron Perlman, Christopher Plummer, Kiefer O’Reilly, Doug Bradley, Scott McNeill, Alision Wandzura abd Tyler Nichol. A veritable love letter to famed horror and fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft that entwines new storytelling, actual events Lovecraft’s life, iconic elements of his writings and literary characters Cthulhu, Shoggoth and more. Before he became the famed horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, young Howard Lovecraft is a curious and imaginative boy living with his mother. But after she unwittingly gives Howard the legendary Necronomicon, he is transported to a dangerous and frozen world populated by horrifying creatures. After saving and befriending one such creature — Spot — Howard and his new friend set off on a perilous quest to save the kingdom and get back home. But Howard soon finds out that not everything is as it seems and not everyone is to be trusted. On DVD and a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Shout! Factory.