From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
“Mirage (Special Edition)” (1965), directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Gregory Peck, Diane Baker, Walter Matthau, Kevin McCarthy, George Kennedy, Jack Weston, Leif Erickson, Walter Abel and Anne Seymour, is a psychological thriller where danger, deception and even murder lurk around every corner. Bewildered accountant David Stillwell (Peck) believes he must be suffering from some form of amnesia and enlists the help of a private detective (Matthau) to help determine his identity. Experiencing flashbacks of a disturbing past and perplexed by the woman (Baker) in his life, Stillwell struggles to make sense of his perilous situation before a murder plot ensnares him. Filmed on location in New York City, “Mirage” is an edge-of-your-seat suspense film that remains one of the genre’s timeless classics. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classic … “Aladdin (1992)” (1992) comes out of the Disney vault timed for the release of the live-action version. Disney’s tale of the lovable “street rat,” Aladdin, self determined Princess Jasmine and the all-powerful Genie has remained a family favorite for over a quarter of a century. With the voices of Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, Frank Welker, Gilbert Gottfried, Douglas Seale. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo, with new an classic bonus features. From Disney … “The Mad Adventures of “Rabbi” Jacob” (1973 — France) is a cult classic riot of frantic disguises and mistaken identities. Victor Pivert (Louis de Funès), a blustering, bigoted French factory owner, finds himself taken hostage by Mohammed Larbi Slimane (Claude Giraud), an Arab rebel leader. The two dress up as rabbis as they try to elude not only assassins from Slimane’s country, but also the police, who think Pivert is a murderer. Pivert ends up posing as Rabbi Jacob, a beloved figure who’s returned to France for his first visit after 30 years in the United States. Adding to the confusion are Pivert’s dentist-wife, who thinks her husband is leaving her for another woman, their daughter, who’s about to get married, and a Parisian neighborhood filled with people eager to celebrate the return of Rabbi Jacob (Marcel Dario). Nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 1974 Golden Globe Awards, the Blu-ray features a stunning 4K restoration. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Film Movement … Directed by the visionary Bengali filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak, “The Cloud-Capped Star” (1960 — India) tells the story of a family that has been uprooted by the Partition of India and come to depend on its eldest daughter, the self-sacrificing Neeta (Supriya Choudhury). She watches helplessly as her own hopes and desires are pushed aside time and again by those of her siblings and parents, until all her chances for happiness evaporate, leaving her crushed and ailing. Experimenting with off-balance compositions, discontinuous editing, and a densely layered soundtrack, Ghatak devised an intellectually ambitious and emotionally devastating new shape for the melodrama, lamenting the tragedies of Indian history and the inequities of traditional gender roles while blazing a formal trail for the generations of Indian filmmakers who have followed him. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, with new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.
From TV to Disc:
“The Alienist “ (2018) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes. Chilling crimes of 19th century New York City set the stage for this Emmy Award-winning thriller. Starring Daniel Brühl (“Rush”), Dakota Fanning (“American Pastoral”) and Luke Evans (“The Girl on the Train”). Based on the award-winning novel by Caleb Carr, the series follows Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Brühl), a brilliant and obsessive “alienist” in the controversial new field of treating mental pathologies, who holds the key to hunting down a never-before-seen ritualistic killer murdering young boys. Murder mystery like none other: the story of emergence of the world’s most powerful city that will stop at nothing to bury its darkest secrets. From TNT/Warner … “Hawaii Five-0: The Ninth Season” (2018-19) is a six-disc set with all 25 episodes. The island’s best task force returns to stop trouble in paradise in this contemporary take on the classic series about an elite federalized task force whose mission is to wipe out the crime that washes up on the islands’ beaches. The series revolves around Detective Steve McGarrett, a decorated Naval officer turned cop, returned to Oahu after Hawaii’s former governor persuaded him to head up the new team: his rules, no red tape and full blanket authority to hunt-down the biggest “game” in town. In this season, McGarrett must endure sensory deprivation torture to
hunt a friend’s killer, track down a dirty CIA agent, and open a bro-mantic restaurant, while wiping out crime and protecting the shores of the 50th state. The latest season also includes guest appearances by Joey Lawrence (“Melissa & Joey”), Academy Award-winner Louis Gossett Jr., Duane “Dog” Chapman (“Dog the Bounty Hunter”) and Grammy Award-winner Gladys Knight and more. From CBS/Paramount … “Seal Team: Season Two” (2018-19) is a six-disc set with all 22 episodes. The series follows the professional and personal lives of the most elite unit of Navy SEALs as they train, plan, and execute the most dangerous, high-stakes missions our country can ask of them. Jason Hayes (David Boreanaz) is the respected, intense leader of the Tier One team whose home life has suffered as a result of his extensive warrior’s existence. This season picks up after the team has returned home from deployment. Meanwhile, Bravo Team heads to the Gulf of Guinea to rescue American hostages after an oil platform has been over taken by armed militants. From CBS/Paramount … “Supernatural: The Complete Fourteenth Season” (2018-19) includes all 20 episodes. The Winchester brothers’ harrowing journey into the heart of darkness continues as Supernatural enters Season Fourteen. Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) have matched wits with monsters, demons, Heaven and Hell. But last season, the Winchesters and Castiel (Misha Collins) stumbled upon a terrifying alternative universe: an apocalyptic world where they were never born, all while training Jack (Alexander Calvert), the son of Lucifer, and trying to save their mother, Mary Winchester. The final battle with Lucifer and the Archangel Michael altered the Winchesters’ lives forever…and created an even greater threat for Sam and Dean. This season the boys are back and willing to risk everything for their loved ones. From Warner.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
“Shed of the Dead” (2019), starring Spencer Brown, Ewen MacIntosh, Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley, Michael Berryman and Brian Blessed, is a Zombie comedy thriller that follows two slackers, who whittle their days away playing Dungeons & Dragons and painting figurines. As life pressures build up for Trevor (Brown) and Graham (MacIntosh), events take an unexpected turn when the undead turn up in their little gardening spot. From Indican Pictures … “HELLmington” (2018) stars Michael Ironside and Nicola Correia-Damude. On June 6, 1985 Hellmington Asylum closed their doors for good. On June 6, 2009 it was re-opened as the very first Psychological Extreme Haunted House, where people could live out their own personal horror fantasies. Willing participants would be pushed to their limits, blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s in your head. Katie Owens, a true horror fanatic and online blogger was invited as one of the first people to partake in the Hellmington experience. Only Katie never left. From Uncork’d Entertainment … Incorporating traditional narrative story-telling, as well as numerous forms of pioneering technology, including found footage, hand-held cameras, surveillance cameras, and smart glasses, the new-age fright-fest “Investigation 13” (2019) chronicles the tale of a group of college science students investigating the urban legend of The Mole Man, an ex-patient said to still be residing within the walls of the Black Grove Asylum. When members of the group turn up missing, they soon learn that this myth is more real than they thought. Stars Meg Foster, Stephanie Hernandez, Patrick Flanagan, Robert Paget and William Alexander. From Uncork’d Entertainment … 1970’s “Scars of Dracula” makes its Blu-ray debut this week, and Christopher Lee is back as Dracula, bringing unspeakable horrors upon a local village that defies his evil reign. But when a young man and his luscious girlfriend unwittingly visit the Count’s castle, they find themselves trapped in a face-to-face frenzy of bloodthirsty vixens, religious blasphemy and sadistic henchmen. The prince of darkness has returned like never before, but will his horrific mark remain forever? The Hammer horror cult classic was injected with bloody bravado by Hammer veteran Roy Ward Baker (“Quatermass and the Pit,” “Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde”). Presented in two aspect ratios – 1.66:1 and 1.85:1. From Shout! Factory/Scream Factory.
An unsung talent in her lifetime, director, professor and Fulbright scholar Nietzchka Keene’s stark, stunning debut feature “The Juniper Tree” (1990 — Iceland), starring Björk Guðmundsdóttir, Bryndis Petra Bragadóttir and Valdimar Örn Flygenring, is loosely based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale of the same name and stars Björk in her first on-screen performance. The film premiered to glowing reviews at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991 and led Keene to further direct “Heroine of Hell” (1996) starring Catherine Keener and “Barefoot to Jerusalem” (2008), the latter completed after her tragically early death in 2004. Set in medieval Iceland, “The Juniper Tree” follows Margit (Björk) and her older sister Katla (Bryndis Petra Bragadottir) as they flee for safety after their mother is burned to death for witchcraft. Finding shelter and protection with Johan (Valdimar Orn Fygenring), and his resentful young son, Jonas (Geirlaug Sunna Pormar), the sisters help form an impromptu family unit that’s soon strained by Katla’s burgeoning sorcery. Photographed entirely on location in the stunning landscapes of Iceland in spectacular black-and-white by Randy Sellars, the film is a deeply atmospheric film, evocative of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s “Day of Wrath” and Ingmar Bergman’s “The Virgin Spring,” and filled with indelible waking dream sequences (courtesy of legendary experimental filmmaker Pat O’Neill). A potent allegory for misogyny and its attendant tragedies, “The Juniper Tree” is a major rediscovery for art house audiences. New 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative by the Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Research and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by The George Lucas Family Foundation. From Arbelos Films … In “The Third Wife” (2018 — Vietnam), set in 19th century rural Vietnam, 14-year-old May becomes the third wife of wealthy landowner Hung. Soon she learns that she can only gain status by asserting herself as a woman who can give birth to a male child. May’s hope to change her status turns into a real and tantalizing possibility when she gets pregnant. However, her path is fraught with danger when May starts to develop an attraction for Xuan, the second wife. As she observes the unfolding tragedy of forbidden love and its devastating consequences, she must make a choice: to either carry on in silence and safety, or forge a way towards personal freedom. From Film Movement.
For the Family:
“Curious George: Royal Monkey” (2019) is a new animated feature with everyone’s favorite monkey. After disrupting a meeting with a stuffy royal family, George accidentally trades places with the king’s snooty monkey, Philippe. While Philippe puzzles Ted with his flawless manners, George travels to the castle where his fun-loving antics raise eyebrows and bring shy Princess Isabel out of her shell. Featuring all-new music from Andy Grammer. From Universal … “Adventures of Dally & Spanky” (2019), starring Brenna D’Amico and Reylynn Caster, was inspired by the true animal friendship of a Jack Russell Terrier and a rescued miniature horse. The story of Dally & Spanky’s bond has generated millions of video views and is now the inspiration for this feature film. Addy and Ella are teenaged half-sisters with little in common. When 17-year-old Addy loses her father, she retreats from her family and struggles to deal with his loss. Ella, with her dog Dally, reaches out to create a bond with Addy and Spanky, the miniature horse she’s just inherited from her father. Not only do the animals get along, but they quickly become a dynamic duo, their act quickly goes viral and they win their high school talent show, bringing the girls closer. From Sony.
“Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes” (2018) is a documentary that explores the vision behind the iconic American jazz record label (celebrating its 80th anniversary). Since its inception in 1939, Blue Note created an environment for creativity to flourish, encouraging artists to push creative boundaries in search of uncompromising expressions. The result was music with heart, originality and social conscience. The perhaps unlikely originators of Blue Note were two jazz-loving German immigrants, Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, escaping Nazism for a new life in the US. Their principle of respect for freedom both underpinned the label and won them the friendship and trust of the jazz community. The original Blue Note team was completed by a New Jersey optometrist moonlighting as a recording engineer (Rudy Van Gelder), a classical music-loving commercial designer (Reid Miles), and of course the most incredible musicians that have ever walked the Earth. Through current recording sessions, rare archives, and conversations with iconic Blue Note artists as well as current label president Don Was, the film reveals an intimate perspective of a label legacy that continues to be vital in today’s political climate. Legendary artists Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter come together with today’s generation of ground-breaking Blue Note artists such as Robert Glasper and Ambrose Akinmusire. These reflections lead us back to the highly influential figures of the past on which the legacy of Blue Note is built: Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Horace Silver and Miles Davis. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Eagle Vision … A transformative artist and one of the most insightful chroniclers of American life, legendary Swiss-American photographer Robert Frank continues to fascinate generations of casual observers and aspiring photographers alike. The documentary “Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank” (2004) is the definitive account of Frank’s life and the unique ways his biography and art intersect to produce powerful, richly textured images. Shot in cinema-verité style between New York and Nova Scotia, where Frank (94) now lives, the film captures Frank reflecting on a lifetime of image making that most famously produced “The Americans,” probably the most influential photographic book of the last 60 years. From the Lower East Side to Coney Island, Frank revisits places where he lived and photographed, unsentimentally yet humorously noting the erosion of the New York he once knew. He recalls his collaborations with the Beat generation, including his film “Pull My Daisy,” narrated by Jack Kerouac, as well as his infamous “Cocksucker Blues” with The Rolling Stones. Unembellished and unflinching, this portrait captures the life and art of one of the most significant and uncompromising artists of the 20th century. From Kino Lorber … Each year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors rock music’s pioneering figures during a prestigious, black-tie ceremony. As the Hall of Fame enters its third decade, it’s these extraordinary induction ceremonies — featuring the biggest names in classic rock from the 60s, 70s and 80s – that have become nearly as epic as the artists they celebrate. The 11-disc set “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert” (2019) gives home audiences front row seats to the unforgettable ceremonies from 2010-2017, and feature nearly 30 hours of mind-blowing performances and collaborative jam sessions that have made Rock Hall concerts legendary, covering eight memorable induction ceremonies and 160 live performances from such rock giants as Alice Cooper, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Cheap Trick, Chicago, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Electric Light Orchestra,, Heart, James Taylor, Journey, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, Ringo Starr, Simon and Garfunkel, Sting, U2, Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons, Metallica, and many more. The set is comprised of three separate collections: “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame In Concert – Encore (2010-2013),” “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame In Concert (2014-2017)” and the complete “25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concerts” from 2009, which has been called “the Big Mother of Rock Concerts,” and features Crosby, Stills & Nash; Paul Simon; Simon & Garfunkel; U2; Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band, plus special guests including Jackson Browne, B.B. King, John Fogerty, Mick Jagger, and more. Additionally, the set includes collectible booklets, as well as the 26-page collector’s edition of Rolling Stone with behind-the-scenes stories of the 25th Anniversary Hall of Fame concerts. From Time Life … “Echo in the Canyon” (2019) is a look at the roots of the historic music scene in L.A.’s Laurel Canyon featuring the music of iconic groups such as The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, and The Mamas and the Papas. Contains candid conversations and performances with Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys), Michelle Phillips (The Mamas and the Papas), Stephen Stills (Buffalo Springfield), David Crosby, Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), John Sebastian (The Lovin’ Spoonful), their contemporaries Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Graham Nash, and slightly younger followers Jackson Browne and Tom Petty (in his last filmed interview). On DVD, Blu-ray, from Greenwich 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.