From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
“My Man Godfrey” (1936): Carole Lombard and William Powell dazzle in this definitive screwball comedy, directed by Gregory La Cava — a potent cocktail of romantic repartee and Depression-era social critique. Irene (Lombard), an eccentric Manhattan socialite, wins a society-ball scavenger hunt after finding one of the “items” on the list, a “lost man” (Powell), at a dump. She gives the man she believes to be a down-and-out drifter work as the family butler, and soon falls head over heels in love. Her attempts to both woo Godfrey and indoctrinate him in the dysfunctional ways of the household make for an unbeatable series of madcap hijinks. La Cava’s deft film was the first to garner Oscar nominations in all four acting categories, and it is one of Hollywood’s greatest commentaries on class and the social unrest of its time. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with new high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … “The Hired Hand” (1971): Having been at the forefront of America’s here-and-now with “Easy Rider” and the counterculture movies of Roger Corman, Peter Fonda retreated to the past and the American West for his directorial debut. Fonda plays Harry, a man who deserted his wife and child to explore the wide-open plains with his best friend Archie (Warren Oates). “Tired of the life,” he decides to finally return home in order to rekindle his marriage and reacquaint himself with his daughter. Scripted by Alan Sharp, shot by Vilmos Zsigmond and with a standout score by folk musician Bruce Langhorne, “The Hired Hand” is a beautiful, elegiac picture that ranks alongside “The Outlaw Josey Wales” and “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” as one of the finest Westerns the seventies had to offer. Co-stars Verna Bloom. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy … “Horrors of Malformed Men” (1968 — Japan): Cult director Teruo Ishii presents a nightmarish, hallucinogenic tale drawn from the feverish pen of Japan’s celebrated pioneer ofero-guro (“erotic grotesque”) literature, Edogawa Rampo. Medical student Hirosuke Hitomi slips out of the asylum in which he has been wrongfully confined and stealthily assumes the identity of a recently deceased nobleman with whom he bears an uncanny resemblance. Hirosuke eases his way into the nobleman’s household and his dead double’s marital bed. But as long-repressed memories begin to bubble to the surface, he soon finds himself drawn to a remote isle where he is confronted by a mad scientist and his malformed men, and discovers the key that will unlock some long-suppressed mysteries of his own. A dark labyrinth of the monstrous and perverse that fuses mystery and horror while incorporating motifs from a myriad of Rampo’s tales, “Horrors of Malformed Men” boasts astonishing carnivalesque art design and haunting performances. Withdrawn from cinemas by its own studio after its original scandalous release nearly 50 years ago, the film is among the very best screen interpretations of the author’s macabre brand of horror-fantasy fiction, and a unique oddity of Japanese cult cinema. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video … “The Pyjama Girl Case” (1977): Throughout the late 1960s and into the 70s, the Italian giallo movement transported viewers to the far corners of the globe, from swinging San Francisco to Soviet-occupied Prague. Only one, however, brought the genre’s unique brand of bloody mayhem as far as Australia: director Flavio Mogherini’s tragic and poetic “The Pyjama Girl Case.” The body of a young woman is found on the beach, shot in the head, burned to hide her identity and dressed in distinctive yellow pyjamas. With the Sydney police stumped, former Inspector Timpson (Ray Milland) comes out of retirement to crack the case. Treading where the “real” detectives can’t, Timpson doggedly pieces together the sad story of Dutch immigrant Glenda Blythe (Dalila Di Lazzaro) and the unhappy chain of events that led to her grisly demise. Inspired by the real-life case which baffled the Australian police and continues to spark controversy and unanswered questions to this day, “The Pyjama Girl Case” is a uniquely haunting latter-day giallo from the tail end of the genre’s boom period. Co-stars Michele Placido, Howard Ross. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video … “The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Volume 3 (1968-69)” includes 22 Pink Panther cartoon from 1968 to 1969. By the end of the 1960s, The Pink Panther had achieved the status of iconic cartoon character, and the cosmopolitan cat left his big-city habitat and began crossing into more universal comedy settings: a military base (“G.I. Pink”), caveman times (“Prehistoric Pink” and “Extinct Pink”) and Olde England (“Pink Valiant” and “Pinkcome Tax”). But the panther never completely changed his stripes. In color-splashed urban landscapes (a hallmark of the DePatie-Freleng studios), the sublime feline continued to engage in duels of wits-with the establishment “Little Man” as well as the occasional inanimate object (a cuckoo clock in “In The Pink of the Night”). On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
From TV to Disc:
“An American Murder Mystery Collection” (2016-17) is a three-disc set collection of murder mystery documentaries. Through riveting interviews and real-life footage, this collection reopens the files of seven sensational cases that captivated the nation. Explore the mysteries of Casey Anthony, Scott Peterson, JonBenét Ramsey, Jodi Arias, Chandra Levy, and Natalie Wood in this compelling set that delivers stunning revelations from beginning to end. From Lionsgate … “Fahrenheit 451” (2018) stars Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon in a TV remake of the famous 1966 François Truffaut classic (and Ray Bradbury novel). Imagine a society where books are outlawed and “firemen” have been tasked to burn and destroy any remaining literature, erasing history right before our eyes. Based on Ray Bradbury’s classic sci-fi novel of the same name, the thought-provoking parable depicts a frighteningly plausible future where media is an opiate, history is purged and dissent is outlawed. The dystopian thriller centers on Montag (Jordan), a young fireman who forsakes his world and struggles to regain his humanity as he battles his mentor, fire captain Beatty (Shannon). On DVD, Blu-ray, from HBO … “The Looming Tower” (2018) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes of the Hulu series that chronicles the events that led to the deadliest terrorist attacks ever to take place on American soil. The series traces the rising threat of Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda in the late 1990s and how at the time, the FBI and the CIA may have inadvertently set the path for the tragedy of 9/11. The series follows members of the I-49 Squad in New York and Alec Station in Washington D.C., the counter terrorism divisions of the FBI and CIA, respectively, as they travel the world fighting for ownership of information. Adapted from the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Lawrence Wright. Stars Jeff Daniels, Peter Sarsgaard, Tahar Rahim, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bill Camp, Wrenn Schmidt. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “Madam Secretary: Season Four” (2017-18) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes. It’s never politics as usual for Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni). In Season 4, McCord faces everything from international issues to personal upheavals. Whether she’s being accused of murdering a foreign diplomat, trying to contain a smallpox outbreak, or sending her daughter off to college, there s no crisis she can’t handle. Her husband, CIA Agent Henry (Tim Daly), stirs controversy by recruiting a former member of the Russian military to work for the Agency. She continues to advise President Conrad Dalton (Keith Carradine), even as she goes toe-to-toe with the White House Chief of Staff Russell Jackson (Zeljko Ivanek). Navigating the complicated twists and turns of the D.C. machine gets even more challenging when loyal State Department insider Nadine Tolliver (Bebe Neuwirth) decides to retire. From CBS/Paramount … “Supergirl: The Complete Third Season” (2017-18) includes all 23 episodes. In Season Three, Kara Danvers grapples with the sacrifices she’s made personally while saving National City as Supergirl. She even considers covering up her human identity altogether. As Kara struggles with her path forward, she continues to work with Hank Henshaw and her sister, Alex, at the Department of Extranormal Operations to battle all threats to National City, including new villains Morgan Edge, and the “Worldkiller,” known as Reign. In five-disc DVD, four-disc Blu-ray sets, from Warner … “The X-Files Season 11” (2018): The next chapter of “The –X-Files” is a three-disc, 10-episode installment of the classic, mind-bending series. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson return as FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, investigating unsolved cases rife with government conspiracies, unexplainable mysteries, and alien cover-ups. Mulder and Scully’s pursuit of the truth continues with a search for their long-lost son, William. But they aren’t the only ones looking for him; dark forces gather, and the very fate of the world could be at stake. One thing is certain: secrets will be revealed… and the truth may finally be within reach. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Fox.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Damsel” (2017), starring Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska and Robert Forster, Samuel Alabaster (Pattinson), an affluent pioneer, ventures across the American frontier to marry the love of his life, Penelope (Wasikowska). As his group traverses the West, not everything goes quite as planned, and the once-simple journey grows treacherous, blurring the lines between hero, villain, and damsel. From Lionsgate … In “Siberia” (2018), starring Keanu Reeves, Ana Ularu, Pasha D. Lychnikoff, Dmitry Chepovetsky, James Gracie and Eugene Lipinski, U.S. diamond merchant Lucas Hill (Reeves), in Russia to sell rare jewels to a businessman with underworld connections, falls into a torrid affair with Katya (Ularu), a local café owner. When the deal suddenly goes south, Lucas and Katya are caught in a deadly crossfire between the buyer and Russian agents, as Lucas takes up arms in a furious fight to save Katya and himself. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Lionsgate … In the gospel-driven drama “Saving Faith” (2018), starring Donny Richmond, Jenn Gotzon, Jim Chandler, Henry Cho, Amy Grant, Vince Gill and Victoria Jackson, poor Faith is ready to give up hope. Her struggling small-town theater is about to get foreclosed by the bank — when her charming Uncle Donny convinces his famous friends to play live and save the business. But when a local developer decides to sabotage the concert, it’ll take a miracle to make the show go on. From Lionsgate … In “The ToyBox” (2018), starring Denise Richards, Mischa Barton, Jeff Denton and Brian Nagel, Jennifer (Richards) and her family go on a summer road trip in a used RV with her husband’s estranged father and brother. Along the way, they find Samantha (Barton) and her brother, broken down on the side of the highway. After driving into the middle of nowhere, the RV takes on a mind of its own, crashing and stranding them in the scorching and isolated desert. Little by little, the unsuspecting group of travelers is blindsided by the terrible secrets within the walls of the RV and find themselves fighting to survive. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Skyline Entertainment/Uncork’d Entertainment … Based on the local legends and stories of people who’ve visited the real-life abandoned hospital, the horror thriller “Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum” (2018 — South Korea) follows the crew of a horror web show who plan to stream live from inside the asylum. To attract more viewers, the show’s host arranges some scares for the team, but as they move further into the nightmarish old building, they begin to encounter much more than expected. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Well Go USA … In “Lost Child” (2018), starring Leven Rambin, Jim Parrack, Taylor John-Smith and Landon Edwards, Army veteran Fern, suffering from PTSD, returns home to the Ozarks to look for her estranged brother, only to discover an abandoned boy lurking in the woods behind her childhood home. After taking in the boy, she searches for clues to his identity, and discovers the local folklore about a malevolent, life-draining spirit that comes in the form of a child; the Tatterdemalion. From Breaking Glass Pictures … There’s three horror film Blu-ray debuts this week: In “Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead” (1994), starring A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm, The Tall Man is back with a vengeance. Fifteen years after the original horror classic, writer-director Don Coscarelli reunites brothers Mike and Jody to help their friend Reggie destroy The Tall Man (Scrimm) once and for all. Is the ultimate of evil any match for a bald, former ice cream vendor with a 70 Hemicuda and a four-barrel shotgun? An insane sequel packed with violence and gore galore that takes the Phantasm series to a whole new dimension. From Well Go USA … In “Phantasm IV: Oblivion” (1996), Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) has once again escaped from the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) who had begun to transform him. Leaving Reggie (Reggie Bannister) and his spherical brother, Jody (Bill Thornbury), he travels through various dimensions and time in order to discover more about his nemesis and find out what really happened the night his brother died. Also from Well Go USA … Terror invades an upper-class New York community as 17-year old Christie Cromwell cleverly uncovers her stepfather’s horrifying plot to murder her wealthy mother in “Scream for Help” (1984), starring Rachael Kelly, Marie Masters and David Allen Brooks. She’s on to him, yet no one will believe her because she’s just a kid: smart, imaginative, maybe she’s just taken a crazy idea to the limit. Suspense builds when a series of shocking events confirms her worst fears. Alone, afraid and helpless, terrified Christie and her mother are held prisoner in their own home at the mercy of ruthless killers. New 2K scan from the original film elements, from Scream Factory.
“Nana” (2016) is the story of an Auschwitz survivor who spent her life fighting intolerance. Born in Poland, Maryla Michalowski-Dyamant survived Ravensbruck, Malchow and Auschwitz, where she was the forced translator for the “Angel of Death,” Josef Mengele. Maryla dedicated her life after the war to publicly speaking about her survival to younger generations. Directed by her 25-year-old granddaughter, “Nana” documents Serena’s journey with her mother Alice as they retrace her grandmother’s story. They explore how Maryla’s outspoken activism continues today, in a world where survivors are disappearing, and intolerance, racism and antisemitism are on the rise. From First Run Features … Available for the first time at retail on any format, the Four Hall of Fame Ceremonies featured (2010-2013) in “Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in Concert: Encore” (2018), include 44 iconic performances from inductees such as Genesis, The Stooges, The Hollies, Tom Waits, Dr. John, Leon Russell, Darlene Love, Freddie King, Donovan, Small Faces/Faces, Heart, rare artist collaborations and more. Each year, the Rock & 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 singular 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. Highlights include Alice Cooper ripping into ferocious versions of “Eighteen” and “Under My Wheels” before closing the set with Rob Zombie on “School’s Out,” “The Hurdy Gurdy Man” Donovan is joined onstage by John Mellencamp for a chilling performance of “Season of the Witch,” complete HOF induction speeches including Don Henley inducting Randy Newman, Neil Young inducting Tom Waits and many more. Four-disc DVD, two-disc Blu-ray, Due Sept. 21, from Time Life … When Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs met at Columbia University in the 1940s, they spawned a movement, then called the Beats, that set precedents for the political, hippie and spiritual movements of the 1960s and 70s. “The Source: The Story of the Beats and the Beat Generation” (1999), a comprehensive portrait of the Beat Generation, includes interviews with virtually every surviving figure from this period. Johnny Depp, Dennis Hopper and John Turturro perform dramatized readings of works by Kerouac, Burroughs and Ginsberg. The Source is the definitive film portrait of the Beat Generation and the countercultural movements that followed, directed with flair by Academy Award- winner Chuck Workman. From Kino Lorber.
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.