"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Dec 032013

From the Big Screen:

“The Wolverine,” “The Smurfs 2” and “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.” For more releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.


At the top of this week’s list of top bets is a documentary on an icon from the past and a mockumentary on icons from the nonexistent past.

In “Let’s Get Lost” (1988), released to DVD for the first time, photographer Bruce Weber (who became famous for his B&W ads for Calvin Klein, Abercrombie & Fitch, and his work in Vogue, CQ and Vanity fair, and, more recently, known for his videos for Chris Isaak and the Pet Shop Boys) traveled with the elusive jazz vocalist and trumpeter Chet Baker to weave together the life story of the jazz great. The film uses excerpts from Italian B movies, rare performance footage and candid interviews with Baker, musicians, friends, ex-wives and his children in what turns out to be the last year of his life. The movie is bookended with two romps on the beach: photo for Let's Get Lost Baker in Santa Monica in early 1987 and then later in Cannes. Interspersed are interviews with friends, family and lovers; rare photographs; vintage clips; and performances by Baker. Baker (who was visually a cross between James Dean and Jack Kerouac) burst on the jazz scene in the early 1950s as a self-taught, amazingly accomplished trumpet-player and singer. He was summoned to play with Charlie Parker in L.A. in 1951, went on to join with Gerry Mulligan in his famous quartet, played with Stan Getz, Shelly Manne and Art Pepper, and cut a host of well-received albums, including “Gerry Mulligan Quartet Featuring Chet Baker” (1952), “Chet Baker Sings” (1954), “Chet” (1959) to name just a very few. Baker, unfortunately, began using heroin and was an unapologetic addict for the rest of his life — it was a habit that took its toll on his health and career (for a while he had to star in Italian B movies to earn cash). In the mid-60s to 70s his career faltered, with numerous bouts with the law, but he later resumed recording and performing. From 1978 until his death he lived in Europe; the later decade of his life saw a more mature, capable musician (Baker died May 13, 1988; he apparently fell to the street from an open window in his second-story hotel room in Amsterdam; an autopsy showed drugs — heroin and cocaine — in his body). This gorgeous documentary captures the flavor, contradictions, happiness and sadness of the musician’s music and life. Not to be missed. Includes a 40-page Chet Baker fan book created by Weber that includes Weber’s photography of Baker as well as images by renowned jazz photographer William Claxton. From Docurama. Check out the trailer:

“Let’s Get Lost” is also part of a four-disc set of Weber’s work, “Bruce Weber: The Film Collection” (2013), which brings together the most celebrated documentaries by the internationally praised photographer and filmmaker. In addition to the Chet Baker docu the collector’s set includes “Broken Noses” (1987) (about a youth boxing club near Portland, Oregon), “Chop Suey” (2001) (an homage to Weber’s favorite things, including photography and classic movies) and “A Letter to True” (2004), which centers on his dogs, a family of gorgeous golden retrievers. This box set gives art enthusiasts a look back at one of photography’s greatest talents. Includes a 32-page booklet of Weber’s photographs. Also from Docurama … “All You Need Is Cash” just has to be the greatest mockumentary of all time. The legendary 1978 parody of The Beatles from Monty Python founding member Eric Idle makes it’s Blu-ray debut this week as part of the “The Rutles: Anthology,” photo for which is being released by Video Services Corp in both Blu-ray and Blu-ray/DVD combo sets. Originally introduced by Idle in his post-Python BBC satire “Rutland Weekend Television,” “All You Need Is Cash” was brought to prime time in a 1978 TV special, produced by “Saturday Night Live’s” Lorne Michaels, directed by Gary Weis and featuring the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players. The film follows the epic rise and fall of the tight-trousered lads from Rutland as they hit the top of the pops and the heights of absurdity. Bonus features on the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack include a new interview with Eric Idle, 2004’s “The Rutles 2: Can’t Buy Me Lunch” (in which celebrity artists, actors and musicians came forward to revisit and reflect on how The Rutles influenced them and the cultural landscape. Guest stars included George Harrison, Mick Jagger, Bianca Jagger, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Lorne Michaels, Carrie Fisher, Michael Palin, Paul Simon, Gary Shandling, David Bowie, Ron Wood, Steve Martin, Conan O’Brien, Salman Rushdie, Jimmy Fallon, Robin Williams and many more) and the original “Rutland Weekend” sketch from “Saturday Night Live” that aired in 1976 when Idle hosted the late night series. Cheeky, wild and wonderful — with music and songmanship that — when you close your eyes — sounds just like the Fab Four.

Other best bets: The provocative Italian filmmaker Elio Petri’s most internationally acclaimed work is the remarkable, visceral, Oscar-winning thriller “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion” (1970). Petri maintains a tricky balance between absurdity and realism in telling the Kafkaesque tale of a Roman police inspector (Gian Maria Volonte, in a commanding performance) investigating a heinous crime — which he committed himself. Both a penetrating photo for Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicioncharacter study and a disturbing commentary on the draconian crackdowns by the Italian government in the late 1960s and early 70s, this kinetic portrait of surreal bureaucracy is a perversely pleasurable rendering of controlled chaos. In a new 4K digital restoration by the Film Foundation, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray … “Nashville” (1975), a cornerstone of 1970s American moviemaking from Robert Altman, is a panoramic view of the country’s political and entertainment landscapes, set in the nation’s music capital. “Nashville” weaves together the stories of 24 characters — from country music star to wannabe to reporter to waitress — into a cinematic tapestry that is equal parts comedy, tragedy, and musical. Many members of the astonishing cast wrote and performed their own songs live on location, which lends another layer to the film’s quirky authenticity. Altman’s ability to get to the heart of American life via its eccentric byways was never put to better use than in this grand, rollicking triumph, which barrels forward to an unforgettable conclusion. New 2K digital film restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Both are in Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Editions from The Criterion Collection.

Here’s another blast from the past: photo for Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman: The Complete Series “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman: The Complete Series” (1976-78) is a 38-disc box set with all 325 episodes of the cult series that starred Louise Lasser in the title role of legendary TV producer Norman Lear’s sublimely twisted soap opera — at once a parody of the format and a twisted satire of America’s media/consumer culture. In the fictional town of Fernwood, Ohio, suburban housewife Mary Hartman seeks the kind of domestic perfection promised by Reader’s Digest and TV commercials. Instead she finds herself suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune — ­mass murders, low-flying airplanes and waxy yellow buildup on her kitchen floor. Co-starred Greg Mullavey, Mary Kay Place, Graham Jarvis, Debralee Scott, Victor Kilian, Dody Goodman, Philip Bruns, Dabney Coleman, Martin Mull and Claudia Lamb. Loaded with extras from Shout! Factory.

Blu-ray specials: “Argo Extended Edition Blu-ray” (2012) includes an additional nine minutes of footage, new extras and collectible memorabilia for fans of the Ben Afleck film: an “Argo” one-sheet poster, a map of Tehran, a reproduction of Tony Mendez’s CIA ID card, a 40-page book premium featuring behind the scenes photos, production notes, bios and more. Extras include new features “Argo Declassified,” in which Tony Mendez’s daring operation gets honored as part of the CIA’s 50th anniversary; “Ben Affleck’s Balancing Act” of humor, politics, Hollywood and international intrigue; “Argo F*ck Yourself,” in which Ben Affleck leads an all-star review of “Argo’s” classic line. A fun-filled collection, $49.99 from Warner … photo for Matilda BLU-RAY DEBUT“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy — The “Rich Mahogany” Edition Blu-ray” (2004) is a two-disc set with three versions of the film (that stars Will Ferrell, Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate and Fred Willard) — the theatrical version, an unrated version and “Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie” — just in time for the theatrical release of “Anchorman: The Legend Continues” on December 20. From Paramount … An overlooked comedy classic is “Matilda” (1996), directed by Danny DeVito and starring Mara Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Embeth Davidtz, Aileen Quinn and Paul Reubens, making its Blu-ray debut this week. Based on the novel by Roald Dahl, “Matilda” tells the story of a super-smart little girl (Wilson) who’s woefully misunderstood by her parents (DeVito, Perlman), her brother, and an evil school principal. With the help of her telekinetic powers, along with a brave best friend and a wonderful teacher (Davidtz), Matilda discovers she doesn’t have to get mad to get even. Extras include a new featurette, “Afternoon Tea, A Very Magical Matilda Reunion,” bringing the entire cast back together 17 years after the original filming of the movie. Shot exclusively for the Blu-ray, it captures the cast reliving the memories and magic of making the film during an afternoon tea party at director-star Danny DeVito’s private Beverly Hills home. Also includes four previously released featurettes: “Matilda’s Movie Magic!” that explores the film’s stunts and special effects with DeVito, “A Children’s Guide to Good Manners” of lessons in etiquette humorously demonstrated with scenes from the film, “Escape to the Library” with a special reading by the book author’s daughter, and “My Movie About Making Matilda” by Wilson. From Sony.

From TV to DVD:

“Duck Dynasty: Seasons 1-3 Collector’s Set” (2012-13) features all three seasons of America’s favorite backwoods family, packed with an exclusive limited edition Duck Camo bandana. In an eight-disc DVD, $49.98; six-disc Blu-ray, $49.99. From Lionsgate … photo for Hawaii Five-O: The Complete Series “Hawaii Five-O: The Complete Series” (1968-1980) is a 73-disc set featuring all 12 seasons, including the debut of the remastered 10th season, in a sleek, collectible package featuring cast photos and spectacular images of Hawaii’s stunning landscape. Filmed entirely on location in Hawaii, the show followed Detective Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord), head of an elite state police unit investigating “organized crime, murder, assassination attempts, foreign agents, felonies of every type.” James MacArthur played his second-in-command, Danny (“Danno”) Williams, with local actors playing members of the Five-O team. $349.99 from CBS/Paramount … “Hot in Cleveland: Season Four” (2012-13) is a four-disc set with 23 episodes, $29.99 from Paramount … photo for Lilyhammer: Season 1 “Lilyhammer: Season 1” (2011) is the popular Norwegian television series heretofore only available on Netflix. Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano (Steven Van Zandt), a former underboss of New York’s Italian Mafia, is put in the witness protection program after testifying in a trial in the United States. Tagliano requests that he be relocated in Lillehammer, Norway, intrigued by the town when he saw television images of the 1994 Winter Olympics. Using his old ruthless methods, Tagliano starts to take over Lillihammer’s criminal underworld as the local police grow suspicious. Two-disc set with eight episodes on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo from New Video Group … “The Simpsons Season 16” (2004-05) features all 21 episodes in a four-disc DVD, $49.98; three-disc Blu-ray, $59.99; from Fox.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

“All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” (2006) is a part slasher, part coming-of-age film about Mandy Lane, an untouchable Texas high-school beauty who is invited by her classmates to a weekend getaway at a secluded ranch. But as the sun goes down and the party rages on, the photo for All the Boys Love Mandy Lane festivities take a disturbing turn. And for lovely Mandy Lane, a night of endless horror has just begun. Jonathan Levine’s (“Warm Bodies,” “50/50”) directorial debut. Stars Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Whitney Able and Michael Welch. On DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay … On a weekend camping trip deep in the forest, a young U.S. Marine enlistee and his friends stumble upon the murdered bodies of a vacationing couple and are suddenly taken hostage by a deeply disturbed war veteran on a sadistic killing spree in “Trail of Blood” (2011), starring Robert Picardo, Trevor Torseth and Tim Barraco. From Lionsgate … “Winnie Mandela” (2011) follows the story of a proud young woman, Winnie (Hudson), who finds love with a rising political star, Nelson Mandela (Howard), after moving from a remote tribal village to the sprawling metropolis of Johannesburg, South Africa. When Nelson is imprisoned for protesting the brutal Apartheid government, Winnie works tirelessly to win his freedom and to carry on his message of peace and equality. Stars Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard and Elias Koteas. On DVD and Blu-ray from One Village Entertainment.

On the Indie Front:

“Drinking Buddies” (2013), starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston, is a comedy about a pair of co-workers at a Chicago brewery who spend their days drinking and flirting. They’re perfect for each other, except that they’re both in relationships with others … until beer blurs the line between “friends” and “more than friends.” On DVD and photo for Drinking Buddies Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment … To get his life on track again and win back his girlfriend, a frustrated but likeable casting director decides to make a film about his job, love-life and all the funny things that happen behind the scenes at the casting agency in “Casting Me …” (2011 — South Africa), starring Paul Snodgrass, Roxanne Prentice, Jonathan Hearns, Raph Kosse, Colin Moss and Simone Cagnazzo. From IndiePix Films … In “Inch’Allah” (2013 — Canada), starring Evelyne Brochu, Sabrina Ouazani, Sivan Levy and Yousef “Joe” Sweid, Chloe is a young Canadian doctor who divides her time between Ramallah, where she works with the Red Crescent, and Jerusalem, where she lives next door to her friend, a young Israeli soldier. Increasingly sensitive to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, Chloe makes the daily journey through the photo for Inch'Allah checkpoint between the two cities to the refugee camp where she works at a maternity clinic. Caught in the crossfire of the conflict, Chloe tries as best she can to build bridges between her friends, only to find herself a perpetual foreigner to all. From Entertainment One … In “The Perfect Wedding” (2012), Paul, a charismatic recovering alcoholic, falls head over heels for Gavin during the Christmas holidays. Surrounded by a swirl of family drama and a complicated ex-boyfriend, he’s living one day at a time — and beginning to plan the perfect wedding. Stars Eric Aragon and Jason T. Gaffney. From Wolfe Video … An aspiring poet in a troubled marriage meets a new man who helps her find her artistic voice in “Things Never Said” (2013), starring Shanola Hampton, Omari Hardwick and Tamala Jones. From Lionsgate.


In “Il Futuro (The Future)” (2013 — Italy), starring Luigi Ciardo, Manuela Martelli, Rutger Hauer and Nicolas Vaporidis, two orphans, Bianca and Tomas, and their friends concoct an elaborate scheme to rob an aging movie star and one-time Mr. Universe, Maciste (Rutger Hauer). Bianca is enlisted to seduce the now blind star so they can get access to his hidden fortune. At once a sly psychological thriller with erotic overtones, this Hitchcockian film finds a young woman faced with a moral dilemma as a unique friendship develops between her and the actor in his crumbling mansion. From Strand Releasing.

For the Family:

Join Thomas and Friends in “Thomas & Friends: The Thomas Way” (2013) for five all-new, exciting adventures with the trains of the Isle of Sodor: “The Thomas Way,” “The Switch,” “Percy’s Lucky Day,” “Calm Down Caitlin” and “The Lost Puff.” $14.98. from Lionsgate … “Angry Birds Toons: Season One — Volume One” (2013) consists of all 26 episodes of the animated TV series that brings to life the adventures of the characters from the mobile phone photo for game app. The “Angry Birds” franchise is now a $2 billion a year operation. On DVD and Blu-ray from Sony … “Marvel’s Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United!” (2013) is the first full-length, direct-to-video CG animated feature from Marvel Animation Studios. In this action-packed adventure, the invincible Iron Man and the incredible Hulk come together to save the Earth from its greatest threat yet. When two HYDRA scientists try to supercharge a Stark Arc Reactor with Hulk’s Gamma Energy, they unleash a being of pure electricity called the Zzzax — and he’s hungry for destruction. Together, Iron Man and Hulk are the only force that stands in the way of the Zzzax’s planetary blackout. On DVD and DVD/Blu-ray Combo from Disney … In “A Christmas Tree Miracle” (2013), starring Kevin Sizemore, Claudia Esposito, Terry Kiser, Jill Whelan, Barrett Carnahan, Emily Capehart and Siomha Kenney, a privileged suburban family loses everything just before Christmas and is taken in by an eccentric Christmas tree farmer, where they learn that miracles can come true … if you believe. From Green Apple Entertainment … “Transformers Prime: Season Three — Beast Hunters” (2013) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes of the complete third and final season of Hasbro Studios’ Emmy Award-winning series. The epic battle with Decepticons rages on as Optimus photo for Transformers Prime: Season Three -- Beast Hunters Prime leads his team of Autobots and three teenagers — Miko, Jack and Raf — in a mission to defend earth and one day restore his home planet of Cybertron. But Decepticons’ power to reign over Earth has never been greater. Megatron and his Decepticons have destroyed Autobots’ base, scattering Optimus Prime and his heroic team to the wind and leaving them out of communication with one another. On DVD, $19.93; Blu-ray Disc, $24.97; from Shout! Factory … Every thousand years, mamodo descend upon earth to conduct the ultimate battle. The winning mamodo becomes the king of the mamodo world … but in order for the many mamodo to use their powerful spell books, they need a human partner. The “Zatch Bell: The Complete Seasons 1&2” (2005-07) Japanese crossover anime series follows 14-year-old Kiyo and a mamodo child named Zatch as they defend themselves against the ambush of mamodo-king wannabees. In a 12-disc DVD set with 100 episodes, $99.95 from New Video Group.

Special Interest:

photo for Black Lips - Kids Like You & Me


  • “Black Lips – Kids Like You & Me” (2013): In 2009, the band The Black Lips started investigating the possibility of a bridge-building tour of the Middle East with stops throughout the region. After two years of planning, several uprisings and a civil war, the tour finally came to fruition in the fall of 2012. This film documents their journey through the region with Lebanese indie rockers Lazzy Lung. From MVD Visual.
  • “Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony” (2013): One would be hard-pressed to find a cultural sensation as unique and as unexpected as Bronies, a group of mostly young adult men who are dedicated fans of the animated series created for little girls, “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.” This documentary chronicles Bronies from around the world, each with their unique story, as they make their way to My Little Pony conventions in Germany, England, and the biggest of all, BronyCon in the U.S. On DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo from MVD Visual. photo for Buying Sex
  • “Buying Sex” (2013): Documentary looks at the red-hot debate over the legalization of prostitution. Would decriminalizing prostitution free sex workers to take more control over their activities, run legal brothels and manage their own procurement businesses without fear of punishment, or would it give male buyers and sex-trade business owners even more power and opportunity to benefit from and possibly exploit the sale of sexual services? This Canadian film brings sex workers, formerly prostituted women, policy-makers, lawyers and even the male buyers of sex to the debate, challenging viewers to question whether prostitution is the oldest profession or the oldest oppression. From First Run Features.
  • “Far From Vietnam” (1967): Initiated and edited by Chris Marker, this is an epic 1967 collaboration between cinema greats Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch and Alain Resnais in protest of American military involvement in Vietnam. The film brings together an array of contributions, none individually credited, under a unified editorial vision. The elements span documentary footage shot in North and South Vietnam and at anti-war demonstrations in the United States; a fictional vignette and a monologue that dramatize the self-interrogation of European intellectuals; interviews with Fidel Castro and Anne Morrison, widow of Norman Morrison, the Quaker pacifist who burned himself alive on the steps of the White House in 1965; reflections from French journalist Michele Ray; and a range of repurposed media material. Passionately critical and self-critical, it’s a milestone in political documentary and in world cinema. $29.98 from Icarus Films.
  • “Galactic Adventures: 3D Sun/Mars 3D” (2013): From Earth, the Sun can’t be looked at with human eye. Narrated by Al Roker, “3D Sun” gives audiences a chance to see the Sun up close in startling 3D. “Mars 3D” takes viewers behind the scenes of the Mars Exploration Rover Mission revealing daily dramas, mind-boggling physics and compelling science behind the $820 million dollar NASA project. From Image Entertainment. photo for Good Ol' Freda
  • “Good Ol’ Freda” (2013): Fascinating documentary about The Beatles’ longtime secretary and friend offers an insider’s perspective as The Beatles made music and cultural history. Freda Kelly was just a shy Liverpudlian teenager when she was asked to work for a local band hoping to make it big. Though she had no concept of how far they would go, Freda had faith in The Beatles from the beginning, and The Beatles had faith in her. Many people came in and out of the band’s circle as they grew to international stardom, but Freda remained a staple because of her unfaltering loyalty and dedication. As The Beatles’ devoted secretary and friend, Freda was there as history unfolded; she was witness to the evolution — advances and setbacks, breakthroughs and challenges — of the greatest band in history. On DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment.
  • “Smash & Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers” (2013): Their crimes play out like a Hollywood action movie: A sports car speeds through a Dubai shopping mall, crashing into the windows of a Graff jewelry store. Masked, gun-wielding men jump out of the car, and stuff fistfuls of diamonds into their satchels before screeching off. The high-octane, real world of international jewel thieves is revealed in this documentary on the formidable Balkan crime organization dubbed “The Pink Panthers” (so named after the police recovered a huge diamond in a tub of face cream in a scene reminiscent of a classic Blake Edwards’ “Pink Panther” movie) that has stolen nearly a billion dollars of jewels from boutiques in the world’s most opulent cities, including Paris, London, Geneva, and Tokyo. From Doppelganger Releasing.
  • “Stone Roses: Made of Stone” (2013): In 2012, a resurrection no one thought possible took place when legendary band The Stone Roses reformed after 16 years. With unprecedented access to previously unseen archive footage, this documentary is a revealing journey through the life of one of the most revered and influential bands in British music history. On DVD and Blu-ray from MVD Visual.
  • “Tracie Long Focus Series” (2013): For many, the upcoming holidays means non-stop schedules, loads of food and zero workout time. Nationally known certified trainer Tracie Long (of The Firm) offers three fitness programs — “Lift Higher,” “Kickback” and “Power Up” — to help women of all ages to gain flexibility, strength and have more energy to get through even the most hectic holiday schedule. $9.98 each from Shelter Island. photo for US Festival 1983: Days 1-3
  • “US Festival 1983: Days 1-3” (2013): The ultimate concert took place on Memorial Day Weekend 1983. Curated by Steve Wozniak (Apple computers), the three days of new wave, heavy metal and rock are legendary. Features performances from U2, the Clash, Judas Priest, Stevie Nicks, Scorpions, INXS, Men at Work, Stray Cats, Triumph, Missing Persons and more. US stands for Unite Us in Song. An incredible event and a culture document of the period. From MVD Visual.
  • “Wings of a Warrior: The Jimmy Doolittle Story” (2013): New documentary — with rare archival footage — on Jimmy Doolittle, legendary flying pioneer, American hero and one of the most decorated airmen in U.S. military history. To date, Doolittle is the only person in the U.S. to receive both the country’s highest awards — Medal of Freedom and Medal of Honor. $14.98 from Shelter Island.


 Posted by on December 3, 2013  Add comments

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