From the Big Screen:
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Lego Movie.” For more information on these and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week’s Highlights:
There’s three very collectible films due this week from The Criterion Collection:
“Hearts and Minds” (1974): A startling and courageous film, Peter Davis’s landmark 1974 documentary unflinchingly confronted the United States’ involvement in Vietnam at the height of the foment that surrounded it. Using a wealth of sources — from interviews to newsreels to footage of the conflict and the upheaval it occasioned on the home front — Davis constructs a powerfully affecting picture of the disastrous effects of war. Explosive, persuasive, and wrenching, “Hearts and Minds” is an overwhelming emotional experience and the most important nonfiction film ever made about this devastating period in history … “Picnic at Hanging Rock” (1975): This sensual and striking chronicle of a disappearance and its aftermath put director Peter Weir on the map and helped usher in a new era of Australian cinema. Set at the turn of the 20th century, “Picnic at Hanging Rock” concerns a small group of students from an all-female college and a chaperone, who vanish while on a St. Valentine’s Day outing. Less a mystery than a journey into the mystic, as well as an inquiry into issues of class and sexual repression in Australian society, Weir’s gorgeous, disquieting film is a work of poetic horror whose secrets haunt viewers to this day … “Judex” (1963): This effortlessly cool crime caper, directed by Georges Franju (“Eyes Without a Face”), is a marvel of dexterous plotting and visual invention. Conceived as an homage to Louis Feuillade’s 1916 cult silent serial of the same name, “Judex” kicks off with the mysterious kidnapping of a corrupt banker by a shadowy crime fighter (American magician Channing Pollock) and spins out into a thrillingly complex web of deceptions. Combining stylish sixties modernism with silent-cinema touches and even a few unexpected sci-fi accents, “Judex” is a delightful bit of pulp fiction and a testament to the art of illusion.
From TV to DVD::
Based on the bestselling “Inspector Banks” novels by Peter Robinson, “DCI Banks: Season One” (2013) follows the tenacious Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks (Stephen Tompkinson) and his headstrong partner Annie Cabbott (Andrea Lowe) as they attempt to solve three gruesome crimes in the Yorkshire, England countryside. Two-disc DVD, $34.98 from BBC Home Entertainment … In “Death in Paradise: Season One” (2011), quintessentially British cop Richard Poole (Ben Miller) is a fish out of water when he is sent to the tiny Caribbean island of Saint-Marie to investigate a murder, but his new partner, DS Camille Bordey (Sara Martins) is instinctive, feisty, brilliant and beautiful, the rest of the Saint Marie police force certainly have their own unique way of doing things and — though Poole would never admit it, they make a perfect team — so perfect that his temporary assignment becomes permanent. Two-disc DVD set with eight episodes, $34.98 from BBC Home Entertainment … “The Good Witch’s Gift” (2008) stars Catherine Bell and Chris Potter in the third in the “Good Witch” Hallmark Channel Original Movie franchise. Nightingale (Bell) and sweetheart police chief Jake Russell (Potter)’s plans to wed on Christmas eve is disrupted when a mysterious man from Jake’s past returns to town. From Cinedigm … “House of Cards: The Complete Second Season” (2014) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes; on DVD and Blu-ray from Sony … In “Masterpiece Mystery!: The Escape Artist” (2014), David Tennant stars as a defense lawyer with a perfect record of courtroom wins and a perfect family to go with it — until things go horribly wrong. Co-starring in this legal cliff-hanger are Sophie Okonedo as Tennant’s professional nemesis, Ashley Jensen as the hero’s endearing wife, and Toby Kebbell as an accused murderer who is either a persecuted misfit or a dangerous psychopath. Airs on PBS Sunday nights, June 15 and June 22. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from PBS Distribution … Gripping murder mysteries face two female detectives — Detective Constable Rachel Bailey (Suranne Jones) and her partner Detective Constable Janet Scott (Lesley Sharp) — one motherly, the other emotionally immature — who have varying levels of success applying their eccentric outlooks on life to their police cases and private lives in “Scott & Bailey: Season One” (2011); the highest rated new drama in the UK for 2011. Two-disc DVD with six episodes, $34.98 from BBC Home Entertainment.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In a case of mistaken identity, a premiums salesman is hired as a private detective by a woman to find her missing brother; naturally he gets way in over his head and becomes tangled in a web of corruption, fraud and murder in “No Clue” (2013), starring Amy Smart, Brent Butt, David Koechner and Kirstin Prout. From Entertainment One … “Joe” (2014) is an ex-con with a hair-trigger temper who is trying to stay out of trouble, making an honest yet meager life for himself. But when he meets a troubled 15-year old homeless boy in need of help from a violent and destitute father, he’s faced with the heart-breaking choice of redemption or ruin. Stars Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan and Brian Mays. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate … “A Fighting Man” (2014), starring Famke Janssen, James Caan, Dominic Purcell, Kim Coates, Michael Ironside, Adam Beach and Louis Gossett Jr. is a melodrama about an undefeated but washed-up boxer who gets one last opportunity to step back in the ring — and has to face his personal demons and a younger and faster opponent. From Sony … When a terrorist attack on Washington, D.C. leaves three war veterans suffering from PTSD trapped in an elevator together, the isolation and highly stressful situation brings previous wartime experiences to the surface in “Alpha Alert” (2013), starring Jennifer Morrison, Josh Stewart, James Frain and Stephen Rider. From Lionsgate … In “The Monkey’s Paw” (2013), starring C.J.Thomason, Stephen Lang, Michelle Pierce, Corbin Bleu and Daniel Hugh Kelly, Jake Tilto acquires a mystical “monkey’s paw” talisman that grants its possessor three wishes and he finds his world turned upside-down after his first two wishes result in his malevolent co-worker, Tony Cobb, being resurrected from the dead. When Cobb pressures Jake into using the final wish to reunite Cobb with his son, his intimidation quickly escalates into relentless murder — forcing Jake to outwit his psychotic friend and save his remaining loved ones. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Shout! Factory … In “Joy Ride 3: Road Kill” (2014), starring Ken Kirzinger, Kirsten Prout, Dean Armstrong, Jesse Hutch and Ben Hollingsworth, Rusty Nail, the vengeful trucker with a penchant for pain and a desire to punish injustice, is back for another deadly detour. The nightmare begins when a group of young street racers take a desolate shortcut on their way to the Road Rally 1000 where a chance encounter with Rusty soon turns deadly as he stalks, taunts, and tortures his next victims with deranged delight. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Fox … A young man abducted by aliens returns two years later as something other than human, and goes on a grisly rampage of murder in “Almost Human” (2014), starring Graham Skipper, Vanessa Leigh and Josh Ethier. From IFC Midnight/MPI Media … Two computer programmers fall in love as they create the first-ever piece of self-aware artificial intelligence, designed to help humanity … but things go terribly wrong when the British Government steals their breakthrough and teaches it to become a robotic weapon in “The Machine” (2013), starring Toby Stephens, Caity Lotz, Denis Lawson and Sam Hazeldine. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from XLrator Media … A reporter’s dream of becoming a news anchor is compromised after a one-night stand leaves her stranded in downtown L.A. without a phone, car, ID or money — and only eight hours to make it to the most important job interview of her life in “Walk of Shame” (2014), starring Elizabeth Banks and James Marsden. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Universal … On her first day of college, a beautiful young freshman is seduced by an older co-ed and they share a sleepless night in the New Mexico desert. But the couple’s bliss is violently interrupted by a pair of orphaned sisters with a taste for kidnapping, torture and the creation of flesh-eating zombies in their underground bunker — with the terrifying plan to create a Fourth Reich army of the dead in “Blood Soaked” (2014), starring Lauren Myers, Kevin Wester, Davin Ruggles, Heather Wilder and Rachel Corona. From Wild Eye Releasing … Winner of 12 festival awards, “Meth Head” (2013) is a cautionary tale about extremes. Stuck in a dead end job and saddled with a family that doesn’t understand him, Kyle Peoples (Lukas Haas) meets up with a new family of friends and fun to escape from his reality. But their love of crystal meth eventually costs Kyle everything — his job, his lover, his family and his home. Kyle must choose: life or meth. Stars Lukas Haas, Blake Berris, Necar Zadegan and Wilson Cruz. From Randon Media/Cinedigm … “The Angela Mao Ying Collection” consists of six action-packed martial-arts films featuring martial-arts sensation Angela Mao Ying, the Queen of kung fu: “When Taekwondo Strikes “(1973), “The Tournament (1974),” “Stoner” (1974), “The Himalayan” (1976), “A Queen’s Ransom” (1976) and “Broken Oath” (1977). $34.93. from Shout! Factory.
On the Indie Front:
In “Jimmy P.” (2013), starring Benicio Del Toro, Mathieu Amalric, Gina McKee and Larry Pine, a Native American Veteran suffering from a series of psychological issues after WWII develops a deeply powerful friendship with his progressive French psychoanalyst as they discover and attempt to understand the source of his illness. From IFC Films … Stuck in a six-month sexual “dry spell,” a young husband and wife decide to rekindle their love life by having a one-night stand with another couple in “Four of Hearts” (2013), starring Darrin Dewitt Henson, Nadine Ellis, Michelle Krusiec, Gabriel Olds and Victoria Gabrielle Platt. From One Village Entertainment.
In “The Attorney” (2013 — South Korea), starring Song Kang-ho, Yim Si-wan and Kim Yeong-ae, shady lawyer Song Woo-seok has no clients, connections, or a college degree, but his eye for business and appetite for money make him the most successful lawyer in town. But at the peak of his success, a local teenager is falsely accused of a crime, then beaten and tortured while waiting in jail. Shocked by these conditions, Song takes the case no one else will, and changes the course of his life. Based on a true story. From Well Go USA.
For the Family:
Based on the classic Belgian book series by Gabrielle Vincent, “Ernest & Celestine” (2014 — France-Belgium-Luxembourg) takes place in a beautiful, water-colored world in which a society of mice live underground in constant fear of the bears that dwell in the city above. When one of them, Celestine, comes face to face with Ernest, a bear, an unlikely, but beautiful friendship begins. With the voices of Forest Whitaker, Mackenzie Foy, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman and Jeffrey Wright. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo from GKIDS/Cinedigm … In “This is America, Charlie Brown” (1988), Snoopy and the Peanuts gang celebrate landmark events in U.S. history in a two-disc collection featuring eight re-mastered Peanuts TV specials that depict key historical American moments: “The Mayflower Voyagers,” “The Birth of the Constitution,” “The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk,” “The NASA Space Station,” “The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad,” “The Great Inventors,” “The Smithsonian and the Presidency,” “The Music and Heroes of America.” $26.99 from Warner … When menacing robots attack using a powerful weapon, the Megaforce team looks to the sixth Ranger, Robo Knight, along with Rico the Robot, to help fend off major destruction in “Power Rangers Megaforce: Ultra Defenders” (2013); four episodes, $14.98 from Lionsgate … “Regular Show: The Complete Third Season” (2011-12) is a three-disc set with all 40 episodes of the award-winning and critically-acclaimed animated series that stars a blue jay named Mordecai and his best friend Rigby, a raccoon, who are both employed as groundskeepers at a local park. Along with their friends and colleagues — who just happen to be a yeti, a ghost, a gumball machine and a lollipop, among others — the two strive to escape everyday boredom. $26.95 from Cartoon Network/Warner.
- “Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector” (2013): Documentary dispels the myth that the original home video format is dead and buried. Some see VHS as worthless plastic, but “Adjust Your Tracking” shows a vibrant world of collectors and movie fans who are keeping the format, and the movies, alive. Over 100 collectors, filmmakers, producers, and video store owners express how VHS changed their lives. Travel back to the days of video rental stores with those who still buy, sell, rent and trade the format that will not die. Two-disc Special Edition, $19.95 from VHShitfest.
- “Breaking Through” (2014): A documentary about people, pride and power that features several openly LGBT elected officials and their journeys from self-doubt to triumph. Featured officials include Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay U.S. Senator in history, Alex Wan, the first gay man to serve on the Atlanta City Council, and Kathy Webb, the first openly gay Arkansas State Representative. The documentary reveals their past struggles with poverty, bullying and religious expectations, in addition to their sexual orientation and gender identity. From Breaking Glass Pictures.
- “The Final Member” (2014): Paris has the Louvre, London has the Tate Modern, and New York the Metropolitan Museum. But Husavik, Iceland — a remote village on the fringe of the Arctic Circle — boasts the world’s only museum devoted exclusively to painstakingly preserved male genitalia. Founded and curated by Siguroour “Siggi” Hjartarson, the Icelandic Phallological Museum houses mammalian members collected over 40 years, from a petite field mouse to the colossal sperm whale, and every “thing” in between. Lamentably, Siggi’s collection lacks the holy grail of phallic phantasmagoria: a human specimen. But Siggi’s world changes dramatically when he receives generous offers from an elderly Icelandic Casanova looking to bequeath his organ upon his death and an eccentric American who’s willing to be a living donor. However, as the competition for eternal penile preservation heats up between the two men, Siggi discovers that this process is more complicated than it initially appeared. A sublimely comic portrait of obsession. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Drafthouse Films/Cinedigm.
- “Invasion of the Scream Queens” (1992): 20th anniversary special edition of the cult documentary that offers an inside look at what it takes to be a scream queen, with behind-the-scenes stories about the making of some of the most classic horror films of our time, including “The Hills Have Eyes,” “I Spit on Your Grave,” “Slumber Party Massacre,” and many more. The film takes you back to a time when the term “Scream Queen” was brand new and promised the hottest actresses in the most outrageous low budget horror movies. From Wild Eye Releasing.
- “James Thurber: The Life and Hard Times” (2000): The first major documentary on the life and work of one of America’s greatest humorists. Known for his classic short story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” Thurber was a legendary contributor of prose and cartoons to The New Yorker magazine where he worked for many years. Narrated by George Plimpton, this documentary includes interviews with Edward Albee, John Updike, Alistair Cooke, Roy Blount Jr., Fran Lebowitz and others. From First Run Features.
- “Paul Bowles: The Cage Door Is Always Open” (2013): When writer Paul Bowles moved to Tangiers, Morocco in 1949, it was a sanctuary for artists, writers and the wealthy to do as they pleased without fear of prosecution. Soon, his friends from America began visiting: Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and many others. The Beats and the Hippies all searched him out, lured by the mysterious, exotic world he depicted in his books, notably “The Sheltering Sky.” But that was only one side of the story. Based on an exclusive series of interviews with Bowles shortly before his death and anecdotes provided by his friends and collaborators including Vidal, Bernardo Bertolucci, John Waters, Ruth Fainlight, Edmund White, Burroughs, Francis Bacon and many others, this fascinating documentary reveals a daring and visionary life. From First Run Features.
- “Top Hat & Tales: Harold Ross and the Making of the New Yorker” (2001): chronicles the early years of The New Yorker, from its fledging beginnings under its legendary creator and editor Harold Ross, to its rise as an indispensable American institution. Interviews with celebrated writers and cartoonists such as John Updike, David Remnick, Roger Angell, Lee Lorenz, and Roz Chast reveal how The New Yorker’s signature style and content was shaped by its early contributors, including E.B. White, James Thurber, Charles Addams, Janet Flanner, J. D. Salinger, and more. Film clips, home movies and images from the anthology of The New Yorker covers and cartoons illustrate this look at one of journalism’s most revered publications. From First Run Features.