From the Big Screen:
“The Monuments Men,” “3 Days to Kill,” “About Last Night,” “Pompeii” and “Vampire Academy.” For more information on these and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week’s Highlights:
“The Color of Lies” (1999 — France), starring Jacques Gamblin, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Sandrine Bonnaire and Antoine de Caunes, is a late-career masterpiece from director Claude Chabrol which, as in many of his suspenseful films, uses a murder mystery to expose the underlying tensions and deceptions of a close-knit community. A 10-year-old girl’s violated body is found in the woods of a Brittany fishing village. Suspicion immediately falls on Rene (Gamblin), a painter and the girl’s art teacher; he is apparently the last person to have seen her alive. The inspector in charge of the investigation (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) immediately questions him. In this provincial town where the residents all know each other, Rene becomes increasingly unsettled by his neighbors’ suspicions and by the inspector’s investigation. Children stop coming to him for lessons. His beloved wife, Vivianne (Sandrine Bonnaire), a nurse, protects and supports him, but is tempted by the advances of an arrogant local TV personality (Antoine de Caunes). True to form, Chabrol is less interested in whodunit mechanics than in dissecting a culture of lies — from advertising to adultery — that permeates modern society. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc from the Cohen Film Collection.
Abbas Kiarostami has spent his movie career exploring the tiny spaces that separate illusion from reality and the simulated from the authentic. At first blush, his extraordinary, sly “Like Someone in Love,” (2013) which finds the Iranian director in Tokyo, may appear to be among his most straightforward films. Yet with this simple story of the growing bond between a young part-time call girl and a grandfatherly client, Kiarostami has constructed an enigmatic but crystalline investigation of affection and desire as complex as his masterful “Close-up” and “Certified Copy” in its engagement with the workings of the mercurial human heart. In a Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Edition .New 2K digital film transfer, supervised by director Abbas Kiarostami, with 3.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.
“The Great Flood” (2012) is the story, told without dialogue, of the Mississippi River Flood of 1927, the most destructive in U.S. history and the cause of a million people’s displacement. Bill Morrison, the acclaimed director of “Decasia” (the newest inductee to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry) and Bill Frisell, Grammy-winning composer and guitarist, have teamed up to create a powerful new cinematic experience. In the spring of 1927, the river broke out of its earthen embankments in 145 places and inundated 27,000 square miles. Part of its legacy was the forced exodus of displaced sharecroppers, who left plantation life and migrated to Northern cities, adapting to an industrial society with its own set of challenges. Musically, the Great Migration fueled the evolution of acoustic blues to electric blues bands that thrived in cities like Memphis, Detroit and Chicago, becoming the wellspring for R&B and rock as well as developing jazz styles. For the film, Morrison scoured film archives, including the Fox Movietone Newsfilm Library and the National archives, for footage of the Mississippi River Flood. All film documenting this catastrophe was shot on volatile nitrate stock, and what footage remains is pock marked and partially deteriorated. The degraded filmstock figures prominently in Morrison’s aesthetic with distorted images suggesting different planes of reality in the story — those lived, dreamt, or remembered. For the score, Frisell has drawn upon his wide musical palette informed by elements of American roots music, but refracted through his uniquely evocative approach that highlights essential qualities of his thematic focus. Playing guitar, Frisell is joined by Tony Scherr on bass, Kenny Wollesen on drums and Ron Miles on trumpet. From Icarus Films.
“Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley” (2014): Often referred to as “the funniest woman in the world,” the iconic black comedienne Jackie “Moms” Mabley broke racial and gender boundaries as the first black female headliner at the Apollo Theater and Carnegie Hall. In her directorial film debut, Whoopi Goldberg pays homage to this pioneering talent by bringing together an impressive roster of A-list entertainers and historians to celebrate Mabley’s storied life and career. Born Loretta Mary Aiken in Brevard, N.C., on March 19, 1894, Mabley was one of the most successful entertainers to perform on the black vaudeville stage, also known as the “chitlin’ circuit.” Her monologues touched on traditional topics such as family, as well as more controversial subjects that were typically avoided by comedians of the era, regardless of race, including infidelity, poverty, welfare and alcohol. Her successful career spanned five decades (though white audiences generally did not learn of her until the early 1960s), throughout which she recorded more than 20 comedy albums and appeared in numerous films. This documentary includes vintage clips and recordings of her performances, as well as recent interviews with some of the world’s top comedians, and Mabley fans, including Eddie Murphy, Joan Rivers, Kathy Griffin, Robert Klein, Bill Cosby and Goldberg. $19.98 from HBO.
“John Wayne: The Epic Collection” is a collection of 40 Warner and Paramount Films starring the iconic actor, on 38 discs, $149.98. The collection comes packaged in a handsome book with unique collectibles and hours of special features: The coffee table book includes a chronological presentation of Wayne films, enhanced with wonderful photographs; the special features include commentaries, documentaries, featurettes, vintage shorts and classic cartoons; and the special John Wayne collectibles include personal correspondence, script pages/covers, pages with Wayne’s notations and behind-the-scenes artifacts. View the complete list of films here. From Warner.