From the Big Screen:
“The World’s End,” “We’re the Millers,” “Planes,” “2 Guns,” “Paranoia” and “The To Do List.” For more releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This week’s best releases are things of the past, movies and TV shows that captured their time and place. First off is The Criterion Collection’s Blu-ray edition of “Tokyo Story” (1953), a profoundly stirring evocation of elemental humanity and universal heartbreak that is the crowning achievement of the unparalleled Yasujiro Ozu. The film, which follows an aging couple as they leave their rural village to visit their two married children in bustling postwar Tokyo, surveys the rich and complex world of family life with the director’s customary delicacy and incisive perspective on social mores. Featuring lovely performances from Ozu regulars Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara, “Tokyo Story” plumbs and deepens the director’s recurring themes of generational conflict, creating what is without question one of cinema’s mightiest masterpieces. New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. In Criterion’s new Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Edition. Extras include commentary featuring Yasujiro Ozu scholar David Desser, editor of Ozu’s “Tokyo Story”; “I Lived, But …”, a two-hour documentary from 1953 about Ozu’s life and career, featuring interviews with critics and former cast and crew members; “Talking With Ozu,” a 40-minute tribute to the director from 1993, featuring the reflections of filmmakers Lindsay Anderson, Claire Denis, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Aki Kaurismaki, Stanley Kwan, Paul Schrader and Wim Wenders; trailer; and a booklet featuring an essay by critic David Bordwell.
“The Vivien Leigh Anniversary Collection” is a four-disc set that celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the Oscar winner’s birth with remastered editions of four classics — restored and digitally remastered in collaboration with the British Film Institute — made in England that helped lead David O. Selznick to reward her with the most coveted role in movie history: Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind.” The titles: “Fire Over England” (1937), “Dark Journey” (1937), “Storm in a Teacup” (1937) and “St. Martin’s Lane” (1938). On DVD and Blu-ray with a featurette with Leigh biographer Anne Edwards, a 16-page booklet with a new essay by Leigh biographer Kendra Bean, and original theatrical trailers. Not to be missed for fans of British cinema and Leigh lovers. From the Cohen Film Collection.
And now to TV for a spectacular DVD set that encapsulates the best of 1960s variety TV — that highlighted the pop and jazz greats of the era:
“Here’s Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection.” More than 50 years after it premiered on the ABC network, the variety shows “Here’s Edie” and “The Edie Adams Show” hit DVD and digital formats. This is the first time either television show has been seen in any format since their original broadcasts in 1962-1964. Unlike any variety show before or since, “Here’s Edie” was a tour-de-force for a female entertainer in the early-1960s. After the sudden passing of husband Ernie Kovacs in January 1962, Adams forged ahead with her own headlining show, showcasing her many talents. Adams hosts, sings, dances, acts, does comedy, takes an uncredited role of costumer Enke and also produces her own show. While much has been said of Adams’ preservation efforts of the Ernie Kovacs archive, she also left behind a stunning body of her own work that survives due only to her indefatigable preservation efforts. The “wow” factor of this box set resides in the eclectic guest stars Adams was personally able to secure for the show. Jazz fans will be able to see rare performance footage of such giants as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Getz, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman and Al Hirt, among others. Popular vocalists include Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Darin, Johnny Mathis and more. Comedians include Bob Hope, Rowan & Martin, Soupy Sales along with Buddy Hackett, Dick Shawn and Terry-Thomas, who co-starred with Adams in the classic motion-picture “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963). Classical music fans can look forward to performances of Andrew Previn, Lauritz Melchoir and Laurindo Almeida. Additional guests include Allan Sherman, Spike Jones, Peter Falk, Sir Michael Redgrave, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Buddy Hackett and more. This 12-hour, four DVD set features a new digital transfer from original 2-inch videotapes of the entire 1962-64 run of 21 episodes (with her famed Muriel Cigar commercials intact), plus extensive bonus footage. Also included is a 16-page booklet packed with rare photos from the family archive, an essay from Edie’s son, Joshua Mills, and a show-by-show rundown from Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams curator and DVD co-producer Ben Model. A must-buy for $49.95 from MVD Entertainment.
“Night of the Comet” (1984) was an unexpected pleasure when it hit the screens, adding zombies and survivalists to its sci-fi apocalypse scenario well before either became fashionable, without any pretense to be anything more than it was — a light-hearted look at the end of the world. A comet wipes out most of life on Earth, leaving two Valley Girls to fight the evil types (killer zombies and blood-seeking scientists) who survive. But first they do what all good Valley Girls do … they go shopping. Directed by Thom E. Eberhardt and starring Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, Robert Beltran, Sharon Farrell, Mary Wornov and Geoffrey Lewis. Extras include commentary with writer-director Thom Eberhardt, commentary with stars Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart; commentary with production designer John Muto; “Valley Girls at the End of the World” interviews with Maroney and Stewart; “The Last Man On Earth?” interview with Robert Beltran; “Curse of the Comet” interview with special make-up effects creator David B. Miller; still galleries (behind the scenes and official stills) and the theatrical trailer. From Scream Factory/Shout! Factory … “The Mod Squad: The Complete Collection” (1968-73) is a 39-disc set of the classic 1960s TV series. While most popular shows of the era focused on the ideal American family (moms wearing pearls and baking cookies) or society’s mainstream heroes (mostly White, macho men), ABC’s “The Mod Squad” broke the mold. While solving crimes, apprehending heinous criminals and addressing social injustice, the youthful investigators — Julie (Peggy Lipton), Pete (Michael Cole) and Linc (Clarence Williams III) — fairly oozed cool. Not only were they counter-culture, but a female and an African-American protagonist made for ground-breaking TV. “One White, One Black, One Blonde” was the network’s promo line, targeting a youthful audience. Offered work fighting crime as an alternative to being incarcerated themselves, The Mod Squad’s three cops utilized their youthful, hippie personas as a guise to get close to the criminals they investigated. Being of the flower-child era, they didn’t carry guns (or make the ultimate arrests), but instead wore beads and mod clothing, peppering their dialogue with slang of the day — like “groovy,” “keep the faith” and “solid” — all backed by a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack. The show portrayed a multi-cultural society, dealing with such controversial issues as racial politics, drug culture, anti-war sentiment, soldiers returning from war, student unrest, abortion, spousal abuse, child neglect, illiteracy and slum lords … all radical subject matter for TV at the time. Produced by Aaron Spelling and Danny Thomas. $219.95 from Visual Entertainment.