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.
“Star Trek” fans will live long with the Blu-ray debut of “Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 5 (1991-92), a s ix-disc set with 26 episodes, $129.99. Set in the 24th century, the exploits of the U.S.S. Enterprise continue with some of the most memorable episodes of the series, including Paul Winfield’s guest appearance as Dathon and Ashley Judd’s debut performance in the episode, “Darmok.” The set also includes the jaw-dropping opening scene portraying the destruction of the Enterprise in “Cause and Effect,” and “The Inner Light,” the critically acclaimed episode that garnered the series its first Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. In addition to all-new commentary tracks on select episodes with some of the franchise’s most notable names, deleted scenes and a gag reel, the high-definition collection includes the newly produced featurette, “Requiem: A Remembrance of Star Trek: The Next Generation.” This two-part documentary explores the making of the series’ fifth season and focuses on the effect the passing of creator Gene Roddenberry, which took place halfway through the season, had on the show as well as the production family. The tribute to the late creator includes key cast and crew members sharing their favorite memories of working with Roddenberry and bidding farewell to the Great Bird of the Galaxy. Also includes the epic two-part episode “Unification” (which has been spun off as a separate disc, see below) in which Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart) pursues Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy) into enemy Romulan territory on a heroic mission in an attempt to unify the Vulcans and the Romulans. Other extras include several “Archive Mission Logs,” commentaries, deleted scenes, a gag reel,and more. From CBS/Paramount … also for Trekkies is Blu-ray debut of “Star Trek: The Next Generation: Unification” (1992), the feature-length presentation of the fan-favorite, two-part epic adventure from the series’ fifth season. Over 25 million viewers tuned into the original airing of the episode, making it one of the most-watched of all seven seasons of the series. Extras include commentary, deleted scene, and a new behind-the-scenes featurette. $24.99 from CBS/Paramount.
And, last but not least, there’s “The Ultimate Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy,” a three-disc set with the three Simon Pegg-Nick Frost-Edgar Wright collaborations: “The World’s End,” “Hot Fuzz,” “Shaun of the Dead.” On DVD, $39.98 and Blu-ray Disc, $49.98. Extras include all the bonus features from all three films. The Blu-ray version adds interactive screenplays for all three films. From Universal … Scream factory/Shout! Factory offers up the Blu-ray debut of “Assault on Precinct 13” (1976), directed by John Carpenter and starring Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston and Laurie Zimmer. Isolated and cut off from the city inside a soon-to-be-closed L.A. police station, a group of police officers and convicts must join forces to defend themselves against the gang called Street Thunder, who have taken a blood oath to kill someone trapped inside the precinct. Extras include commentary with writer-director John Carpenter and cast and crew interviews.
From TV to DVD:
“Diagnosis Murder: The Complete Series” (1993-2001) is a 51-disc set with all eight seasons, $279.99 from Visual Entertainment … “Touched By an Angel: The Ninth & Final Season” (2002-03): As the critically acclaimed and inspirational series comes to its conclusion, earthbound angel Monica (Roma Downey) is up for a promotion to supervisor, but is faced with her greatest challenge yet. As she wrestles with a life-changing decision, she learns the true meaning of God’s message of sacrifice. The series also stars Della Reese, John Dye and Valerie Bertinelli. Six-disc set with 22 episodes, $61.99 from CBS/Paramount … “Treme: The Complete Third Season” (2012): Two years have passed since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city. From musicians and chefs to businessmen and bartenders, everyone is struggling to piece their lives back together, but are facing new challenges every day. In addition to the ensemble cast of Wendell Pierce, Khandi Alexander, Clarke Peters, Rob Brown, Steve Zahn, Kim Dickens, Melissa Leo, Lucia Micarelli, Michiel Huisman, David Morse, Jon Seda, India Ennenga, and Chris Coy, Season 3 features live performances and cameos from notable New Orleans legends including The Neville Brothers, Fats Domino, Tab Benoit, Dr. Michael White, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Sonny Landreth, The Red Stick Ramblers, Monk Boudreaux, James “Sugarboy” Crawford and Davell Crawford, Kermit Ruffins, John Boutte, The Hot 8 Brass Band, Anders Osborne, Tom McDermott, Marcia Ball, Meschiya Lake, Ivan Neville, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Glen David Andrews, Donald Harrison, Jr. and The Valparaiso Men’s Chorus, among other. Four-disc sets with 10 episodes: DVD, $39.99; Blu-ray Disc, $49.99; Digital. Extras include three “Behind Treme” featurettes, “The Music of Treme,” audio commentaries and episode previews and recaps. Blu-ray adds “Down in the Treme,” a look at the music and culture of New Orleans configured as an in- episode viewing mode. From HBO … “The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series” (1959-64) contains all 156 episodes of Rod Serling’s classic, groundbreaking series in one box set. Travel to another dimension of sight and sound again and again with Rod Serling and guest stars Art Carney, Burgess Meredith, Cliff Robertson, Dennis Hopper, Bill Bixby, Leonard Nimoy, Burt Reynolds, Don Rickles, Jack Klugman, Robert Redford, Lee Marvin, Martin Landau, Telly Savalas, William Shatner and many more. Twenty-five DVDs, $169.98 from Image Entertainment … “When Calls the Heart” (2013) is a Hallmark Channel movie about Elizabeth Thatcher, a cultured young school teacher in 1910 who, through the discovery of her aunt’s secret diary, finds the courage to leave her big city home to accept a teaching position in a frontier coal mining town. In the process, she also finds the potential for love with a handsome Royal Canadian Mountie. Directed by Michael Landon Jr. and based on the best-selling books by Christian author Janette Oke. The film has inspired a TV series of the same name for 2014. From Word Entertainment.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
Created in the image of her inventor, Eve VIII, a sophisticated and deadly android, is the flawless culmination of years of research but when an unexpected mishap during testing sends her into a sudden, irreversible rampage, Eve begins stalking and killing anything she perceives as a threat in “Eve of Destruction” (1991). It’s up to terrorism expert Jim McQuade (Gregory Hines) to find and deactivate her before she realizes her ultimate capability: nuclear annihilation. Co-stars Renee Soutendijk, Michael Greene. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Shout! Factory … “I Am Zozo” (2012), starring Kelly McLaren, Courtney Foxworthy, Demetrius Sager, Caleb DeBattista, Caleb Courtney and Darren Wayne Evans, is a psychological thriller about five young people who play with a Ouija board on Halloween and attract the attention of a malevolent demon. From Image Entertainment … When special effects artist Martin Blaine and hypnotist Dr. William Stein unknowingly conjure up a blood-thirsty predator, Martin must confront the inner demon they brought to life before it rips apart everyone he’s ever known in “Primitive” (2011), starring Reggie Bannister, Matt O’Neill, Kristin Lorenz and Jeff Ryan. From Lionsgate … A “Strangers on a Train”-like pact goes awry when a college student finds herself framed for the murder of a classmate who slandered her — a murder committed by the woman who initially proposed the perfect, untraceable crime in the steamy thriller “Breaking the Girls” (2013), starring Agnes Bruckner, Madeline Zima, Shawn Ashmore, Shanna Collins and Kate Levering. From IFC Midnight Films … In “Caesar & Otto’s Deadly Xmas” (2012), starring Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, Felissa Rose, Joe Estevez, Deron Miller, Robert Z’dar and Debbie Rochon, Caesar and his half-brother Otto take on duties as Santa and his elf. However, the bodies begin to pile up when a fellow store Santa develops a vendetta against them, and he turns Caesar’s list of dinner guests into a list of Xmas-inspired victims. From Wild Eye Releasing/MVD Entertainment.
On the Indie Front:
In “And While We Were Here” (2012), starring Kate Bosworth, Iddo Goldberg, Jamie Blackley and Claire Bloom, a young American writer finds herself at a personal and professional crossroads when she accompanies her musician husband to his concert on an island off the picturesque Amalfi Coast. While adapting her grandmother’s WWII stories into a book, she stumbles into a passionate and playful affair with a much younger man. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc. From Well Go USA … In “Crystal Fairy” (2013), starring Michael Cera and Gaby Hoffman, a boorish American twentysomething traveling in Chile — who somehow manages to create chaos at every turn — coaxes three Chilean brothers into accompanying him on a road trip north to experience a legendary shamanistic hallucinogen called the San Pedro cactus. When he invites an eccentric woman to join the group’s quest, the devil-may-care journey becomes a battle of wills as he finds himself locking horns with his new traveling companion … until they drink the magic brew on a beach at the edge of the desert. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc from IFC Films.
A newly married woman realizes a loveless life awaits her in “Therese” (2013 — France), an adaptation of the classic French novel by Francois Mauriac. In the pine-forested Landes region in southwest France, young Therese (Audrey Tautou) has married wealthy but arrogant Bernard Desqueyroux (Gilles Lellouche) and is now part of the oppressively traditionalist Desqueyroux family. Although able to live in the lap of luxury, she soon realizes that her role is to be forever subservient to Bernard and act as little more than his accessory. When her best friend (and Bernard’s younger sister) Anna (Anais Demoustier) falls madly in love with a handsome young Jewish man, Therese finds her own needs changing and soon sets out to free herself from the provincial conventions that threaten to keep her forever repressed. Directed by Claude Miller. From MPI Home Video … “Sanguivorous” (2011 — Japan) is the first Japanese avant-garde, silent vampire movie ever made. The film focuses on a young woman suffering from mysterious physical ailments who’s horrified to discover that she’s descended from generations of vampires. When with her boyfriend, she struggles to control her peculiar appetite. But it’s in her blood. Written and directed by Japanese filmmaker Naoki Yoshimoto and featuring the renowned avant-garde butoh dancer Ko Murobushi. Co-stars Masaya Adachi, Ayumi Kakizawa, Ko Murobushi, Mutsuko Yoshinag. From Tidepoint Pictures/MVD Entertainment Group … Against the tumultuous backdrop of Iran’s 1953 CIA-backed coup d’etat, the destinies of four women converge in a beautiful orchard, where they find independence, solace and companionship in “Women Without Men” (2009 — Iran), a highly acclaimed and award-winning adaptation of Shahrnush Parsipur’s magical realist novel. Fakhri, a middle-aged woman trapped in a loveless marriage must contend with her feelings for an old flame who has just returned from America and walked back into her life. Zarin, a young prostitute, tries to escape the devastating realization that she can no longer see the faces of men. Munis, a politically awakened young woman, must resist the seclusion imposed on her by her religiously traditional brother, while her friend Faezeh remains oblivious to the turmoil in the streets and longs only to marry Munis’ domineering brother. As the political turmoil swells in the streets of Tehran, each woman is liberated from her predicament. From IndiePix.
For the Family:
“Merry Christmas, Splat … And More Winter Stories” (2013) consists of four holiday story delights: “Merry Christmas, Splat,” “Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas,” “Snowflake Bentley” and “Owl Moon.” $14.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures … “Danger in the Manger” (2012), starring David Tennant, Marc Wootton and Jason Watkins, is a family film about a worried new teacher who has to juggle a pregnant wife and a class of children on a road trip to the national “Song for Christmas” competition. From Inception Media Group … “Danguard Ace: The Movie Collection” (2010) is a two-disc set of the Japanese anime about a transforming robot/space ship and an evil scientist and his robots who fight over control of a new planet in the solar system. $19.97 from Shout! Factory … In “My Little Pony – Friendship Is Magic: A Pony For Every Season” (2013), each member of the Mane 6 — Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Apple Jack and Pinkie Pie — gets her very own opportunity to shine with six episodes from the HUB TV Network show. From Shout! Factory Kids.
This is the last week before the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and three new releases take a look at JFK’s legacy and murder. First off is the highly literate and expertly done “American Experience: JFK” (2013), a new portrait, part of the Peabody Award-winning American Experience series “The Presidents,” that offers a fresh assessment of the man, his accomplishments and his unfulfilled promise. Produced and directed by Susan Bellows, “JFK” features interviews with Kennedy family members and historians including Robert Dallek, Robert Caro, and Evan Thomas.Available as a two-disc DVD, two-disc Blu-ray, from PBS Distribution … “JFK: One PM Central Standard Time” (2013) is a PBS program that recounts the riveting story of the reporting from Dallas, Texas and the CBS Newsroom in New York by Walter Cronkite from the moment President Kennedy was shot on Nov. 22, 1963, until newscaster’s emotional pronouncement of his death at 1 p.m. CST. The program features interviews with President Bill Clinton and NBC Nightly News anchor and managing editor Brian Williams; rarely seen archival footage of Kennedy and Cronkite; and moving memories from the producers, writers and reporters who were there on that day. $24.99 from PBS Distribution … “The Day Kennedy Died” (2013) narrated by Kevin Spacey, is a Smithsonian Channel documentary that tells the story of that tragic day 50 years ago through the memories of people who played a part in those extraordinary events — from the journalist who was with the Kennedy family all day to the nurse who checked his vital signs at the hospital. These never-before-seen interviews, along with rarely shown photos and video footage, piece together the final moments of JFK. $14.98 from Inception Media Group … Though not devoted to JFK, “MOMO: The Sam Giancana Story” (2013) touches on the president’s life and assassination. The documentary details the life of a tough, impoverished kid who rose through the ranks of Chicago’s underworld to become a top member — many say the real godfather — of the most ruthless gangland organization in the country: The Outfit. The film provides new evidence and insight into Giancana’s connections with the Kennedy family — how he delivered three states to ensure JFK’s election and later personally arranged for the president’s assassination. Featuring never-before-seen home videos shot by Giancana himself, the film also exposes Giancan’s affair with Marilyn Monroe and potential role in her death, as well as his participation in a covert CIA plan to take down Castro in Cuba. It also showcases the Giancana daughters — Bonnie Giancana and Fran Giancana — speaking about their father publicly for the first time in 30 years. From Synergetic Distribution/The G-Machine.
“Informant” (2012) is a powerful and timely portrait of Brandon Darby, a left-wing activist turned FBI informant and then Tea Party conservative whose actions led to the arrest of two protesters at the 2008 Republican National Convention. In 2005, Texas-born Darby became an overnight hero when he traveled to Katrina-devastated New Orleans and braved toxic floodwaters to rescue a friend stranded in the Ninth Ward. Soon after, he became a co-founder and spokesperson for Common Ground, a successful grassroots relief organization. But over the next few years, he began hiding a shocking secret. After two young protestors, David McKay and Bradley Crowder, were arrested at the 2008 Republican National Convention, Darby revealed he had been instrumental in the indictment as an FBI informant. Today, having renounced his left-wing past, Darby is a Tea Party member who writes regularly for the right-leaning website Breitbart.com. From Music Box Films … In “Bridegroom” (2013), Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, the Emmy-nominated creator of TV hits “Designing Women” and “Evening Shade,” tells a remarkable and moving real-life story. On May 7, 2011, a young man named Shane Bitney Crone tragically lost the love of his life, the ironically named Tom Bridegroom, to an accident. Because they weren’t married (and despite the partners having been together for six years), Shane had no legal claim to Tom after he died. Tom’s family banned Shane from the funeral, he was unable to say goodbye to his love, and he received no survivor benefits. On May 7, 2012, the first anniversary of Tom’s death, Shane posted a video on YouTube titled “It Could Happen to You.” He created it to honor his partner and show the world what can happen when two people committed to each other are legally barred from the rights and protections afforded by marriage. The video went viral, ultimately receiving over 2 million views on YouTube and inspiring thousands of emails and comments on YouTube and Facebook, including heartfelt reactions from such celebrities as Neil Patrick Harris, Fran Drescher and Denise Richards. Bloodworth-Thomason’s film, which includes interviews, and photos and video footage of Shane and Tom, sheds light on the struggles that same-sex couples face due to marriage inequality. From Virgil Films … “Schooled: The Price of College Sports” (2013) is a comprehensive look at the business, history and culture of big-time college football and basketball in America. It is an adaptation of “The Cartel” by Pulitzer Prize Winning civil rights scholar Taylor Branch, and his Atlantic Monthly article, “The Shame of College Sports.” The documentary presents a hard-hitting examination of the NCAA’s treatment of its athletes and amateurism in collegiate athletics; weaving interviews, archival and verite footage to tell a story of how college sports became a billion dollar industry built on the backs of athletes who are deprived of numerous rights. Includes interviews with Houston Texans’ running back Arian Foster, Emmy-winning sportscaster Bob Costas, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, The New York Times’ Joe Nocera, Sports Illustrated’s Frank Deford and Michael Rosenberg. From Strand Releasing.