Category Archives: DVDs

Edge-of-your-seat terror: Japan’s Tohoku Region: At a magnitude of 9.0, the strongest earthquake in Japan’s history strikes

Oh, we do love these end-of-the-world flicks. Capelight Pictures is unleashing Fukushima 50 on DVD and Blu-ray on April 13.  Why worry about your taxes when you should worry about . . .
Japan’s Tohoku Region: at a magnitude of 9.0, the strongest earthquake in the country’s history strikes, triggering a huge tsunami and carnage that would end up killing thousands of people and displacing many more. It mercilessly engulfs the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, causing a crippling station blackout.
Unable to be cooled, the nuclear reactors quickly turn into hydrogen bombs at the brink of explosion. If the power plant is abandoned, Japan’s destruction is assured. Facing a life or death situation, the power plant workers known as the “Fukushima 50”, including shift supervisor Izaki and plant manager Yoshida, remain on the site until the bitter end. As the world holds its breath, the Fukushima 50 fight for their hometown, their families, and the future of Japan.

‘Far Western’ is a little bit country, a little bit the country of Japan

We like to think of Far Western as a little bit country, a little bit the country of Japan.

It was in the early years immediately following World War II, during the occupation of Japan by the U.S. forces, that Western influences began to dramatically change Japanese popular culture. The Far East Network (FEN), established just after WWII to broadcast American content to soldiers, played a big part. The simple, curious sounds of the West drew in a Japanese audience, disillusioned with their parents’ culture and the restrictions of the old Japanese society.

Far Western (Corinth Films) is a feature-length documentary from filmmaker James Payne that tells the phenomenal story of the transplant of American country music to post-World War II Japan. Nearly 70 years later, for a devoted group, the music has become a lifelong obsession.

Part music history and part character portrait, the fascinating story is told through the lives of musicians, fans, and live-music venue owners. Set both in modern Japan and the American South, the flick explores the uncanny ability of a simple form of music to cross geographic and language barriers, forming a strange cultural bridge between the two countries. Now, these Japanese musicians have made their own pilgrimages back to America, to the birthplace of the music, playing in honky-tonks and festivals in America.
Musicians featured in the doc include Japan’s unofficial ambassador of County Music, Charlie Nagatani, an 80-year-old owner of a honky-tonk in Kumomoto who plays moire than 300 shows a year with his house band, The Cannonballs and has played the Grand Ole Opry more than 20 times; Hisashi and Yasushi Ozaki, who are are credited for forming the first bluegrass band in Japan and were the first Japanese to be inducted to the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame; Masuo Sasabe and Blueside of Lonesome, now one of the most popular traditional Americana acts in Japan; Juta Sagai, a devotee of Jimmie Rodgers and Woody Guthrie and a key figure in Japan’s bluegrass history, Toru Mitsui, the foremost musicologist on American country music in Japan and more.
Terrific sounds of music, country crooners without a Dolly or Dwight or Reba or Keith sight.

Fukushima 50′: The true story of the strongest earthquake in Japan’s history. Ouch!

We do love those end-of-the-world flicks. Tidal waves, mutants creatures caused by underworld explosions, nuclear attacks, overgrown sharks and octopi or alien attacks.
Now we have tk.
And this was based on a true story.
 Fukushima 50 (Capelight Pictures) occurs in Japan’s Tohoku Region: At a magnitude of 9.0, the strongest earthquake in the country’s history strikes, triggering a huge tsunami and carnage that would end up killing thousands of people and displacing many more. It mercilessly engulfs the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, causing a crippling station blackout.

Unable to be cooled, the nuclear reactors quickly turn into hydrogen bombs at the brink of explosion. If the power plant is abandoned, Japan’s destruction is assured. Facing a life or death situation, the power plant workers known as the “Fukushima 50”, including shift supervisor Izaki and plant manager Yoshida, remain on the site until the bitter end.
As the world holds its breath, the Fukushima 50 fight for their hometown, their families, and the future of Japan.

‘The Interrogation’ recreates the final interrogation of the infamous horror Nazi before his execution.

Bear witness to pure evil (other than watching Adolph Frump stoking racism) with a landmark film in which an Israeli director-for the very first time–gives voice to Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss, the longest serving commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp. As fascinating as it is disturbing , The Interrogation (Corinth Films) recreates the final interrogation of the infamous Nazi before his execution. The film is based on the bastard’s autobiography, The Commandant of Auschwitz.

In 1946, Höss was discovered by British troops in Gottrupel, Germany, disguised as a gardener after his whereabouts were divulged by his wife, believing that the betrayal would result in their son’s safety. Shortly afterward, the notorious commandant was taken to the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and later handed over to the Supreme National Tribunal in Poland, which sentenced him to death by hanging.
While he was imprisoned and awaiting trial, he was interrogated at length to extract a perfect confession. The assigned interrogator: Albert Piotrowski, a young, successful investigative judge, who also happened to be fluent in German. With the language barrier erased, and a level of comfort attained, their chilling encounter brings to shocking life the horrifying, yet normalized, Auschwitz routines, and the banalization of evil that shook the world to its core.

Douglas Kirkland career further develops, thanks to the documentary ‘That Click’

He’s shot them all . . . perhaps we should say he photographed them all.
A man at the cutting edge of fashion, photojournalism and portraiture, photographer to the stars Douglas Kirkland has, with his camera, portrayed more than 60 years of pop culture. Famed for his legendary shoots with Hollywood favorites including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and stars of more than 150 motion pictures (think The Sound of Music, Moulin Rouge, Titanic, The Great Gatsby, not to mention the times I hired him for a Redbook cover session), Kirkland’s unique style and approach have resulted in hundreds of beautiful, immortal images that still influence the world today, decades after that first fateful click of the camera.
That Click (Omnibus Entertainment) documents his genius: The fascinating documentary portrait, nominated for Best Documentary at the American Documentary Film Festival and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, takes a closer look at  his astonishing career, from his very first assignments at Look in the 50s to Vanity Fair in the present, with contributing cast including Sharon Stone, Nicole Kidman, Michelle Williams, Baz Luhrmann and Andy Garcia.

In 1995, Kirkland received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Motion Pictures Society of Operating Cameramen, and he currently lives and works in Hollywood Hills, CA.  Today, his photographs are held in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery in London, the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., among others.
Watch it, and see what develops.

Finally on Blu-ray: Alastair Sim’s brilliant dual role in the gem “The Belles of St. Trinian’s”

Perhaps best remembered as Ebenezer Scrooge in the classic 1951 film A Christmas Carol, Scottish character actor Alastair Sim became a leading star of British cinema after spending five years as a lecturer of elocution at the University of Edinburgh. One of the best-loved and most prolific actors in classic British comedy, Sim, who often appeared in multiple roles, starred in more than 50  films beginning in 1935 and was both critically acclaimed and unfailingly popular, regularly topping the cinema-goers popularity polls.
Now, a master class in comedy is in session with The Belles of St. Trinian’s, a beloved 1954 classic directed by Frank Launder. Credit Film Movement with the mist-welcome gift.

 The anarchic schoolgirls of St. Trinian’s are more interested in men and mischief than homework and hockey, but even greater trouble beckons with the arrival of two new students: Princess Fatima of Makyad and the return of recently expelled Arabella Fritton, who has a kidnapping scheme on her mind.
Based on the cartoons of Ronald Searle, The Belles of St. Trinian’s is one of the most celebrated British comedies of all time, spanning several sequels and featuring the incomparable Alastair Sim in dual roles as headmistress Miss Millicent Fritton and her twin brother, Clarence.
BONUS FEATURES
  • The Girls of St. Trinian’s featurette
  • Interview with film historian Geoff Brown
  • Interview with Dr. Melanie Williams, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, UEA
  • Interview with Alastair Sim’s daughter, Merlith McKendrick
  • Interview with Steve Chibnall, Professor of British Cinema, De Montfort University

The first time I met Cher, I handed her a bouquet of roses stolen from a cemetery…

Some stars are beautiful, some are talented, some have incredible real hair (think Crystal, Cher). Even Cher’s wigs are pretty hair-raising.

Which brings me to the first time I met Cher. She and Sonny were performing at the Westchester Premier Theatre in the ’70s. (Theater long closed, think Mafia.)

I handed Cher a bouquet of roses stolen from a nearby cemetery; they were fresh, no dead person’s name was attached and hey, I saved money.  She took them from me, ran her finger through my fair and said, “You have great hair!” (Yep, something I am still known for.)

And now, it’s Time-Life that presents a hair-raising experience: The Best of Cher, a five-disc DVD collection that has got you, babe.

From the sequined ’60s to the rocking ’90s and beyond, no one has kept delighting us, surprising us and entertaining us like Cher.

The inimitable multi-hyphenate superstar continues to shine brightly and this spectacular set, packed with unforgettable music, classic comedy and fabulous outfits, includes:
  • 10 star-studded episodes of Cher with guest appearances by such icons as Charo, Ray Charles, Elton John, The Muppets, Linda Ronstadt, Raquel Welch
  • Special appearances on The Dick Cavett Show (1975) and Dinah! (1975)
  • Bonus interviews with Cher, Lily Tomlin, Bob Mackie and producer George Schlatter

“Mafia Inc”: Based on true events of Canada’s most infamous crime clan, even the DVD cover scares the shit out of us

Hey, we’re from New York. We had relatives who lived in Da Bronx, Sicily, Rome. We’ve seen crime. And we are not being stereotypical. We are being truthful, and we no longer worry about cement shows.
Then we saw Mafia Inc. Gulp. Even the DVD cover scares the shit out of us. The film is based on true events of Canada’s most infamous crime clan. No sugar-coated fake blood stuff here.

1994. Frank Paterno (played by Sergio Castellitto), a Montreal mafia boss, hopes to legitimize his criminal operations by investing $180 million in an ambitious bridge project that would connect Sicily with southern Italy. First, however, he has to recover the necessary funds from his Greek creditor. Frank entrusts this mission to his protégé Vincent (Marc-André Grondin), the son of tailor Henri Gamache (Marc-André Grondin), who has been dressing the Paternos for three generations. But after Vincent executes a ruthless plan to smuggle millions in drugs out of Venezuela, his reprehensible tactics ignite a war between the two families.

Forget bunnies and Peeps: Michael Paré & Nicholas Turturro offer a thrilling Easter treat

And you thought the Easter Bunny only brought baskets and fake grass, Welcome The Penthouse, starring Michael Paré and Nicholas Turturro. The dark, gripping thriller premieres on Digital, On Demand and DVD April 13 from Lionsgate.

This flick proves that evil lurks where we least expect it. In sunny Carolina Beach, Peter and Amanda’s new penthouse condo has a perfect view of the marina. One day, they notice a couple bickering aboard a docked sailboat, and Amanda befriends the frightened Tess, who soon vanishes without a trace.  Peter confronts Tess’s boyfriend, Charles, who vows to make the nosy couple’s life a living hell, stopping at nothing until he gets revenge.

Time-Life offers the time of your life: The top-notch 10-DVD country collection “Austin City Limits”

If we said it once, we say it again, Time-Life offers the time of your life.

For the first time ever, iconic country music performances from Austin City Limits, the longest-running music show in television history, are captured in one deluxe DVD collection. Time Life and Austin City Limits have captured five decades of uncut performances from country music’s biggest stars in Austin City Limits Country. This one-of-a-kind 10-DVD collection features the best performances from over 40 years of legendary music shows and is available only at TimeLife.com/ACL.

Since its launch in 1974, Austin City Limits has held a special connection to country music. Beloved by artists and fans alike, the show is known for authentic music presented in live and uncut performances. The collection has been hand-selected from countless episodes in the Austin City Limits archives to highlight the greatest country performances from artists who have made history on the ACL stage.
“This collection represents not only some of the best singers in modern country music, but the songs that we will never forget,” recalls Austin City Limits Executive Producer Terry Lickona, who has booked the show for over four decades. “What has always made country music special to me is the song. Despite popular trends and production gimmicks, the song is still the heart and soul of the music. A great song is timeless.”

Austin City Limits Country includes performances by country’s finest from legends like Loretta Lynn, Marty Robbins, Charley Pride and Waylon Jennings to superstars like Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Dolly Parton, and Garth Brooks plus today’s greats including Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and Chris Stapleton. The collection includes a special free bonus disc: The original Austin City Limits 1974 pilot episode featuring a complete Willie Nelson concert.
Time Life cordially invites country music fans everywhere to experience these wonderful performances, collaborations, bonus interviews, and more. Available now exclusively at TimeLife.com/ACL, this hand selected country music treasure includes:
  • 164 live, uncut performances from 1974 –2018 featuring country legends and superstars performing their biggest hits including Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain,” Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” George Strait’s “Amarillo By Morning,” Reba McEntire’s “Whoever’s In New England,” Vince Gill’s “Whenever You Come Around,” Alan Jackson’s “Livin’ On Love,” and Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying.”
  • Unforgettable collaborations including Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson performing “Crazy,” Vince Gill and Patty Loveless singing “After The Fire Is Gone,” and Sheryl Crow and Kris Kristofferson performing “Me And Bobby McGee.”
  • Special moments including Roger Miller singing “Old Friends” with Willie Nelson, Vince Gill singing “Amie” with Pure Prairie League, and Dwight Yoakam and Buck Owens singing “Streets of Bakersfield.”
  • Bonus interviews with the stars including Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton, Keith Urban, and more!
  • FREE Bonus DVD: The Austin City Limits 1974 pilot episode featuring a complete Willie Nelson concert!
  • PLUS: An exclusive collectible memory book