Category Archives: DVDs

Paramount Home Media Distribution draws a winner’s circle ’round “Drawn Together: The Complete Collection”

For those if you who feel drawn together to watch so funny TV, may we suggest Drawn Together, the small-screen’s first animated reality show. The fun throws together eight cartoon archetypes, including a party-hearty superhero, a naive princess prone to singing, and a sexually ambiguous anime hero, in a house where cameras are on them all the time. As with most other reality shows, conflict ensues.

Available for the first time in one set, all three uncensored seasons of the irreverent parody series plus the 2010 feature film The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie! are packed in Drawn Together: The Complete Collection.  The 7-DVD, wonderfully presented by Paramount Home Media Distribution, set also includes loads of bonus features such as deleted scenes, audio commentary, karaoke sing-a-longs and interviews.

A plethora of must-see, must-have films, docs and specials from PBS Distribution

A slew of  DVDs have been released by PBS Distribution. We may he been a little late in bringing you the news, but trust us: These releases are must-see, must-own treats!

Enjoy a special night of music from the composer of Mary Poppins a other beloved Disney gems. Richard M. Sherman: Songs of a Lifetime features a landmark solo performance by the legendary Disney composer, whom with his brother Robert, composed some of the most beloved songs of all time, including music for Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book.

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Don Hahn brings this once-in-a-lifetime concert to the screen, filmed entirely at historic EastWest Studio in Hollywood where Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and the Beach Boys famously recorded their albums. A brilliant cast of performers joins Richard, including the star of Broadway’s Mary Poppins Ashley Brown, as well as Juliana Hansen, Wesley Alfvin, and The Dapper Dans of Disneyland.


Rare: Creatures of the Photo Ark is a captivating three-part series that follows renowned National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore as he documents threatened species at zoos, in nature preserves, and in the wild. Throughout the program scientists and naturalists reveal surprising and important information about why ensuring the future of these animals is so critical.

When complete, the Photo Ark will be one of the most comprehensive records of the world’s biodiversity. Through the film, audiences can journey with Sartore across the globe—to Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania—to chronicle his experiences.


Frontline: Life on Parole is a insightful documentary that explores how Connecticut is rethinking its parole program. More than two years in the making, the program is a remarkable, firsthand look at why some people stay out of jail, why some go back, and how one state is trying to break the cycle of recidivism.

About half of all inmates put on parole in the U.S. end up violating the terms of their release and are sent back to prison. Parole is a condition that offers a taste of freedom but comes with strict prohibitions on whom you can live with, where you can go, what time you have to be home, and more. But across the country, states are trying to change the way their parole systems work in an effort to lower recidivism rates and reduce prison populations.

With unique access inside Connecticut’s corrections system, as well as camera-phone footage filmed by the parolees themselves, the film follows four former prisoners as they navigate the challenges of more than a year on parole—from finding work, to staying sober, to parenting—and doing it all while under intense supervision from the state.


It’s one of the best series on TV. The new season has already garnered lavish praise. During the recent UK broadcast, The Telegraph (London) was delighted to find that “Corfu was still sun-drenched, the titular family of lovable eccentrics remained in perpetual chaos and … the tone was, as before, one of warm nostalgia and deep, abiding silliness.” And The Guardian (London) hailed Season 2 as “sweet, and charming, and pretty, and funny…. [It’s] that rather nice thing: Sunday night family drama entertainment.”

Welcome to the release of The Durrells in Corfu Season 2. Inspired by the beloved memoirs of Gerald Durrell, The Durrells in Corfu features Keeley Hawes as Louisa Durrell, the harried widowed mother of a brood of recalcitrant children (this season ages 12 to 22). Louisa moves the floundering family from England to Corfu in the mid 1930s to recharge their lives—hers included.

The new season finds the family in dire financial straits, as usual. They have a new landlady, Vasilia, an island beauty who holds a mysterious grudge against Louisa and insists on prompt payment of the rent. And then . . . think we’re giving it all away? Tune in!


 

 

The best treat this Halloween? Think Karloff, Whale and an “Old Dark House”

Who’s giving out the best treats this Halloween? His name is Charles S. Cohen, a kind man who just happens to be Chairman and CEO of Cohen Media Group. Just in time for Halloween, his company is releasing the landmark 1932 thriller The Old Dark House, starring Boris Karloff. The home video release, on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms,  features the dazzling new 4K digital restoration that was screened to wide acclaim at the 2017 Venice Film Festival.
Based on J.B. Priestley’s popular novel Benighted, this legendary classic was directed by James Whale in the fertile period between his Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. In The Old Dark House, Whale puts a surprising spin on horror film conventions even as he is creating them, adding black humor and sexual perversity that was eye-opening in 1932.
A quintessential dark and stormy night brings a group of travelers to a forbidding mansion in the Welsh countryside, where they find themselves at the mercy of the strange, and possibly dangerous, Femm family. Boris Karloff is, as always, unforgettable, here playing a mute, menacing butler. The superb cast also includes Gloria Stuart, who would star in James Cameron’s Titanic 65 years later, Melvin Douglas, Charles Laughton, Raymond Massey and moviedom’s favorite aunty, Ernest Thesiger.

Bonus features on the Blu-ray and the DVD include a new interview with Sara Karloff, daughter of Boris Karloff; the featurette Curtis Harrington Saves The Old Dark House; a feature-length audio commentary track by Gloria Stuart; a feature-length audio commentary track by James Whale biographer James Curtis, and the 2017 re-release trailer.

Cohen Media Group offers two more gems, must-see looks at Julian Schnabel and Bertrand Tavernier

We are always delighted whenever we hear what treasures Cohen Media Group will be releasing on DVD and Blu-ray. The duo of November treats makes us tell the fine folk at Cohen thanks, yet again!

First up: He has been one of the art world’s most successful and controversial figures of the past 30 years. And a new film offers an intimate look at his life and work.  Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait arrives on Cohen Media Group Blu-ray and DVD, as well as digital platforms, on November 7.

The flick chronicles the personal life and public career of the celebrated artist and filmmaker. Written and directed by Italy’s Pappi Corsicato, the film details the Brooklyn-born Schnabel’s formative years in Brownsville, Texas; the beginning of his professional career in New York City in the late ’70s; and his rise in the ’80s to superstar status in Manhattan’s art scene as well as international acclaim as a leading figure in the Neo-Expressionism movement.
As the film details, Schnabel came to be acknowledged for his extroverted, excessive approach to his work and life (frequently seen in silk pajamas, he lives and works in Montauk, Long Island, and in a 170-foot-tall pink Venetian-styled palazzo in Manhattan’s West Village) as he moved into filmmaking with 1996’s Basquiat. He has since directed four other films, including the award-winning Before Night Falls (2000) and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007).

With a kaleidoscopic blend of material from Schnabel’s personal archives, newly shot footage of the artist at work and play, and commentary from friends, family, actors and artists including Al Pacino, gallery owner Mary Boone, Jeff Koons, Bono and Laurie Anderson (not to mention Schnabel himself) Corsicato creates a fascinating and revealing portrait of the modern art world’s most boisterous and provocative maverick.

Then there’s My Journey Through French Cinema, in which Bertrand Tavernier, one of modern cinema’s most revered directors, gives a personal guided tour of his country’s film history. The mammoth, stirring and widely acclaimed undertaking will arrive on Cohen Media Group Blu-ray and DVD, as well as digital platforms, on  November 21.

Tavernier became an internationally acclaimed director with his first feature, 1974’s The Clockmaker, and in the more than four decades since, he has created such classically rigorous masterpieces as The Judge and the Assassin, Coup de Torchon, A Sunday in the Country, Life and Nothing But and It All Starts Today. Now, in My Journey Through French Cinema, he looks back over his nation’s rich, complicated legacy in a deeply rewarding and highly personal documentary that is both educational and revelatory.

He discusses and shows copious clips from films he enjoyed as a boy to those of his contemporaries and his own early career. The three-hour-plus film is told through portraits of key creative figures, including such towering directors as Jean Renoir, Marcel Carné, Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol and Jean-Pierre Melville, as well as Jean Gabin (regarded by many as the “French Spencer Tracy”) and the composers who’ve added so much to the films.

Leonard Maltin perhaps raved the best: “This is a tapestry of French cinema like no other.  Bertrand has given film lovers around the world a gift that can never be repaid.”

“Indiscretion” is a stylish, steamy thriller. Mira Sorvino is sizzling!

What a professional woman expects will be just a quick and harmless tryst with a handsome young artist becomes her worst nightmare in the sizzling new drama Indiscretion, starring Mira Sorvino. The seductive, steamy thriller arrives on MPI Home Video on November 14.

While her politician husband (Cary Elwes) and precocious teenage daughter (Katherine McNamara) are away, New Orleans psychiatrist Veronica Simon (Sorvino) enjoys a weekend fling with Victor (Christopher Backus), an alluring young sculptor. But after Veronica calls off the affair, Victor refuses to let go . . . and will stop at nothing to have Veronica for himself. Just how far will Victor go to get what he wants, and is there anything Veronica can do to stop his mad obsession before it destroys her family?
 
From filmmaking team Laura Boersma and John Stewart Muller (Fling) and guaranteed to appeal to fans of Unfaithful, Enough and Unforgettable (and perhaps Harvey Weinstein) this stylish psychological thriller reveals a woman pushed to the edge–who finds she must fight for what’s truly important to her or lose it all trying.

Spirited teen Anne of Green Gables returns with a few Good Stars

She’s back. And as spirited a teen as ever. On November 7, PBS Distribution will release Anne of Green Gables: The Good Stars on DVD. This is the second installment of the classic best-selling Lucy Maud Montgomery story returns after the successful Thanksgiving 2016 premiere, which reached more than 3.2 million viewers.

In this installment, Anne Shirley turns 13 and faces complex situations with friends, learns from inspirational adults, and experiences an escalating friendship with Gilbert. Her free-spirited nature is challenged by her perceived need to be sensible, a journey fraught with confusion and some unfortunate—albeit amusing—(mis)adventures.

The program, written and directed by John Kent Harrison will once again star a trio of good stars: critically-acclaimed Martin Sheen as Matthew Cuthbert, along with the return of Ella Ballentine as Anne Shirley and Sara Botsford as Marilla Cuthbert.

Also starring:  Prince Edward Island.

 

“Craft in America” proves there are strong connections between the U.S. and Mexico

Despite what some idiots insist, there is a strong connection between America and Mexico. The proof can be found in Craft in America: Borders & Neighbors. PBS Distribution releases the DVD on November 21; the programs will also be available for digital download.

Craft in America, the Peabody Award-winning documentary series, is an inspirational journey to the artists, objects, techniques, and origins of American craft. Borders & Neighbors delve into the artistic heritage of Mexico and how it has contributed to our country’s creative landscape. These episodes will shine light on personal stories, cross cultural perspectives and historic context and will provide new avenues for community and understanding, stimulating critical thinking about the relationships between the U.S. and Mexico.

Borders explores the relationships and influences that Mexican and American craft artists have on each other and our cultures. We begin in Los Angeles with the Day of the Dead celebration, master altar builder Ofelia Esparza and Self Help Graphics & Art, the organization that first brought this event to the U.S. in the ’70s. We travel to Oaxaca, Mexico to experience Día de Muertos and to meet the Vásquez family of weavers who have revived and continue centuries-old methods in their craft, integrating ancestral Zapotec motifs into their work. American artist Jim Bassler, who lived and worked in Oaxaca for many years, takes us to the Oaxaca Textile Museum where we see contemporary and historical weavings made with feathers.

Craft in America: Borders and Neighbors [DVD] - Front_Standard

Jim and his wife, potter Veralee Bassler, then lead us back to Los Angeles, to the colorful Oaxacan Guelaguetza festival and parade. We visit with Jim and Veralee at their home studio in Palm Springs, which is filled with Mexican folk art, long connected to the mid-century design aesthetic in America. Back in Oaxaca we meet Chicago artist Kiff Slemmons who works with maestro Francisco Toledo to create innovative and beautiful paper jewelry at the Art Paper Workshop, where artisans are practicing the ancient art of papermaking using local plants. This episode reveals that art is without borders. It is a pathway for creativity and the connections that make us all human.

Neighbors takes viewers to and from the U.S. and Mexico, exploring the people, history, traditions and crafts, noting how aesthetics cross over from one country to another and back again in a living and ongoing cultural exchange. We meet California ceramic artist Gerardo Monterrubio, whose work is inspired by murals as well as contemporary art forms such as graffiti and prison tattoos and drawings. We travel to Oaxaca, Mexico to meet ceramic artist Magdalena Pedro Martínez at work on her series of black clay female figures dressed in traditional indigenous attire. We also watch as her brother, world-renowned artist Carlomagno Pedro Martínez, creates clay figures of Zapotec characters and stories. Los Angeles glass artist Jaime Guerrero, born of parents who emigrated from Mexico, creates life size glass sculptures that represent children at the border. We film him at his studio in L.A. and at the state-of-the-art facilities at the Corning Museum of Glass in New York.

We return to Mexico where in the ’30s, Taxco became a center for jewelry production through the entrepreneurship of American architect and designer William Spratling. We meet a new generation of jewelry designers, including Carmen Tapia, Miguel Angel Ortiz Miranda, Cristina Romo and Eduardo Herrera, who are carrying on the art of silversmithing in new and modern ways. We explore murals in Los Angeles with Judy Baca and other artists who carry on the traditions of Mexican maestros Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco.

Cecil B. DeMille’s 102-year-old silent finds a “Captive” audience among cinema fans

Olive Films, truly a company to be revered for its interest in restoring and releasing films thought lost, has come up with yet another real winner.  The Captive, directed by a 34-year-old Cecil B. DeMille, is an amazing time capsule, showing a film maker’s early steps to understanding and exploiting  the new art form.

Image result for the captive demille poster

This is not a sword-and-swashbuckling lust-and-religion epic that modern audiences have come to expect from DeMille, but a small and delicate story about the triumph of love against all odds.

Older brother Marko, younger sister Sonia and cute little brother Milos live in a Balkan country at war with the Turks.  The older brother is killed. However, the conflict goes against the Turks, and prisoners are forced to aid families of the country where the older sister and little tyke live.  A Turkish nobleman, Mahmud Hassan, Bey of Karvan, is charged with serving Sonia and her young brother.  Yet DeMille steers the film into compelling territory: The sister and the nobleman fall in love, the Turks attack their cottage, threaten to kill and eat the tyke’s baby goat, as well as the usual rape and pillage.

How else can this end? The Turkish nobleman saves the day, clobbers a couple of Turks, and proposes to Sonia, who rejects him because he is of noble birth and she a simple peasant. Crushed, the Turk returns home, only to be stripped of all honors because of the aforesaid clobbering, so he hits the dusty road. Our heroine’s home is destroyed by more marauding Turks, and she hits the same dusty road with tyke and adorable goat, and, with the magic of cinema, they meet, embrace and  live happily ever after.

This rather ponderous detailing of what is an amazingly fast film— well under an hour—shows DeMille’s narration pile scene upon scene to construct the narrative.  The realism is amazing, the Turkish hoards are of reasonable  size, and the characters and relationships are developed, like building blocks, with nary a tease or  jump in logic, clearly the touch of genius is there.
Blanche Sweet and Page Peters (no relation to House), who plays her older brother.

The now-forgotten Blanche Sweet is a revelation in realistic film acting. The camera adores her; she is radiant in her every scene . Neither cloying nor plucky, she is completely convincing as the peasant girl who grows up and finds love.  The amorous Turk is played by House Peters, and the little tyke by Gerald Ward, two names perhaps even more obscure than Sweet.  The goat is suitably sympathetic.

For a film made 102 years ago, Olive has done a masterful job recreating the original color tinting on what appears to be a complete print thought lost for years. The Blu-ray is brilliant. If you enjoy silent films, get this, and if you have little experience with these period films you’d go far to find a better film reproduced in better condition.

Luke Hemsworth gives a star turn as “Wild Bill” Hickok, the actor’s first lead in a feature film

You’ve heard of the infamous legend.  Now you can meet him. Sort of.

Welcome to Hickok.

Following its theatrical release, the action-packed saga of the “Wild Bill” Hickok has rolled onto 4K UHD + BD and DVD. In the hopes of escaping his past as a notorious outlaw,  seeks redemption as a small town lawman.  Unfortunately, as the titular gunslinger discovers, the past has a way of catching up with you in Hickok, a frontier thriller starring Luke Hemsworth in his first leading role in a feature film; the period Western from Cinedigm and Status Media also stars Bruce Dern and country cronners Trace Adkins and Kris Kristofferson.

The story of the West’s most notorious gunslinger and his road to redemption, Hickok finds the infamous, hard-drinking outlaw (Hemsworth) in 1870’s Abilene, Kansas, seeking to start a new life.  Captivated by Wild Bill’s unparalleled gun skills, the mayor, George Knox, (Kristofferson) quickly ropes him in as the town marshal.  Recognizing the need to clamp down on the wildest cow-town in the west, Hickok soon finds himself at the center of a controversial ordinance while dispensing his own brand of frontier justice.
His attempts to protect Abilene, however, are quickly challenged by a band of outlaws led by powerful saloon owner Phil Poe (Adkins).  And when Poe places a bounty on Wild Bill’s head, the marshal, with the help of outlaw turned lawman John Wesley Hardin, makes a stand for Abilene and his new life, while putting his reputation as the fastest draw in the west on the line.
Shot on the dusty, turn-of-the-century sets like Melody Ranch (also home to HBO’s Westworld), the action-packed HICKOK, directed by Timothy Woodward Jr. and written by Michael Lanahan, is filled with gritty authenticity.  Variety calls it “a respectfully sincere retelling of a familiar legend,” and of Hemsworth’s star turn, The Hollywood Reporter declares, “following in the footsteps of such actors as Gary Cooper, Jeff Bridges and Sam Elliott, among many others, the burly Hemsworth proves more than credible with his portrayal of the iconic gunslinger.”

First Run Features makes a run to the top spot with a trio of new DVDs

We are speeding so fast to get you new First Run Features news that we may a ticket. It’s worth it. Now on DVD:

Speed Sisters
A film by Amber Fares
English & Arabic with English subtitles, 2016
The Speed Sisters are the first all-woman race car driving team in the Middle East. Grabbing headlines and turning heads at improvised tracks across the West Bank, these five women have sped their way into the heart of the gritty, male-dominated Palestinian street car-racing scene.
Weaving together their lives on and off the track, Speed Sisters takes you on a surprising journey into the drive to go further and faster than anyone thought you could.

Marinoni: The Fire in the Frame
A film by Tony Girardin
English, French & Italian w/ English subtitles, 2016
Giuseppe Marinoni found his calling when he transitioned from champion cyclist to master bike craftsman. But after years hunched over toxic fumes, his passion almost killed him. Today, at age 75, Marinoni is back in top shape, and decided to attempt the world hour record for his age group, all on a bike he built with his own hands almost 40 years ago.

Casablancas
A film by Hubert Woroniecki
When he created the Elite modeling agency in the ’70s, John Casablancas invented the concept of the “supermodel.” If names like Naomi, Cindy, Linda, Iman, Gisèle or Kate are part of popular culture today, it’s mostly his doing.
He lived a life many have dreamed about, surrounded by glamour and beauty. Now, John Casablancas tells his own story.