Category Archives: DVDs

NATURE explores “sea dragons”, Vikings and “living volcanoes”

Attenborough and the Sea Dragon
A remarkable chance discovery is about to reveal secrets that have laid hidden for 200 million years.  A “dragon” that ruled the ocean at the time of the dinosaurs was found in the eroding cliffs on the southeast coast of England called the Jurassic Coast. It’s an Ichthyosaur, a fish lizard. This fearsome predator had the very best characteristics of reptiles and mammals in one formidable package. It could regulate its own body temperature, had astonishingly acute eyesight, and an impressive set of blade-like teeth and powerful, gripping jaws to hunt and swallow its prey whole. As the forensic investigation unfolds, fossil hunter Chris Moore and his team stumble into the 200-million-year-old murder mystery of this extraordinary creature’s fate.

Sir David Attenborough hosts this detective story, from the challenging on-site extraction of the fossils to the 3D reconstruction of the creature. He looks at evidence from animals across the world to try and piece together how this super predator lived and died.


Wild Way of the Vikings
Narrated by Ewan McGregor, viewers experience the natural world through the eyes of the Vikings, when nature meets history in a journey showcasing the wildlife of the North Atlantic. Combining blue-chip natural history filmmaking and dramatic recreations, NATURE travels from Norway to Newfoundland, just as the seafaring warriors did in 1,000 A.D., to get a glimpse of the Vikings’ world in the Americas hundreds of years before Columbus.

Audiences will witness the deep history and cultural respect the Vikings had for the land and sea, from the puffins and otters of the Scottish coast to the vast herds of reindeer in Norway to the eider duck farms of Iceland. Viewers discover how the Vikings practiced the true spirit of the Wild Way of the Vikings: take everything that you need from nature, but value it for as long as you can.


Living Volcanoes
Our planet is bursting at the seams. Around the world, up to 30 volcanoes erupt every day–and hundreds more could explode at any moment. Meet the people and wildlife that live alongside these volcanoes, from Kilauea to Mount Etna. Discover how volcanoes cause destruction but also create and nurture life. At the “burning heart” of this documentary is a daring expedition of scientists and adventurers to one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes, located in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.

Viewers will take a terrifying descent into the Marum Crater with biologist Jeffrey Marlow, who risks a boiling lava lake to collect and analyze rock samples for signs of life. His discoveries could lead to a better understanding of the origins of life and a picture of what life might look like outside of Earth.

 

  • Street Date: April 30, 2019
  • Run Time: 53 minutes on 1 disc
  • SRP: DVD, $24.99
  • Format: DVD, Digital
  • Genre: Science & Nature: Earth

Two “American Masters” worth watching . . . and in one case, singing

Joseph Pulitzer
A groundbreaking exploration of a newspaper magnate whose work is largely unknown to wide audiences, though ironically, the prize he endowed in his will has become recognizable around the world. Pulitzer’s personal story is a riveting variation on the American Dream narrative. Pulitzer arrived in the United States during the Civil War as a penniless immigrant who spoke no English and proceeded to create two best-selling newspapers -and a major fortune.

This immigrant was famous in his own time for the outsized financial success of his newspapers and his outspoken, cantankerous editorial voice. From the start of his career as a journalist, Pulitzer championed what he regarded as the sacred role of the free press in a democracy.


Charley Pride: I’m Just Me
Narrated by Grammy-nominated country singer Tanya Tucker, this new documentary traces the improbable journey of Charley Pride, from his humble beginnings as a sharecropper’s son on a cotton farm in segregated Sledge, Mississippi, to his career as a Negro American League baseball player and his meteoric rise as a pioneering country music superstar.

Along with exclusive new interviews with Pride himself, the film incorporates original interviews with country music royalty, including Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and Marty Stuart, as well as on-camera conversations between Pride and special guests such as Rozene Pride (his wife of 61 years), Willie Nelson and fellow musicians.

Laugh loud and learn much with “George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy”

So he had 10 words he shouldn’t say.
Hear them (maybe) in George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy (MPI Home Video), broadcast live from the Wheeler Theater in Aspen, Colorado, was the great comedian’s 10th special for HBO.
Different from all of Carlin’s previous specials, this award-winning program is a career retrospective hosted by a young Jon Stewart, who conducts a lengthy interview with his comedic hero.
During the interview, Carlin talks about his early life and how his upbringing prepared him for a career in comedy.

Highlights from this special include Carlin performing three new, thought-provoking pieces of material— “Advertising,” “Pets” and “American Bullshit.” Some of the material performed here is unique to this special and was not repeated again.
This must-have DVD also features classic Carlin clips from the first four decades of his career – a treasure trove of the work of one of stand-up comedy’s most original, hilarious and enduring artists.

Kurt Russell and Alexis Bledel highlight “Crypto”, a gripping, timely cyber-thriller

When Wall Street banker Martin is sent to a bank branch in upstate New York, he uncovers suspicious cash flow through a local gallery selling million-dollar paintings. As the young agent is tasked with following a long trail of corruption and theft. During his investigation, he finds that the people involved are more powerful than he could have ever imagined. 
Such is the result with the current rise of cryptocurrency; people find ways to exploit the system and the global economy.

Welcome to Crypto. Kurt Russell and Alexis Bledel highlight this gripping, timely cyber-thriller. This searing action tale also stars Luke Hemsworth and Vincent Kartheiser.

The cyber-thriller will be available on Blu-ray (plus Digital), DVD and Digital on June 18 from Lionsgate.

Cohen Media Group to release the must-see “Shoah: Four Sisters”

Mark your calendar: On May 7, Cohen Media Group will release Palme d’Or winner Claude Lanzmann’s final film Shoah: Four Sisters on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms.
The film, completed shortly before Lanzmann’s death at 92 in July 2018, is the long-awaited follow-up to his monumental Shoah, which shook the world upon its release in 1985 as a profound cinematic memorial to the Holocaust.

In Shoah: Four Sisters, four Jewish women, survivors of unimaginable Nazi horrors during the Holocaust, tell their individual stories. Each of their testimonies was filmed more than 40 years ago as Lanzmann collected first-hand accounts in preparation for what would become the nine-and-a-half-hour Shoah.
Starting in 1999, Lanzmann made several films that could be considered satellites of Shoah, comprising interviews conducted in the ’70s that didn’t make it into the final, monumental work. In the last years of the director’s life, he decided to devote a film to each of four women from four different areas of Eastern Europe with four different destinies, each finding herself improbably alive after war’s end: Ruth Elias from Ostravia, Czechoslovakia; Paula Biren from Lodz, Poland; Ada Lichtman from further south in Krakow; and Hannah Marton from Cluj, or Kolozsvár, in Transylvania, Romania.
Survivors of unimaginable Nazi horrors during the Holocaust, these women tell their individual stories and become crucial witnesses to the barbarism they experienced. Each possesses a vivid intelligence and a commitment to candor that make their accounts of what they suffered both searing and unforgettable.
The four films that make up Shoah: Four Sisters are titled “The Hippocratic Oath,” “The Merry Flea,” “Noah’s Ark” and “Baluty,” and together they remind audiences of the immense courage it took for these witnesses to return to their painful past as they retell personal tragedies that represent the larger tragedy of the Holocaust.
Both the two-disc Blu-ray and two-disc DVD include a new conversation with globally renowned philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy moderated by Deborah Lipstadt at the Streicker Center in New York City.

Important books about film and film stars, published by the University Press of Kentucky.

Books about film and film stars—important books about film and film stars—are published by the University Press of Kentucky. Here is a handful of new and forthcoming film titles.

Legendary actress and two-time Academy Award winner Olivia de Havilland ($34.95) is renowned for her role as Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939). She often inhabited characters who were delicate, ladylike, elegant and refined. At the same time, she was a survivor with a fierce desire to direct her own destiny on and off the screen. She fought and won a lawsuit against Warner Bros. over a contract dispute that changed the studio contract system forever. She is also renowned for her long feud with her fellow actress and sister Joan Fontaine—a feud that lasted from 1975 until Fontaine’s death in 2013.

Author Victoria Amador utilizes extensive interviews and forty years of personal correspondence with de Havilland to present an in-depth look at the life and career of this celebrated actress .Amador begins with Havilland’s early life ( born in Japan in 1916 to a single mother and controlling stepfather) and her theatrical ambitions at a young age. The book then follows her career as she skyrocketed to star status, becoming one of the most well-known starlets in Tinseltown.

Readers are given an inside look at her love affairs with iconic cinema figures such as James Stewart, and John Huston, and her onscreen partnership with Errol Flynn, with whom she starred in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and Dodge City (1939 ). After she moved to Europe in the mid-’50s, de Havilland became the first woman to serve as the president of the Cannes Film Festival in 1965, and remained active but selective in film and television until 1988.

Olivia de HavillandLady Triumphant is a tribute to one of Hollywood’s greatest legends, who has evolved from a gentle heroine to a strong-willed, respected and admired artist


With celebrated works such as Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, and Gladiator, Ridley Scott has secured his place in Hollywood. This legendary director and filmmaker has had an undeniable influence on art and the culture of filmmaking, but is also a respected media businessman.

In Ridley Scott: A Biography ($40), Vincent LoBrutto delves into Ridley Scott’s oeuvre in a way that allows readers to understand the yin and yang of his exceptional career. Presented is a unique crosscut between the biographical facts of Scott’s personal life—his birth and early days in northeast England, his life in New York City— and his career in Hollywood as a director and producer of television commercials, TV series, miniseries and feature films.

Every film is presented, analyzed, and probed for a greater understanding of the visionary, his personality, and his thought process, for a deeper perception of his astounding work and accomplishments. The voices of cast and crew who have worked with Scott, as well as the words of the man himself, are woven throughout this book for a fully realized, critical biography, revealing the depth of the artist and his achievements.


The many con men, gangsters and drug lords portrayed in popular culture are examples of the dark side of the American dream. Viewers are fascinated by these twisted versions of heroic American archetypes, like the self-made man and the entrepreneur. Applying the critical skills he developed as a Shakespeare scholar, Paul A. Cantor finds new depth in familiar landmarks of popular culture in Pop Culture and the Dark Side of the American Dream:
Con Men, Gangsters, Drug Lords and Zombies ($40). He invokes Shakespearean models to show that the concept of the tragic hero can help us understand why we are both repelled by and drawn to figures such as Vito and Michael Corleone or Walter White.

Beginning with Huckleberry Finn and ending with The Walking Dead, Cantor also uncovers the link between the American dream and frontier life. In imaginative variants of a Wild West setting, popular culture has served up disturbing—and yet strangely compelling—images of what happens when people move beyond the borders of law and order. Cantor demonstrates that, at its best, popular culture raises thoughtful questions about the validity and viability of the American dream, thus deepening our understanding of America itself.


Throughout his career, Alfred Hitchcock had to deal with a wide variety of censors attuned to the slightest suggestion of sexual innuendo, undue violence, toilet humor, religious disrespect and all forms of indecency, real or imagined. From 1934 to 1968, the Motion Picture Production Code Office controlled the content and final cut on all films made and distributed in the United States. Code officials protected sensitive ears from standard four-letter words, as well as a few five-letter words like tramp and six-letter words like cripes. They also scrubbed “excessively lustful” kissing from the screen and ensured that no criminal went unpunished.

During their review of Hitchcock’s films, the censors demanded an average of 22.5 changes, ranging from the mundane to the mind-boggling, on each of his American films. Code reviewers dictated the ending of Rebecca (1940), absolved Cary Grant of guilt in Suspicion (1941), edited Cole Porter’s lyrics in Stage Fright (1950), decided which shades should be drawn in Rear Window (1954), and shortened the shower scene in Psycho (1960).

In Hitchcock and the Censors ($50), author John Billheimer traces the forces that led to the Production Code and describes Hitchcock’s interactions with code officials on a film-by-film basis as he fought to protect his creations, bargaining with code reviewers and sidestepping censorship to produce a lifetime of memorable films. Despite the often-arbitrary decisions of the code board, Hitchcock still managed to push the boundaries of sex and violence permitted in films by charming—and occasionally tricking—the censors and by swapping off bits of dialogue, plot points, and individual shots (some of which had been deliberately inserted as trading chips) to protect cherished scenes and images.

By examining Hitchcock’s priorities in dealing with the censors, this work highlights the director’s theories of suspense as well as his magician-like touch when negotiating with code officials.


 

“Master of Dark Shadows” takes viewers deep(er) into Collinwood

Baby Boomers have sunk their teeth into many small-screen shows, but was anything more darkly delicious than Dark Shadows?

Master of Dark Shadows (MPI Home Media), a comprehensive celebration of the legendary Gothic daytime series and its visionary creator, Dan Curtis, is a feature documentary about the undyingly popular story of vampire Barnabas Collins and all the eerie goings-on at the gloomy Maine mansion Collinwood. The documentary was directed by David Gregory.

Narrated by Ian McShane, Master of Dark Shadows offers insights from Curtis, in addition to Oscar-winning writer-producer Alan Ball, screenwriter William F. Nolan, author Herman Wouk, Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Steele and Ben Cross. Of course many members of the cast chime in, including Jonathan Frid, David Selby, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker, John Karlen, Nancy Barrett, Jerry Lacy, Roger Davis, Marie Wallace, Chris Pennock and James Storm.

In 1966, a phenomenon was launched when Dark Shadows debuted on ABC as a daily Gothic suspense series. Airing in the late afternoon, the show attracted a massive youth audience as it shifted to the supernatural with the introduction of vulnerable vampire Barnabas Collins. Witches, ghosts and scary story lines turned Dark Shadows into a TV classic that led to motion pictures, remakes, reunions and legions of devoted fans who have kept the legend alive for five decades.
The documentary reveals the fascinating history, far-reaching impact and lasting appeal of Dark Shadows with a compelling blend of rare footage and behind-the-scenes stories while also exploring the dramatic talents of creator-producer-director Dan Curtis.

“Frontline: Documenting Hate”, an in-depth investigation into today’s white supremacy groups in the U.S. is mandatory viewing.

Love survives hate. It overcomes it.

PBS Distribution’s Frontline: Documenting Hate, an in-depth, two-part investigation into today’s white supremacy groups in the U.S. and the violent attacks that have taken place as a result, is mandatory viewing. Divided into two parts, Charlottesville and New American Nazis, the documentary focuses on how each has played a major role in reinforcing hate in America.

In Charlottesville, correspondent A.C. Thompson methodically tracks down some of those at the center of the infamous and deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia—revealing that one participant in the violence was an active-duty Marine, and the other worked for a major defense contractor and held a U.S. government security clearance. This part also shows just how ill-prepared law enforcement was to handle an influx of white supremacists from across the country, some of whom had been part of a series of earlier violent confrontations in California and descended on Charlottesville specifically to fight.

The second part of the program, New American Nazis, presents a new investigation into white supremacist groups in America—in particular, a neo-Nazi group, Atomwaffen Division, that has actively recruited inside the U.S. Military. This joint investigation documents the group’s terrorist objectives, examines how civilian and military authorities have responded, and shows how the group gained strength after the 2017 Charlottesville rally. In the wake of the 2018 deadly anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, this program documents the rise and force behind these white supremacy groups.

MHz Choice releases three new international DVD box sets. Don’t know foreign languages? There are subtitles.

Bet you didn’t know we speak a few languages, other than English?
Really.
We’ve learned snatches of Spanish (¿Dónde está la biblioteca?).
Some bits of Swedish (Hur är det?).
And our fave, French. (Oui!)
Yet you won’t need to dust off the passport, international driver’s license and some old francs since, on May 28, MHz Choice releases three new international DVD box sets . . . even if you don’t know foreign languages, there are subtitles.
You do know how to read, don’t you?
FYI: Each season is also available as a separate DVD set. Order @ shopmhz.com.

From Spain
Velvet: The Complete Series Box Set (Seasons 1-4) 
Spain’s sexy, blockbuster television series takes you to the golden age of haute couture–late ’50s Madrid–where silk, sensuality and seduction flourish in a clothing emporium where everyone would like to go shopping at least once. Velvet Galleries is an Art Deco palace, a magical place of dazzling luxury and glamour. What shoppers don’t see, however, is the tender love story unfolding in the Galleries between humble dressmaker, Ana, and Alberto, the owner’s son and heir apparent.

Among elegant fabrics and haute-couture dresses, Ana and Alberto yield to their love, knowing full well that Alberto’s family opposes his relationship with a poor young employee. While Alberto rebels against family expectations, Ana, who longs to become a designer, struggles to assert herself as a creative personality. As family conflicts simmer, the star-crossed lovers Alberto and Ana fight for their destiny and pursue their forbidden love.


From France
Captain Marleau, Volumes 1 and 2
Captain Marleau (played by Corinne Masiero) has a hunter’s instinct, disguised under a deliberately offbeat veneer.  As she says herself, she doesn’t skim over cases, she plunges into them. Always on the prowl, she lies in wait for clues and her prey and takes them by surprise. In each episode, her hunt centers around a character
played by a famous actor…men and women who are a match for the outstanding cop.

Captain Marleau is the brainchild of French writer Elsa Marpeau, who describes her as a cross between Frances McDormand’s Marge Gunderson, Raymond Chandler’s literary creation, Philip Marlowe and Peter Falk’s, Columbo. The series is directed by another female French treasure, Josée Dayan. This team of women have created a policewoman who wears a parka and a Holden Caulfield hunting cap, dances and sings spontaneously, doesn’t care what others think of her and sees through lies with laser clarity. Her breezy manner and little red braids suggest Pippi Longstocking and believe the fact that she’s the smartest person in the room.  French audiences swooned over Captain Marleau, just like coroner Léopold Salaun (Jean-Claude Drouot) – because she’s a refreshing blast of crime-solving brilliance.


From Sweden
Miss Friman’s War
Meet the courageous group of women brave enough to take on both the male ruling classes of the day and a corrupt food industry. Savvy is their strategy and cans of healthy food are their weapons! It’s 1905 in Stockholm and Swedish lives are changing rapidly because of the introduction of new food safety technologies. Despite the advances, food poisoning epidemics are common among low income families and the line between different social groups remains clearly defined. The role of women also remains clearly defined, limited to hearth and home.

That is the situation Miss Dagmar Friman finds herself in when she returns to Stockholm after several years living in London. Miss Friman is more than a little headstrong and believes firmly in equal rights for women. She and her friends set out to open Swedish Homes, a grocery cooperative that sells unspoiled food at prices even workers can afford.  It’s a store for women, run by women and a revolutionary idea for its time. When the all-male board of the Stockholm Wholesale Association learn about the women’s business plan they start fighting back in any way they can, including illegal blockades. Unfazed, the women are determined to overcome all obstacles and open their Swedish Homes store on time.

“Sammy Davis , Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me” chronicles the career of the one-eyed wonder

Finally. PBS Distribution has released the new American Masters program, Sammy Davis , Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me,  the first major film documentary to examine the performer’s vast career and his journey for identity through the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress during 20th-century America. Sammy Davis, Jr. had the kind of career that was indisputably legendary, vast in scope and scale.

And yet, his life was complex, complicated and contradictory. Davis strove to achieve the American Dream in a time of racial prejudice and shifting political territory. He was a veteran of increasingly outdated show business traditions and worked tirelessly to stay relevant, even as he frequently found himself bracketed by the bigotry of white America and the distaste of black America. Davis was the most public black figure to embrace Judaism, thereby yoking his identity to that of another persecuted minority. In Duke Ellington’s words, he was “beyond category.”

Featuring interviews with such luminaries as Billy Crystal, Norman Lear, Jerry Lewis, Whoopi Goldberg and Kim Novak, with never-before-seen photographs from Davis’ vast personal collection and footage of his electric performances, this film explores the life and art of a uniquely gifted entertainer whose trajectory highlighted the major flashpoints of American society from the Depression through the ’80s.