Category Archives: DVDs

Bette Midler to star in an all-female version of “Ben-Hur”? Watch out Jack Huston!

We know the story well: Ben-Hur is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur, a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala, an officer in the Roman army.

The story’s highlight still remains the chariot race: Both the 1925 silent film version, starring gay icon Ramon Navarro as Ben-Hur, and the 1959 blockbuster with dead gun advocate Charlton Heston, remain memorable with Biblical proportions. (Three were two other adaptations of the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace: The 1907 silent film starring Herman Rottger and the 2003 animated film with Ben-Hur voiced by Heston. Wallace’s tome is in public domain: How about an all-female take, with Bette Midler as Bennette-Her?)800px-ben-hur-1925

A new version  hit theaters earlier this year, starring Jack Huston in the title role. Paramount Pictures’ and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures’ breathtaking action-adventure arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD December 13, from Paramount Home Media Distribution.  The film arrives two weeks early on Digital HD November 29.

BEN-HUR is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves (Nazanin Boniadi), Judah is forced into slavery. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption. Based on Lew Wallace’s timeless novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, the film also stars Rodrigo Santoro, Ayelet Zurer, Pilou Asbaek, Sofia Black D’Elia and Oscar winner Morgan Freeman.

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We treat you the the entire 1907 film, below.

The Ben-Hur Blu-ray Combo Pack with Digital HD features over an hour of bonus content including an in-depth look at the creation of the film’s spectacular chariot race, an exploration of the story’s legacy and enduring relevance, behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast, deleted and extended scenes, music videos from Andra Day, For King and Country and Mary Mary and more. In addition, for a limited time, the Blu-ray Combo Pack will include a $10 movie card that can be applied to the purchase of a ticket for any movie in theaters.

The combo pack includes access to a Digital HD copy of the film as well as the following:

Blu-ray

  • Feature film in high definition
  • Ben-Hur: The Legacy
  • The Epic Cast
  • A Tale for Our Times
  • The Chariot Race
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes
  • Music Videos

DVD

  • Feature film in standard definition

 

 

“Monday at 11:01 A.M.” is terrifying at any time of the day (or night)

 

A young couple find themselves in a beautiful yet eerie mountain town where everyone seems strangely familiar. While Jenny busies herself in a small antique shop, Michael wanders into the local watering hole. The bartender dares Michael to check out Olivia, a sultry brunette in the corner. After a drink, Michael takes him up on the offer and moves to sit next to her. The two begin an ominous flirtation with Olivia slipping him her phone number. monday-at-1101-am-poster

Michael and Jenny decide to stay overnight at the dimly lit and aging hotel. During the night Michael is jolted out of bed when he hears frantic screams from another room. When he calls the front desk for help, he is met with cold indifference. No one believes him . . . including Jenny. As his hallucinations become more real through a series of horrific events, Michael finds himself desperately trying to walk the line between reality and the terror that awaits him.

Welcome to Monday at 11:01 A.M.  The fright flick from K Street Pictures stars Charles Agron as Michael and Lauren Shaw as Jenny; the DVD and Blu-Ray also include a 20-minute behind-the-scenes discussion with co-stars Lance Henriksen and Charles Agron; director Harvey Lawry; and cinematographer Emmanuel Vouniozos.

When Donald Trump whined “This election is rigged”—he should know.  His buddies rigged it.

 

It’s been called “arguably the best pro-Civil Rights film made since 2014’s Selma.”  Welcome to The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits.

Rolling Stone investigative reporter Greg Palast busted Jeb Bush for stealing the 2000 election by purging Black voters from Florida’s electoral rolls. In Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Palast is back to take a deep dive into the Republicans’ dark operation, Crosscheck, designed to steal a million votes by November.

Crosscheck is controlled by a Trump henchman, Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State who claims his computer program has identified 7.2 million people in 29 states who may have voted twice in the same election—a felony crime.  The catch? Most of these ‘suspects’ are minorities—in other words, mainly Democratic voters. Yet the lists and the evidence remain “confidential.”

Palast and his investigative partner Leni Badpenny do what it takes to get their hands on the data, analyzing it to find the names of nearly one million Americans about to lose their vote by November.

They hunt down and confront Kobach with the evidence of his “lynching by laptop.”  Then they are off to find the billionaires behind this voting scam.  The search takes Palast from Kansas to the Arctic, the Congo and to a swanky Hamptons dinner party held by Trump’s sugardaddy, John Paulson, a.k.a. “JP The Foreclosure King.”  Palast and Badpenny stake out top GOP donors, the billionaire known as “The Vulture” and the Koch brothers, whom Palast nails with a damning tape recording.

In this real life detective story brought to life in a film noir style with cartoon animation, secret documents, hidden cameras and a little help from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit detectives Ice-T and Richard Belzer; Shailene Woodley; Rosario Dawson; Willie Nelson; and Ed Asner, Palast and his associates expose the darkest plans of the uber-rich to steal America’s democracy.

For the film, Graham Nash re-recorded his Crosby, Stills & Nash blockbuster hit “Chicago,” re-writing the words to reference Ohio, the most crucial swing state in the coming election. Cartoons are by Emmy award-winning artist Keith Tucker.

Vote to assure you see it.

Dig in! Chef Vivian Howard offers a mighty tasty fourth season of “A Chef’s Life”

More food for thought, brought in a delicious serving by PBS Distribution: The release of the Peabody and Emmy-winning docu-series A Chef’s Life, Season 4 on DVD. (The program is also available for digital download.) The character-driven series takes viewers inside the life and kitchen of acclaimed Chef Vivian Howard and her restaurants located in the low country of eastern North Carolina.

This season Vivian takes viewers on a culinary journey that stretches from Kinston to Portland to the Big Apple. Things kick off in melodic gear with a benefit dinner where The Avett Brothers play second fiddle and spring onions take center stage. The program explores a lush landscape of watermelon, sunchokes, field peas, catfish, mayo and other unlikely food stars.

The program spans both American coasts, and the self-professed “Collard Queen” cooks cabbage and crowns it king. Vivian also realizes a longtime dream and embraces her new role as cookbook author;  this season takes viewers into the high-pressure and rewarding business of book writing. Major staff changes at the restaurant, a heavier workload and the drama of heightened emotions make each portion of this fourth season all the more delicious.

Some more tasty info: The program won a Peabody Award in 2014, a Daytime Emmy Award in 2015 and a James Beard Award in 2016.  Dig in!

“The Durrells in Corfu” is rewarding, though producers are under fire for “straight-washing”

We promise this won’t be Greek to you. Indeed, the PBS Masterpiece drama The Durrells in Corfu is a terrific event. Keeley Hawes stars as an intrepid widow who decamps from dreary 1930s England to a sun-dappled Greek island with her four recalcitrant children, ages 11 to 21, in this adaptation of conservationist Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals and its two sequels.

Missed it on the tube? The Durrells in Corfu is now on Blu-ray and DVD; the program will also be available for digital download.

Co-starring with Hawes, who plays Louisa Durrell, are Josh O’Connor as her eldest son, Larry, the instigator of the family’s sudden move to Corfu and a budding writer on his way to becoming the famous novelist Lawrence Durrell; newcomer Callum Woodhouse as son number two, Leslie, an impulsive firearms enthusiast; Daisy Waterstone as daughter Margo, a man-crazy teen; and Milo Parker as 11-year-old Gerry, who only has eyes for wildlife and grew up to be a world-renowned naturalist.

Also appearing are Alexis Georgoulis as Spiros, a Greek taxi driver and all-around fixer for the disoriented Durrells; Yorgos Karamihos as Dr. Theo Stephanides, Gerry’s zoological soulmate; and Ulric von der Esch as Sven, a handsome Swedish expat, living his own bucolic fantasy on Corfu, into which he entangles Louisa.

A tight budget and desperation—not holiday-making—originally drive the Durrells to sink their meager savings into boat fare to Corfu, where they hope to find a refuge more welcoming for their unconventional ways than the stuffy UK. They arrive on an island with no beach resorts, night clubs, tourist shops, or even electricity—for this is 1935. What Corfu does have is endless opportunity for living, loving, shooting and animal collecting—depending on your preferences.

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Ulric von der Esch as Sven: gay in the books, straight in the film

Gerald Durrell drew on (and embellished) the family’s real-life adventures to create three bestsellers: My Family and Other Animals (published in 1956); Birds, Beasts, and Relatives (1969); and Fauna and Family (1978).  The PBS drama has come under pressure: Producers of the ITV drama are still under fire for changing the storyline to make a gay character straight. Handsome Sven, kisses Louisa Durrell in the show, but in the book by conservationist Gerald Durrell, Sven prefers men.  In 1971 novel Fillets of Plaice, Sven says of Louisa: “She’s so beautiful, in fact, it almost makes me wish I weren’t a homosexual.”

ITV’s response? “The series is loosely based on Gerald Durrell’s books and is not intended to be true to life. Characters originally included have been adapted and new characters have been created.”

Screenwriter Simon Nye created an adaptation that has a bit of the epic quality of Greek myth: There’s Gerry’s enchantment with the marvelous animals that populate the island; Margo and Leslie’s quest to cast a spell on members of the opposite sex; Larry’s titanic struggle to produce a novel that someone will publish; and Louisa’s futile stratagems to force her children to get jobs.

But the central odyssey is the children’s search for a suitable mate for their lovelorn mom. Of course, success hinges on whether mother and offspring can agree on what constitutes “suitable.”

Rob Zombie and wife Sheri go “Berserk!” and add “31” to their nasty nightmares

Leave it to Rob Zombie (real name: Robert Bartleh Cummings) and his macabre mind to add another twisted terror tale to his resume. The naughty nightmare, 31, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD December 20 from Lionsgate. Just in time for stocking stuffing!0-jdeh7n9su_lfjulw

Clowns have never been as terrifying, especially in the course of one shocking evening in the middle of nowhere. Currently available on Digital HD and On Demand, 31 stars scream queen Sheri Moon Zombie (born Sheri Lyn Skurkis; she legally changed her name to Sheri Moon and later Sheri Moon Zombie after she married her longtime boyfriend . . . Rob Zombie), Jeff Daniel Phillips, Elizabeth Daily, Meg Foster, Kevin Jackson, Richard Blake and Malcolm McDowell. Judy Geeson also stars in 31, and we strongly suggest you check out her over-the-top (read: great) performance as Joan Crawford’s daughter in the 1967 camp classic, Berserk!

31 (which was partially crowdfunded) came from the visionary mind of Rob Zombie comes the horrific story of five carnival workers who are kidnapped on Halloween and held hostage in a large compound.  At the mercy of their captors, they are forced to play a twisted game or life or death called 31.  For the next 12 hours they must fight for their lives against an endless parade of homicidal maniacs.

The 31 Blu-ray and DVD release special features include a two-hour behind-the-scenes documentary and audio commentary with Rob Zombie. The 31 digital HD release will include a four-hour behind-the-scenes documentary with two exclusive hours of footage not included on the Blu-ray release. For those who have previously purchased the digital release, the documentary will be available to watch beginning on December 20.

“Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” returns on Blu-ray, still brilliant, still bloody

 

And you thought Hannibal Lecter was scary. Think Henry . . . a common name, an uncommon film. It was a true game-changer, a film so upsetting in its blunt depiction of an amoral murderer that it made the slasher films of its time look like cartoons.  Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer became a lightning rod in heated debates about cinema and censorship but has only grown in stature since its first showing in 1986. Now, on the 30th anniversary of its momentous debut, it returns in a 4K restoration on digital platforms and Blu-ray on December 6, following a nationwide theatrical release.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a chilling profile of a cold-blooded killer that, 30 years after its historic festival premiere, has lost none of its power to shock. The film, loosely based on a true story, has been hailed as one of the most disturbing and terrifying examinations of mass murderers ever filmed.

960Henry (Walking Dead icon Michael Rooker) is a psychopathic drifter who has coldly murdered a number of people for no particular reason and without any remorse. Leaving bodies in his wake, Henry makes his way to Chicago, where his he settles into the run-down apartment of his drug-dealing former prison friend and occasional roommate Otis (played by Tom Towles).

Also moving into the space is Otis’s younger sister Becky (Tracy Arnold), who is fleeing her abusive husband. As she fends off her brother’s incestuous advances, Becky finds herself attracted to Henry – unaware that he, along with Otis, are continuing their murderous rampage.

Director John McNaughton completed the film in 1986, and it was shown at that year’s Chicago International Film Festival. Yet it wasn’t until 1990 that a U.S. distributor was brave enough to give it a wide release. Henry predates the NC-17 rating and received its predecessor, the X rating, on three separate occasions.

51954287As a result of it and related issues with Almodovar’s Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down, Phillip Kaufman’s Henry & June and Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, the MPAA created the NC-17 as its replacement on September 26,1990. Henry‘s current rating is “X (Surrendered)” though a renewed rating is pending.  The film’s violence, and the clinical, detached portrayal of Henry by the unforgettable Michael Rooker, originally earned it the MPAA’s highly restrictive NC-17 rating.

The response from both critics and the public was as visceral as the film itself, and it went on to gain praise as one of the most compelling and disturbing films of modern cinema. A whole new generation of film-goers will be introduced to Henry with an amazing new transfer that puts the film firmly back into the vanguard of contemporary cinematic horror.

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, the film returns with a thrilling, cinematic presentation that cements its reputation as one of the most harrowing and original American films of all time. Dark Sky Films, a division of MPI Media Group, proudly presents it in a brand-new 4K scan and restoration from the 16mm original camera negatives, and featuring a new 5.1 audio mix from the stereo 35mm mag reels, all approved by director John McNaughton.

They special features also make a killing and include:

  • In Defense of Henry: An Appreciation
  • Henry vs MPAA: A Visual History
  • Henry at the BBFC
  • It’s Either You or Them: An Interview with Artist Joe Coleman
  • In The Round: A Conversion with John McNaughton
  • Portrait: The Making of Henry
  • Deleted Scenes & Outtakes
  • Feature Commentary with John McNaughton
  • Interview with John McNaughton, 1998
  • Trailer (original)
  • Trailer (30th anniversary)
  • Still Gallery
  • Storyboards
  • Reversible Sleeve featuring original Joe Coleman artwork

 

 

Don’t be a stick during the holidaze, man. Opt for “Stick Man.”

The holidaze are coming. And don’t be a stick in the mud about it. Be a Stick Man instead.

From Magic Light Pictures, the makers of The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom, come this beautifully animated adventure that tells the tale of Stick Man and his epic adventure across the seasons in order to make it home to his family in time for Christmas. This film, to be released on DVD by Public Media Distribution, LLC on November 8, is  based on the beloved children’s book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Stick Man  will also be available for digital download.

While out for a jog, Stick Man is carried away from his family tree by a mischievous dog eager to play fetch. As he tries to make his way back to his “Stick Lady Love and their stick children three,” things only get worse as he finds himself farther and farther from home. Alone and weary, Stick Man longs to be reunited with his family for Christmas. Will a chance encounter with Santa Claus be his ticket home?

What a joyous hoot. What talented performers. Martin Freeman voices Stick Man, Hugh Bonneville voices Santa, and the story is narrated by the absolutely fabulous Jennifer Saunders. Also helping bring Donaldson’s alluring and bouncy rhymes to life in this heartwarming family treasure are Rob Brydon, Sally Hawkins and Russell Tovey.

In addition to featuring this charming tale, the DVD includes a behind the scenes documentary about the transformation of the delightful book into a captivating film. In this 20-minute video, viewers are treated to a look into how the design of the characters and environments came about, and the creation of the beautiful film score.

Watch. Savor. Repeat. Do the mall haul. Season’s greetings!

Octogenarian Julie Newmar is still the cat’s meow . . . meow!

We have always thought Julie Newmar to be the cat’s meow. Those of a certain age cherish her role as Stupifying Jones in the Broadway musical Lil’ Abner (it was a non-speaking role she would go on to reprise in the 1959 film).  We still cherish her role as Swedish vixen Katrin Sveg in Broadway’s tasty The Marriage-Go-Round (1958).  Three years later, she reprised that role for the big-screen. We could go on and on. Remember her May 1968 spread in Playboy? And then, of course, is the historic era when she donned the feline ears that would forever etch her name in fanboy history.

The 83-year-old Newmar gives voice to Catwoman in the all-new, feature length animated film Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. It’s now available via Digital HD, and will be released on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on November 1.

http://https://youtu.be/x1pc-yFjcSY

Our pal at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment shared some wonderful inside info from the Catwoman herself . . . purr-fect bites from a purr-fect villian!
julie_newmar_photo_21We’ll give you a purr-fect present if you can name the other two actresses who played the villainess.

Meow!

Starving for a staggering 4K UHD? We dish out this quartet of dynamic “Hunger Games”

Hungry for more Hunger Games? We get the news, we share the news. Coming out November 8 will be this quartet of 4K UHD release. Save the date, savor the inside info . . .

Experience the blockbuster phenomenon franchise like never before when The Hunger Games series arrives on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and Digital HD) from Lionsgate. Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire, who took the world by storm with a four-film cumulative worldwide box office of more than three billion bucks.

With four times the resolution of Full HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) that delivers the brightest, most vivid and realistic color and greatest contrast, the titles pack lots o’ punch
The Hunger Games 4K UHD
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 4K UHD
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 4K UHD
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 4K UHDthg_4k42

THE HUNGER GAMES 4K UHD/BD SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Audio Commentary with Editor Stephen Mirrione, Visual Effects Supervisor Sheena Duggal, and Supervising Sound Editor Lon Bender (4K only)
  • “Game Maker: Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games Phenomenon” Featurette
  • “The World Is Watching: Making The Hunger Games” Featurette
  • “Letters from the Rose Garden” Featurette

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE 4K UHD/BD SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson
  • “Surviving the Game: Making The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” Documentary
  • Deleted Scenes

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 4K UHD/BD SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson
  • “The Mockingjay Lives: The Making of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” Documentary
  • “Straight from the Heart: A Tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman” Featurette
  • “Songs of Rebellion: Lorde on Curating the Soundtrack” Featurette
  • Lorde “Yellow Flicker Beat” Music Video
  • Deleted Scenes

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 4K UHD/BD SPECIAL FEATURES

  • “Pawns No More: Making The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” Documentary
  • The Hunger Games: A Photographic Journey
  • Cinna’s Sketchbook: Secrets of the Mockingjay Armor
  • Panem on Display: The Hunger Games: The Exhibition
  • Jet to the Set (Blu-ray only)
  • Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson