Category Archives: Movies

Gift Guide 2017: Petrucelli Picks the Best DVDs of the Year

She remains my favorite Christmas Carol. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landmark TV institution, Time Life has released The Best of The Carol Burnett Show, which includes the best of the best, from all 11 seasons, together for the very first time.

The six-discs feature episodes that haven’t been seen since they originally aired, plus some of Burnett’s most beloved classics on 16 fresh-from-the-vaults episodes. Classic shows include the very first episode with Jim Nabors and the emotional, double-length series finale, as well as some of the best-loved, fan-favorite sketches including “Mrs. Wiggins,” “Carol and Sis,” “The Oldest Man,” “The Family,” As the Stomach Turns, as well as a marathon of movie spoofs, along with commercial spoofs and some amazing bloopers. Once again, I’m so glad we had this time together.

 

Sleeping single in a double bed? Join the biggest names of country music with the time-Life gem CMA Awards Life: Greatest Moments 1968-2015, an attractively packaged DVD collector’s set filled with 127 unforgettable performances from five decades of the nationally-televised ceremony.

Across the 10  discs, home audiences will discover a who’s who of country artists, including Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Randy Travis, Tanya Tucker, Trisha Yearwood, Dwight Yoakam, Barbara Mandrell and Tammy Wynette, who stands by her man. Music lovers will thrill to the memorable, once-in-a-lifetime performances including Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” and Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” as well as famous country duets and collaborations including “Jackson” by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, “Cowgirls Don’t Cry,” by Brooks & Dunn and Reba McEntire, and “Lady” by Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie. There’s also a nifty  year-by-year guide to 50 years of Award winners.

Universal has released a handful of must-have DVDs and DVD sets that are paramount to ever movie maven. Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection features 15 iconic films from the acclaimed director’s illustrious career, including Psycho, The Birds, Rear Window, Vertigo and North by Northwest, plus 10 episodes from his groundbreaking TV series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Featuring more than 15 hours of insightful bonus features plus an exclusive collectible book, each film has been digitally restored from high resolution film elements for the ultimate Hitchcock experience.  A shower anyone?

Screen legends Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire sing and dance their way into your heart in one of the most timeless holiday classics ever, Holiday Inn.  The film, in which Crosby plays a song-and-dance man who leaves showbiz to run an inn that is open only on holidays,  features the Oscar-winning song, “White Christmas”. Astaire plays his former partner and rival in love. Holiday Inn [Blu-ray]Follow the two talented pals as they find themselves competing for the affections of the same lovely lady (Marjorie Reynolds). ‘Tis the season for one of the most sensational musical comedies of all time! An extra gift: Holiday Inn 75th Anniversary Edition Crosby includes a new bonus disc featuring the all-new full-length Broadway musical.

Discover the true meaning of the holiday season with the live action adaptation of the beloved classic, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch, director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer reimagine one of the most enduring holiday stories of all time. Why is the Grinch (Carrey) such a grouch? No one seems to know, until little Cindy Lou Who takes matters into her own hands and turns both Whoville and the Grinch’s world upside down, inside out. . . . and funny side up. Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas [Blu-ray]Filled with dazzling scenery, special effects, makeup and costumes, this is an adventure even Scrooge would love. Grinch Deluxe Edition Combo Pack features collectible fuzzy green packaging.

Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection features 21 of the funniest movies from the legendary comedian. From his early days in vaudeville to his years as a top Hollywood box-office draw and star of radio, TV and live performances, Bob Hope’s innocent charm and lightning-quick wit have delighted millions of fans throughout the world. Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie CollectionCo-starring some of the Hollywood’s greatest stars (think Lucille Ball, W.C. Fields, Burns & Allen,  Betty Grable, Paulette Goddard, Jane Russell), this gem will entertain longtime fans and introduce a whole new generation to the unforgettable style of one of the most famous comedians of all time.
Hoping for more Bob? Time Life’s

Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials offers the most complete collection of his television specials ever assembled.  The set contains
19 discs, on which fans will find more than 37 hours of specials, including 20 that have not been seen since their original broadcast, as well as an incredible collection of celebrity guest appearances.

Paula Parkins is such a good girl. Make that was a good girl. She is one of those good-girls-gone-bad who leads her degenerate teenage hellcats down a path of gas station hijackings, pajama party orgies and cold-blooded murder Welcome to Ed Wood’s The Violent Years, an essential exposé on crime, gender politics and sweater-stealing; let us not forget the patently deranged dialogue to the scene where the gang performs a “man attack.”

This Blu-ray new 4K print escaped from Alamo Drafthouse’s American Genre Film Archive (the largest non-profit genre film archive in the world, and Something Weird) and we could not be happier. The bonus tracks are numerous, including gutter-noir trailers from the Something Weird vault,  memorabilia scrapbook and a bonus movie, Anatomy of a Psycho, a new 2K scan from an original theatrical print.

Richard Simmons is still a show-biz heavyweight. For 30 years, he has been helping people lose weight (more than 3,000,000 pounds and counting) and get healthy with his unique enthusiasm, charm and encouragement.  Since opening his first aerobics studio in Beverly Hills in 1974, he has cemented himself in America’s pop-culture psyche with 65 fitness videos (selling over 20 million copies), dozens of infomercials, nine best-selling books, myriad parodies of his over-the-top persona, seemingly endless TV and film appearances and tabloid headlines digging the skinny on him.  Time-Life celebrates the glittery guru with Richard Simmons: Sweatin’ to the Oldies: 30th Anniversary Edition, an energetic six-disc set includes the complete collection of Simmons’ bestselling  workout programs. 

Pairing lively classics from the ’50s and ’60s with rockin’ low impact routines and Simmons’ humorous banter, encouragement and sparkly tank tops, the set offers 41 exercise routines set to rock n’ roll classics. Loaded with extras, this special anniversary set also includes 100 minutes of bonus programming featuring an exclusive interview with Richard, testimonials and success stories from Simmons’  students, a full-color 20-page album of rare personal photos and memories personally selected by Richard and a bonus disc of Love Yourself and Win–Six Steps to Self-Esteem & Permanent Weight Loss.

So what was the fuss about? Director Darren Aronofsky’s film mother! received good reviews, though many whined about the flick’s biblical allegories and depictions of violence. And the controversy continues. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem star in  mother! (Paramount Home Media Distribution), the visually arresting psychological thriller that will leave your heart pounding and your mind blown.  The film also stars and Michelle Pfeiffer, and stunned critics and audiences around the world. The mother! 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Combo Packs include more 35 minutes of in-depth bonus content. Join Aronofsky and cast as they discuss the production of the movie and take us through its spectacular finale. Plus, check out the incredible makeup effects that made mother! a visual tour de force. We thought we’d share the reason Aronofsky so named the film: the title’s exclamation mark, he says, “reflects the spirit of the film” and corresponds to an “exclamation point” of the ending. “To find out why there’s a lowercase ‘m’, read the credits and look for the letter that isn’t capitalised. Ask yourself what’s another name for this character?”

It’s the series that out the “fun” in “dysfunctional”.   After breaking out from “The Family” sketches on The Carol Burnett Show, Thelma “Mama” Harper’s home-spun humor earned its own well-loved sitcom for six knee-slapping seasons.  Time Life invites all classic TV aficionados and sitcom lovers to spend some quality time (across 130 episodes) with Mama’s Family: The Complete Series.  Remember, Mama always knew best.

Celebrating the Original King of Late Night, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends The Complete Collections is the ultimate 10-disc set bringing together all the greatest moments and Johnny’s most legendary guests from the show’s 30 year, 4,000 episode run.  Carefully selected from the vaults by Carson archivists, this Time Life collection features more than 27 hours of classic Johnny–full, unedited episodes and original commercials from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.  Also included is a memory book filled with incredible and rare archival photos and nearly two hours of bonus features. Let’s say it together: Hereeeeeeeeeeeeee’s Johnny!

Paramount has made film fans an offer they cannot refuse:  The Godfather Trilogy: Omerta Edition. Only 45,000 of these limited edition, numbered sets will be made making it a stunning gift for any fan. Celebrating its 45th anniversary, director Francis Ford Coppola’s opus is widely considered one of the most influential films in cinematic history.  Now the entire epic trilogy is available on Blu-ray in a spectacular 4-disc Omertà Edition, which includes the Coppola Restoration of The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II, as well as the remastered version of The Godfather, Part III. The set includes commentary by Coppola on all three films, a full disc of previously released in-depth special features, as well as exclusive new collectible Trivia Cards, Magnetic Poetry, an Anatomy of a Scene fold out and Quote Cards.

Porno for Xmas? And why not. Bat Pussy isn’t just porno . . . it’s considered one of the worst movies ever made. We’re not sure when it was made and released (possibly released in the early ’70s), but we do know it’s a spoof of the TV series Batman, and the film’s cult following relish the flick’s notoriously poor quality, technical flaws, bizarre dialogue, flaccid dicks, public urination, dildo demonstrations and unattractive stars.

Need more? The director can be heard giving actors directions, a crew member audibly belches during a sex scene and the dialogue includes gems such as My horoscope says “I’m going to fuck you in the nose!” Be honest: Even Mrs. Claus loves Bat Pussy, whose alter ego is Dora Dildo!

First Run Features always releases first-rate DVDs. A quartet of faves:
♥ Life on the Line: Season 3  This Emmy-winning series narrated by Lisa Ling that follows the medical journey of individuals fighting for their life. At hospitals around the nation, people face life and death situations every day. Episode 2: Ebola WarriorsLife on the Line zeroes in on one renowned academic hospital in Southern California. Loma Linda University Health serves one quarter of California and equips medical teams to travel around the world. From surviving Ebola in Western Africa to healing after one of the deadliest terrorist attacks on US soil, the series is an inspiring look into the resilience of humankind.
Ma’ Rosa Actress Jaclyn Jose took home the award for Best Actress at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival for her powerful performance as Rosa in this riveting new film from director Brillante Mendoza. Exploring the widespread corruption and chaos of the Philippines in the Duterte era, the film follows Rosa and her husband Nestor, owners of a tiny convenience store who supplement their meager income by selling small amounts of “ice” (crystal meth).

Eventually the couple gets caught and hauled away by police, who are more interested in collecting bribes than eradicating crime. With their parents locked away, it’s left to Rosa’s children to scrounge together the money to pay off the police and free their parents, by any means necessary.
♥ Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe tells the story of the Austrian writer and his life in exile from 1936 to 1942. Zweig was one of the most famous writers of his time, but as a Jewish intellectual he struggled to find the right stance towards the events in Nazi Germany.Image result Driven to emigrate to South America at the peak of his worldwide fame, Zweig fell into despair at the sight of Europe’s downfall. This visually stunning and emotionally powerful film explores what it means to be a refugee, and exposes the difficult decision to speak out or remain silent in the face of tyranny.
♥ The Pulitzer at 100 This documentary by Oscar-winning director Kirk Simon celebrates the centenary of the Pulitzers–the revered national award for excellence in journalism and the arts. The riveting tales of the winning artists give an insider’s view of how these pinnacles of achievement are selected and how the award has the power to change lives and communities. The diverse stories explored in the film relate to immigration, race, gender, and above all freedom of speech–all issues that are ever more relevant in America today.

 Featuring interviews with notable prize recipients (including authors, journalists, playwrights and musicians such as Toni Morrison, Michael Chabon, Tony Kushner, Paula Vogel, Carl Bernstein , Wynton y of the man who created it, also brings Pulitzer-winning works to life through readings by John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Natalie Portman, Liev Schreiber, Martin Scorsese and Yara Shahidi.

American Genre Film Archive continues to scarce us (sometimes silly) with their gory gamut.  Some faves that will become yours:
♥ The Zodiac Killer Directed by Tom Hanson, who had once owned a chain of Pizza Man restaurants, made this flick in an attempt to capture the real-life Zodiac Killer. That plan didn’t work. Instead, we got the most outrageous and compelling ”tabloid horror” vortex in the history of planet Earth. And beyond.Zodiac Killer, The [Blu-ray + DVD] During theatrical screenings, Hanson constructed in-theater ”traps” to lure the killer from hiding. These included the use of an ice cream freezer filled with rent-a-cops and a raffle with a motorcycle as a prize. Shades of William Castle! This edition is a new 4K scan from the only surviving 16mm blow-up elements. Make sure you listen to Hanson’s commentary!
♥ Ruby No, this movie was not named after my mother. It’s a still relatively-unknown gem brimming with atmosphere and suspense . . . yes, there are enough creepy special effects and blood and gore to satisfy the most demanding genre fans.Ruby [Blu-ray + DVD] Most of it takes place at night, with all kinds of marvelous influences lurking in the shadows. Directed by cult-film director Curtis Harrington and featuring an impressive cast including Piper Laurie (as Ruby, fresh from her starring role in Carrie) and Stuart Whitman. This special BD/DVD combo is the definitive original theatrical version of Ruby, with a 2K restoration, two commentary tracks and more than hours of video interviews and special features.

We remain crazy over Patsy Cline.  She was a trailblazer who defined modern country music, and broke down barriers of gender, class and genre. In her music and her life, she set a standard of authenticity towards which artists still strive. After years of hard work to overcome industry biases and her own personal hardships, she achieved enormous success, only to have it punctured by uncanny premonitions and her untimely death at age 30 in 1963.

When Patsy Cline Was CrazyHer life and legacy is showcased in When Patsy Cline Was … Crazy (UMe), a DVD that collects the acclaimed PBS documentary, Patsy Cline: American Masters, and a wealth of exclusive bonus material comprised of themed additional interview footage and rare vintage performances.  An accompanying booklet includes classic photos of Cline.

Charles Castle, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, looks like he has it all. But his marriage is falling apart and his wife is threatening to leave him if he renews his contract. Studio boss Stanley Shriner Hoff isn’t taking the news too well, and he’ll do anything he can to get his man to sign on the dotted line, even if means exposing dark secrets. Winner of the Silver Lion at the 1955 Venice Film Festival, Robert Aldrich’s The Big Knife remains a great piece of film noir. The Big Knife (Special Edition) [Blu-ray] Based on Clifford Odet’s famed stage work, the film boasts a remarkable cast, including Jack Palance, Rod Steiger, Shelley Winters, Ida Lupino, Jean Hagen and Everett Sloane.

Remember when fading film stars began working in schlocky films and/or TV shows? Some of these treasures exist. Yvonne DeCarlo, John Ireland and John Carradine stars in the hellish Satan’s Cheerleaders (VCI Entertainment). Benedict High School’s cheerleaders aren’t shy and sweet. The football team knows them well . . . and Billy, the school’s disturbed janitor, would like to. In the locker room, the girl’s shower and dress, unaware of the evil eyes which secretly watch them. They don’t know that a curse has been placed on their clothes. Satan's Cheerleaders [Blu-ray + DVD]And they don’t know that their trip to the first big game of the season might sideline them for eternity. Will the cheerleaders succumb to the dark ritual of sexual sacrifice and death that’s been plotted for them? Only those who dare watch will know!

Finally! “Funeral Parade of Roses”, Toshio Matsumoto’s queer masterpiece, hits Blu-ray

A question (and answer) to place somehow in your brain should you ever get on Jeopady! The answer: Funeral Parade of Roses. The query: What film did Stanley Kubrick cite as a direct influence on his dystopian classic A Clockwork Orange?

Long unavailable in the U.S., director Toshio Matsumoto’s shattering, kaleidoscopic masterpiece is one of the most subversive and intoxicating films of the late ’60s. It’s a headlong dive into a dazzling, unseen Tokyo night-world of drag queen bars and fabulous divas, fueled by booze, drugs, fuzz guitars, performance art and black mascara. The flick drags into stores November 17.

An unknown club dancer at the time, transgender actor Peter  gives an astonishing Edie Sedgwick/Warhol superstar-like performance as hot young thing Eddie, hostess at Bar Genet — where she’s ignited a violent love-triangle with reigning drag queen Leda (played by Osamu Ogasawara) for the attentions of club owner Gonda (Yoshio Tsuchiya).

One of Japan’s leading experimental filmmakers, Matsumoto bends and distorts time, freely mixing documentary interviews; Brechtian film-within-a-film asides; Oedipal premonitions of disaster; his own avant-garde shorts; even on-screen cartoon balloons, into a dizzying whirl of image and sound. Featuring breathtaking black-and-white cinematography by Tatsuo Suzuki that rivals the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe, the film offers a frank, openly erotic and unapologetic portrait of an underground community of drag queens.

Who must we 感謝 for a key work of the Japanese New Wave and of queer cinema? Cinelicous Pics and The Cinefamily, who have beautifully restored the film in 4k from the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements.

Prepare for great TV viewing with these must-own DVDs from Public Media Distribution

Now  it’s public knowledge: Public Media Distribution has release some nifty DVDs that belong in everyone’s library.

Carnivals have a delightful place in the American imagination, with childhood memories of family fun, fantasy and summer nights. But rising expenses and changes in U.S. labor patterns have caused many employers to find labor outside of U.S. borders.

Filmed over the span of six years, Farewell Ferris Wheel follows a carnival owner, a labor-recruiter and workers from a small town in Mexico who join the carnival legally on seasonal visas. ​The program is an honest on-the-ground portrait of the financial, emotional, and physical challenges they all face.


With insights from several internationally notable scholars of mythology and literature, Tolkien & Lewis: Myth, Imagination & the Quest for Meaning engages these scholars while challenging viewers to draw their own conclusions about the meaning of life and the role that mythology and imagination play in determining belief.

On a dreary September evening in 1931, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and their friend and fellow scholar, Hugo Dyson, met for dinner in Lewis’s Magdalen College dormitory in Oxford, England. Lewis’s transformation from atheist to theist to Christian was based on the insights of Tolkien and Dyson as they engaged in deep conversation about mythology, reality, ritual, imagination, and faith. The program explores the fundamental characteristics of myth with an emphasis on how myth impacts our lives.


The Smithsonian Channel’s The Real Story: Saving Private Ryan is an intimate and behind the scenes look at the inspiration for one of the greatest war films ever made. The multi Oscar-winning “Saving Private Ryan” captures the sheer horror and brutality of combat that the men of World War II had to experience.

Known for its realism, the film was selected in 2014 for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. So, was there a real Private Ryan? Uncover the real story behind this Hollywood blockbuster as the program conducts tests with weapons experts and gains insight from war historians. Viewers also hear the moving testimony of soldiers who landed at Normandy and meet the families whose tragic stories inspired the film that won five Oscars including Best Director in 1998.


Another look at wartime history: The Smithsonian Channel’s The Real Story: Platoon. The Oscar-winning anti-war film Platoon brought the true horror of the Vietnam War to the big screen. Based on filmmaker Oliver Stone’s own experiences as a soldier in the conflict, the film captivated millions of viewers all over the world. Yet how much of the film was real and how much was Hollywood fiction?

To reveal the real story, the program recreates scenes, and uncovers a radio transmission from the battle that inspired the movie’s climax. The program also includes interviews with Stone and cast member Willem Dafoe.

 


Even wee ones can savor the fun. Rose Cinderella thinks she is a regular teenager, but things change when she finds a magic key unlocking a world where fairy tales come to life!  Rose Cinderella quite literally falls into Fairy Tale Land and discovers that Cinderella is not only her grandmother but also the headmistress of Regal Academy, a school where fairy tale families teach the next generation how to become heroes. The fun is framed in Regal Academy: Rose Cinderella in Fairy Tale Land.

 

 


The film series Pirates of the Caribbean presents the buccaneer lifestyle of pirates as a back-stabbing, high-living, hard-drinking world. It makes for an entertaining series, but is it a true depiction of the times? Enter  The Smithsonian Channel’s The Real Story: Pirates of the Caribbean.

Historical evidence of real pirates shows that amidst the lawless merriment, pirates actually formed a highly organized society, where democracy ruled and voting and healthcare preceded England by a hundred years. The program interviews historians, weaponry experts, and one of the film’s screenwriters to show how true pirate adventures inspired the films.


The Special Air Service is the world’s most famous combat unit with the motto “Who Dares Wins”.  Yet the story of how it came into existence has been, until now, a closely guarded secret. For the first time, the SAS has agreed to open up its archive and allow Ben Macintyre to reveal the true story of their formation during the darkest days of World War II.

With unprecedented access to the SAS secret files, unseen footage and exclusive interviews with its founding members, SAS Rogue Warriors tells the remarkable story behind an extraordinary fighting force.

 

 


An instant box office smash when it was released in 1977, the sci-fi flick Close Encounters of the Third Kind grossed over 300 million dollars and was nominated for eight Oscars. Now audiences can get a glimpse into the actual events that inspired the classic film.

Few realize the film was inspired by a series of reported UFO sightings in Michigan in the summer of 1966, and witness testimonies given to a U.S. Government investigation about alien abduction are just a few events examined in The Real Story: Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Part of Smithsonian Channel’s original series The Real Story, this intriguing program allows viewers to separate science-based fact from science fiction.

It investigates the original cases that inspired the film–from the Michigan UFO chase to the first and most famous case of claimed alien abduction in the US, the Betty and Barney Hill abduction. Using modern technology, a re-examination of government documents puts old witness testimonies to the test.

 

A new chapter will soon begin in Ransom Riggs’ career . . . more peculiar children!

Curious minds want to know: Yes, Ransom Riggs will begin a new chapter in his life by continuing the story of Jacob, Emma, and other peculiar children in a brand new trilogy. His collection of short stories set in the same universe will be releasing in paperback on Halloween, making the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Boxed Set (Quirk Books, $33.97), the best way for fans of YA fantasy to join the adventure from the beginning.
The box set contains all three paperbacks, packaged in a beautifully designed slipcase, along with a special collectible postcard, highlighting the most memorable characters of this extraordinary three-volume fantasy. Santa will probably place many sets under gaily-decorated trees.

Together in paperback for the first time, the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Boxed Set includes the bestseller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—recently made into a motion picture from visionary director Tim Burton—and its two sequels, Hollow City and Library of Souls. All three paperbacks are packaged in a beautifully designed slipcase. Also included is a special collectible postcard, highlighting the most memorable characters of this extraordinary three-volume fantasy.

About the Books:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in this groundbreaking novel, which mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling new kind of reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Hollow City: September 3, 1940. Ten peculiar children flee an army of deadly monsters. And only one person can help them—but she’s trapped in the body of a bird. The extraordinary adventure continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. There, they hope to find a cure for their beloved headmistress, Miss Peregrine. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner.

Library of Souls: A boy, a girl, and a talking dog. They’re all that stands between the sinister wights and the future of peculiar children everywhere. Jacob Portman ventures through history one last time to rescue the peculiar children from a heavily guarded fortress. He’s joined by girlfriend and firestarter Emma Bloom, canine companion Addison MacHenry, and some very unexpected allies.

 

Spend time with Babs Streisand gabbing while on her shrink’s couch

Looking to relax on the couch and read about Babs’ loves and lifestyle? Yearning to learn just what makes Mrs. James Brolin tick (and tock)?

The On the Couch series by Alma Bond, Ph.D. gives readers an opportunity to discover the “secret” lives of Marilyn, Hillary and Jackie O through the eyes of renowned New York psychoanalyst, Dr. Darcy Dale. According to the powers-that-be, “the fictionalized biographies provided a unique and revealing perspective of their lives.”

In Barbra Streisand: On the Couch  (Bancroft Press, $27.95), Bond captures the details found in other biographies dedicated to the life of Babs in a way that provides deep insight into her personality and character. Dr. Darcy Dale―a Madhattan psychiatrist whose expertise is confronted by Babs, dismayed after 30 years of minimally successful therapy.

Throughout a year, Dr. Dale conducts an intimate psychoanalysis, breaking through ego defense mechanisms, and repressions to go deep into the heart and mind of one of America’s last remaining superstars. Babs’ many dimensions come alive as we hear her story in her own words. She fluctuates between self-inflation and insecurity. She cracks wise. She becomes angry. She weeps. For better or worse, Dr. Dale sees her client in all of her raw, most human, aspects, giving readers unprecedented access to her pain and joy.

Babs is funny, a bit abrasive, but very intelligent. Bond provides interesting insights into what Barbra could have been thinking during pinnacle times in her life, and her state of mind from a psychoanalyst’s point of view. While this book is technically fiction, the facts themselves are all true. Only the thoughts and feelings attributed to Barbra are fictitious, along with the story of her “analysis.” Dr. Bond’s extensive research into the life of Streisand, along with her professional knowledge of psychology and her beautiful style of writing, give fans of Barbra’s work and her persona fresh insight into a complicated woman, making this biography “thoroughly enjoyable,” according to Kitty Kelley, who used to write unauthorized celeb bios about every three days.

The book contains no photographs (an obvious money/legal reason) but a slew of rather unattractive illustrations. Funny, girl.

 

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.

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.