High Notes and Even Higher Passions Abound in “Farinelli”, the true story of the legendary castrato

He was born Carlo Maria Michelangelo Nicola Broschi, but audiences in the 18th century during Handel’s time, knew him as Farinelli.  And no man could eclipse the fame or passion of the opera singer who had been castrated as a child to preserve his angelic voice
Filled with romance and eroticism, Farinelli is the incredible, true story of the legendary castrato and the internationally-acclaimed period piece has made its North American Blu-ray debut in a stunning, new 2K digital restoration. The lavish drama, winner of the 1995 Best Foreign Language Golden Globe, will also be available on DVD and all via leading digital platforms from Film Movement Classics.

Farinelli (played by Stefano Dionisi) tours the royal courts of Europe with his brother and composer Riccardo (Enrico Lo Verso). The two are inseparable, seducing audiences both on and off the stage, while sharing everything—even lovers—until rivalry and obsession threaten to tear them apart. Filled with romance and eroticism, this Oscar-nominated drama from acclaimed producer Véra Belmont lavishly recreates the life and loves of one of history’s most fascinating musical artists.
 

Remastered, restored “The New York Ripper” will scare the shit out of you

A blade-wielding psychopath is on the loose, turning The Big Apple bright red with the blood of beautiful young women. As NYPD detective Fred Williams  follows the trail of butchery from the decks of the Staten Island Ferry to the sex shows of Times Square, each brutal murder becomes a sadistic taunt. In the city that never sleeps, the hunt is on for the killer that can’t be stopped.

Oh! Welcome to Madhattan.
Co-written and directed by acclaimed horror maestro Lucio Fulci and filmed on location on the mean streets of New York City, this is one of Fulci’s most savage and controversial thrillers. Now Blue Underground is proud to present The New York Ripper in a new 4K restoration from its original camera negative, completely uncut and uncensored, and fully loaded with exclusive new extras.

New 4K restoration from its original camera negative, completely uncut and uncensored, the 3-disc set is loaded with exclusive extras:
  • Audio commentary with Troy Howarth, author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films
  • The Art Of Killing: Interview with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti
  • Three Fingers Of Violence: Interview with film’s star Howard Ross
  • The Second Victim: Interview with co-star Cinzia de Ponti
  • The Broken Bottle Murder: Interview with co-star Zora Kerova
  • “I’m an Actress!”: 2009 Interview with co-star Zora Kerova
  • The Beauty Killer: Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci
  • Paint Me Blood Red: Interview with poster artist Enzo Sciotti
  • NYC locations: Then and now
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Poster & still gallery

“Iceman” tells the story of a man, frozen in Italian mountains, some 5,300 years ago

In 1991, a melting glacier revealed the body of a man. At first, people assumed he was a hiker. Later, his true Stone Age origins were revealed. This is his story . . .
From writer/director Felix Randau, Iceman (Omnibus) set in the stunning Ötztal Alps more than 5,300 years ago.  Kelab (portrayed by Jürgen Vogel), leader of a Neolithic clan, is also the appointed keeper of the group’s holy shrine, Tineka.

But, one day, while out hunting, his village is attacked by a bloodthirsty band of marauders.  Everyone in the tribe is brutally murdered, including Kelab’s wife and son, and Tineka is stolen.  Blinded by pain and fury, Kelab now has one sole purpose — vengeance—and he sets off on a treacherous odyssey through the mountains to confront his family’s killers.

Of the film, the Los Angeles Times said “Iceman’s’ Neolithic murder mystery and stunning scenery set it apart…marked by stunning locations and Jakub Bejnarowicz’s fleet, evocative cinematography, Iceman is almost like something unearthed itself: a recognizable B western sharpened as much by its glints of psychology as by its kinetic savagery”.

“Bosch: The Garden of Dreams” proves to be, well, a garden of earthly delights!

It’s a mystery within a mystery within the painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights”, is the most famous and intriguing work by Hieronymus Bosch. He’s an artist who is as much as an enigma as his highly symbolic and detail-rich paintings; in 2017 the world celebrated his 500th anniversary.

Now, through unique exclusive access granted by the Prado Museum, such as witnessing the processes of X-raying and restoring the painting, Bosch: The Garden of Dreams from director José Luis López-Linares seeks to answer centuries-old questions about the painter and painting, as well as to explain the inspiration both have had on artists, writers, philosophers and musicians through the years. Save the date: The flick releases on May 14 from Film Movement.

“The Garden of Earthly Delights” in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, c. 1495–1505, attributed to Bosch.

Interviewees in the documentary include such notable figures as Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, Renee Fleming, William Christie, Philippe de Montebello, Ludovico Einaudi and John Eliot Gardiner.

Dark Sky Films’ “Level 16” takes terror to a whole new level

Sometimes life is sweet.

Especially when you are 16. Sweet 16.

Except for 16-year-old Vivien, who’s trapped in The Vestalis Academy, a prison-like boarding school, keeping to herself and sticking her neck out for no one.

Until she is reunited with Sophia  . . . the former friend who betrayed her. Together the girls embark on a dangerous search to uncover the horrifying truth behind their imprisonment.

Soon running for their lives, the girls must save themselves or die trying.

That’s as much as we dare reveal.

Wish Vivien a happy birthday. If you dare.

Watch Level 16 (Dark Sky Films) if you dare.

May we present a nifty selection of nifty “American Experience” PBS specials

Sealab
In the spring of 1964, explorers were preparing for a new mission, diving into the sea as one of the Navy’s newly-minted “aquanauts.” Aquanauts were divers who attempted to chart the ocean’s depths and faced barriers that had thwarted humans for centuries: near total blackness, bone-jarring cold, and intense pressure that could disorient the mind and crush the body. Aboard Sealab, explorers would attempt to break through those barriers—going deeper and staying underwater longer than anyone had done before.

An audacious feat of engineering—a pressurized underwater habitat, complete with science labs and living quarters—Sealab aimed to prove that humans were capable of spending days or even months living and working on the ocean floor. Sealab would pioneer what is known as “saturation diving,” which would allow divers to remain undersea—and emerge unscathed—for more extended periods of time.

After a tragic accident the Sealab program was subsequently suspended and completely shut down in 1970, however the lessons learned were used in numerous covert Naval operations for years to come.


Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. presents the definitive history of one of the least understood chapters in American history—the transformative years following the American Civil War, when the nation struggled to rebuild itself in the face of profound loss, massive destruction and revolutionary social change. The film takes a broad view of the Reconstruction era and its aftermath.

The first half of the documentary centers on the pivotal and hopeful decade following the Civil War rebellion, charting black progress and highlighting the accomplishments of the many political leaders who emerged to usher their communities into this new era of freedom. The series’ second half looks beyond that hopeful decade, when the arc of history bent backwards.

Tracing the unraveling of Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow segregation in the closing years of the 19th century, the film looks at the myriad ways in which black people continued to acquire land, build institutions and strengthen communities amidst increasing racial violence and repression.

The film also explores the flowering of African American art, music, literature and culture as tools of resistance in the struggle against Jim Crow racism, and the surge of political activism that marked the launch of iconic civil rights organizations.


Charm City
An official selection at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Maryland Film Festival, the Nashville Film Festival and at AFI Docs, this feature documentary was filmed over a violent three-year period when Baltimore’s nickname, Charm City, never seemed less apt. The film profiles a group of police, citizens, community leaders and government officials who, with grit, fury and compassion, are grappling with the consequences of violence and trying to reclaim their city’s future.

On the streets of Baltimore, shooting is rampant, the murder rate is approaching an all-time high and distrust of the police is at a fever pitch. With nerves frayed and neighborhoods in distress, dedicated community leaders, compassionate law enforcement officers and a progressive young city councilman try to stem the epidemic of violence. Filmed during the lead up to, and aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death in police custody, Charm City is a powerful cinema vérité portrait of those surviving in, and fighting for, the vibrant city they call home.


Dictator’s Playbook examines the historical, sociological and psychological foundations of 20th century dictatorships, and provides fresh insight into six brutal men who impacted world history, how they functioned, how they influenced each other and why they succeeded or failed.

Six episodes focus on one dictator, including: Kim Il Sung, Saddam Hussein, Benito Mussolini, Manuel Noriega, Francisco Franco and Idi Amin.


Margaret: The Rebel Princess focuses on Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth’s beautiful and rebellious younger sister. This program features rare footage and interviews with those who knew her best and offers unparalleled insight into Margaret’s turbulent life and times. Her unique position as the Queen’s younger sister in a changing Britain left her free to experiment and push boundaries, yet she was forever judged by the public and press beginning to question the very idea of a monarchy.

While Margaret often followed the rigid rules under which she was raised, she also stepped outside those rules and into scandal.


Directed by Peabody-and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, Boss: The Black Experiences in Business shines a light on the story of resilience and resistance within the black American experience in the face of racial hostility and violence, economic exclusion, segregation and discrimination. The new two-hour documentary traces the lives of African American entrepreneurs over 150 years, from those bound by bondage to moguls at the top of million-dollar empires.

Stories featured in the film include those of entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, publisher John H. Johnson, Motown CEO Berry Gordy and business pioneer and philanthropist Reginald F. Lewis, among many others.

This program brings viewers on a journey from the end of Reconstruction through the present, tracing the emergence of a stable black business community alongside the greater struggle for civil rights.


Homo Spatius
Can Homo sapiens evolve into Homo spatius?

For over 50 years now, we have been testing our human nature in our effort to conquer outer space, and still 30 years away from a possible human exploration of Mars, a question remains: Can our body take such travels? Will it ever adapt?

Accelerated aging, muscular atrophy, slowed-down brain functions, euphoric hallucinatory spells; as soon as we leave our usual environment towards extra-terrestrial horizons, we face conditions which our bodies are unfit for. However, the pull of exploration is stronger and space medicine is at work to prepare astronauts for travelling to new worlds , in a near or more distant future.

Combining human adventure and the exploration of the human body, this film offers unique insights into the physical and psychological effects of space travel on the astronauts and measures the impact on medical sciences.

PBS Distribution offers “American Experience: The Swam”

Man has been attempting to conquer the Florida Everglades since the 1800’s. The Swamp (PBS Distribution) explores natures’ most mysterious and unique ecosystems told through the eccentric lives of hucksters, politicians and activists.

The program is based, in part, on the book The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise by Michael Grunwald. The program introduces us to the first person who attempted to drain the Everglades in 1881, Philadelphia industrialist Hamilton Disston. He was one of the first to see the potential of turning the wetland into a profitable enterprise.

By the 1920’s, Florida experienced a population and real estate boom as new settlers cleared away native vegetation to plant crops like celery, lettuce, tomatoes and strawberries. But there were some, such as naturalist Charles Torrey Simpson, who warned against spoiling the area’s beauty and biodiversity. Torrey-Simpson was right. After altering the Everglades, the area was hit with unintended deadly consequences, from catastrophic floods to brutal droughts. Still, even as the alterations wreaked havoc on the environment, efforts continued to conquer the Everglades.

In 1925, landscape architect Ernest Coe moved to Miami and fell in love with the Everglades and became a champion to preserve it. He created a national park which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt approved by authorizing the creation of Everglades National Park in 1934. One of Coe’s supporters, writer Marjory Stoneman Douglas from the Miami Herald, wrote a book in 1946 that forever redefined the region as essential not only to wildlife but to people.

A trio of commanding NOVA programs

Einstein’s Quantum Riddle
Over the past century, scientists have made huge strides in understanding the mind-bending rules that govern the microworld of atoms and subatomic particles. But these rules, called quantum mechanics, contain one particularly bizarre, unexplained phenomenon: quantum entanglement. Imagine two subatomic particles that mirror changes in each other instantaneously over any distance without communicating.

Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance” and although no one can explain how it works, scientists have already begun to harness its power. So-called quantum computing could give rise to computers that can shatter existing data encryption in minutes and use the laws of physics to create a totally secure, unhackable network.
But even as researchers are poised to transform the digital world with entanglement, a few doubts about it remain, and to rule them out will take a ground-breaking experiment. NOVA takes viewers to a frigid mountaintop in the Canary Islands where physicists will use massive telescopes to catch light from quasars at opposite ends of the universe to control detectors in a record-breaking experiment that might settle the remaining questions once and for all.


Kilauea: Hawaii on Fire
volcano erupted, obliterating neighborhoods with devastating force and uprooting thousands of local residents. It is Hawaii’s most destructive volcanic eruption in generations. How can one of the most beautiful places on Earth suddenly transform into a roaring inferno, sputtering molten lava and bombs of volcanic rock the size of refrigerators?

On the ground in the early days of the eruption, NOVA joins scientists and residents alike on a breathtaking journey to investigate Kilauea’s recent spike in activity. Along the way, some of Hawaii’s biggest secrets are revealed: Why did these geologically distinctive volcanoes form in the middle of the Pacific? How did life establish itself on the remote islands? What does this tell us about the future of Hawaii? And what dangers lurk for the inhabitants of the island paradise.


The 6 million-ton Great Pyramid of Giza is the last surviving wonder of the ancient world. How did the Egyptians engineer the mighty pharaoh Khufu’s tomb so precisely, with none of today’s surveying and power tools? And who were the thousands of laborers who raised the stones? Were they slaves or volunteers, and how were they housed, fed, and organized? Decoding the Great Pyramid presents the latest evidence from groundbreaking archaeological research that has transformed our understanding of the ancient world’s most ambitious engineering project, revealing a “lost city” and intimate details of the lives of the laborers and officials who toiled on the vast construction.

French archaeologists recently found the logbook of a labor team leader that delivered limestone blocks to build the Great Pyramid, yielding crucial insights into the planning and logistics behind the operation. The program also traces how mobilizing the colossal labor and resources invested in the monument transformed ancient Egypt, uniting a nation behind the common goal of ensuring eternity for the pharaoh and continuing prosperity for everyone in this life and the next.

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.

Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some