Olive Films continues playing the game, and they remain the winner in the victorious game known as Rare, Forgotten and Lost Movies That Must Be Seen and Owned.
Witness: Commemorating the 30th anniversary of Showtime’s first original movie, The Ratings Game, actor-director Danny DeVito and producer David Jablin sought to finally bring their passion project to the home video market. “Being collectors of special edition discs of our favorite films, we decided that if we were going to do it at all, we’d want to give our ‘baby’ the same kind of loving treatment and do it in a way that would appeal to comedy fans and video collectors like ourselves,” says DeVito.
“In looking for a distributor, we specifically wanted a filmmaker-friendly company that would recognize and respect that this was a passion project for Danny and I and still is” explains Jablin. “It’s been great dealing with everyone at Olive who have truly cared about getting all the details right as much as we have. Danny had the one print ever made of the film for its 1984 big-screen premier party in storage all this time and Olive Films has done an absolutely beautiful job restoring it in full HD.”
See what we mean? Olive played, they won, Danny and David won. And we won.
In 1984, Showtime Networks made their first foray into original movies with The Ratings Game starring Danny DeVito and his wife Rhea Perlman. The hilarious and biting take-down of the ratings-obsessed network television industry, which also marked DeVito’s feature directing debut, was greeted with love-letter reviews from critics and fans alike. The feature also boasts an eclectic comedy ensemble with performances from Gerrit Graham, George Wendt, Vincent Schiavelli, Ronny Graham, Steve Allen, Huntz Hall, Michael Richards and Jerry Seinfeld. Unfortunately, after its premiere, the film slipped through the cracks of the network’s slowly evolving distribution channels and fell into obscurity as a result, “except with its many fans who continue to hound us for copies to this day” adds Jablin.
With some notoriously bad, foreign-made bootleg versions floating around under the name The Mogul, the film has remained essentially lost for more than 30 years. “The mere existence of those totally crap bootleg copies really stuck in our craw and definitely motivated us to set the record straight and put out our film in all of its original glory,” adds DeVito.
In addition to the film itself, the DVD and Blu-ray includes a liner notes booklet with photos and art from the film, as well as a rare collection of four early short films directed by DeVito. “The bonus materials we included have also never been distributed on disc and were fan favorites from our early work,” says Jablin. Altogether they tell the story of Danny’s journey as a film director of distinction.”
She was considered, other than Wing, the worst singer who ever lived, if you want to call what came out of her mouth singing. Her name was Florence Foster Jenkins, famous for uttering “some may say that I couldn’t sing, but no one can say that I didn’t sing.” Meryl Streep plays her in the big-screen Florence Foster Jenkins. Missed the fun at the cineplex? The flick arrives on Digital HD November 29 and on Blu-ray Combo Pack December 13. The Blu-ray Combo Pack with Digital HD features 50 minutes of bonus content including behind-the-scenes footage, a Q&A with Streep, an exploration of the music, deleted scenes and much more.
While the voice she hears in her head is beautiful, to everyone else it is hilariously awful. Her husband and biggest fan, St. Clair Bayfield (portrayed by Hugh Grant) is determined to protect his beloved Florence from the truth. But when Florence stages a huge concert at Carnegie Hall, he faces his greatest challenge to make sure her performance hits all the right notes.
It would be Jenkins’ first and only performance at Carnegie Hall in 1944. The show sold out, some 2,000 were turned away and scalpers sold tickets for outrageous sums. Hmm, Jenkins died a month after that performance . . . not bad for an encore. Jenkins collapsed and died in Schirmer’s Music Store; her last words? “It must’ve been the creamed chicken.”
Cher has always wanted to turn back time. It’s been there, of sorts, in Back in Time , a documentary that’s a look at the very real impact the Back to the Future movies have had on our culture. This tightly-focused film shows that what was once a little idea became something truly amazing which resonated through the culture.
Spanning over two years of filming, Back in Time is a cinematic monument to the immensity of the trilogy’s fandom. By capturing countless of hours of footage and interviews, the crew watched as the impact of the trilogy became apparent. Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, James Tolkan, Lea Thompson, Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox give interviews about their experiences with the movie.
Back in Time began as a project conceived by Jason Aron, a fan of the Back to the Future series that was posted to the website Kickstarter in June 2013. More than 600 people backed the campaign, pledging more than $45,000 in order for the documentary to be made. The film was shot over a period of two years; while production primarily took place in the United States, another filming location was that of London, England during a Back to the Future fan event. The film opened theatrically on October 21 2015, the day that the series’ protagonist Marty McFly travels to in Back to the Future Part II. The DVD travels to store shelves on September 13.
Gregory Weinkauf of The Huffington Post said that the documentary “gets to the heart of the Back to the Future phenomenon, proving as enjoyable as the franchise it affectionately explores”, calling it “a delightful return to, and updating of, a beloved story”.
The tastiest cookbook this season? Make that Cook book, as in Barbara Cook’s autobiography Then and Now: A Memoir (Harper, $28.99). The 88-year-old icon shares her life and career, the highs and lows, some of which are quite painful to read. There are warm memories of her golden years as Broadway’s newest ingénue and Broadway’s favorite soprano in the original productions of Plain and Fancy (1955), Candide (1956), The Music Man (1957) and She Loves Me (1963) and later into a sophisticated cabaret and concert artist . . . as well as much sadder, deeply painful memories.
At the lowest point of her career, she was drunk and desperate, sleeping through the day and “I didn’t shower or brush my teeth for days at a time.” She confesses that she was “so broke I was stealing food from the supermarket by slipping sandwich meat into my coat pocket.”
Today, Cook suffers from polymyalgia rheumatica, a disease that forces her to use a wheelchair. She may be slower, her voice much softer, but she refuses to give in. As a recovering alcoholic she still attends her AA meetings. (She quit drinking in 1977.) For that we continue to applaud her. We caught up with Cook one summer afternoon at her Upper West Side apartment and had a lovely conversation, fraught with lots of coughing and short sentences, of the good and bad and both acts—before and after sobriety—of her life. Read her story, and enjoy performances we share.
First things first: You have been asked to write a book for years. Why did you finally write an autobiography?
Yes, people have wanted me to write a book for some time. I kept saying, ‘Why? Who the hell cares?’ Then it occurred to me that I have had this up and down life, and if someone reads my book with an open mind he or she can come back from dark places and have a successful career. I wrote every word, mostly by hand, on white-lined paper.
And what dark places!
They were things I have lived with for so long. They were a huge part of my life. It’s the first time I am talking about them publicly . . . it was time to talk about the things I had held inside for a long time. It had always been easier not to discuss mother, my sister’s death, the shame and blame I had felt. I spent decades often thinking that I didn’t deserve the nice things that have happened for me. I drank and I ate. I found myself mad at my mother since she blamed me for my sister’s death from double pneumonia. I thought I could help people who have gone through or who are going through what I did. [Barbara’s sister died at 18 months; Barbara was three years old]
No wonder we didn’t like your mother after reading the book. She blamed you, as a child, for your sister’s death!
Yes. My sister had pneumonia, and then I got pneumonia and whooping cough. I gave her whooping cough on top of the pneumonia. (Pauses) When I was in therapy, my first therapist said something that was so smart ‘Did it ever occur to you that she caught it and that you didn’t give it to her?’ Wow. That really helped me because I grew up thinking I was responsible for my sister’s death. I started to think, well, if my sister hadn’t died father wouldn’t have left. I was five. (Pauses, quietly) I became responsible for my sister’s death and his leaving as well.
When I interviewed Liza Minnelli, she told me even recovering alcoholics must always refer themselves as alcoholics. Did Liza break rules by talking about AA?
AA does not have rules. It has suggestions. They don’t call them rules. I supposed one can break one’s own anonymity which I don’t do.
What did you think went wrong with Liza?
I know Liza and have sat around talking with her. But I don’t think I know her well enough to talk about that.
It’s sad seeing you in a wheelchair. Do you believe you will get out of that chair one day?
Well I guess if the condition gets good I will. My spirits are mostly okay, but nobody likes to be like this. There are days when I get down, but I don’t seem to stay down for long.
Many of your fans are gay. Your only child, Adam LeGrant, is gay. You and I are talking less than a month after the tragic massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando. When I say ‘homophobia’ . . . (Interrupts) It affects me like everyone else. Homophobia is a stupid, horrible way of thinking. It’s getting better, but it’s still, oh God! awful.
Were you disappointed when you learned your son Adam was gay?
When Adam told me he had something to tell me, I had no idea he was going to tell me he was gay. I thought he was going to tell me he broke up with his girlfriend and was never going to marry her. When he said he was gay, I knew I would never have grandchildren—that entered my psyche immediately. I thought there’s something wrong. I have a son I don’t know. I was really upset and I screamed and cried like crazy for about five days. It occurred to me that all my life I felt like a little girl with her nose pressed against the glass of a candy shop. I didn’t feel part of real life. But when I bore a son I felt more connected to the world. When Adam told me was gay, I didn’t feel connected anymore. After crying, I thought, ‘Wait a minute. What on earth is going on with you? What the hell is wrong with you? He is your son!’
I asked Liza about why she has such a gay following. She told me her fans relate to her pain, just as they related to her mother’s pain. You are aware you have a large gay following?
Oh sure. I talked about it with friends a couple of times. But I don’t know what it’s about. Could I be they relate to my problems? Who knows? We all have problems.
You made your Broadway debut in the 1951 musical Flahooley; you won a Tony for The Music Man. A far cry from growing up in Atlanta in such poverty you used to eat dinners of white bread and ketchup. You are a legend! A special survivor!
(Long laugh ) Oh God, I don’t think of it as way. We all think we’re special. I know I am very, very grateful of the gift I have given. Singing is a wonderful way to move and touch people. I feel that I must sing because it feels so good to get all that out! I suppose it’s a gift from a higher power.
Where do you keep your Tony?
I have a dining room and it’s kept in a bookcase in there.
After reading your book, I still cannot figure out if you liked Elaine Stritch.
(Laughs) I liked her, but not always what she did. Her behavior sometimes. Somewhere inside her was a very nice person.
I am going to push you in a corner. What’s your favorite song?
(Laughs) Oh my goodness! The answer is no. I have no favorite.
How about a song you never sang?
I don’t think of things that way; I think of shows I wished I had done. I wanted to do The Most Happy Fella. I auditioned again and again for that and I really wanted to do it. But if I had done that, I wouldn’t have been able to do Candide.
You will be 89 on October 25. Ever think how you want to be remembered? What will be on your gravestone?
Oh gee. Wow. No one ever asked me that. (Pauses) SHE DID HER BEST.
It’s a game cinephiles hate to play, lost and found, with the emphasis on lost. Yet films thought to be lost have been found . . . and some lost films remain lost. We found In Search of Lost Films (BearManor Media, $29.95/$19/95), a new book that investigates how an extraordinary number of important films are believed to be lost forever.
Martin Scorsese‘s Film Foundation claims that “half of all American films made before 1950 and over 90% of films made before 1929 are lost forever.”Deutsche Kinemathek estimates that 80-90% of silent films are gone; the film archive’s own list contains over 3500 lost films. A study by the Library of Congress states that 75% of all silent films are now lost. An interesting note: No prints of Nobody Ordered Love (1972) exist; director Robert Hartford-Davis ordered all prints to be destroyed upon the his death. This film is on the BFI 75 Most Wanted list.
How could this happen? And is it possible to recover these missing gems? In this new book, noted film critic and journalist Phil Hall details circumstances that resulted in these productions being erased from view. For anyone with a passion for the big screen, In Search of Lost Films provides an unforgettable consideration of a cultural tragedy.Spanning from the early days of the silent movies to as late as the ’70s and touching all corners of the global film experience, groundbreaking works of significant historical and artistic importance are gone. Cinema icons including Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Oscar Micheaux and Vincente Minnelli are among those impacted by this tragedy, and pioneering technological achievements in color cinematography, sound film technology, animation and widescreen projection are among the lost treasures.
Olive Films continues its tradition of releasing lost, little-known films . . . even films that have had DVD life, but are resurrected through 4Ks scan of original camera negatives and crammed with essentials extras.
The next titles to be included in Olive Signature, a new series of DVD & Blu-ray releases offering deluxe editions of time-honored classics, fan favorites and under-appreciated gems from the Olive catalog. Olive Signature titles feature pristine audio and video presentation and an abundance of bonus material that will delight fans, collectors, and cinephiles. They continue the series with two distinct, but beloved classics. Save the release date: October 25.
The Quiet Man (1952)
Sean Thornton (portrayed by John Wayne), an American boxer with a tragic past, returns to the Irish town of his youth. There, he purchases his childhood home and falls in love with the fiery local lass, Mary Kate Danaher (the lovely Maureen O’Hara). But Kate’s insistence that Sean conduct his courtship in a proper Irish manner with matchmaker Michaleen Oge Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald) along for the ride as chaperone is but one obstacle to their future together; the other is her brother, “Red” Danaher (Victor McLaglen), who spitefully refuses to give his consent to their marriage, or to honor the tradition of paying a dowry to the husband. Sean couldn’t care less about dowries or any other tradition that might stand in the way of his happiness. But when Mary Kate accuses him of being a coward, Sean is finally ready to take matters into his own hands. The Quiet Man would go on to win two Academy Awards in 1953, including Best Director (John Ford) and Best Cinematography and received five more nominations including Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (McLaglen).
Bonus tracks abound!
Mastered from 4K scan of original camera negative
Audio commentary with John Ford biographer Joseph McBride
Tribute to Maureen O’Hara with Ally Sheedy, Hayley Mills and Juliet Mills
Don’t You Remember It, Seánín?: John Ford’s ‘The Quiet Man’ –A visual essay by historian and John Ford expert Tag Gallagher
Free Republic: The Story of Herbert J. Yates and Republic Pictures
The Old Man: Remembering John Ford – An appreciation of the director with Peter Bogdanovich
The Making of The Quiet Man – Written and hosted by Leonard Maltin
The Night of the Grizzly (1966)
Adventure is the name of the game in this action-packed, western-tinged adventure. Clint Walker stars as “Big Jim” Cole, a former lawman who trades his badge for rancher duds when he inherits land in Wyoming. But no sooner has the Cole family begun settling into their new life when nature—in the form of a blood-thirsty grizzly bearrears its ugly head. Adding to the terror and tension are a group of envious neighbors who want the Cole property for themselves, and the unwelcome return of an outlaw from Big Jim’s past who’s out for revenge. Directed by Joseph Pevney, The Night of the Grizzly features a who’s-who of great character actors including Keenan Wynn, Jack Elam, Leo Gordon and Ron Ely.
New High-Definition digital restoration
Audio Commentary by film historian Toby Roan
Blood on the Claw: How Cheyenne Bodie Became a Movie Star – An essay by C. Courtney Joyner
The Legend of Big Jim Cole – Interview with Clint Walker
The Night of the Grizzly World Premiere archival footage
At Home with Clint Walker and His Home Gymnasium – Archival interview
The truth is always louder than mere words. Witness Louder Than Bombs (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), a riveting film in which a war photographer’s mysterious death is revealed.
Academy Award nominee Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne and newcomer Devin Druid star as family members coming to terms with conflicting memories and new revelations about the life and passing of their mother and wife, a renowned photographer played by Isabelle Huppert.
Directed by acclaimed Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier and co-starring Oscar nominees Amy Ryan and David Strathairn, Louder Than Bombs was an Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival (2015), where it was nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or. Released theatrically by The Orchard earlier this year, the film arrives on DVD with director’s commentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette and photo gallery.
What does Jesse Eisenberg think of his role? “There’s an enigmatic quality to the character I play,” he says. “His mother has killed herself, but he’s not reacting to his grief in a way that’s immediately obvious. And yet his reaction is emotionally correct. An actor will always take that kind of emotional logic and run with it, will make the character as eccentric as they can, because it’s rare to find a script, like this one, that allows an actor to behave ambivalently or to live out ambiguity. My character abandons his wife and child in a way that’s seems innocuous at first but then seems increasingly immoral. When I read the script, I couldn’t get his moral compass. It seemed vague. But then, when you’re acting it, it seems exactly right—this is what somebody would do in this particular situation.”
An arrow we don’t mind aiming right at us: The thrilling CW series Arrow. Viewers can catch up with the show as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases Arrow: The Complete Fourth Season on Blu-ray including Digital HD and DVD on August 30. The show is so popular that it averages four million viewers weekly for each original episode; Arrow is The CW’s No. 3 show among Total Viewers, behind The Flash and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and the No. 2 series on The CW among adults ages 18-34. Yep, this Arrow hits its target every time.
The box set contains all 23 exhilarating episodes from the fourth season, as well as The Flash crossover episode; plus more than an hour-and-a-half of extra content, including the 2015 Comic-Con Panel, never-before-seen featurettes, deleted scenes and a gag reel.
To catch up: After defeating his most formidable foe to date and riding off into the sunset with longtime flame Felicity Smoak, Oliver Queen (aka The Arrow) left Star City with the hopes of beginning a new life. But will Oliver ever truly be able to leave behind his past as The Arrow, and, if so, what becomes of the team he has worked so hard to assemble? Will military vet John Diggle, Oliver’s sister Thea Queen, and lawyer-turned-vigilante Laurel Lance continue Oliver’s fight without him? And with Malcolm Merlyn having ascended to the top of the League of Assassins as the new Ra’s al Ghul, is anyone really safe?
Arrow, based on the characters from DC Comics,stars Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey, Willa Holland and Emily Bett Rickards, with John Barrowman and Paul Blackthorne.
Amell never tires of the role or show. No kidding around.
“I was at a convention recently, and my response got a lot of play because the question was very straightforward,” he recalls. “It was, ‘Why does Oliver love Felicity?’ I had to give a straightforward answer, because it was like an eight-year-old girl who asked the question! So it’s not like I could be flippant and sort of dance around the question and give a sort of humorous response. It was more, this girl was legitimately asking and wanting to know, and I didn’t know how literally she took the characters, so I had to give a very straightforward response. You get great questions all the time, and they almost always come from kids.”
No one, nothing, did violence on the small screen as well (and bloody) as Cinemax’s Banshee. Die-hard fans—so die-hard they are called“Fanshees”—went into deep mourning when they learned the Emmy-winning action-packed series (ex-con assumes the identity of a small-town Pennsylvania sheriff deep in Amish country)—would be coming to an end.
A show source says that “we have not been canceled, but on the creative side, we have decided to end the show, basically because we were done telling the story. As Cinemax’s highest-rated show, no one was looking to cancel us. It was a creative decision. The premise was never meant to survive a long stretch. We all made the decision at the end of season three that we were going to make season four our grand finale.”
Banshee co-creator Jonathan Tropper adds his take: “’Banshee’ has been an incredible ride, and we continue to break new ground in season four. While we certainly considered returning for a fifth season, I always said that when the story was told, it would be time to move on, and that time has come. I am grateful to Cinemax for making ‘Banshee’ the great success it has been and for supporting our creative decision to wrap things up.”
This leaves four electrifying seasons, now on Blu-ray and DVD, though Banshee: The Complete Fourth Season doesn’t arrive until October 4. Sure to lift any “Fanshee” out of the doldrums, the three-disc sets are packed with behind-the-scenes extras including audio commentaries, exclusive deleted scenes, episode recaps, Banshee Origins (which tells the story behind the story with eight prequel videos featuring the cast of Banshee);Zoomed In Episodes 1–8 (an on the set feature highlighting how key, adrenaline-filled scenes were created); and specially-created cast retrospectives on “Best Fight Scenes” and “Job’s Best Outfits.”
Created by Tropper and David Schickler, Banshee charts the final twists and turns that follow Lucas Hood, an ex-convict who assumed the identity of sheriff in the Amish-area town Banshee, where his former lover and partner-in-crime was living under her own alias, Carrie Hopewell. The final season takes place two years after Lucas gave up his badge after a bloody, multi-million-dollar heist at the Camp Genoa Marine Base which proved costly: Carrie’s husband Gordon was killed, and Lucas’s longtime computer-hacker partner, Job, was abducted by a shady criminal ring.
After settling a score with a “recruiter” from Lucas’s past whom he hoped would have intel on Job, Lucas went on a bender before being rescued by an unlikely savior, Proctor’s niece. Emerging from a self-imposed exile, Lucas returns to Banshee to find it a changed town. Brock Lotus is now sheriff, Kai Proctor is the mayor, and the old “Cadi” police station has been replaced by a state-of the-art facility.
A new deputy with ties to Proctor, Nina Cruz, has joined Brock’s team, along with Kurt Bunker, the skinhead-turned-deputy who continues to make amends for his dark past while fighting the racist overtures of the group led by his younger brother Calvin. After reuniting with Carrie, their daughter Deva, and ex-boxer Sugar Bates, Lucas becomes immersed in a new Banshee crisis: rooting out a vicious serial murderer whose latest victim is someone near and dear to his heart.
IFC Films offers an August filled with a trio of must-see, must-own films.
In the span of 11 tense minutes, a whirlwind of interlocking tales of life in the surveillance age unfold in this stylish, propulsive thriller from acclaimed director Jerzy Skolimowski. In a city square in Warsaw, a sleazy film director “auditions” a married actress in a hotel room; a hot dog vendor goes about his work while concealing a dark secret; a drug runner has a tryst with a client’s wife; and a young man plots an ill-advised robbery.
Mixing sleek cinematography with footage from webcam, smartphone and CCTV cameras, 11 Minutes masterfully lays out the pieces of a puzzle and then brings them together in an explosive climax.
The IFC Films theatrical release, a winner of multiple prizes at the Venice Film Festival, Polish Film Festival and Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival, stars Richard Dormer, Paulina Chapko, Andrzej Chyra and Wojciech Mecwaldowski. “
In this captivating, star-filled road movie, a French woman finds liberation in the dusty highways, open spaces and smoky barrooms of the great American West. Diane Kruger stars as Romy, a Parisian who, while on vacation in California, breaks things off once and for all with her boorish husband (Gilles Lellouche) in a dramatic final fight. Now a free woman in a strange land, Romy embarks on a life-changing trip through the desert, crossing paths with strangers who impact her life in various ways: a kindly small-town police officer (Joshua Jackson), a pregnant, trailer park-dwelling mother (Lena Dunham) and a charming, ruggedly independent cowboy (Norman Reedus), with whom she finds the possibility of new love. Beautifully capturing the landscapes and soul of the Southwest, Sky, an IFC Films theatrical release and an official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival, is a stirring emotional odyssey about what it means to start your life over again.
Anthony Weiner was a young congressman on the cusp of higher office when a sexting scandal forced a humiliating resignation. Just two years later, he ran for mayor of New York, betting that his ideas would trump his indiscretions. With unprecedented access to Weiner, his family and his campaign team, the universally acclaimed flick is a thrilling look inside a political comeback-turned-meltdown. What begins as an unprecedented surge to the top of the polls takes a sharp turn once Weiner is forced to admit to new sexting allegations.
He desperately tries to forge ahead, but the increasing pressure and crippling 24-hour news coverage halt his political aspirations. With the city of New York as a loud and bustling backdrop, Weiner walks the line between political farce and personal tragedy as it plunges through an increasingly baffling campaign with unflinching clarity, humor and pathos. The IFC Films theatrical release won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.
Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some