A middle-aged woman is suddenly forced to start her life over again and winds up accepting the last job she would ever have expected in the crowd-pleasing comedy-drama Britt-Marie Was Here. The second feature directed by actress Tuva Novotny and starring internationally acclaimed actress Pernilla August, this “lovely tale of reinvention” (as our ol’ pal James Verniere of The Boston Herald raves) comes to Cohen Media GroupBlu-ray and DVD, as well as digital platforms, on January 14.
The heartwarming comedy is based on the best-selling novel by Fredrik Backman, author of A Man Called Ove. Augustplays housewife Britt-Marie, whose 40-year-old marriage has just ended because she learned her husband was unfaithful. Now, at 63 years old, she is faced with making a new start in life in the small Swedish town of Borg.
Told she is nothing but a nagging, passive-aggressive aunt, the only job Britt-Marie can find is a true challenge for which she has had zero training: to coach the town’s youth soccer team. She knows nothing about soccer or coaching, and the team is the town’s pride and joy, but she takes the job anyway. This will be the start of a journey filled with struggles and challenges but also humor, warmth and love.
Before making Hollywood epics such as Tora! Tora! Tora! and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, director Richard Fleischer started his career with a series of low-budget B-features, often taking ripped-from-the-headlines tales of crime stories and spinning them into noir gold, of which an exquisite example is 1949’s endlessly entertaining Trapped.
A young Lloyd Bridges stars as hard-boiled hood Tris Stewart, a convicted counterfeiter doing time in the Atlanta pen. When a fresh batch of fake bills starts circulating, treasury agents bail Stewart out to help lead them to the maker of the fake plates. But Tris double-crosses the Feds, hooking up with his gun-moll sweetie (22-year-old Barbara Payton in her breakout role). They plan to heist the plates and hightail it across the border. With the Feds closing in and the double-crosses piling up, Stewart finds himself between a rock and a hard place. Will he trapped for good?
Although long sought by the Film Noir Foundation,Trapped was believed to have suffered the unfortunate fate of many B-films of the era—oblivion. But when a private collector deposited a 35mm acetate print at the Harvard Film Archive, the Film Noir Foundation and UCLA Film & Television Archive (with support from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Charitable Trust [The HFPA Trust]) sprang into action, restoring the film. The result, presented in a Blu-ray/DVD dual-format edition by Flicker Alley, honors the pitch-perfect performances, assured direction, and gorgeous cinematography of this edge-of-your-seat, noir classic.
Olive Signature line has released a Blu-ray edition of Bells of St. Mary’sthat is a significant improvement over the DVD released by Republic Pictures 100 years ago. The lack of specks and soot and and scratches leads us to believe the film has been (greatly) restored, though why Olive doesn’t use this bragging point is beyond us.
This is not a true “Christmas film”, but the warmth and heart and humor and luminous Ingrid Bergman make it worth a few viewings. We are still a bit surprised when we admit that she and co-star Bing Crosby (as a nun and a pastor at odds with each other) have appealing chemistry together.
Have an appetite for a dark, delectable comedy in the tradition of cannibal classics Eating Raoul and Delicatessen? Look no further than A Feast of Man (IndiePix Films), certain to satisfy your hunger (and funny bone).
When a wealthy and eccentric New York playboy prone to mischief dies unexpectedly, his four closest socialite friends are summoned to the late aristocrat’s country home overlooking the Hudson for a viewing of his video will. Only things don’t go quite as Wolf, the executor of the estate, had planne: Gallagher’s posthumous wish is to put his dearly beloved to the test—each will become a millionaire overnight if they can unanimously agree to consume his dead body and the group, has until the end of the weekend to reach a decision. Funny food for thought!
Say hello to the ultimate Tony Montana experience with the Scarface“The World Is Yours” Edition Gift Set (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment). This gem is chockfull of goodies: The 1983 film is 4K UHD; experience the unforgettable film like never before with HDR for brighter, deeper, more lifelike color.
There’s also more than 2 and a half hours of bonuses, including the brand-new Scarface 35th Anniversary Reunion Feature, with an all-new conversation with director Brian De Palma and actors Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer and Steven Bauer. Another Blu-ray bonus: Both the original theatrical and alternate censored versions of Howard Hawks’ newly restored 1932 version Scarface. Perhaps best of all is the limited edition, individually-numbered replica of one of the most iconic props from the film.
After a 30-year-old bachelor, leaves his corporate job to pursue his dreams as an artist, he embarks on a new life as an Uber driver while working on a graphic novel titled Pixelia, which just happens to also be the name of this IndiePix Films release. One day, a transgender woman gets into his car and changes his life forever; they spend the whole day together, opening each other’s minds: she shares her desire to adopt a child, while he narrates the story of his graphic novel.
After a special bond quickly forms, he realizes his own queer identity, and the couple start to make their way in a culture that is not always friendly to alternative ways of life.
This LGBTQ festival favorite, made on a show string budget, is a prime example of India’s budding queer cinema movement.
The Broad City Complete Series(Paramount) has everything a queen or two could ever need. In addition to every single freakin’ episode, there are special features including outtakes, deleted/extended scenes, and every episode of Hack into Broad City and Behind Broad City. Plus, a special features only disc with more than 30 minutes of additional extras. Yaaaas!
Frank Capra’s heart-warming masterpiece is the best-known and most-loved holiday film. Now you can watchIt’s a Wonderful Life (Paramount) holiday classic like never before, newly remastered from the original film negatives and more vibrant than ever with stunning clarity.
With the endearing message that “no one is a failure who has friends”, Capra’s heartwarming masterpiece continues to endure, and after more than 70 years, this beloved classic still remains as powerful and moving as the day it was made.
Not to be catty, but little heroes can romp to the rescue with the PAW Patrol pups, as the canine crew use their tools, tech, vehicles and problem-solving skills to save Adventure Bay.
Each pup has a unique job and skills, but the pack must always come together as a team to save the day. The 3-DVD set PAW Patrol: Best in Snow Collection (Nickelodeon) deserves a spot in each kid’s stocking.
For the young and young-at-heart: Bumblebee & Transformers Ultimate 6-Movie Collection,
including Bumblebee and all five Transformers films, from visionary director Michael Bay and legendary producer Steven Spielberg.
Baby Boomer boom! The Toys That Made Us (Screen Media) is an American television series created by Brian Volk-Weiss. The first four episodes of the series began streaming on Netflix on December 22, 2017, and the next four were released on May 25, 2018.
The eight-episode documentary series, as it was originally touted, focused on the history of important toy lines. The first four episodes focus on the Star Wars, He-Man and G.I. Joe toy lines with subsequent episodes featuring LEGO, Transformers, Hello Kitty and Star Trek. The Bu-ray set includes a free collectible!
Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orphee & Eurydice in one of opera’s most beautiful masterpieces; his exquisite drama introduces us to Orpheus, the poet and musician whose every word and note communicate the most overwhelming love for his Eurydice.
This production features Gluck’s reworking of the original German opera into a French-language production which contains thrilling ballet sequences that will come to vivid life under the direction and choreography of the legendary John Neumeier. This production stars Dmitry Korchak as Orphée with Andriana Chuchman as Eurydice and Lauren Snouffer as Amour. Oui!
Democracies should protect their citizens, especially the most vulnerable among them, but the United States is increasingly failing to do so especially in areas like the Rust Belt, the manufacturing heartland of the nation that includes Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The investigative documentary The Corporate Coup d’Etat (First Run features) shows how corporations and billionaires have taken control of the American political process, and in doing so have brought economic hardship and ruin to vast swaths of the country. It combines insights from political thinkers and journalists with the experiences of citizens from the Rust Belt, where factory closures and outsourcing have left it desolate and people hopeless.
The film argues that the crisis predates Adolph Freak’s election by many years: Decades ago, U.S. democracy began selling its soul to big corporations; lobbyists and business-friendly politicians took control in Washington, gradually undermining the will of the people. Provocative and revealing, The Corporate Coup d État exposes what happened and where we are now.
Other First Run features topping the list: Tattoo Uprisingreveals the artistic and historical roots of today s tattoo explosion. This sweeping overview explores how tattoos were used in early Christian practices, how they were discovered halfway around the world during the voyages of Captain James Cook, and how they exploded in popularity in America beginning with artists like Ed Hardy.
There’s an unforgettable appearance by Werner Herzog, who allows a rare glimpse at his Ed Hardy tattoo.
Spanning three generations, Chasing Portraits is a deeply moving narrative of the richness of one man’s art, the devastation of war, and an unexpected path to healing. Moshe Rynecki was a prolific artist who painted scenes of the Polish-Jewish community until he was murdered during the Holocaust. For more than a decade his great-granddaughter, Elizabeth, has searched for the missing art.
An elderly man, Octav Petrescu (portrayed by the brilliant Marcel Iures), returns to his childhood villa in Romania to sell it. Arriving there after a decades-long absence, Octavwanders through the atmospheric house and undulating grounds that surround it and is confronted and transformed by the memories and spectres of his youth, eventually finding answers to questions that have cast a shadow over his adult life.
From Oscar-nominated Josh Aronson and featuring a new song from Jon Bon Jovi, To Be Of Service is a documentary about veterans suffering from PTSD who are paired with a service dog to help them regain their lives.
The film follows these warriors with their dogs as this deeply bonded friendship restores independence and feeling for the men and women who so courageously served our country.
Inherited from Maria Montessori in 1907, the Montessori Method is a child-centered educational philosophy that celebrates and nurtures each child’s desire to learn, an approach valuing the human spirit and full development: physical, social, emotional and cognitive. The Montessori Method is increasing in popularity both in the U.S. and abroad.
Curious to see how the Method works first hand, filmmaker Alexandre Mourot sets his camera up in the oldest Montessori school in France (with kids from 3 to 6) and observes. He meets happy children, free to move around, working alone or in small groups. Some read, others make bread, do divisions, laugh or sleep. The teacher remains discreet.
Children guide the filmmaker through the whole school year, helping him understand the magic of their autonomy and self-esteem–the seeds of a new society of peace and freedom, which Maria Montessori dedicated her life work to.
Such is the wonder and joy of Montessori: Let the Child be the Guide.
Holy high notes! Melody Makers (Cleopatra Entertainment/MVD Visual), a chronicle of the birth of music journalism from the world’s oldest and longest standing seminal music magazine, is not just another music documentary; through a series of interviews from artists and journalists of the time, the film tells the true story of the rise and fall of the world’s most influential music publication and uncovers an era of tremendous creative freedom.
Who says the holidays can’t be a horror . . . and we don’t just mean when the in-laws come. George Roy Hill’s landmark science-fiction classic, Slaughterhouse-Five, tells the tale of World War II soldier Billy Pilgrim and how he was abducted by aliens. The flick took home the Jury Prize at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival and has been a favorite of sci-fi fans ever since. Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote the novel the book is based on, famously claimed, “I drool and cackle every time I watch that film.”
Not only is Arrow bringing this to Blu-ray for the first time in North America, but it comes with a brand new 4K restoration and a spaceship-load of special features. Yippee!
He was a true genius. And Kurt Weill’s Street Scene is an amazing mélange of show tunes, arias, jazz numbers, folk songs and spirituals, a true musical melting pot that aptly underlines the rich variety of characters that populate the New York City tenement block in the ’30s that’s the focus of this exceptionally vital and criminally undervalued work.
It was meant meant to be a truly American opera, half-way between his The Threepenny Opera and Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story and drawing from the famous play by Elmer Rice (recipient of the Pulitzer Prize when it was published in 1928).
Weill wrote Street Scene shortly after fleeing Nazi Germany. When he discovered the vitality of the American musical scene, his focus became to reconcile the Broadway musical with European traditional opera, jazzy and North-American tunes with an almost Puccinian-like lyricism. Under Tim Murray’s vivid and precise baton, the superb production by John Fulljames perfectly renders the vitality and energy released by the streets of New York that proved to be a great inspiration to the theatrical mind of the composer.
Released by BelAir Classiques, the staging generously evokes a bygone era of American history, simultaneously looking rundown and part of a dreamscape worth longing for.
Charles S. Cohen, Chairman and CEO of Cohen Media Group is ready to pull another gem out of his wealth of wonders. On May 21, Cohen releases Merchant Ivory Productions’ Academy Award-nominated The Bostoniansin a 4K restoration on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms.
The Bostonians (1984) was the second of three handsomely mounted Henry James adaptations by the team of producer Ismail Merchant, director James Ivory and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, following 1979’s The Europeans and preceding The Golden Bowl (2000).
Academy Award-winning actresses Jessica Tandy, Vanessa Redgrave and Linda Hunt headline an all-star cast alongside Christopher Reeve in this adaptation of James’s 1886 novel of political intrigue and forbidden romance in post-Civil War Boston. Olive Chancellor (played by Redgrave)finds her infatuation with young activist Verena Tarrant (Madeleine Potter)challenged by a Southern lawyer (Christopher Reeve) who also loves her. An intricately drawn study of the impact of women’s suffrage on society, The Bostonians is also a lush evocation of the late 19th century, with dazzling cinematography by Walter Lassally and a memorable score by frequent Merchant Ivory collaborator Richard Robbins.
The film received two Academy Award nominations, for Best Actress (Vanessa Redgrave) and Costume Design (Jenny Beavan, John Bright). Redgrave was named Best Actress by the National Society of Film Critics.
Special features on the Blu-ray and DVD include a new interview with director James Ivory, “Conversations from the Quad: James Ivory on The Bostonians,” the original trailer and the 2018 re-release trailer.
Mark your calendar: On May 7, Cohen Media Group will release Palme d’Or winner Claude Lanzmann’s final film Shoah: Four Sisterson Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms.
The film, completed shortly before Lanzmann’s death at 92 in July 2018, is the long-awaited follow-up to his monumental Shoah, which shook the world upon its release in 1985 as a profound cinematic memorial to the Holocaust.
In Shoah: Four Sisters, four Jewish women, survivors of unimaginable Nazi horrors during the Holocaust, tell their individual stories. Each of their testimonies was filmed more than 40 years ago as Lanzmann collected first-hand accounts in preparation for what would become the nine-and-a-half-hour Shoah.
Starting in 1999, Lanzmann made several films that could be considered satellites of Shoah, comprising interviews conducted in the ’70s that didn’t make it into the final, monumental work. In the last years of the director’s life, he decided to devote a film to each of four women from four different areas of Eastern Europe with four different destinies, each finding herself improbably alive after war’s end: Ruth Elias from Ostravia, Czechoslovakia; Paula Biren from Lodz, Poland; Ada Lichtman from further south in Krakow; and Hannah Marton from Cluj, or Kolozsvár, in Transylvania, Romania.
Survivors of unimaginable Nazi horrors during the Holocaust, these women tell their individual stories and become crucial witnesses to the barbarism they experienced. Each possesses a vivid intelligence and a commitment to candor that make their accounts of what they suffered both searing and unforgettable.
The four films that make up Shoah: Four Sisters are titled “The Hippocratic Oath,” “The Merry Flea,” “Noah’s Ark” and “Baluty,” and together they remind audiences of the immense courage it took for these witnesses to return to their painful past as they retell personal tragedies that represent the larger tragedy of the Holocaust.
Both the two-disc Blu-ray and two-disc DVD include a new conversation with globally renowned philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy moderated by Deborah Lipstadt at the Streicker Center in New York City.
Charles S. Cohen, Chairman and CEO of Cohen Media Group, can never be accused of having a stone face.
He could, of course, be honestly called a great fan of The Great Stone Face. (Those would don;t know who we are chatting about need to open a new window and Google.)
This month he has released (on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms) director and movie historian Peter Bogdanovich’s acclaimed new film The Great Buster: A Celebration. It is as brilliant as the tribute it pays to one of silent cinema’s greatest artists, Buster Keaton.
The Great Keaton celebrates the life and career of one of America’s most influential and celebrated filmmakers and comedians, whose singular style and fertile output during the silent era secured his legacy as a true cinematic visionary. Filled with stunningly restored archival Keaton films from the Cohen Film Collection library, the film is directed by Peter Bogdanovich, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker and cinema historian whose landmark writings and films on such renowned directors as John Ford and Orson Welles have become the standard by which all other studies are measured.
The Great Buster chronicles Keaton’s life and career, from his beginnings on the vaudeville circuit through the development of his trademark physical comedy and deadpan expression that earned him the lifelong moniker “The Great Stone Face,” all of which led to his career-high years as the director, writer, producer and star of his own short films and features. Interspersed throughout are interviews with nearly two-dozen collaborators, filmmakers, performers and admirers, including Mel Brooks, Quentin Tarantino, Werner Herzog, Dick Van Dyke and Johnny Knoxville, who discuss Keaton’s influence on modern comedy and cinema itself.
The loss of artistic independence and career decline that marked his later years are also covered by Bogdanovich, before he casts a close eye on Keaton’s extraordinary output from 1923 to 1929, which yielded 10 remarkable feature films (including 1926’s The General and 1928’s Steamboat Bill, Jr.)that immortalized him as one of the greatest actor-filmmakers in the history of cinema.
In his landmark book The American Cinema, critic Andrew Sarris placed Buster Keaton among the “Pantheon Directors,” his elite grouping of the 14 greatest filmmakers. Sarris wrote, “Cops, Sherlock Jr., The Navigator and The General stamp Keaton as the most enduringly modern of classical directors.” Critic and film historian David Thomson, in his famed Biographical Dictionary of Film, writes, “In Keaton’s films there is an extraordinary use of space in the jokes that is faithfully and beautifully recorded.”
Wait! There’s more Keaton craze.
On May 14, Cohen Media Group releases the Keaton masterpieces The General and Steamboat Bill, Jr.together on single-disc Blu-ray and DVD packages, as well as digital platforms.
The films, high points not only of Keaton’s incomparable career but of all silent cinema (both are included on the National Film Registry), are presented in new 4K restorations and feature orchestral scores by Carl Davis.
Many critics and historians consider The General (1926) to be the last great comedy of the silent era, and it consistently ranks as one of the finest films of all time on international critics’ polls. It is No. 18 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Greatest American Films, and is No. 34 on the latest Sight & Sound critics poll of the Greatest Films of All Time.
Set during the Civil War and based on a true incident, the film is an authentic-looking period piece that brings the scope and realism of Mathew Brady-like images to brilliant life. Keaton portrays engineer Johnnie Gray, rejected by the Confederate Army and thought a coward by his girlfriend (played by Marion Mack). When a band of Union soldiers penetrate Confederate lines to steal his locomotive, called The General, Johnnie sets off in pursuit. There is no better showcase for Keaton’s trademark physical comedy and deadpan expression that earned him the moniker “The Great Stone Face.”
The renowned critic Raymond Durgnat wrote, “Perhaps The Generalis the most beautiful film, with its spare, grey photography, its eye for the racy, lunging lines of the great locomotives, with their prow-like cowcatchers, with its beautifully sustained movement.” “The pioneering genius of Buster Keaton’s 1926 silent film … looks even more startling than ever … more or less invented the action movie,” said The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw.
In Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928), Buster, as the son of a steamboat captain, falls in love with the daughter of a rival steamboat owner. When a cyclone rages, Buster proves himself a hero by rescuing his love (played by Marion Byron) and her father from a watery grave.
The comedy contains what many consider Keaton’s most memorable, and potentially deadly, film stunt: One side of a house falls on him while he stands in the perfect spot to pass through a window frame unharmed.
In 1891, painter Paul Gauguin is already well-known in Parisian artistic circles, but he’s tired of the so-called civilized world and its political, moral and artistic conventions. Leaving his wife and children behind, he ventures alone to the other end of the world— Tahiti—consumed with a yearning for original purity, and ready to sacrifice everything for his quest.
Impoverished and alone, Gauguin pushes deep into the Tahitian jungle, where he meets the native Polynesians and, most importantly, the young Tehura, who will become his muse and inspire his most iconic works of art. During his two-year stay the artist will experience and health problems and existential crises – but with the beautiful girl to carry him through.
Welcome to Cohen Media Group’s Blu-ray and DVD Gauguin: Voyage to Tahiti.
Vincent Cassel, one of modern world cinema’s leading stars, gives a career performance as Gauguin, remarkably conveying the interior life of a great painter who has given up everything for his art. Co-starring with him are Tuheï Adams, in a striking cinema debut as Tehura, and multiple César Award nominee Malik Zidi(Water Drops on Burning Rocks).
Cohen Media Group’s Blu-ray and DVD of Gauguin: Voyage to Tahiti include the featurettes Vincent Cassel is Gauguin and Life and Painting of Gauguin, among other extras.
Paris, 1880. The 40-year-old sculptor Auguste Rodinfinally receives his first state commission, The Gates of Hell, which will include The Kiss and The Thinker, two of his most famous creations. Constantly working, he shares his life with his lifelong partner, Rose, and his mistress, young Camille Claudel, the gifted student who becomes his assistant and a talented sculptor in her own right during a decade of passion, mutual admiration and creative collaboration.
Following their painful breakup, Rodin continues to work relentlessly while facing both the rejection and enthusiasm provoked by the sensuality and originality of his sculptures. Rodin’s statue of Balzac, long in the making and rejected during his lifetime, will become the starting point of modern sculpture.
Cohen Media Group will release the 2017 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or nominee Rodin on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms on October 2. The biographical drama, starring Vincent Lindon as the great sculptor, is the latest from Jacques Doillon, the multiple award-winning director of Ponette, La Drôlesse and dozens of other films that have made him one of the most esteemed European auteurs of the last 40 years.
Bonus features on theBlu-ray and DVD include the featurette Sculpting Rodin.
Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Daughter of the Nileis the groundbreaking 1987 drama from one of modern world cinema’s most acclaimed filmmakers, and Cohen Media Group celebrates the film’s 30th anniversary with 4K digital restoration.
A rediscovered gem in the filmography of Taiwanese auteur Hou Hsiao-hsien, Daughter of the Nile is a neon-lit, contemporary drama inspired by the heroine of a Japanese manga series. With Hou’s gentle but keen observation, the film follows a young woman and her brother as they float along the periphery of the Taipei underworld, intriguingly blending gangster tale with mood-drenched introspective drama. Based on the personal experiences of frequent Hou screenwriter Chu T’ien-wen, the film is a profoundly moving observation of marginalized youth.
The film won the Special Jury Prize at the 1987 Turin International Festival of Young Cinema and was entered into the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival.
Hou Hsiao-hsien emerged in the ’80s to become one of the leading figures, along with Edward Yang and Chen Kunhou, of the New Taiwanese Cinema, a movement away from the kung fu films and overwrought melodramas of the past to an emphasis on realistic portrayals of everyday life, a style often compared to Italian neorealism. Hou’s Daughter of the Nile sits among a string of masterpieces-A Summer at Grandpa’s, A City of Sadness, The Puppetmaster, Flowers of Shanghai-that led him to be voted Director of the Decade for the 1990s in a poll of American and international critics put together by The Village Voice and Film Comment. His most recent film, The Assassin,brought him the Best Director prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
In addition to offering digitally restored picture and sound, Cohen Film Collection’s release boast a wealth of extras. Both the Blu-ray and DVD include an audio commentary track by film scholar Richard Suchenski, a new interview with Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns and the 2017 rerelease trailer.
As the world struggles with the current refugee crisis, a powerful new film serves as a timely look at a family besieged by war who finds peace across an ocean. It’s called Red Trees, a film with “of-the-moment resonance” (The Hollywood Reporter), arrives on Cohen Media Group Blu-ray and DVD, as well as digital platforms, on January 23. Save the date. It’s important.
Award-winning filmmaker Marina Willer creates an impressionistic visual essay as she traces her father’s journey as a member of one of only 12 Jewish families to survive the Nazi occupation of Prague during World War II. Photographed by Oscar nominee César Charlone, the film travels from war-torn Eastern Europe to the color and light of South America and is told through the voice of Willer’s father, Alfred (narrated by Tim Piggot-Smith), who witnessed bureaucratic nightmares, transportations and suicides but survived to build a post-war life as an architect in Brazil.
Sophia Cowley of Film Inquiry says, “With Red Trees, Marina Willer does something both intimate and daring. Its vivid shots ensure the entire film plays out like a series of moving paintings.” “In many ways, this is the most powerful anti-fascist film you will see this or any other year,” wrote Louis Proyect ofCounterpunch.org.
CMG’s Blu-ray and DVD of Red Trees include an interview with director Willer.
She remains my favorite Christmas Carol. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landmark TV institution, Time Life has released The Best ofThe 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. More Carolmania. Carol and her cast members Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner, and later, Tim Conway and Dick Van Dyke, entertained millions of viewers with a spontaneity and go-for-broke attitude sorely lacking elsewhere. The annual Christmas shows soon became a popular event in Burnett’s regular season schedule. And now, for the first time ever, Burnett has opened the CBS archives to release three Christmas shows from the first four seasons of her Emmy-winning program in The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Lost Christmas. Across three hilarious episodes not seen in more than 40 years, home audiences will receive the gift of non-stop laughter and entertainment: Think Santa knows who’s been naughty or nice? Jonathan Winters as St. Nick has other ideas, along with a strange collection of dolls. The old lovebirds Bert and Molly (Harvey and Carol) exchange a few choice words while they slowly rock themselves into the New Year. Carol and Vicki join the Bob Mitchell Singing Boys for a touching performance of “Do You Know How Christmas Trees are Grown?” And pitchmen Garry Moore and Durward Kirby reach out and touch the pocketbooks of parents with an array or ridiculous toys for kids. Ho! Ho! Ho!
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.
Red Skelton was a brilliant performer, a passionate patriot and a master of simple, hilarious and classic comedy. Now, home audiences can be entertained by America’s Clown Prince any time with a singular collection of episodes from Time Life’s The Red Skelton Hour, many of which have been unseen for more than 50 years. The treasure features 22 discs with more than 65 hours of hilarious, heart-warming humor from one of the country’s most treasured comedians. Each week, viewers were treated to his memorable lineup of inimitable characters including country bumpkin Clem Kadiddlehopper, Sheriff Deadeye and lovable hobo Freddie the Freeloader, as well as the biggest movie and TV stars of the day who all clamored to appear on Red’s show including John Wayne, Jackie Gleason, Johnny Carson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Milton Berle, Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Simon and Garfunkel, Phyllis Diller and Robert Goulet. The 130 remastered episodes keep company with hours of extras, including a full-length biography of Red with rare home movies and intimate interviews, a bonus DVD of Red’s Farewell Specials and an exclusive, collectible Memory Book giving fans a closer look at how Red’s most beloved characters came to life.
Universal has released a handful of must-have DVDs and DVD sets that are paramount to ever movie maven. Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collectionfeatures 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. 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. 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. Co-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.
In June 1944, the Allied forces stand on the brink of the greatest invasion of history: D-Day and the landing on the beaches of Normandy, France – the first step in the campaign to free Europe from the tyranny of Nazi Germany. But even as close to one million Allied soldiers are secretly assembled on the south coast of England preparing to invade Nazi-occupied Europe, Great Britain’s iconic Prime Minister Winston Churchill struggles with the decision to embark on the operation. Fearful of repeating the mass slaughter of more than 500,000 soldiers during World War I’s Battle of Gallipoli in 1915, he is terrified that if the D-Day landings fail, he will be remembered as the architect of the war’s greatest carnage. The inspiring Cohen Media Group drama Churchillstars Brian Cox in a career performance as the British leader at a pivotal moment in history.
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?”
We screamed in joy when we learned Cohen Media Group was releasing a new 4K restoration of The Old Dark House, Frankenstein director James Whale’s masterpiece. Whale turned J.B. Priestley’s novel Benighted into a nerve-jangling tale that became the template for all spooky-house chillers to come. Stranded travelers stumble upon a strange old house, and find themselves at the mercy of a highly eccentric and potentially dangerous family. This atmospheric thriller features an unforgettable post-Frankenstein horror role for Boris Karloff, as the hulking, disfigured butler Morgan. Also starring in early-career roles are Melvin Douglas, Charles Laughton, Raymond Massey and Gloria Stuart of Titanic.
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. Life 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. 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 100This 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. 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. 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.
Her 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. 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. 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!
If we could turn back time . . . One Million B.C. (VCI) does. Boy meets girl – prehistoric style, in this classic of man’s battle to survive against the terrors of the prehistoric world. Big-chested Victor Mature stars as protagonist Tumak, a young caveman who strives to unite the uncivilized Rock Tribe and the peaceful Shell Tribe; Carole Landis (who was murdered by Rex Harrison) as Loana, daughter of the Shell Tribe chief and Tumak’s love interest and Lon Chaney Jr. as Tumak’s stern father and leader of the Rock Tribe. Dinosaurs, savage nature, and a gigantic erupting volcano are part of the camp adventure classic.
Victoria & Abdul(Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) is the extraordinary true story of an unexpected friendship in the later years of Queen Victoria’s (marvelously portrayed by Dame Judi Dench) remarkable rule. When Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), a young clerk, travels from India to participate in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, he is surprised to find favor with the Queen herself. As the Queen questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance with a loyalty to one another that the Queen’s inner circle attempts to destroy. As the friendship deepens, the Queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes and joyfully reclaims her humanity. Our gets are that the Dame wins the Oscar.
Criterion Collection continues to release works that are essential. A few recent Blu-ray editions that demand attention:
♥ Romance becomes psychodrama in Alfred Hitchcock’ elegantly crafted Rebecca, his first foray into Hollywood filmmaking. A dreamlike adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel, the film stars the enchanting Joan Fontaine as a young woman who believes she has found her heart’s desire when she marries the dashing aristocratic widower Maxim de Winter (played with cunning vulnerability by Laurence Olivier). But upon moving to Manderley her groom s baroque ancestral mansion she soon learns that his deceased wife haunts not only the home but the temperamental, brooding Maxim as well. The start of Hitchcock’s legendary collaboration with producer David O. Selznick, this elegiac gothic vision, captured in stunning black and white by George Barnes, took home the Academy Awards for best picture and best cinematography. The bonus tracks are great, especially the screen, hair, makeup and costume tests including actors Joan Fontaine and Anne Baxter.
♥ Stanley Kubrick bent the conventions of the historical drama to his own will in Barry Lyndon, a dazzling vision of brutal aristocracy, adapted from a novel by William Makepeace Thackeray. In picaresque detail, Barry Lyndon chronicles the adventures of an incorrigible trickster (Ryan O’Neal) whose opportunism takes him from an Irish farm to the battlefields of the Seven Years’ War and the parlors of high society. For the most sumptuously crafted film of his career, Kubrick recreated the decadent surfaces and intricate social codes of the period, evoking the light and texture of eighteenth-century painting with the help of pioneering cinematographic techniques and lavish costume and production design, all of which earned Academy Awards. The result is a masterpiece a sardonic, devastating portrait of a vanishing world whose opulence conceals the moral vacancy at its heart.
♥ Amid the filth and muck of England in the Dark Ages, a fearsome dragon stalks the land, casting a shadow of terror upon the kingdom of Bruno the Questionable. Who should emerge as the town’s only possible savior but Dennis Cooper (played by Michael Palin), an endearingly witless bumpkin who stumbles onto the scene and is flung into the role of brave knight? Terry Gilliam’s first outing as a solo director inspired by Lewis Carroll s poem Jabberwockyand made on the heels of Gilliam s success as a member of the iconic comedy troupe Monty Python showcases his delight in comic nonsense, with a cast chock-full of beloved British character actors. A giddy romp through blood and excrement, this fantasy remains one of the filmmaker’s most uproarious visions of society run amok.
♥ On a beautiful June weekend in 1967, at the beginning of the Summer of Love, the first and only Monterey International Pop Festivalroared forward, capturing a decade’s spirit and ushering in a new era of rock and roll. Monterey featured career-making performances by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Otis Redding, but they were just a few performers in a wildly diverse lineupthat included Simon and Garfunkel, the Mamas and the Papas, the Who, the Byrds, Hugh Masekela and the extraordinary Ravi Shankar. With his characteristic verite style and a camera crew that included the likes of Albert Maysles and Richard Leacock D. A. Pennebaker captured it all, immortalizing moments that have become legend: Pete Townshend smashing his guitar, Jimi Hendrix burning his, Mama Cass being blown away by Janis Joplin’s performance. The Criterion Collection is proud to present the most comprehensive document of the Monterey International Pop Festival ever produced, featuring the films Monterey Pop, Jimi Plays Monterey, and Shake! Otis at Monterey, along with every available complete performance filmed by Pennebaker and his crew.
♥ Perky, overachieving Tracy Flick (played by Reese Witherspoon) gets on the nerves of history teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) to begin with, but after she launches her campaign for high-school president and his personal life starts to fall apart, things spiral out of control. In Alexander Payne’s satire Election, the teacher becomes unhealthily obsessed with cutting his student down to size, covertly backing a spoiler candidate to stop her from steamrolling to victory, and putting in motion a series of dirty tricks and reckless promises with uncanny real-world political parallels. Adapting a then-unpublished novel by Tom Perrotta, Payne grounds the absurdity of his central dynamic in the recognizable the setting is his hometown of Omaha, and the accomplished cast is rounded out with nonprofessionals and distills his closely observed take on deeply flawed humanity to its bitter but stealthily sympathetic essence.
Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some