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You are here: Community Film DVD/Blu-ray Roundup for May 3, 2019

DVD/Blu-ray Roundup for May 3, 2019

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Hello and welcome back to another look at highlights arriving on Blu-ray and DVD. There’s a lot of great stuff to pick both new and old this time out. So if you can’t make it out to the movies this week, be sure to give one of these titles a try!

Big New Releases!

Arctic - In this survival adventure, a plane crash leaves a lone man stranded in the Arctic. He must decide whether to stay at the site and hope a rescue team finds him, or venture out into the cold wilderness in order to find a way out. The press generally rated this feature as excellent. Almost everyone commented that the movie was extraordinarily tense and thought that the lead performance was superb (an especially impressive feat considering there is next to no dialogue in the movie). They also said that it perfectly captured the harshness of being stranded and alone. It stars Mads Mikkelsen.

Dragged Across Concrete - The latest from writer/director S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99) follows two overzealous policemen who are suspended after video surfaces of them aggressively handling a suspect. Out of work and out of cash, the pair decides to enter the criminal underworld in order to keep going. Of course, these leads soon run across many old enemies. Reaction wasn’t quite as strong for this effort as for the filmmaker’s other works, but the overall consensus was good. The cast includes Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles, Michael Jai White, Jennifer Carpenter, Laurie Holden, Udo Kier and Don Johnson.

Level 16 - This suspense picture involves a young girl stuck in what is described as a “prison-like” boarding school. She keeps to herself and tries to stay out of trouble, but the protagonist’s life becomes more complicated after re-encountering the student whose actions caused her to be held at the institute. The two form a temporary bond to try to escape to freedom. Reviews were generally positive for this independent production. While a smaller group suggested that it didn’t meet its full potential and that its climax ultimately disappointed, more complimented the end results as being creepy and said the two leads worked well off each other. It features Katie Douglas, Celina Martin and Sara Canning.

Miss Bala - A make-up artist living in Los Angeles travels across the border to help a friend compete in a Tijuana beauty pageant. Unfortunately, they come under gunfire and the lead’s friend is kidnapped. The protagonist finds herself in the middle of shady dealings between drug cartels, corrupt cops and shady government agents. In the process, she decides to take control and rescue her friend herself. The critics’ consensus was that despite a solid lead, the story and themes had been mishandled and softened into a very routine thriller. It stars Gina Rodriguez, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Anthony Mackie, Thomas Dekker and Aislinn Derbez.

Mission of Honor - This movie details the actions of Hurricane Squadron 303, a band of Royal Air Force pilots during WWII. Made up of Polish fighters who had barely escaped with their own lives after the Nazis invaded and took control of their country, the group defended England in the air, in the hope of eventually saving their nation. Reviewers were quite positive about this UK/Poland co-production. A few did critique the movie for biting off more than it could chew dramatically, and not employing the best CGI technology in attempts to depict air battles. However, most agreed that this was an important tale and that the cast helped it over the rough spots. Iwan Rheon, Milo Gibson, Stefanie Martini and Marcin Dorocinski headline the film.

Serenity - A fishing boat captain gets the surprise of his life when his ex-wife shows up with their child, claiming that her new husband is violent and beats them. She begs him to take the man out on a expedition with his first mate, where the problem can be... removed (and easily discarded in shark-filled waters). But is she telling the truth, or are her motivations darker and more sinister? Reviews for this thriller were quite poor. Still, the most common comments were that the movie was beyond silly and that the talented cast was saddled with absurd dialogue. It features Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jason Clarke, Diane Lane and Djimon Hounsou.

Blasts from the Past!

Lots of great older titles are appearing on Blu-ray this week, and the first is from Arrow Video. Khrustalyov, My Car! (1998) is a very well-regarded Russian film about a Jewish surgeon who is wrongly accused of planning to kill the Soviet elite, and must escape and survive in the harsh, Stalinist regime. The Blu-ray includes a new 2K transfer, new English subtitles, a producer audio commentary, a video essay on the film, a short detailing the real life anti-Semitic campaign that the story’s events are based on, as well as interviews with the director and producer, and publicity materials.

Shout! Factory has the goofy horror B-movie, The Brain (1988). This made-in-Canada flick is about a TV show that becomes a big hit, but soon is linked to a series of violent episodes among the public. The leads try to uncover the mystery and find that a giant creature may be the problem, controlling the minds of its viewers. This Blu-ray presents a 4K transfer of the film from the original camera negative, three audio commentaries (one with the director, another with the film’s composer, and a third featuring the star), interviews with other cast members, an appreciation of the film, and still galleries.

They are also debuting Kuffs (1992) in high definition. This quirky action/comedy stars Christian Slater as the title character, a layabout who loses his girlfriend and then learns that his brother has been murdered by criminals. The hero takes it upon himself to solve the crime and stop the guilty party. This movie definitely has its fans and the release comes with plenty of bonuses, including a new audio commentary featuring the co-writer/director and co-writer/producer. An interview with the pair is also included, as is a talk with the movie’s score composer, Harold Faltermeyer (Beverly Hills Cop).

And Shout! also has a Blu-ray of the classic giant monster movie, Tarantula (1955). It’s about, you guessed it, an enormous tarantula roaming and eating its way across the Southwest. The release comes with a new 2K scan of the movie from the original film elements, a film historian commentary and publicity materials.

As usual, Criterion is distributing remarkable and noteworthy Blu-rays. My Brilliant Career (1979) is a well-reviewed, coming-of-age period tale set against the beautiful Australian backcountry. Judy Davis and Sam Neill star. The release includes a director-approved 2K digital restoration of the film, a filmmaker audio commentary, a new interview with the director, a 1980 talk with Davis, a new discussion with the art director and a trailer.

The distributor also has a Blu-ray double bill of two of the best action films of the last 40 years. Jackie Chan’s Police Story (1985) and Police Story 2 (1988) are landmark features delivering jaw-dropping thrills and action. They’re personal favorites of many fans of the actor, and yet have been out-of-print and hard to come by in this part of the world for several years.

Police Story introduces viewers to the noble and honest policeman hero, who is framed for murder and must stop a criminal organization by using every available resource at his disposal. The opening chase down a mountainside and through a village, as well as the shopping mall fight climax, are legendary. Simply put, if you’ve never seen these movies, you’ll be absolutely blown away by them.

Thankfully, both titles been given a wonderful high definition upgrade. Besides both films having been given new 4K restorations, the set includes the longer Hong Kong-release version of Police Story 2, new programs on Chan, his screen persona and action-filmmaking techniques, interviews with the star and stuntmen on the feature, a short from 1964 on Chan’s training at the Peking-opera, a Chan stunt reel, trailers and more.

And for those curious, while the originals didn’t receive a big theatrical release in the US back in the day, Police Story 3 (1992) was put out in North America as Supercop, and Police Story 4 (1996) was released as First Strike. The first two movies, however, may be the best of the bunch. If you like action flicks, this set is a must own.

Vinegar Syndrome has an assortment of B-movie Blu-rays coming your way. They include Spanish horror/mystery The Corruption of Chris Miller (1973) and the American slasher flick, Darkroom (1989). Additionally, they have Grandmother’s House (1989) aka Grandma’s House, a terror flick about some kids who suspect elders in their family of being psychotic killers. Finally, the distributor has a Blu-ray of the erotic feature, Skin-Flicks (1978). The first three include new 4K restorations from the original camera negative, while the last title includes a 2K transfer from the negative. All of the releases include interviews and other extras.

And there’s more. Ammo Content is releasing a Blu-ray of the David Mamet drama, The Spanish Prisoner (1997), which stars Steve Martin, Felicity Huffman and Campbell Scott.

Kino is putting out the Fantomas Three Film Collection box set. The titles featured include: Fantomas (1964), Fantomas Unleashed (1965) and Fantomas vs. Scotland Yard (1967). These are all French/Italian ‘60s crime/comedy/adventure films inspired to some degree by spy movies of the era. However, Fantomas himself is actually the sinister force, and a master of disguise. The original film includes a film historian audio commentary and there are also a few other featurettes and bonuses included.

The same company also has a Special Edition Blu-ray of Hannibal (2001). This sequel to The Silence of the Lambs (1991) once again stars Anthony Hopkins as the title character, and the plot involves the attempts of numerous figures (some just as sinister as the lead himself) to locate and stop his activities.

The disc includes all of the extras released on the previous dvd, including a director commentary, a 75 minute making-of, a breakdown of the fish market action scenes, featurettes on the storyboards and opening titles, over 35 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, an alternate ending and publicity materials.

Severin Films is putting out a couple of genre titles in high definition. They include the New Zealand/Australia co-production of Death Warmed Up (1984) aka Death Warmed and the appropriately titled Italian, low-budget, women-in-prison flick, Escape from Women’s Prison (1978).

Finally, Warner Archive is releasing a Blu-ray of the Gene Kelly/Judy Garland musical Summer Stock (1950). The film has been given a brand new remaster and arrives with a making-of featurette, a trailer, as well as a vintage specialty short and a Tex Avery cartoon that would have played in cinemas along with the movie.

You Know, For Kids!

Here are some titles that may appeal to children.

Adventure Time: The Complete Series (Cartoon Network)

The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection (1976 - 1978)

On the Tube!

And here are the week’s TV-themed highlights.

Adventure Time: The Complete Series (Cartoon Network)

American Masters: Charlie Pride (PBS)

Finding Joy: Series 1

Frontline: Right to Fail (PBS)

Homo Spatius (PBS)

Nature: Living Volcanoes (PBS)

Nova: Decoding the Pyramids (PBS)

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War (PBS)

Wedding March 3: Here Comes the Bride (Hallmark TV-movie)

Wire in the Blood: The Complete Collection

By Glenn Kay
For the Sun