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You are here: Community Film DVD/Blu-ray Roundup for May 24, 2019

DVD/Blu-ray Roundup for May 24, 2019

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Welcome to another look at new releases arriving on Blu-ray and DVD. It’s a busy edition with a wide variety of discs hitting store shelves. 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!

Big Brother - Released in Hong Kong as Dai si hing, this foreign-language action/comedy follows an ex-soldier turned schoolteacher who is tasked with instructing a group of delinquent kids. When a nasty entrepreneur decides he’d like to tear down the institute, the hero and kids team up to stop the hostile takeover. The movie was successful in its homeland. While there aren’t a lot of notices for it in this part of the world, the ones that have appeared online are complimentary. The cast includes Donnie Yen, Joe Chen and Kang Yu.

A Dark Place - A socially awkward Pennsylvania garbage man tries to make ends meet and take care of his daughter. However, when a young child in the area goes missing, the trash collector starts to become obsessed with figuring out what happened. Using his job and familiarity with the residents, the protagonist begins to uncover strange leads that put him on the outs with locals. Half the reviews indicated the screenplay simply wasn’t strong enough and left too many plot holes to overcome. Just as many admired the lead performance and thought his work made up for the movie’s weaknesses. It stars Andrew Scott, Denise Gough, Bronagh Waugh and J.D. Evermore.

Drunk Parents - After sending their daughter off to college, a couple realizes they need more cash to support her education. They decide to hold a secret evening garage sale and furnish the event (and themselves) with copious amounts of alcohol. Over the course of events, they’re forced to deal with difficult neighbors, as well as their own issues. This comedy didn’t get a big release. Despite the impressive cast, complaints have been raised about the screenplay, asserting that the movie is nothing more than a series of bluntly delivered and unfunny gags. Alec Baldwin, Salma Hayek, Jim Gaffigan, Joe Manganiello, Treat Williams, Michelle Veintimilla and Colin Quinn headline the feature.

Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable - This documentary chronicles the life of street photographer Garry Winogrand, whose work displayed the cultural upheaval in American cities like New York during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Using interviews and shots from his collection, the movie paints a picture of his life. And when reels of undeveloped film are discovered, the makers reveal new snapshots from the famous artist. This feature earned excellent reviews from critics. The majority commented that the movie did an excellent job of giving background information about the subject to newcomers, and thought it displayed some fascinating photos, both new and old, from the artist.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World - The third (and presumably final) chapter in this popular animated series continues the story of Berk and his dragon pal. Now leader of a new utopia where humans and dragons coexist, the hero finds his kingdom in danger from a new threat. In order to save the group, he searches for a fabled land that can provide safety from the invading force. The press was upbeat about this follow-up. Most reviewers felt it was a perfectly fine and fitting finale to the family series, with plenty of great visuals, excitement and a few laughs. The voice cast includes Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Kit Harington, Craig Ferguson and F. Murray Abraham.

The Image Book - The latest from acclaimed French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless, Alphaville, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her) is a unique documentary believed to be a rumination on dreams and their meanings, as well as their influence on us as human beings. Or at least, that’s what some reviewers thought that it might be about. The majority explained that the movie would please Godard’s fans and offer up plenty of food for thought about life, and the language of cinema. They also complemented it for being ambitious and completely different from anything else out there.

Isn’t It Romantic - A cynical working girl disenchanted with romance takes a knock on the head and finds herself transplanted into a colorful, film-like world of true love. Initially, the lead is horrified by everyone’s friendliness and their ability to instantly fall for one another. However, she begins to question her own biases about love and romance as she finds herself pursued by a suitor. Notices were very good for this rom-com. Most found the star appealing and enjoyed the attempts to poke fun at the more exaggerated elements of these flicks. It features Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam Devine and Priyanka Chopra.

Let the Sunshine In - This foreign-language rom-com from France involves a divorced Parisian painter who decides to move forward with her life and date new people. After finding potential suitors, she struggles with options that include a married banker, a self-involved actor dealing with his own hang-ups, and an artist with commitment issues. These encounters lead the woman to wonder if she really needs a man at all. Reaction towards the movie has been positive. The consensus was that this effort felt far more authentic and entertaining than typical romantic comedies. The cast includes Juliette Binoche, Xavier Beauvois and Gérard Depardieu.

Science Fair - Each year, high school students interested in pursuing a career in science compete at local science fairs in the hopes of qualifying to take part in the International Science Fair. This documentary follows nine specific individuals (among the 1700 competitors from 78 countries) who make it to the final stage. It shows how they deal with stress, adapt their concepts and ideas into a compelling presentation, and present their material to various judges. Write-ups complimented the movie for being an upbeat and positive endeavor that promotes science, while also providing enough drama to keep the average viewer engaged.

Sorry Angel - Set in 1993, this French drama involves a married writer who meets a young film student while traveling to Brittany. The two men become smitten with each other and begin a relationship, leading to numerous complications. The summary of the film suggests that the tale is a generational snapshot of courting, and deals with the complexity and emotions involved in their unexpectedly accelerated and intense courtship. Reviews were generally strong. Most appreciated it as a subtle, sincere and effective love story that improves as it progresses. It features Vincent Lacoste and Pierre Deladonchamps.

Trading Paint - This action film involves car racing and depicts a father and son whose winning streak behind the wheel begins to falter. As their team begins losing, the two begin to disagree over how to correct the problem. A rival offers the younger man a position racing with his squad. Soon, both men are on the track and competing against each other in a series of dangerous competitions. Critics note that despite the solid concept and lead actor, the end results were dull, predictable and lacking in thrills. The movie stars John Travolta, Toby Sebastian, Shania Twain, Michael Madsen and Kevin Dunn.

The Upside - An ex-convict is forced into applying for various jobs to cash in his unemployment check. One of his scheduled interviews is for taking on the role of caregiver to a paraplegic writer. The scribe takes a shine to the man’s honesty and straight-forwardness toward his condition. The two form a close personal relationship and influence each other in various ways. It appears that the press had a mixed-negative response to this remake of the 2011 French hit, The Intouchables. It stars Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman.

White Chamber - This sci-fi thriller is set in a future where the UK has come under the control of an oppressive government. A woman wakes up in a solitary cell, where she is grilled by officials about her involvement in a revolutionary movement. As her captor engages in sophisticated methods to extract information, the audience must determine what is happening and who is actually telling the truth. Responses towards this independent feature were varied. Nearly half thought that it did offer some surprises and unexpected twists, while the rest felt that the reveal came too late to salvage earlier sections of the film. The cast includes Shauna Macdonald and Oded Fehr.

Blasts from the Past!

Plenty of older titles are getting high definiton upgrades. Arrow Video has a Blu-ray of the cult female biker flick, She-Devils on Wheels (1968). This low-budget flick from Herschell Gordon Lewis (Blood Feast, 2000 Maniacs) definitely has a following, and this release includes a bevy of bonuses. They include a second Lewis feature called Just for the Hell of It! (1968), as well as introductions to both movies from the director himself, a director commentary, discussions from horror historians on the filmmaker and his influence, a promo gallery, and an interview with Lewis on another title he made the same year, The Alley Tramp (1968).

They are also releasing Trapped Alive (1988) as a Special Edition Blu-ray. This one’s about a home invasion that leads to criminals and their hostages falling into a mine, and then being pursued by a monstrous cannibal. The release includes a 2K restoration of the movie, three audio commentaries (one with the director, another with the special effects team and writer, and a final fan track), a brand new making-of documentary, a 1988 TV special on the making of the movie, and an interview with the filmmaker. Sounds like a lot of bonuses for a relatively obscure horror flick.

Shout! Factory has plenty of new Blu-rays as well. The first is a 2-disc Collector’s Edition of the crazy disaster flick, Earthquake (1974). This one features an all-star cast of performers (including Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, George Kennedy, Lorne Greene, Richard Roundtree, and Walter Matthau) enduring a massive earthquake in Los Angeles. The disc includes a new 2K scan of the interpositive of the theatrical cut, with archival interviews with the cast, as well as all kinds of publicity materials.

The second disc contains a 2K scan reconstruction of the extended TV-cut (which runs 20 minutes longer), new featurettes on the Sensurround process used for the movie, the matte painting world and the score. The release also includes even more additional TV footage taken from the best available elements. Sounds like a blast!

They are also putting out a Blu-ray of The Hunted (1995), an action film starring Christopher Lambert as a businessman who witnesses a murder while in Japan, and becomes a target of a criminal organization. The disc includes a new director audio commentary, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage and some promo material. Most interestingly, it also contains a workprint cut of the movie (in standard definition) with extended, alternate and deleted scenes. I had always heard that the feature had been heavily edited and will be very interested to see the original assembly.

Additionally, Shout! is releasing The Seduction (1982), a thriller starring Morgan Fairchild about a woman being stalked by a psychopath. This Blu-ray includes new interviews with Fairchild, co-star Andrew Stevens, and the producer. You’ll also get an audio commentary with the writer/director and producer, and multiple featurettes with the cast and crew, and trailers.

Kino has loads of new Blu-rays as well. They’ve got a Special Edition of the well regarded Roman Polanski thriller, Bitter Moon (1992). It comes with a new interview with co-star Peter Coyote, a film historian audio commentary, and a trailer. You can also pick up a Special Edition Blu-ray of Black Moon Rising (1986). This action-thriller starring Tommy Lee Jones includes a film historian commentary, an interview with the film’s director, talks with the producer and score composer, a short about the film’s screenwriter, John Carpenter (Halloween), an archival documentary, alternate scenes from the Hong Kong version, and the trailer.

And there’s more! Kino is releasing Midas Run (1969) on Blu-ray with a film historian commentary. On top of that, they’ve got a Special Edition of Oliver Stone’s biopic, Nixon (1995) that includes the theatrical and director’s cuts, a new film expert commentary, an hour of deleted scenes introduced by Stone, a Nixon documentary, an interview with the director, a making-of and the trailer. Additionally, you can pick up Ring of Bright Water (1969), a tale which involves a mischievous otter. This Blu-ray also comes with a critic commentary.

Furthermore, Kino is putting out a Blu-ray of the UK crime flick, Robbery (1967) (which also includes a film expert track) and the WWI fighter pilot flick, Von Richthofen and Brown (1971). The latter disc comes with a new interview with director Roger Corman.

Warner Archive has something really special this week...a Shaft Triple Feature on Blu-ray, no doubt as a result of a new redo hitting cinemas in the near future. You can pick up Shaft (1971), Shaft’s Big Score! (1972) and Shaft in Africa (1973) all together in one package, or buy any of the films individually. Richard Roundtree stars as the titular private detective who hunts for a kidnap victim in the first title, investigates the murder of a friend in the sequel, and takes down a slavery cartel in the third and final flick of the original trilogy. They’re all extremely entertaining and it’s exciting to see them all hit Blu-ray.

And that’s not all. There are two box sets arriving called the RKO Classics Romances Collection. The titles featured include Sin Takes a Holiday, Millie, Kept Husbands, The Lady Refuses and The Woman Between (all made between 1930 and 1931). Their other release, the RKO Classic Adventures Collection, contains The Pay-Off, The Silver Horde and The Painted Desert (also produced between 1930 and 1931).

Finally, the Cohen Media Group is delivering a Blu-ray of the James Ivory period drama, The Bostonians (1984), featuring Christopher Reeve and Vanessa Redgrave.

You Know, For Kids!

Here are some kid-friendly releases coming your way.

The Loud House: Relative Chaos - Season 2, Volume 1 (Nickelodeon)

Pokémon: The Series – Sun & Moon Ultimate Adventures (Pokemon.com)

Splash and Bubbles: The Kelp Forest (PBS Kids)

On the Tube!

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

13 Reasons Why: Season 2

Call the Midwife: Series 8

Les Miserables (2018-2019) (PBS)

Lost Treasures of the Maya (National Geographic)

The Loud House: Relative Chaos - Season 2, Volume 1 (Nickelodeon)

The Perfect Bride: Wedding Bells (Hallmark TV-movie)

Splash and Bubbles: The Kelp Forest (PBS Kids)

By Glenn Kay
For the Sun