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New on DVD and Blu-ray Week of March 15-21

View Harley Lond's Profile

By Harley Lond - 03/15/16 at 03:52 AM CT

FROM THE BIG SCREEN THIS WEEK:
"Carol": This adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's ("The Talented Mr. Ripley," "Strangers on a Train") seminal novel "The Price of Salt" follows two women from very different backgrounds who find themselves in an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. As conventional norms of the time challenge their attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change. A young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett start an illicit romance in the top 2015 drama, Carol. (Rooney Mara), is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), an alluring, older woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. There's an immediate connection between them, and the film charts the ups and downs of their relationship as they are buffeted by Carol's indignant, abusive husband as well as by her jealous ex-lover. Brilliant acting, cinematography, lighting and editing put this film at the top of our list for best films of the year (though the Academy overlooked it for a best picture nom). Two women in love was a forbidden love in the 1950s (and maybe still, today, to the Academy), and director Todd Haynes and cinematographer Edward Lachman's camerawork highlights the clandestine affair by shooting through gauzy curtains and clouded windows. A work of art! From The Weinstein Co.

"The Big Short": It's been seven years since the housing market bubble burst and the world was pushed into a major economic recession. How did it happen? Greedy and corrupt Wall Street investors and bankers -- taking advantage of lowered federal regulations -- made subprime housing loans to people who couldn't afford them, then packaged the loans as investment vehicles for other bankers and investment firms. In 2008, Wall Street guru Michael Burry (Christian Bale) realized that a number of subprime home loans were in danger of defaulting, and he bet against the housing market by throwing more than $1 billion of his investors' money into credit default swaps. His actions attracted the attention of banker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), hedge-fund specialist Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and other opportunists. Together, they made a fortune by taking full advantage of the impending economic collapse. Director Adam McKay's satirical and enlightening look at the machinations of big money is based on the best-selling book by Michael Lewis. The film won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Co-stars Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo, Selena Gomez, Hamish Linklater, Rafe Spall. Extras on the Blu-ray include several behind-the-scenes featurettes and deleted scenes. From Paramount.

"Sisters": When it comes to clicking together in comedy routines, it's undeniable that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler can make magic -- but not in this film. The pair play the Ellis sisters, the seemingly-responsible Maura (Poehler) and the impossibly hotheaded Kate (Fey), who return home to clean out the old junk in their bedroom after their retired parents put the family home on the market. As they rummage through the memories of their teen years, they hatch a crazy plan: one final "Ellis Island" blowout for their ex-classmates, a party to end all parties. Unfortunately, by the time we get to the "rager," we're so bogged down by the lame dialogue, bathroom humor, nasty sexual jokes and filthy words, that what's supposed to be an insane blow-out becomes a mundane yawner. Fey and Poehler can do better. Co-stars Maya Rudolph, Ike Barinholtz, John Leguizamo, John Cena, James Brolin, Dianne Wiest, Rachel Dratch, Samantha Bee and Kate McKinnon. Includes an unrated version not seen in movie theaters. From Universal.

Also due this week: "Brooklyn" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip," both of which were not available for review.

THIS WEEK'S BEST BETS:


Two wonderfully thrilling films are due this week, one each from The Criterion Collection and Arrow Video. Criterion's release of "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962) does justice to this classic film (which, rumor had it, was removed from distribution by the film's star, Frank Sinatra, after the John F. Kennedy assassination on November 22, 1963; that has been denied by those close to the film but, still, "The Manchurian Candidate" was out of The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray Cover for The Manchurian Candidate circulation for two decades until the late 1980s). John Frankenheimer directed this quintessential 60s political thriller that was notable for its critique of Machiavellian politics and -- for its time -- extreme violence. Set in the early fifties, this razor-sharp adaptation of the novel by Richard Condon concerns decorated U.S. Army sergeant Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), who as a prisoner during the Korean War is brainwashed into being a sleeper assassin in a Communist conspiracy, and a fellow POW (Frank Sinatra) who slowly uncovers the sinister plot. In an unforgettable, Oscar-nominated performance, Angela Lansbury plays Raymond's villainous mother, the controlling wife of a witch-hunting anti-Communist senator with his eyes on the White House. The film also features a sexy, stunning performance by Janet Leigh. The rare film to be suffused with Cold War paranoia while also taking aim at the frenzy of the McCarthy era, "The Manchurian Candidate" remains potent, shocking American moviemaking. One of our all-time favorites. On DVD and Blu-ray, with a new, restored 4K digital transfer, with Rage of Honor Blu-Ray Cover uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Arrow has this week the ultimate in martial arts revenge: Sho Kosugi's "Rage of Honor" (1987) on Blu-ray only. Following his star turns in '80s actioners "Enter the Ninja" and "Revenge of the Ninja," Sho Kosugi continued his domination of the U.S. martial arts movie world with 1987's "Rage of Honor" -- helmed once again by "Pray for Death" director Gordon Hessler ("The Golden Voyage of Sinbad"). Federal agent Shiro Tanaka (Kosugi) used to live for his job -- now, he lives only for revenge. When his partner is killed during a bungled drug bust, Shiro throws away his badge and the rule book with it: Arming himself with an array of deadly weaponry -- including nunchucks, blades and ninja stars -- he sets out to Buenos Aires to settle the score with the bad guys. Packing explosions, flying kicks and somersaults aplenty (as well as some truly logic-bending stunt sequences), "Rage of Honor" sees Kosugi at the top of his game as he battles his way from the streets of the urban jungle to the very literal jungles of South America. In a high definition presentation from a transfer of original elements by MGM.

Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney ("Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief," "The Armstrong Lie," "We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks," "Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place," "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room") is an expert at exploring controversial subjects, exposing political and economic corruption, investigating the vagaries of pop culture, and debunking the myths surrounding the rich and famous. Here he Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine Blu-Ray Cover turns his lens on Apple founder Steve Jobs and his legacy in "Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine" (2015), pulling no punches as he examines the life and career of the bold, brilliant and at times ruthless iconoclast (he was quick to step on friends as well as enemies to maintain his power, and even disavowed his oldest daughter). The documentary covers his rise from a Silicon Valley garage to his ouster as Apple CEO and subsequent return, along with high-profile controversies including stock backdating, poor working and living conditions for factory workers, and the use of overseas tax shelters. Gibney's brilliance is in putting Jobs' life into the context of the culture of Silicon Valley: a cutthroat world masquerading as benevolent provider of high-tech gadgets. Jobs was a visionary, but he was also a very flawed human. Features archival footage, intimate photos, rare videos, and exclusive interviews with Chrisana Brennan, the mother of his oldest daughter, and former Apples execs Andy Grignon, Jon,Rubinstein, Bob Belleville and Daniel Kottke. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Magnolia Home Entertainment.

FOR THE FAMILY:


In "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Half-Shell Heroes: Blast to the Past" (2016), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles accidentally time travel back to the Jurassic Era and encounter friendly dinosaurs from the past and dangerous aliens from the future who have a nefarious plan of their own. A favorite among little boys, from Paramount.

SPECIAL INTEREST:


"Addiction Incorporated" (2011), is the true story of Victor DeNoble, one of the most important and influential whistle blowers of all time. In the 1980s, DeNoble was a research scientist at a major tobacco company, where he was tasked with finding a substitute for nicotine that would not cause heart attacks. He succeeded- but in the process, he proved something that the industry had been denying for years: that cigarettes were addictive. He also uncovered a new addictive ingredient- setting off a chain of events that still reverberates even today. In a true act of modern-day heroism, DeNoble took his findings to DVD Cover for Addiction Incorporated the people despite a strict confidentiality agreement, eventually testifying about his research in the infamous 1994 Congressional hearings with the seven heads of the major tobacco companies. From Virgil Films ... In "What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy" (2015), a human-rights lawyer conducts conversations with two men whose fathers were indicted as war criminals for their roles in WWII. Three men travel together across Europe. For two of them the journey involves a confrontation with the acts of their fathers, who were both senior Nazi officers. For the third, the eminent human rights lawyer and author Philippe Sands, it means visiting the place where much of his own Jewish family was destroyed by the fathers of the two men he has come to know. It's an emotional, psychological exploration of three men wrestling with their past, the present of Europe -- and conflicting versions of the truth. From Oscilloscope Laboratories ... "Censored Voices" (2015) is a remarkable historical document of Israel's 1967 six-day war revealing previously censored recordings by young soldiers returning from the battlefield. The Six-Day War of 1967, wherein Israel launched a preemptive strike against the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian troops amassed on its borders, is revisited and reconsidered in Mor Loushy's extraordinary historical chronicle. DVD Cover for Censored Voices With its decisive victory over just a few short days, Israel nearly tripled its size with its newly occupied lands and, brimming with relief, joy and pride, a new national narrative of manifest destiny emerged. But drowned out by the euphoria, other voices -- many of those who fought in the war -- had something different to say. One week after the Israeli-Arab conflict, Amos Oz (soon to be a celebrated author) and editor Avraham Shapira arranged to record conversations with returning soldiers about their experiences on the brief battlefield. These intensely candid interviews capture the young men wrestling with the question of the responsibility of the conqueror to the conquered, the paradox of a people who fled oppression who must now oppress to preserve their security, and the still fervent hope for a lasting peace with their Arab neighbors. The Israeli Defense Force partially censored the recordings at the time, but transcripts became the basis for the book "The Seventh Day: Soldiers' Talk About the Six-Day War" in 1970. This documentary reveals the complete original recordings for the first time, as it reconnects with the former soldiers, now men in their seventies, as they listen to their younger selves. The recordings are juxtaposed with rare newsreel footage and photography of the Six-Day War. The recipient of the 2015 Best Documentary Award at the Israeli Film Academy, the Best Israeli Documentary prize at the 2015 Ophir Awards (the Israeli equivalent of the Academy Awards), and the Yafo Award for Best Debut Film and Research Award at the 2015 DocAviv Film Festival. From Music Box Films.

FROM TV TO DVD:


"CHiPs: The Complete Fourth Season" (1980-81) is a five-disc set with all 21 episodes. In Season Four, the highway adventures continue with Ponch and Jon as they continue to keep the busy freeway of California safe from crime. Whether making routine stops for speeding or nabbing criminals on the run, California Highway Patrol is on the case. Nothing can stop these fearless partners, as they hit the streets of Southern California, in the pursuit of justice and highway safety. From Warner ... "Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove: The Final Season" (2015), starring Andie MacDowell, Teryl Rothery and Sebastian Spence, is the final chapter of the Hallmark Channel series that follows Judge Olivia Lockhart as she strives to balance her personal life and career as Cedar Cove's Municipal Court Judge. Based on the best-selling book series. From Cinedigm ... The hot property this week is "Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season" (2015), a TV and home video darling. Season 5 begins with a power vacuum that protagonists across Westeros and Essos look to fill. At Castle Black, Jon Snow struggles to balance the demands of the Night's Watch with those of newly-arrived Stannis Baratheon, who styles himself the rightful king of Westeros. Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-Ray Cover Meanwhile, Cersei scrabbles to hold on to power in King's Landing amidst the Tyrells and the rise of a religious group led by the enigmatic High Sparrow, while Jaime embarks on a secret mission. Across the Narrow Sea, Arya seeks an old friend while a fugitive Tyrion finds a new cause. And as danger mounts in Meereen, Daenerys Targaryen finds that her tenuous hold on the city requires some hard sacrifices. This season features some of the most explosive scenes yet, as the promise that "winter is coming" becomes more ominous than ever before. Winner of 12 Emmy Awards (the most of any series in one year) and a Guinness World Record holder for the largest simultaneous broadcast of a TV drama (in 173 countries and territories worldwide). On five-disc DVD, four-disc Blu-ray. The copious extras include "Anatomy of an Episode: Mother's Mercy"; "The Real History Behind Game of Thrones"; 12 audio commentaries with cast and crew including David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Iain Glen, Maisie Williams, Natalie Dormer, Gwendoline Christie and more; four deleted scenes; "A Day in the Life" inside look at the production process of Season 5; "New Characters/New Locations." The Blu-ray version adds "The Dance of Dragons" story of the DVD Cover for The Nanny: The Final Season Greens and the Blacks, the Targaryen civil war that led to the downfall of the dragons; "In-Episode Guides" that provides background information about on-screen characters, locations, and relevant histories; "Histories and Lore" explores the mythology of Westeros and Essos as told from the varying perspectives of the characters themselves in 14 history pieces. From HBO ... "The Nanny: The Final Season" (1998-99) is a three-disc set with all 21 episodes plus the hour-long finale. The fashionably faultless Fran Drescher is back to bring the whole shmeer to a close in the series' final season. Finally married to the dashing Broadway producer Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy), the former Miss Fine is a nanny no longer. But just as soon as Fran and Maxwell settle into marital bliss, they each announce a big production that will change the lives of the Sheffield family forever. From Shout! Factory.

Check out other March 15-21 DVD releases and reviews at OnVideo.

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