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New on DVD and Blu-ray Week of April 25-May 1

View Harley Lond's Profile

By Harley Lond - 04/25/17 at 12:53 AM CT

FROM THE BIG SCREEN:
"La La Land" was the exhilarating widescreen musical that set hearts thumping in the latter part of 2016, just in time to ameliorate (somewhat) a presidential election that tore the country apart. From the original and creative opening dance number staged on a freeway overpass during Los Angeles rush hour traffic to the alternative, dreamlike film ending, this original, post-modern musical was a breath of fresh air with gorgeous Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling live the Hollywood dream in the top musical of 2016, La La Land visuals, flashy dance sequences, catchy songs, and jazzy score -- not to mention terrific performances by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling (who woulda thought he could be so cute AND sing and dance). The storyline -- kind of "New York, New York" meets "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" -- follows Stone and Gosling as Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts; it's an uplifting movie about everyday life that explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams. Winner of six Academy Awards (Stone won for Best Actress) and a record-breaking seven Golden Globes. Extras include audio commentary with writer-director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz; “Another Day of Sun: They Closed Down a Freeway” featurette; “La La Land's Love Letter to Los Angeles” featurette; the Blu-ray adds seven behind-the-scenes featurettes. From Lionsgate.

Also due this week: "Underworld: Blood Wars," the next installment in the "Underworld" franchise (the fifth) that follows vampire death dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) as she fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. With a pair of allies, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice. Extras include behind-the-scenes featurettes. From Sony.

THIS WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS:


There's plenty of cool collectibles this week, starting off with "Caltiki The Immortal Monster" (1959 - Italy), a collaboration between two giants of Italian cult cinema -- Riccardo Freda ("The Vampires," "The Horrible Dr Hichcock") and Mario Bava ("Five Dolls for an August Moon," "Blood and Black Lace"). A team of archaeologists led by Dr John photo for Caltiki the Immortal Monster Fielding (John Merivale) descends on the ruins of an ancient Mayan city to investigate the mysterious disappearance of its inhabitants. However, the luckless explorers get more than they bargained for when their investigation of a sacrificial pool awakens the monster that dwells beneath its waters -- the fearsome and malevolent god Caltiki. Though Riccardo Freda received sole directing credit, a significant portion of the film was in fact the work of Mario Bava, who also served as its cinematographer and was responsible its striking special effects. Drawing on a diverse array of influences, from "The Quatermass Experiment" to the works of HP Lovecraft, "Caltiki the Immortal Monster" is a unique and unforgettable sci-fi chiller which showcases these two legendary filmmakers at their most inventive. In a Blu-ray/DVD combo, presented for the first time in a newly restored high definition transfer: a new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment ... Also from Arrow is "Django Prepare a Coffin" (1968 - Italy), a classic sixties Spaghetti Western from Ferdinando Baldi ("Texas Addio," "Comin' At Ya!") in which Django the drifter, played by Terence Hill ("They Call Me Trinity"), is hired as executioner to a corrupt local politician who is framing innocent men, sending them to hang in an evil scheme to take hold of their land. But Django has other ideas and, cleverly faking the deaths of the condemned men, he assembles them into a loyal gang who'll help him take down the boss, a man who had a hand in the death of Django's wife years before. In a Blu-ray/DVD combo with a new High Definition digital transfer of the film in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio.

Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas, Dwight Frye star in the spooky, pre-code "The Vampire Bat" (1933). When corpses drained of blood begin surfacing in the small European village of Kleines Schloss, town elders suspect a vampire is on the loose, but photo for The Vampire Bat policeman Karl Brettschneider doubts the existence of such blood-sucking creatures. Arguing the contrary is mad scientist Dr. Otto von Niemann, who is caring for the patients and terrifying his lab assistant, Brettschneider’s love interest Ruth Bertin. Amid mass hysteria, fingers point at the village idiot, Herman Gleib, who has a creepy affinity for bats. But after local vigilantes eliminate him from the picture, the killings continue -- and Brettschneider tries to keep a cool head as he reluctantly starts searching for supernatural answers. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, digitally mastered from new 35mm film elements preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. From The Film Detective.

"Tampopo" (1985 -- Japan) is the tale of an eccentric band of culinary ronin who guide the widow of a noodle shop owner on her quest for the perfect recipe in a rapturous “ramen western” by Japanese director Juzo Itami; it's an entertaining, genre-bending adventure underpinned by a deft satire of the way social conventions distort the most natural of human urges: our appetites. Interspersing the efforts of Tampopo (Nobuko The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray cover for Tampopo Miyamoto) and friends to make her café a success with the erotic exploits of a gastronome gangster and glimpses of food culture both high and low, the sweet, sexy, and surreal "Tampopo" is a lavishly inclusive paean to the sensual joys of nourishment, and one of the most mouthwatering examples of food-on-film ever made. On DVD and Blu-ray in a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection ... In "Rumble Fish" (1983), a deeply personal tale of estrangement and reconciliation between two rebellious brothers, set in a dreamlike and timeless Tulsa, Francis Ford Coppola gives mythic dimensions to intimate, painful emotions. After releasing the classically styled "The Outsiders" earlier the same year, the director returned to the work of S. E. Hinton, this time with a self-described “art film for teenagers.” Graced with a remarkable cast headed by Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Dennis Hopper, Diana Scarwid, Vincent Spano, Nicolas Cage and Chris Penn; haunting black-and-white visuals that hark back to German expressionism and forward to Coppola’s own "Tetro"; and a powerful, percussive score by Stewart Copeland that underscores the movie’s romantic fatalism, "Rumble Fish" pulsates throughout with genuine love and dread. On DVD and Blu-ray with a new 4K digital restoration, supervised by director of photography Stephen H. Burum and approved by Coppola, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Also from Criterion.

BUZZIN' THE 'B'S:


In "The Girl With All the Gifts" (2016) starring Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton and Paddy Considine, humanity has been all but destroyed by a fungal disease that eradicates free will and turns its victims into flesh eating "hungries." Only a small group of children seems immune to its effects. At an army photo for The Marine 5: Battleground base in rural England, these unique children are being studied and subjected to cruel experiments. When the base falls, one little girl escapes and must discover what she is, ultimately deciding both her own future and that of the human race. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Lionsgate ... "The Marine 5: Battleground" (2017), starring Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas, Maryse, Naomi, Heath Slater and Anna Van Hooft, is the fifth installment in the Marine franchise. After returning stateside and now working as an EMT, Jake Carter (Mike "The Miz" Mizanin) finds himself trapped with an injured, marked man he's sworn to save. As a ruthless biker gang bent on revenge gains speed, Carter must use his killer Marine instincts to end the rampage. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Sony ... In "Detour" (2016), starring Tye Sheridan, Emory Cohen and Bel Powley Harper, a naive young law student (Sheridan) blindly enters into a pact with a volatile grifter who offers to kill his stepfather, whom he feels is responsible for the accident that sent his mother into a coma. Complicating matters is the man's stripper companion, Cherry. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Magnolia Home Entertainment.

ON THE INDIE FRONT:


An outrageously madcap and political dark comedy, "Catfight" (2017), starring Sandra Oh, Anne Heche and Alicia Silverstone, follows the rivalry between one-time college pals Veronica (Oh) and Ashley (Heche), whose old wounds are violently ripped open after an unexpected reunion at a cocktail party. Teeth are bared, roles are reversed, and blood is drawn as each woman jockeys for dominance and refuses to go down without a fight. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Dark Sky Films/MPI ... In "Those Left Behind" (2017), starring Daphne Zuniga, Michael Hogan, Debra Mooney and Jack Griff, a family finally comes to terms with the grief over their son's suicide 25 years earlier. From Random Media.

FOR THE FAMILY:


"Peanuts by Schulz: Go Team Go!" (2017) is a new collection that features sports-themed cartoons from the newly launched "Peanuts "cable television series. The two-disc DVD set includes 19 episodes; the new cartoons are based directly on original Peanuts print comics, which are brought to life via beautifully animated vignettes that recreate the look and feel of Schulz’s iconic strip. From Warner.

SPECIAL INTEREST:


"Mifune: The Last Samurai" (2015) is a documentary that explores the accidental movie career of Toshiro Mifune, one of the true giants of world cinema. Mifune made 16 remarkable films with director Akira Kurosawa during the Golden Age of Japanese Cinema, photo for Mifune: The Last Samurai including "Rashomon," "Seven Samurai" and "Yojimbo." Together they thrilled audiences and influenced filmmaking around the world, providing direct inspiration for not only "The Magnificent Seven" and Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood’s breakthrough, "A Fistful of Dollars," but also George Lucas’ "Star Wars." Narrated By Keanu Reeves and with interviews with Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. From Strand Releasing ... "We Are X" (2017) is a transcendent and beautifully shot rock ‘n' roll story about the Japanese band X Japan, one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Under the enigmatic direction of Yoshiki, composer, classically-trained pianist, drummer/percussionist, and the creative force behind the group, X Japan has sold over 30 million singles and albums combined, captivating such a wide range of admirers such as George Martin, Gene Simmons, Marilyn Manson, Stan Lee, and the Japanese Emperor, while pioneering a spectacle-driven style of visual rock called Visual Kei, a one-of-a-kind cultural phenomenon. "We Are X" is an astonishingly intimate portrait of a deeply haunted -- but truly unstoppable -- virtuoso and the music that has enthralled legions of the world's most devoted fans. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc, from Magnolia Home Entertainment. Check out the trailer:


FROM TV TO DVD:


"Animal Kingdom: The Complete First Season" (2016) is a three-disc DVD or two-disc Blu-ray set with all 10 episodes. Inspired by the critically acclaimed 2010 Australian movie by the same name, the series centers on 17-year-old "J" Cody, who moves in with his freewheeling relatives in their Southern California beach town after his mother dies of an overdose. Headed by boot-tough matriarch "Smurf" Cody and her right-hand Baz, who runs the business and calls the shots, the clan also consists of Pope, the oldest and most dangerous of the Cody boys; Craig, the tough and fearless middle son; and Deran, the troubled, suspicious "baby" of the family. It isn't long before J is pulled into the family's life of indulgence and excess, but he soon discovers that it's all being funded by criminal activities. Joining the family comes with more danger and excitement than he might be ready to handle. From Warner.

Check out other April 25-May 1 DVD/Blu-ray releases and reviews at OnVideo.

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