By Harley Lond - 05/12/15 at 10:20 PM CT
THIS WEEK'S THEATRICAL RELEASES:
"Still Alice": Julianne Moore won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role as Alice Howland, a renowned linguistics professor, happily married with three grown children, who -- in an irony not lost on her -- begins to forget words. When she receives a diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease, Alice and her family struggle to cope with the deterioration of her emotional and intellectual being. It's painful, honest, sensitive and, ultimately, humanly uplifting. Moore handles the debilitating disease with her usual depth and bravery, but the surprise in this wonderful production is Kristen Stewart, who turns in an Oscar worthy performance as one of Alice's daughters. Co-stars Kate Bosworth, Alec Baldwin, Victoria Cartagena, Hunter Parrish. Extras for Still Alice include deleted scenes and three featurettes, one of which, "Finding Alice," has the cast, filmmakers and Alzheimer's experts discuss what went into creating an accurate depiction of Alice Howland's disease. From Sony.
"Mortdecai" (2015), starring Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany, Olivia Munn, Oliver Platt, Aubrey Plaza and Jeff Goldblum, is a failed spy spoof that bombed at the boxoffice and made most critics scowl. The nonsense-ridden film has debonair art dealer and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) going up against some angry Russians, the British Mi5, and an international terrorist to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold. Not even for Depp fans. On DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate.
It's been six years since director Michael Mann ("The Insider," "Heat," "Miami Vice") has had a big screen outing (the last, "Public Enemies" in 2009, was a lackluster period crime drama) and, unfortunately, "Blackhat" is not an auspicious return. The thriller is set in the world of global cybercrime and follows a furloughed convict (Chris Hemsworth) as he hunts a high-level cybercrime network from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta. It's tedious and boring and wastes the talents of Hemsworth and co-star Viola Davis. This one opened and closed in a nano-second. On DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Universal.
For something completely different, take a look at "These Final Hours" (2014), a low-budget Australian end-of-the-world drama that kind of mixes "On the Beach" with a taste of "Mad Max." After an asteroid lands in the North Atlantic, a firestorm of destruction moves around the world, wiping out the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia, with the last stop on the road to total destruction being Australia. With just 12 hours left to go before the end of the world, the citizens of Perth celebrate in a variety of ways: murder, suicide, sexual perversions and a gigantic party to end all parties. One such partygoer is James (Nathan Phillips), a self-absorbed hooligan who leaves his pregnant girlfriend to meet up with his mates at an end-of-the-world affair. As he travels through the now lawless and chaotic city, he meets all sorts of unsavory situations and characters, eventually saving a little girl from a pair of predators. The girl begs him to help her find her father -- whom she was separated from -- and James -- against his "better" judgement -- takes her with him. He ends up at the party -- a debauched orgy of Russian roulette, sex and drugs -- but discovers that there's a better way in which to celebrate the end of existence. Despite some predictable and sentimental situations, this is an absorbing look at human nature under fire (so to speak), with beautiful moments co-existing with the ugly (just like in real life). The movie sputters here and there but overall it's a riveting, straight ahead trip through a blood-soaked world that, despite its shortcomings, offers redemption. An auspicious outing from young Australian director-writer Zak Hilditch (with superb cinematography by Bonnie Elliott). Co-stars Sarah Snook, Angourie Rice, Jessica de Gouw, Kathryn Beck, Daniel Henshall, Lynette Curran. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Well Go USA.
THIS WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS:
Heading up the releases this week are two blasts from the past, both from TV:
Culled from over 1,000 hours of classic television from 1948 to 1971, this new, six-disc collection of "The Best of the Ed Sullivan Show" ($59.95) delivers unforgettable performances and rare appearances from the biggest names in music, comedy and variety: Includes rare appearances by Barbra Streisand, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire; rock 'n' roll's greatest, including Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Buddy Holly, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, The Byrds, Janis Joplin; comedic talents Milton Berle, Carol Burnett, George Carlin, Rodney Dangerfield, Phyllis Diller, Jackie Gleason, Bob Hope, Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, the Smothers Brothers, Flip Wilson; classic Broadway performances from "My Fair Lady," "Man of la Mancha" and "West Side Story"; the best of the daring acrobats, challenging balancing acts and dexterous jugglers, selected by Sullivan as his personal favorites; Zippy the roller-skating chimp, Heidi the Talking Dog, the legendary Lipizzaner stallions and more than a dozen other amazing animal acts; Sullivan in a rare comic sketch with comedy legends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The DVD set includes the only surviving on-camera interview with Ed and Sylvia Sullivan; exclusive interviews with Milton Berle, Phyllis Diller, Shari Lewis, Johnny Mathis, Michelle Phillips, Joan Rivers, Smokey Robinson, Senor Wences, Flip Wilson and more. From StarVista Entertainment/Time Life ... If you want a slightly modified version of the best of Ed Sullivan, then try "The Best of the Ed Sullivan Show: Unforgettable Performances."This single disc hosted by Carol Burnett features the very best of the sensational talent that Sullivan gathered over the years, including Presley, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, influential performers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, James Brown and Sammy Davis Jr, comedy legends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, rare performances from Barbra Streisand and Bobby Darin and more. $12.99 from StarVista Entertainment/Time Life ... Nest up is "The Midnight Special," a three-disc set with more than four hours of classic performances from the 1970s groundbreaking late-night live TV show. A cultural phenomenon and visual spectacle, "The Midnight Special" was the show to watch for incredible live performances by the biggest music acts of the 70s. From rock and pop to R&B and country, millions of music fans faithfully tuned in every week for the sounds, the fashions, the humor ... and the crazy hair. Among the many highlights of the set are an incredible 7+ minute "Moondance" performance featuring Van Morrison, Carlos Santana, Etta James, George Benson and Dr. John; as well as Heart pounding out "Crazy on You," Steely Dan reeling off "Reeling in the Years" and "Do it Again," and Jim Croce performing his 1972 hit "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)." Other live performances include (in alphabetical order): Bay City Rollers: "Saturday Night," Glen Campbell: "Southern Nights," Charlie Daniels Band: "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," Christopher Cross: "Sailing," Natalie Cole: "I've Got Love on My Mind," Earth, Wind & Fire: "Shining Star," Aretha Franklin: "Something He Can Feel," Gloria Gaynor: "I Will Survive," Heart: "Crazy On You," Etta James & Dr. John: "I'd Rather Go Blind," Barry Manilow: "Mandy": "It's a Miracle," Dolly Parton: "Jolene": "I Will Always Love You," REO Speedwagon: "Keep on Loving You," Linda Ronstadt: "You're No Good," Carlos Santana & George Benson: "Breezin'," Spinners: "Could it Be I'm Falling in Love," Donna Summer: "Love to Love You Baby," Wild Cherry: "Play the Funky Music." On DVD, $29.95 from StarVista Entertainment/Time Life.
Two classics make their way to home theaters this week:
"Make Way for Tomorrow" (1937), by Leo McCarey ("An Affair to Remember"), is one of the great unsung Hollywood masterpieces, an enormously moving Depression-era depiction of the frustrations of family, aging, and the generation gap. Beulah Bondi and Victor Moore headline a cast of incomparable character actors, starring as an elderly couple who must move in with their grown children after the bank takes their home, yet end up separated and subject to their offspring's selfish whims. An inspiration for Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story," this is among American cinema's purest tearjerkers, all the way to its unflinching ending, which McCarey refused to change despite studio pressure. In a new Blu-ray release, in a high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. Extras include "Tomorrow, Yesterday, and Today," an interview from 2009 featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich discussing the career of McCarey and "Make Way for Tomorrow"; a video interview from 2009 with critic Gary Giddins, in which he talks about McCarey's artistry and the political and social context of the film; a booklet featuring essays by critic Tag Gallagher and filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, and an excerpt from film scholar Robin Wood's 1998 piece "Leo McCarey and Family Values." From The Criterion Collection ... The folks at Cohen Film Collection are offering up the Blu-ray debut of"Jamaica Inn" (1939), starring Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara, Marie Ney, Leslie Banks and Robert Newton. Alfred Hitchcock's visually inventive film, seen for years in substandard prints and home video releases, has been fully restored in 4K in collaboration with the British Film Institute from an archival picture negative. "Jamaica Inn" was Hitchcock's last prewar film and the last from his great English period before he went to Hollywood. It was his first of three films based on the work of Daphne du Maurier, to be followed by "Rebecca" and "The Birds." Also available on DVD. Extras include commentary by critic Jeremy Arnold, a new video essay by Alfred Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto, and the 2014 re-release trailer.
More flashbacks: Universal is releasing "Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection Blu-ray" (1978-80), featuring both original "Battlestar Galactica" TV series remastered for the first time in 16:9 widescreen presentation, plus the theatrical version of the premiere episode "Saga of a Star World" presented in 1.85:1 widescreen. The set includes widescreen and 4:3 full screen (TV) presentations of all 24 episodes of "Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series," widescreen and 4:3 full screen (TV) presentations of all 10 episodes of the spin-off "Galactica 1980: The Complete Series," and "Battlestar Galactica," the 125-minute theatrical edit of the premiere episode "Saga of a Star World."
In "Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series," the Twelve Colonies, hopeful for lasting peace following centuries of intense warfare, gather to sign a treaty with their dreaded enemies, the Cylons. But after an act of treachery on the eve of the ceremony, the Cylons launch a devastating surprise attack, destroying the Colonies' home planets and most of their military strength. A lone flagship battlestar, the Galactica, remains to aid the surviving colonists on their epic journey to a new home on a far-off, legendary planet—Earth. The series starred Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict, Lorne Greene, Herbert Jefferson Jr., John Colicos , Maren Jensen, Noah Hathaway, Laurette Spang, Tony Swartz and Terry Carter. "Galactica 1980: The Complete Series" picks up 30 years after the events of "Battlestar Galactica," as the original crew finally makes the long-anticipated descent to Earth. With time running out and the Cylons closing in on their trail, Commander Adama and the Galactica team work harder than ever to help Earth create the technology necessary for battle. Starred Kent McCord, Barry Van Dyke, Robyn Douglass and Lorne Greene.
Extras include more than three hours of deleted scenes; "Remembering Battlestar Galactica," a 45-minute retrospective documentary featuring cast and crew on the making of the ground-breaking series; episode commentary with Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict and Herbert Jefferson Jr.; show creator Glen Larson on the "Creation of Battlestar Galactica"; "Stu Phillips: Composing the Score"; more. $149.98.
And, lastly, there's the Blu-ray debut of "Wet Hot American Summer" (2001), a summer camp comedy spoof with a very talented cast that includes Paul Rudd , Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Molly Shannon, Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce. The cult darling takes place during the last day of Camp Firewood's season, where there's still time for the big talent show, a little romance ... and for everyone to be wiped out by the piece of NASA's Skylab that's hurtling toward Earth. Extras include a new "10th Anniversary Event Highlights" in which the filmmakers and cast return for a special evening of celebration; a new "Wet Hot American Summer: Live at SF Sketchfest" in which cast members and special guests re-enact select scenes from the live radio play; deleted scenes; cast comments; behind the scenes; feature commentary with cast and crew; songs with production stills; theatrical trailer. From Universal.
BUZZIN' THE 'B'S:
In 1969 future sexploitation specialist Yasuharu Hasebe ("Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter") teamed up with the inimitable Jo Shishido for a follow up to their yakuza hit "Massacre Gun": "Retaliation" (1969 -- Japan). In a tale of gang warfare that features a raft of the period's most iconic stars, Akira Kobayashi is a yakuza lieutenant who emerges from jail to find his gang dispersed and his aging boss in his sickbed. Shishido is the rival waiting to kill him and a young Meiko Kaji is the girl caught in the crossfire. Gritty and cynical, "Retaliation" is a hardboiled precursor to Kinji Fukasaku's revisionist yakuza pictures of the 1970s. In a limited edition of 3,000 copies. Restored High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation, on Blu-ray for the first time in the world!, with original uncompressed mono PCM audio. Newly translated English subtitles. Extras include a new interview with star Jo Shishido, interview with critic and historian Tony Rayns, original theatrical trailer, gallery featuring rare promotional images, reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan, booklet featuring new writing on the film by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp, newly illustrated by Ian MacEwan and featuring original archive stills. On Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment ... After a troubled youth and 18 years in prison in New Mexico for killing a sheriff's deputy, William Garnett (Forest Whitaker) is being released in "Two Men in Town" (2014). With the help of an idealistic but hard-nosed parole agent (Brenda Blethyn) and his newfound Islamic faith, Garnett struggles to rebuild his life and overcome the violent impulses that possess him. But an old friend (Luis Guzman) shows up and tries to drag him back into a world of crime while the local sheriff (Harvey Keitel) is convinced that he's an irredeemable threat to the public. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Cohen Media Group ... In "The Cobbler" (2014), starring Adam Sandler, Cliff "Method Man" Smith, Ellen Barkin, Melonie Diaz, Dan Stevens, Steve Buscemi and Dascha Polanco, Max Simkin has had enough of working in his little New York shoe repair shop where he quietly envies people with more interesting lives. So when he discovers an old family heirloom with the magical ability to change his appearance and transform into any of his customers, the temptation is too good to pass up. However, his newfound ability to become someone else proves to be as troublesome as it is fun. When a ruthless real estate developer tries to take over his neighborhood, Max uses his gift to become the hero he always hoped he could be. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from RLJE/Image Entertainment ... It's the engagement party for brilliant young Dr Henry Jekyll (Udo Kier) and his fiance, the beautiful Fanny Osbourne (Marina Pierro), attended by various pillars of Victorian society, including the astonishing Patrick Magee in one of his final roles. But when people are found raped and murdered outside and ultimately inside the house, it becomes clear that a madman has broken in to disrupt the festivities -- but who is he? And why does Dr Jekyll keep sneaking off to his laboratory? We know the answer, of course, but Walerian Borowczyk's visually stunning adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's much-filmed "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Miss Osbourne" (1981 -- France) is crammed with wildly imaginative and outrageously perverse touches characteristic of the man who scandalized audiences with "Immoral Tales" and "The Beast," not least the explicitly sexualized nature of Mr Hyde's primal urges. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment ... "Stay As You Are" (1978 -- Italy), an erotic drama about the impossible love between an older man and a young girl, makes its Blu-ray debut this week. The film tells the controversial story of an architect, Roue Giulio Marengo (Marcello Mastroianni), who is unhappy in his marriage and starts a romance with the young and beautiful Florentine (Nastassja Kinski). When he finds out through his wife that she may be his daughter, he has to make a life-altering decision. From Cult Epics/CAV Distributing ... In "The Drownsman" (2014), starring Michelle Mylett, Caroline Korycki, Gemma Bird Matheson, Sydney Kondruss, Clare Bastable and Ry Barrett, after almost drowning in a lake accident, Madison (Mylett) develops hydrophobia: an abnormal fear of water. After shutting the world and her friends out for over a year, her friends attempt an intervention. But, instead of curbing Madison's fear, they unknowingly unleash something far worse: The vision of serial-killer–turned-supernatural psychopath Sebastian Donner -- known as "The Drownsman" -- who begins to stalk the women one by one, dragging them into a lair of submerged torment from which there is no escape. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc. from Anchor Bay ... In debt to the Chinese mafia, a New York City bike messenger joins a gang of thieves who use parkour to pull off heists in "Tracers" (2015), starring Taylor Lautner, Marie Avgeropoulos, Adam Rayner and Rafi Gavron. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate.
ON THE INDIE FRONT:
In "The Sleepwalker" (2014), starring Gitte Witt, Christopher Abbott, Stephanie Ellis and Brady Corbet, young couple Kaia and Andrew are restoring her family's sprawling and secluded rural estate when their peace is upended with the unexpected arrival of Kaia's emotionally disturbed sister Christine and her distraught boyfriend Ira. As Christine's behavior grows increasingly unhinged-including an unsettling incident of sleepwalking-long-buried traumas resurface and Kaia is forced to confront Christine's increasingly tangled perception of reality, which in turn may have begun to alter her own. From IFC Films.
"Beloved Sisters" (2014 -- Germany), starring Hannah Herzsprung, Florian Stetter and Henriette Confurius, is an intimate romantic drama that illuminates the storied lives of two bold young women, Weimar-era sisters Caroline and Charlotte von Lengefeld and the celebrated German poet Friedrich Schiller. It's a surprisingly contemporary story of women who dared to flaunt convention as they approached love, marriage, sexuality and society on their own terms. Defying the mores of their time, the sisters decide to share their love for Schiller, with Charlotte and Schiller marrying so that the three lovers may pursue their menage a trois under the guise of convention. But as Caroline reveals herself to be a talented author in her own right, the trio's fragile balance is threatened and the sisters' once unbreakable connection is irrevocably changed. Germany's official submission to the Academy Awards.On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Music Box Films.
FOR THE FAMILY:
"The Magic School Bus: Season Two" (1995) is a two-disc set with all 13 episodes: Ms. Frizzle and her class journey inside a volcano, take flight high in the sky and go back in time to visit the dinosaurs. $19.97 from Scholastic/Cinedigm ... "Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts" (2015) is a new DC Comics Original Movie. When Gotham City is plagued by a slew of bizarre crimes committed by the animal-inspired villain squad, known as the Animilitia – made up of Silverback, Cheetah, Killer Croc and Man-Bat – Batman must swing into action to investigate. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Warner ... "Digimon Tamers Volume 2" (2001) is a three-disc set that includes episodes 18-34 of the third season. Three normal kids who are mega fans of the Digimon card game quest through the Digital World, which is plagued by Evil God Type Digimons. In an effort to defeat those who seek to annihilate the World's barriers and networks, they pair up with good Digimon and together battle the heinous forces. $19.99 from Cinedigm.
Filmed over a decade, "Magical Universe" (2013) is a portrait of Al Carbee, an 88-year-old reclusive outsider artist who spends his days alone in a massive house in Maine creating art -- mostly featuring Barbie Dolls in elaborate dioramas. Profiling Carbee's amazing body of work and his relentlessly creative lifestyle, "Magical Universe" explores Carbee's story through the prism of his unlikely friendship with New York filmmaker Jeremy Workman, who unexpectedly becomes Carbee's closest friend and only link to the outside world. From IFC Films.
FROM TV TO DVD:
"The Colbys: The Complete Series" (1985-87) is a 12-disc set with all 49 episodes, $119.00. A spin-off from the television phenomenon "Dynasty," "The Colbys" explored the lives and loves of a fabulously wealthy California family as they confront challenges from both outsiders and within their own lineage. To maintain power and control over their empire, the Colbys would stop at nothing ... including juicy schemes and shocking betrayals. Featuring an all-star cast, including Charlton Heston, John James, Katharine Ross, Emma Samms, Maxwell Caulfield, Tracy Scoggins, Ricardo Montalban, and Barbara Stanwyck, "The Colbys" is a glittering saga of the power and passion that drove the dreams of the 80s. On DVD from Shout! Factory ... "Mister Ed: The Complete Sixth Season" (1965-66) is a tWo-disc set with all 13 episodes from the final season, $16.97 from Shout! Factory ... "Slam Dunk: Season 1, Volume 1" (1993) is a two-disc set with 14 episodes. Hanamichi Sakuragi is a high school punk who hates basketball, mostly because the girls he likes always prefer basketball players to him. Things change, however, when he meets the cute and available Haruko Akagi. She loves basketball and thinks Hanamichi has the height and prowess to play. Hanamichi, quite willing to settle for collateral affection, immediately takes up the sport, never mind the fact that he doesn't know the rules, can't dribble and is constitutionally unsuited to teamwork and sportsmanship. If playing basketball will get Haruko to look at him, then he'll be a basketball star. But a weird thing happens: he starts to like it and, what's more, he gets good at it. $19.93 from Cinedigm ... "Texas Rangers: The Real Stories" (2015) features three complete HISTORY specials chronicling the adventures of the legendary Texas Rangers. Just in time for the HISTORY broadcast premiere on Memorial Day of "Texas Rising," an eight-hour miniseries event starring Bill Paxton, Olivier Martinez, Ray Liotta and Brendan Fraser. From Lionsgate ... In the third season of "Unforgettable" (2014), Detective Carrie Wells (Poppy Montgomery) works high-profile cases in the NYPD Major Crimes Department while using her unique skill -- a perfect memory that lets her remember every detail of her life -- to help solve the crimes. She's committed to protecting Manhattan, along with her ex-boyfriend-turned-partner, Lieutenant Al Burns (Dylan Walsh), and team, including Detective Jay Lee (James Hiroyuki Liao), Detective Cherie Rollins-Murray (Tawny Cypress), Dr. Joanne Webster (Jane Curtin), and Captain Eliot Delson (Dallas Roberts). The third season finds Carrie and Al dealing with a dangerously illegal underground poker ring, a murdered high-profile television star, and the death of a college dropout who lived in an abandoned island community. However, the biggest challenge occurs when Carrie's life and memory are put on the line by a crazed assassin. From CBS/Paramount.
Check out other May 12-May 18 DVD releases and reviews at OnVideo.