By Harley Lond - 10/02/17 at 08:22 PM CT
FROM THE BIG SCREEN:
Despite the fact that it's old, bloated, tired and barely treads water, the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise still has its audience -- "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," the fifth in the series, took in $794 million worldwide. There are some fun moments, but for the most part its the same jokes and the same action -- someone or something wants Captain Jack Sparrow dead. Here he finds the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost pirates, led by his old nemesis, the terrifying Captain Salazar, escape from the Devil's Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea ... including him. Captain Jack's only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact that bestows upon its possessor total control over the seas. Yawn. Stars Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin R. McNally, Golshifteh Farahani, David Wenham and Stephen Graham. Extras for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales include a seven-part "Dead Men Tell More Tales: The Making of a New Adventure" featurette, bloopers, a photo diary and more. From Disney.
Also due this week: "A Ghost Story": Recently deceased, a white-sheeted ghost (Casey Affleck) returns to his suburban home to console his bereft wife (Rooney Mara), only to find that in his spectral state he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away. Increasingly unmoored, the ghost embarks on a cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life’s ineffable questions and the enormity of existence. A critical success but ignored by audiences -- this is a mediation on love, loss and grief and not a scary story -- and moviegoers just couldn't make heads nor tails of it via the film's trailers. Worth a viewing. From Lionsgate ... and "The Book of Henry," a maudlin drama about a feisty, genius young boy's carefully crafted plan to rescue a young girl from the hands of her abusive stepfather. Stars Naomi Watts, Lee Pace, Jacob Tremblay, Maddie Ziegler, Sarah Silverman, Dean Norris, Tonya Pinkins, Jaeden Lieberher and Bobby Moynihan. From Universal.
THIS WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS:
Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment has restored one of the best comedies of all time, "A Fish Called Wanda" (1988). In 1988, John Cleese, former Python and the mastermind behind "Fawlty Towers," teamed up with the veteran Ealing Comedy director Charles Crichton ("The Lavender Hill Mob") to produce another classic of British comedy. Cleese plays Archie Leach, a weak-willed barrister who finds himself embroiled with a quartet of ill-matched jewel thieves -- two American con artists played by Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline, Michael Palin's animal-loving hitman and London gangster Tom Georgeson -- when Georgeson is arrested. Only he and Palin know the whereabouts of the diamonds, prompting plenty of farce and in-fighting as well as some embarrassing nudity and the unfortunate demise of some innocent pooches. Nominated for three Academy Awards and winning one for Kline's outstanding supporting turn as the psychopathic Otto, "A Fish Called Wanda" has stood the test of time, earning its rightful place among its creators' remarkable comedy pedigree. New 4K restoration from the original negative, produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this Blu-ray release. (Originally scheduled for a Sept. 19 release and delayed until now) ... Sony Pictures Home Entertainment continues its Frank Capra Collection series with one of the acclaimed filmmaker’s masterworks: "Lost Horizon" (1937), celebrating its 80th anniversary by debuting on Blu-ray. Fully restored in 4K and presented in high definition, the Blu-ray is housed within a lavish, limited edition 24-page Digibook, complete with an all-new essay from film historian Jeremy Arnold and rare archival photos from the film. In addition, as part of the restoration, more than a minute of rarely-seen original footage from the film was found and included, making this the most complete cut of the film in existence. The film -- nominated for seven Oscars and winning two -- follows a disparate group of people who are rescued after a plane crash, and find shelter in the secluded land of Shangri-La -- but is it the miraculous utopia it appears to be? Stars Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt, Edward Everett Horton, John Howard, Thomas Mitchell, Margo, Isabel Jewell, H.B. Warner and Sam Jaffe. In 2016, the film was selected for inclusion in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” ... With "Vampyr" (1932 -- Germany), Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer channeled his genius for creating mesmerizing atmosphere and austere, unsettling imagery into the horror genre. The result -- a chilling film about a student of the occult who encounters supernatural haunts and local evildoers in a village outside Paris -- is nearly unclassifiable. A host of stunning camera and editing tricks and densely layered sounds creates a mood of dreamlike terror. With its roiling fogs, ominous scythes, and foreboding echoes, "Vampyr" is one of cinema's greatest nightmares. On Blu-ray Disc, with high-definition digital transfer of the original German version of the film, from the 1998 restoration by Martin Koerber and the Cineteca di Bologna, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. The Criterion Collection. Extras include an alternate version with English text; audio commentary featuring film scholar Tony Rayns; "Carl Th. Dreyer," a 1966 documentary by Jørgen Roos chronicling Dreyer's career; video essay by scholar Casper Tybjerg on Dreyer's influences in creating "Vampyr"; radio broadcast from 1958 of Dreyer reading an essay about filmmaking; a booklet featuring essays by critics Mark Le Fanu and Kim Newman, a piece by Koerber on the restoration, and a 1964 interview with producer and actor Nicolas de Gunzburg; and a book featuring Dreyer and Christen Jul's original screenplay and Sheridan Le Fanu's 1872 story "Carmilla," a source for the film. From The Criterion Collection.
BUZZIN' THE 'B'S:
He's baaaack ... In "Cult of Chucky" (2017), starring Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent and Jennifer Tilly, Nica, confined to an asylum for the criminally insane for the past four years, is wrongly convinced that she, not Chucky, murdered her entire family. But when her psychiatrist introduces a new group therapy tool -- a "Good Guy" doll -- a string of grisly deaths plague the asylum and Nica starts to wonder if maybe she isn't crazy after all. Andy, Chucky's now-grown-up nemesis from the original "Child's Play," races to Nica's aid. But to save her he'll have to get past Tiffany, Chucky's long-ago bride, who will do anything, no matter how deadly or depraved, to help her beloved devil doll.On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Universal ... In "Churchill" (2017), Brian Cox stars in a career performance as the British leader at a pivotal moment in history. 96 hours before the World War II invasion of Normandy, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill struggles with his severe reservations with Operation Overlord and his increasingly marginalized role in the war effort. Co-stars Miranda Richardson and John Slattery. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Cohen Media Group ... In "Jackals" (2016), when Justin Powell is captured by two ski-masked men and dragged back to a secluded cabin, it's anything but a standard kidnapping. Waiting for Justin at the cabin is his father, mother, brother, and former girlfriend. Together, they are dedicated to freeing him from the sinister brainwashing he's undergone at the hands of a vicious cult known as The Jackals.With the help of Jimmy Levine, an experienced cult deprogrammer, the family does their best to bring Justin back to reality ... but their plans go awry when the cult descends upon the cabin, demanding Justin back. A vicious battle unfolds, testing familial loyalties and unleashing a bloodbath from which no one is safe. Stars Ben Sullivan, Johnathon Schaech, Deborah Kara Unger, Nick Roux, Chelsea Ricketts, Stephen Dorff. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Scream Factory ... "976-EVIL" (1988), starring Stephen Geoffreys, Jim Metzler, Pat O'Bryan and Sandy Dennis, makes its Blu-ray debut this week. 976-EVIL is the number to dial to receive supernatural powers and turn into satanic killers. Hoax (Geoffreys) uses the powers the number gives him to exact revenge against everyone who has wronged him, inadvertently allowing his soul to be slowly taken over by Satan. From Sony ... Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment has a new 2K restoration from the original negative of "Children of the Corn" (1984). A young couple travelling cross-country find themselves stranded in the small town of Gatlin, where they meet a mysterious religious cult of children. With no adults in sight the terror brews as the new arrivals find the secrets of the prospering corn fields and the children who inhabit them. Led by the mysterious Isaac and the unhinged Malachi the blood-curdling secrets of the children of Gatlin are soon revealed to their new "outlander" guests. Featuring stellar performances from Linda Hamilton and Peter Horton and based on a short story by Stephen King, "The Children of the Corn" is a horror classic that has spawned multiple sequels and imitators, but none as harrowing as this masterpiece of horror. (Originally scheduled for September 19 but delayed) ... Also from Arrow: "The Suspicious Death of a Minor" (1975 -- Italy) In the wake of the success of Dario Argento's ground-breaking giallo "The Bird With the Crystal Plumage," numerous other directors stepped forward to try their hand at these lurid murder-mysteries. At the forefront was Sergio Martino, whose sensual 70s thrillers starring Edwige Fenech and George Hilton are widely celebrated as some of the best the genre has to offer. The final of Martino's six gialli, "The Suspicious Death of a Minor," combines conventional giallo trappings with elements of the then flourishing "poliziotteschi" crime thrillers. Claudio Cassinelli stars as undercover cop Paolo Germi, on the trail of a Milanese criminal outfit following the brutal murder of an underage prostitute. But a killer-for-hire is also on the prowl, bumping off witnesses before they have a chance to talk. Also starring Mel Ferrer, Barbara Magnolfi and Jenny Tamburi, and featuring a script by veteran giallo writer Ernesto Gastaldi, this unique and lesser-known entry in Martino's filmography serves as an essential link between two different movements in Italian popular cinema. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo ... and "Don't Torture a Duckling" (1972 -- Italy) From Lucio Fulci, the godfather of gore, comes one of the most powerful and unsettling giallo thrillers ever produced: his 1972 masterpiece "Don't Torture a Duckling." When the sleepy rural village of Accendura is rocked by a series of murders of young boys, the superstitious locals are quick to apportion blame, with the suspects including the local "witch," Maciara (Florinda Bolkan). With the bodies piling up and the community gripped by panic and a thirst for bloody vengeance, two outsiders -- city journalist Andrea (Tomas Milian) and spoiled rich girl Patrizia (Barbara Bouchet) -- team up to crack the case. But before the mystery is solved, more blood will have been spilled, and not all of it belonging to innocents. Deemed shocking at the time for its brutal violence, depiction of the Catholic Church and themes of child murder and paedophilia, "Don't Torture a Duckling" is widely regarded today as Fulci's greatest film, rivalling the best of his close rival Dario Argento. North American high definition debut. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo ... "Home for the Holidays" (1995), directed by Jodie Foster an starring Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Dylan McDermott, Geraldine Chaplin, Steve Guttenberg and Claire Danes, makes its Blu-ray debut this week. After losing her job, making out with her soon-to-be former boss and finding out that her daughter plans to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend, Claudia Larson (Hunter) faces spending the holiday with her family. From Shout! Factory ... In "The Survivalist" (2016), starring Martin McCann, Olwen Fouéré and Mia Goth, a lone survivor mercilessly protects his remote sliver of property from intruders in a post-apocalyptic future ravaged by overpopulation. When a mother and daughter in search of food and shelter show up at his doorstep, he’s suspicious, but cautiously allows them in. Soon, an uneasy alliance, borne of necessity, forms between the trio – but distrust and paranoia threaten to give way to violence at any moment. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Shout! Factory/IFC Midnight ... In "The Game Changer" (2017 -- China), starring Peter Ho and Huang Zitao, two escaped prisoners -- brothers -- join one of the most powerful gangs in Shanghai, the Green Gang, as the right-hand men of the head boss Mr. Tang. When Mr. Tang tries to gain total control over business dealings in Shanghai, he discovers his closest allies are not who they seem and turns against his own men to protect his power. Set during the gang wars of 1930’s Shanghai. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Well Go USA.
Madre de Dios!! Doppelgänger Releasing unleashes the wildly popular Spanish action-comedy series "Torrente," including a quartet of films by writer-director-star Santiago Segura. Concerning the misadventures of José Luis Torrente—a lazy, vulgar, gross and corrupt former police officer in Madrid—the film series is the most successful movie franchise in Spanish film history. The four individual films arriving on separate DVDs include "Torrente: The Dumb Arm of the Law" (1998), "Torrente 2: Mission in Marbella" (2001), "Torrente 3: The Protector" (2005) and "Torrente 4: Lethal Crisis" (2011)— each written and directed by Segura, who also stars as the repulsive, sleazy and frequently drunk “Torrente.” An ex-cop who refuses to accept his expulsion from the police corps, allowing him to still "patrol" each night in his beat-up car in order to "fight" whom he considers to be the “bad guys,” Torrente usually refuses to confront real criminals due to his own cowardice.
FOR THE FAMILY:
The DC Entertainment animated film "Justice League: The New Frontier Commemorative Edition" (2008) follows the story of the founding of the Justice League. The action-packed adventure features iconic DC Super Heroes Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman alongside Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and The Flash as they band together to form the legendary team. Strangers at first, these very different heroes must overcome fear and suspicion to forge an alliance against a monster so formidable, even the mighty Superman cannot stop it alone. If they fail, the entire planet will be "cleansed" of humanity. Voice performances by Kyle MacLachlan as Superman, Jeremy Sisto as Batman, Lucy Lawless as Wonder Woman, Neil Patrick Harris as Barry Allen/The Flash, David Boreana as Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, Brooke Shields as Carol Ferris, Kyra Sedgwick as Lois Lane, Phil Morris as King Faraday, the late Miguel Ferrer as Martian Manhunter, as well as Joe Mantegna, Keith David, Vicki Lewis and the late John Heard. On DVD, Blu-ray Steelbook, Blu-ray/DVD Combo. From Warner.
"Hans Richter: Everything Turns -- Everything Revolves" (2013) celebrates the life of the Dadaist, abstract painter and experimental filmmaker who was a major force in redefining art in the 20th century. In collaboration with friends including Marcel Duchamp, Sergei Eisenstein, Tristan Tzara, Mies Van Der Rohe and Hans Arp, Richter was at the leading edge of the European Avant Garde. His 1920s experimental films "Rhythmus" "21" and "Ghosts Before Breakfast" established film as a unique art form, liberated from the theatrical conventions of script and actors. After being forced out of Europe by the Nazis in 1941, Richter escaped to the U.S., where he became a prophet of modernism for a generation of young American artist/filmmakers, who would galvanize into the New American Cinema movement. From First Run Features ... Hosted by erotic comic creator, burlesque performer and Vice contributing editor Molly Crabapple, "Sex in the Comix" (2012) navigates the history of the art form, from special editions by masters of the genre to provocative new works from a younger generation of artists. The documentary features legendary comic creators R. Crumb, Milo Manara, and Ralf König, as well as work from new wave and mainstream artists, including the impact of Alison Bechdel’s "Fun Home," the game-changing graphic memoir which was adapted into the Tony-winning Broadway musical. As the erotic comic is poised to make a big-time come back, it serves as an expression of society's most intimate trials and exposes our collective, if taboo, fantasies (all via speech bubbles). From Doppelgänger Releasing.
FROM TV TO DVD:
"The Best of The Carol Burnett Show" is a six-disc set celebrating the 50th anniversary of "The Carol Burnett Show" with the best of the best, from all 11 seasons; includes 16 episodes fresh from the vaults (12 new-to-retail and four all-time classics). Classic shows include the very first episode with Jim Nabors and the emotional, double length series finale, as well as some of the best-loved, fan-favorite sketches including "Mrs. Wiggins," "Carol and Sis," "The Oldest Man," "The Family," As the Stomach Turns," as well as a marathon of movie spoofs, along with commercial spoofs and some amazing bloopers. Guest stars such as Ella Fitzgerald, Bernadette Peters, Liza Minnelli, Steve Lawrence, Rock Hudson, Burt Reynolds, Jimmy Stewart, Rita Hayworth and Carl Reiner, along with lavish stage productions grace each disc; and, Carol's question-and-answer openers with the studio audiences are no less entertaining. She might offer a hug or a shout out, or flee from a rampaging gorilla after letting loose with one of her Tarzan yells. From Time Life ... "House of Cards: Season Five" (2017) is a four-disc set with all 13 episodes. In the midst of the presidential election, tensions mount in the White House as Frank (Kevin Spacey) and Claire (Robin Wright) continue to navigate their political careers and redefine their relationships -- particularly with each other. Season five of the Emmy Award-winning political drama is marked by violent power plays, new alliances, stunning betrayals and, as always, a desire to win at any cost -- and not just from Frank Underwood. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Sony ... "iZOMBIE: The Complete Third Season" (2017) is a three-disc set with all 13 episodes. Will Seattle become the capital of a zombie homeland? In Season Three, Liv has discovered there are more zombies living in Seattle than she previously believed, including a private military contractor employing a zombie army that is preparing for the day humans learn of their existence. Major finds acceptance in this army, and Liv and Clive investigate the murder of a zombie family that may set off an all-out zombie-human war. The season follows Liv as she takes on the traits of people whose brains she eats: a dominatrix, a JACKASS-style stunt man, an office gossip, a pre-school teacher, a conspiracy theorist, a dungeon master, and more. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc (online sales only), from Warner ... "Legend of Bruce Lee: Volume Three" (2008) is a three-disc set. Danny Chan ("Ip Man 3," "Kung Fu Hustle") returns in the final 10 episodes of the series chronicling the life of the incomparable Bruce Lee, whose legacy continues to inspire new generations. After winning a high-profile martial arts championship, Lee catches the eye of a Hollywood producer who sees great potential in the skilled young master and wants to make him a movie star. Eager to break onto the American film scene, exhibit his new kung fu style, Jeet Kune Do, and change the negative portrayal of the Chinese in mainstream media, Bruce throws himself wholeheartedly into a potentially lucrative art. But discrimination in the industry runs deep, and Bruce must fight for his dreams of becoming the first Chinese martial arts film star to achieve worldwide fame. From Well Go USA ... "2 Broke Girls: The Sixth and Final Season" (2016-17) is a two-disc set with all 22 episodes. In the sixth and final season, Max and Caroline realize their dream of turning their cupcake window into a dessert bar -- emphasis on bar. But in order to keep their bar up and running they still have to work around the clock at the diner, even though it's far from their first priority -- which frustrates Han and amuses Earl. But busy as they are, Max and Caroline still make time to revisit old loves and welcome new ones. From Warner ... "Vikings Season 4 Volume Two" (2016-17) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes. Battles, treachery and power grabs rage on this season. Ragnar’s return to Kattegat following his shameful defeat in Paris escalates tension among his sons. Determined to save what remains of his legacy, Ragnar recruits Ivar for a perilous voyage to England, where he plans to attack the Saxons. Meanwhile, a prophecy that a woman will one day rule Kattegat deepens Aslaug and Lagertha’s feud. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from MGM/Fox ... In 2008, stockbroker, investment adviser and financier Bernie Madoff made headlines around the world when he was arrested for perpetrating the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history. The HBO Films drama "The Wizard of Lies" (2017), directed by Barry Levinson and starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Alessandro Nivola, Nathan Darrow, Kristen Connolly, Lily Rabe and Hank Azaria, dissects the events that led to the Wall Street financier's stunning downfall in December 2008 for defrauding investors of over $65 billion -- and recounts Madoff's audacious deceptions that culminated in his vilification while catapulting his wife and two sons into a harsh and unrelenting spotlight, with tragic consequences. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from HBO.
Check out other October 3-October 9 DVD/Blu-ray releases and reviews at OnVideo.