This week we have several new documentaries, a creepy Nickelodeon revival, a Bolo Yeung double feature, a weird AMC show, three Carole Lombard movies, an ice skater biopic, a cursed Colecovision cartridge, two vampire comedies, a killer kid cult favorite, an acclaimed Indonesian ghost movie, and much more. We will also be renting all fifteen individual discs of Criterion’s The Complete Films of Agnès Varda blu-ray box set (scroll to the end to see a list of titles).
AN ACCIDENTAL STUDIO (2019)
Documentary about the early days of HandMade Films, George Harrison’s production company behind Monty Python’s Life of Brian, The Long Good Friday, Time Bandits and Withnail and I, among others. Told with archival footage and interviews with Harrison, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Neil Jordan, Bob Hoskins and more.
AMERICAN DHARMA (2018)
Errol Morris interviews former Trump chief political advisor and Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon through the framework of his favorite movies. Though some felt Morris didn’t offer as much pushback as he did for Robert McNamara in The Fog of War or Donald Rumsfeld in The Unknown Known, Eric Kohn of IndieWire disagrees: “With pitch-black humor, Morris has staged a most unusual horror show about the end of days as Bannon debates the militaristic movies he loves (Twelve O’Clock High, The Bridge Over the River Kwai) while boasting about his ability to transform Trump’s presidency into a national disaster. At times, the movie suggests a real-life Dr. Strangelove, sketching out the ludicrous process through which a self-obsessed moron with delusions of intellect put humanity itself into crisis. Morris crafts a condemnation in his own eccentric terms.”
ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? (2019) (MINI-SERIES)
Nickelodeon cleverly reimagines their popular ‘90s kids horror anthology as a funny, creepy standalone mini-series for budding scare fans of all ages. The New Midnight Society, a secret club of kids who gather to tell ghost stories, discover an evil “Carnival of Doom” and are haunted by a scary ringmaster called Mr. Tophat (played by Rafael Casal of Blindspotting). Also includes three episodes from the original series: The Tale of Laughing in the Dark, The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner and The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float. Of course, we have all seven previous seasons in our collection as well.
ASIAN AMERICANS (2020)
Five-part PBS series “spanning 150 years of immigration, racial politics, international relations and cultural innovation.” Narrated by Daniel Dae Kim and Tamlyn Tomita.
THE BANKER (1989)
The late great Robert Forster (Jackie Brown) plays a cop who chases a serial killer targeting high class prostitutes. Also starring Leif Garrett and Richard Roundtree. Includes an interview with Forster.
BEAU BRUMMELL (1954) (WARNER ARCHIVE)
Stylish historical drama starring Stewart Granger as the swordsman who befriends the Prince of Wales (Peter Ustinov) and falls in love with Lady Patricia (Elizabeth Taylor).
(We got this on Blu-Ray last week and have now added a DVD)
BELGRAVIA: COMPLETE SERIES (2020)
Secrets, forbidden love, tests of loyalty etc. between rival wealthy families in 19th century London. A six-part mini-series adapted by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes from his own novel.
BLOODFIGHT (1989) / IRONHEART (1992)
MVD’s great series of ‘80s and ‘90s martial arts gems presents a double feature of showcases for Bloodsport villain Bolo Yeung. In the tournament movie Bloodfight he plays a delightful villain with a cobra tattooed on his face. Ironheart, which until now has only been on VHS, was designed as a star-making vehicle for one Britton K. Lee, who ended up overshadowed on the cover by Yeung as the villain’s henchman “Ice.” That one is from Robert Clouse (who previously directed Bolo in Enter the Dragon) and takes place in Portland!
BLUE MONKEY (1987)
A detective and a doctor (Steve Railsback and Gwynyth Walsh) try to stop a giant man-eating insect before it escapes the quarantined hospital and spreads a deadly infection. Directed by William Fruet (The House by the Lake, Funeral Home, Killer Party).
CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (2019)
An accessible journey through wealth, power and growing inequalities, based on the best selling book by economist Thomas Piketty. Extras include interviews with director Justin Pemberton and producer Matthew Metcalfe, and a New Republic roundtable discussion.
DEATH VALLEY DAYS: SEASON 13 (1965)
This season of the long-running western anthology series was the first of two hosted by Ronald Reagan in his final professional acting gig before quitting to run for governor of California. Seattle’s own Tom Skerritt also shows up.
DIRT MUSIC (2019)
An unhappy former nurse (Kelly Macdonald) has an affair with a mysterious poacher (Garret Hedlund), kicking off a feud with her fisherman boyfriend (David Wenham) and a chase through hostile western Australia. Based on the book by Tom Winton.
DISPATCHES FROM ELSEWHERE: SEASON 1 (2020)
Another interesting show from the AMC Network; this one marks the directorial debut of actor Jason Segel, who also created the show and stars as the bored employee of a streaming service who calls a phone number he sees on a flyer and becomes involved in a complex and mysterious game (or is it?) Run by something called The Jejune Institute. Also starring Andre Benjamin, Eve Lindley, Richard E. Grant and Sally Field.
Cult classic thriller from director Jean-Jacques Beineix (Betty Blue) about a young mailman who gets mixed up in a conspiracy by creating a bootleg of an opera singer who doesn’t allow herself to be recorded. Kino’s extras-packed special edition includes a commentary by film critic Simon Abrams, another by Beineix, interviews with the director, stars, composer, casting director, cinematographer, set designer and more.
When a kid (Lucas Jaye) goes with his mom to clean out his late aunt’s house he forms an unlikely friendship with the retiree next door (Brian Dennehy in one of his last roles).
FAST AND LOOSE (1930)
Miriam Hopkins and Henry Wadsworth play the children of an aristocratic Long Islander (Frank Morgan) who tries to stop them from dating a regular old mechanic (Charles Starrett) and a chorus girl (Carole Lombard) in this pre-Code romantic comedy. (From Kino’s Carole Lombard Collection I box set.)
THE HIGH NOTE (2020)
A personal assistant (Dakota Johnson) tries to achieve her dream of becoming a music producer while her boss (Tracee Ellis Ross) protects her viability as a legendary R&B singer. Also starring Ice Cube and Bill Pullman. From director Nisha Ganatra (Chutney Popcorn, Late Night).
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
KLINT, HILMA AF: BEYOND THE VISIBLE (2019)
This documentary about the pioneering abstract artist is advertised as a “dazzling, course-correcting documentary [on] not only the life and craft of af Klint, but also the process of her mischaracterization and erasure by both a patriarchal narrative of artistic progress and capitalistic determination of artistic value.” Includes deleted scenes, additional interviews and a painting gallery.
THE LOST HONOR OF KATHARINA BLUM (1975) (CRITERION)
Volker Schnlondorff and Margarethe von Trotta directed this highly political West German film about an innocent housekeeper (Angela Winkler) whose life is scrutinized by police and tabloids after she unknowingly spends a night with a suspected terrorist (Jurgen Prochnow). Criterion’s 4K restoration comes with interviews with both directors, director of photography Jost Vacano, and excerpts from a documentary on the author of the source novel, Heinrich Boll.
LOVE BITES (1992)
A 347-year-old vampire falls for a vampire slayer in “the completely uncut version of the campy shot on video gay vampire classic” from director and former guest of Scarecrow David DeCoteau. Includes commentary with DeCoateau and producer/star Kevin Glover.
LUCKY GRANDMA (2019)
After the death of her husband, an 80 year old grandma (Tsai Chin from The Joy Luck Club) in New York City’s Chinatown loses big at the casino, hires a bodyguard, and finds herself in the middle of a gang war. Includes behind the scenes featurette.
MADE IN BOISE (2019)
This documentary follows four women carrying babies for other people in “Surrogacy Capital of the World” Boise, Idaho.
MAN OF THE WORLD (1931)
In a romance from the writer of Citizen Kane, William Powell and Wynne Gibson play partners at a Paris tabloid who have a racket blackmailing rich Americans… until he falls for one of their victims’ nieces (Carole Lombard). Powell and Lombard were married shortly after filming. This disc from Kino’s Carole Lombard Collection I box set includes commentary by film historian Samm Deighan.
THE MAN WHO TRIED TO FEED THE WORLD (2020) (AMERICAN EXPERIENCE)
The story of agronomist and “father of the Green Revolution” Norman Borlaug, who won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize and is credited with saving over a billion lives with his methods of increasing food production to end famines.
MARRIAGE STORY (2019)
Arguably the best film so far from writer/director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Frances Ha) is this moving and even kind of romantic story about a couple trying to be reasonable and mature with each other while getting divorced. Results vary. It was nominated for six Oscars last year, including best picture. Criterion’s many new features include behind-the-scenes footage, a walk through a key location and interviews with Baumbach, stars Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Julie Hagerty and Ray Liotta, editor Jennifer Lame, production designer Jade Healy, costume designer Mark Bridges, producer David Heyman and composer Randy Newman.
(We had this on Blu-Ray and now the DVD has arrived)
MAX RELOAD AND THE NETHER BLASTERS (2020)
A clerk at a small time video game store (Tom Plumley) must battle the malevolent forces he unleashes by playing a cursed Colecovision cartridge. You know how it is.
Also starring Greg “Snap Wexley” Grunberg, Lin Shaye, Martin Kove and Wil Wheaton. Critic Danielle Solzman calls it “a wonderful throwback to the 1980s adventure films we love but with an added mix of gaming.” Includes various behind the scenes featurettes.
MICKEY AND THE BEAR (2019)
Coming of age story about a Montana teenager (Camila Morrone) seeking independence from her veteran father (James Badge Dale). Currently has a 100% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Matt Zoller Seitz calls it “an almost perfectly realized drama that feels as if it was time-warped in from 40 or 50 years ago, when people still wanted to see movies about people living in the actual world.”
We finally have a DVD release to replace our VHS copy of this cult killer kid movie in which a family is terrorized by adorable moppet Brian Bonsall, just a few years after his tenure as late-addition little brother Andy on Family Ties. Also starring Hellraiser’s Ashley Laurence and Josie Bissett of Melrose Place. You may remember the tagline: “Remember… Jason and Freddy were kids once, too!” They also used, “With evil, size doesn’t matter!”
NO MAN OF HER OWN (1932)
A con man (Clark Gable) laying low marries a small town librarian (Carole Lombard) and tries to hide his past from her. This was Gable and Lombard’s only film together, though they got married seven years later. This disc from Kino’s Carole Lombard Collection I box set includes commentary by critic Nick Pinkerton.
PLAYING FOR KEEPS: SEASON 1 (2018)
This Australian series is about scandal and murder in the world of the super-rich wives and girlfriends of professional soccer players. Eight episodes.
THE PROJECTED MAN (1966)
An experimental teleportation device works just great on inanimate objects, but it turns a doctor into a hideously disfigured electricity monster. At least he could still send stuff around the world without paying for postage – surely that provides some consolation? Previously only available on a PAL Code 2 DVD, and this is a new 2K restoration.
THE RIGHT GIRLS (2020)
A documentary about three young transgender women from El Salvador and Honduras traveling thousands of miles in the migrant caravan, dealing with unique struggles and forging a deep bond as they try to reach their dream.
SATAN’S SLAVES (2017)
After suffering an illness for years, a mother finally passes away. Then, while Dad is out of town, Mom returns to bring the kids with her. A Shudder import from Indonesian director Joko Anwar, whose super hero movie Gundala we also got in recently. According to Walter Chaw at Film Freak Central, “Satan’s Slaves is technically proficient, beautifully shot and edited and scored with heat, but it’s also a thoroughly modern film about the heroism of a young woman standing firm in the face of the unspeakable horrors left to her by the people who were supposed to have protected her.”
SONJA: THE WHITE SWAN (2018)
Biopic of Sonja Henie, cinema’s only ice skater movie star. “Ine Marie Wilmann… delivers an athletic, confident performance, and attacks the alcoholic sequences with gusto. Even though she behaves dreadfully, her Sonja still manages to be a sympathetic presence – occasionally,” writes Fionnuala Halligan at Screen International.
After the death of Hitler, a German commander heads for New York to surrender his U-Boat to the Americans, unaware that there’s a vampire on board. Then they rescue the passengers of a sinking ship, who are somehow from the futuristic year of 2020? Comedy ensues.
TENDER MERCIES (1982)
Robert Duvall won the best actor Oscar playing an alcoholic former country star who comes into the life of a Texas woman (Tess Harper) and her son. Also starring Betty Buckley and the late Wilford Brimley. Includes commentary by film critic Simon Abrams and the documentary Miracles and Mercies.
VALLEY OF THE GODS (2019)
A middle class writer (Josh Hartnett) goes to Monument Valley to write a novel and falls into a dispute between an eccentric trillionaire (John Malkovich) and the local Navajo tribe over the mining of uranium on sacred lands.
WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS (2019)
In the latest from Embrace of the Serpent director Ciro Guerra, Academy Award winner Mark Rylance is reportedly outstanding playing a Magistrate at a desert fortress beginning to question his loyalty to an unspecified colonialist empire, thanks in part to the actions of a Colonel and his violent apprentice (Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson, respectively).
WATER IN A BROKEN GLASS (2018)
Adaptation of the novel by Odessa Rose about a young painter involved in a bisexual love triangle while trying to find her artistic voice. “For fans of powerful LGBT cinema, writer/director Jamelle Willliams-Thomas is definitely a name to remember,” according to The Washington Blade.
WEST, MAE: DIRTY BLONDE (2020) (AMERICAN MASTERS)
“The first major documentary film to explore West’s life and career, as she climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong to become a writer, performer and subversive agitator for social change.”
A WHITE, WHITE DAY (2019)
Award winning Icelandic film about an off-duty police chief (Ingvar Sigurdsson) in a remote town who becomes obsessed with his suspicion that a local man once had an affair with his late wife. Alex Lines of Film Inquiry writes that director Hlynur Palmason “demonstrates a keen awareness of genre film tropes, taking an ordinary tale of vengeance and choking any sense of pulp or melodrama out of its veins, leaving only the psychological journey of one man trying to make sense of a world that offers no answers.” Also includes Palmason’s short film Seven Boats.
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We’re also putting out all fifteen discs of Criterion’s The Complete Films of Agnès Varda box set for individual rental. Together they collect all thirty-nine films from the beloved icon of French cinema (and beyond), remastered and with numerous supplements. These are blu-ray only:
VARDA BY AGNES (2019)
Her final film, along with the short Les 3 boutons (2015).
LA POINTE COURTE (1955)
Her first film, with the shorts Ô saisons, ô châteaux (1958) and Du côté de la côte (1958)
CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 (1962)
With the shorts Les fiancés du pont Macdonald (1962), L’opéra-mouffe (1958), Les dites cariatides (1984) and T’as de beaux escaliers, tu sais (1986)
With the short Le lion volatil (2003)
LE BONHEUR (1966) / LES CREATURES (1966)
First time on video for the latter, plus the short Elsa la Rose (1966)
UNCLE YANCO (1968) / BLACK PANTHERS (1970) / LIONS LOVE (…AND LIES) (1969) / MUR MURS (1981) / DOCUMENTEUR (1981)
ONE SINGS, THE OTHER DOESN’T (1977)
Plus the shorts Réponse de femmes (1975) and Plaisir d’amour en Iran (1977)
Plus the short 7 p., cuis., s. de b. . . . (à saisir) (1985)
JANE B. PAR AGNES V. (1988) / KUNG-FU MASTER! (1988)
JACQUOT DE NANTES (1991) / THE YOUNG GIRLS TURN 25 (1993) / THE WORLD OF JACQUES DEMY (1995)
Fist time on video for Jacquot de Nantes.
ONE HUNDRED AND ONE NIGHTS (1995)
THE GLEANERS AND I (2000) / THE GLEANERS AND I: TWO YEARS LATER (2002)
FACES PLACES (2017)
Plus the shorts Salut les cubains (1964), Ulysse (1982) and Ydessa, les ours et etc. . . . (2004)
AGNES DE CI DE LA VARDA (2011)
Varda’s tv series on video for the first time
THE BEACHES OF AGNES (2008)