This week’s new arrivals include some film noir deep cuts, new indie dramas, an acclaimed Stephen King mini-series, an Indonesian super hero, a lesbian film made in 1930s Germany, and much more. You can get them all from our pickup window, or via rent-by-mail. But first we want to highlight two new Criterion Editions that came in at the last minute last week:
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.
(Blu-Ray only so far – DVD soon)
TASTE OF CHERRY (1997)
Abbas Kiarostami (Close-Up, The Wind Will Carry Us, Certified Copy) won the Palme d’Or (a first for an Iranian film) with this story of a man driving around the outskirts of Tehran having conversations about mortality with passengers as he tries to find someone to dispose of his body after he commits suicide. Criterion’s new 4K digital restoration comes with Project (Kiarostami’s 39-minute “sketch film” for Taste of Cherry), a rare 1997 interview with the director, and a new interview with Iranian film scholar Hamid Naficy.
New this week:
A woman (Gale Storm) looking for her sister in L.A. teams with a reporter (Dennis O’Keefe) to uncover a babynapping/black market adoption racket. Raymond Burr co-stars. This disc from Kino’s Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema III box set includes commentary by film historian Samm Deighan.
THE AMERICAN NURSE (2014)
This documentary “explores some of the biggest issues facing America – aging, war, poverty, prisons – through the work and lives of five nurses.” Stories include a prison hospice run by lifers, an ovarian cancer survivor giving birth, a nursing home filled with farm animals, and a former Army medic rehabbing wounded soldiers.
DEADWATER FELL (2020)
A family in a remote Scottish village are drugged and caught in a raging fire. Only the father (David Tennant), a doctor, is pulled out alive. Investigators try to figure out what happened. This British drama mini-series was created by Daisy Coulam (Grantchester).
END OF SENTENCE (2019)
A widower (John Hawkes) fulfills his wife’s last wish by reuniting with his estranged car thief son (Logan Lerman) to travel from Alabama to a remote lake in Ireland to scatter her ashes. Critic Matt Zoller Seitz writes, “What’s special and delightful here are the moment-to-moment choices of the actors and filmmakers, which confirm that this movie was made by artists who understand what drives people, and are incapable of hating them, or encouraging others to hate them, if it’s clear that their worst mistakes are a result of conditioning and trauma that they don’t have the tools to understand.”
FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS (2019)
A cynical music executive (Daniel Mays) is pranked by his boss (Noel Clarke) into trying to sign a group of singing fishermen (led by James Purefoy) as a boy band. His time in their remote Cornish village leads to various laughs, lessons, etc. Critic James Croot calls it “a welcome throwback to those who yearn for the British comedies of decades past.” From some of the writers of the St. Trinian’s movies.
This is an Indonesian movie based on a classic comic book character. Its hero, Sancaka, is not a millionaire whose parents die, like Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark – he’s abandoned by them. After years of living on the streets, the injustices of Jakarta inspire him to stop just looking out for his own survival and become a hero to the oppressed. Gundala is part of the Jagad Sinema BumiLangit – Indonesia’s answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
HANNIBAL BROOKS (1969)
Oliver Reed stars as a British WWII P.O.W. assigned to transport an elephant into Austria after her zoo is bombed by the Americans. Michael Winner (Death Wish) directed this adventure comedy co-starring Michael J. Pollard.
I WILL MAKE YOU MINE (2020)
A story of three women (Lynn Chen, Yea-Ming Chen and Ayako Fujitani) who have little in common except that they all used to date singer-songwriter Goh Nakamura (playing himself). Actress Chen turned writer-director to revisit these characters from the films Surrogate Valentine (2011) and Daylight Savings (2012) “in a stand-alone story with a fresh new perspective.”
THE LADY GAMBLES (1949)
Barbara Stanwyck plays a once-respectable lady who visits Vegas and becomes a degenerate gambling addict, replacing her husband (Robert Preston) and sister (Edith Barrett) with her new loved ones: poker and craps. Also starring Stephen McNally, John Hoyt, Leif Erickson and Tony Curtis. This disc from Kino’s Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema III box set includes commentary by film historian Kat Ellinger.
LIGHT FROM LIGHT (2019)
A part time paranormal investigator and single mom (Marin Ireland) meets a recent widower (comedian Jim Gaffigan in a dramatic role) who thinks his Tennessee farmhouse might be haunted by his wife. “An unconventional ghost story made all the more transfixing by its defining delicacy and understatement,” writes David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter. The score is by Adam Granduciel and Jon Natchez of the band The War on Drugs. Includes two commentary tracks (director/star, director/producers) and a 22-minute short from the same director (Gina, An Actress, Age 29 ).
MADCHEN IN UNIFORM (1931)
A student at an all-girls boarding school falls in love with her teacher. “One of the most memorable and moving of the pre-Hitler German talkies” according to critic Hal Erickson. Lauren Humphries-Brooks of Citizen Dame writes that “The nascent sexuality of the girls in an all-girls school becomes an ideological battleground between authoritarianism and enforced heterosexuality, and freedom and fluid sexuality.” This anti-fascist landmark of lesbian cinema was almost banned in the U.S. until Eleanor Roosevelt spoke highly of it. With audio commentary by film historian Jenni Olson.
THE OTHER LAMB (2019)
A teenager (Raffey Cassidy, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) raised in a remote forest commune begins to question the teachings of the male “Shepherd” (Michiel Huisman, The Haunting of Hill House) of her otherwise all-female cult.
THE OUTSIDER: COMPLETE SERIES (2020)
A 2018 Stephen King novel is the source of this year’s acclaimed horror/crime mini-series developed by Richard Price (Clockers, The Wire) with episodes directed by Jason Bateman, Karyn Kusama (The Invitation) and J.D. Dillard (Sleight). When a child is murdered, a detective (Ben Mendelsohn) finds forensic evidence, multiple eye witnesses and security camera footage to prove the killer was a popular Little League coach (Bateman). It seems like an open and shut case until a private investigator (Jeremy Bobb) finds evidence, including news footage, that seems to prove he was at an out-of-town conference at the time. Also starring Julianne Nicholson, Mare Winningham, Paddy Considine and Cynthia Erivo.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
RAGGEDY MAN (1981)
Sissy Spacek plays a Texas mother of two divorced from a drunk (Sam Shepard), in love with a passing sailor (Eric Roberts), and terrorized by two weirdo brothers (William Sanderson and Tracey Walter). Based on a novel by the author of Legends of the Fall and directed by the production designer of Badlands and Days of Heaven (who was also married to Spacek). One of the sons is played by a pre-E.T. Henry Thomas. Includes commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger and Nathaniel Thompson.
THE REVENGE OF THE LIVING DEAD GIRLS (1987)
In the late ‘80s, director Pierre B. Reinhard and producer Jean-Claude Roy took a break from porn to make what Severin Films calls “the most extreme French gore film in history.” Jason Buchanan of Rovi writes that it, “goes too far and never looks back in its unabashed exploitative attempts to nauseate the viewer… one of the most shocking endings ever committed to film… guaranteed to simultaneously repulse and titillate.” Includes interviews with Roy, Reinhard and FX artist Benoit Lestang.
THE SHAKEDOWN (1929)
A boxer (James Murray) travels with a group of scam artists taking falls in fixed fights until his love for a waitress (Barbara Kent) and an orphan (Jack Hanlon) give him a new lease on life and/or punching people. This drama by director William Wyler (The Best Years of Our Lives) is presented in a new 4K restoration with commentary by film critic Nick Pinkerton.
A young couple (Odessa Young and Logan Lerman) move in with The Haunting of Hill House author Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss) and her professor husband (Michael Stuhlbarg) and “find themselves fodder for a psycho-drama that inspires Jackson’s next major novel.” David Sims of The Atlantic writes that director Josephine Decker (Madeline’s Madeline) “is superb at simply setting an atmosphere, and all of her favorite moody tricks—hazy, hypnotic photography; groaning sound effects; extreme, dizzying close-ups—are on display here… [her] filmmaking is often dreamlike, but her storytelling has a cruel bite of reality to it—just as Jackson’s writing did decades before.”
SLEEPING CITY (1950)
Hard-boiled noir shot on the streets of New York about a homicide detective who uncovers a narcotics ring in the course of an investigation and becomes the murderer’s next target. This disc from Kino’s Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema III box set has a commentary track by film historian Imogen Sara Smith.
THE STORY OF SCIENCE FICTION (2018)
Who better than the director of The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss and Avatar to host a six-episode mini-series on the history of the sci-fi genre? James Cameron “explores the ‘Big Questions’ of science fiction” with Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, George Lucas, Guillermo del Toro, Christopher Nolan, Paul Verhoeven and of course his buddy Arnold Schwarzenegger, among many others.
THE TENANT (1976)
Roman Polanski directs and stars in this haunting thriller about an increasingly paranoid file clerk who moves into a new apartment in Paris and becomes obsessed with a previous tenant who attempted suicide there. Scream Factory’s new edition includes new and old interviews, a location visit, audio essay, film historian commentary, and more.
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1916)
This silent take on the famous Jules Verne novel was shot on location in the Bahaman Islands and features groundbreaking underwater photography – it was promoted as “The First Submarine Photoplay Ever Filmed.” The adaptation also incorporates parts of Verne’s Mysterious Island, so it’s not only about Captain Nemo, but also the civil war soldiers who crash a hot air balloon onto an exotic island. Includes commentary track by film historian Anthony Slide.