by Bryan Theiss
This week’s new arrivals include a new adventure for a popular Australian detective, one of the best anti-war films ever made, a couple of Paul Bartel movies, a couple of heists (one with Henry Rollins), a cult favorite BMX movie never on disc before, and more. All of it is available via rent-by-mail, or from our pickup window:
BECOMING LESLIE (2019)
Documentary about “life on the streets as seen through the eyes of a cross-dressing, homeless man named Leslie Cochran, one of the most beloved yet polarizing cult figures of Austin, Texas.” The Hollywood Reporter called this chronicle of the thong-wearing drifter, activist and mayoral candidate “a reminder of the years when some misfits actually fought to keep rich newcomers and complacent city leaders from spoiling their funky Eden.”
BEECHAM HOUSE: SEASON 1
As seen on Masterpiece, Tom Bateman stars as a former soldier with the East India Company buying a new house where he can raise his newborn baby in Delhi before British rule. Directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham, Bride and Prejudice).
CLOSE RANGE (2016)
“An ex-military recluse, living in the mountains of France to escape a traumatic past, is hunted down by those whose lives he has destroyed.”
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
COME AND SEE (1985) (CRITERION)
A teenage boy finds an old rifle and joins the Soviet resistance to stop the Nazis invading his Belorussian village. In a 4-star review, Roger Ebert wrote, “It’s said that you can’t make an effective anti-war film because war by its nature is exciting, and the end of the film belongs to the survivors. No one would ever make the mistake of saying that about Elem Klimov’s Come and See. This 1985 film from Russia is one of the most devastating films ever about anything, and in it, the survivors must envy the dead.”
Criterion’s edition is a new 2K digital restoration with new and archival interviews with cinematographer Roger Deakins, director Klimov, his brother German Klimov, actor Alexei Kravchenko and production designer Viktor Petrov, a 1985 making-of short, and Flaming Memory, a three-film documentary series from 1975-1977 featuring firsthand accounts of survivors of the WWII genocide in Belorussia.
(Blu-Ray – DVD coming soon)
Jean Dujardin (Academy Award winner for The Artist) feels so cool in his new vintage fringe jacket that he decides to start a new persona as an indie filmmaker, and sets out to make a documentary with a bartender played by Adèle Haenel of Portrait of a Lady On Fire. According to David Fear in Rolling Stone, “This isn’t just a movie about unstable, unmoored men trying to get their mojo back — it’s also a horror film about moviemaking.” From writer/director Quentin Dupieux (Rubber).
FORCE OF NATURE (2020)
Emile Hirsch and Kate Bosworth are among a gang of thieves trying to pull a heist while facing a hurricane and a cop, one of which is played by Mel Gibson. Directed by Michael Polish (Twin Falls Idaho).
THE GHOST OF PETER SELLERS (2018)
Peter Medak (The Changeling) directs a documentary about the traumatic time when, right after The Ruling Class, he tried to make a pirate comedy starring Peter Sellers, who immediately decided to sabotage the production. The New Yorker calls it “a revealing view of an industry of enormous personalities – and the indulgences that feed them.”
HOLLYWOOD HIGH (1976) / TEENAGE MOTHER (1967)
A drive-in double feature about the youths.
THE IMMORTALIZER (1990)
Vinegar Syndrome’s new 2K restoration of a bloody romp in which a mad scientist kidnaps young people to transplant rich old people’s brains into. Includes interviews with director Joel Bender and cinematographer Alan Caso.
JAMES VS HIS FUTURE SELF (2019)
It’s a fight between a young scientist (Jonas Chernick) destined to invent time travel, and his bitter future-self (Daniel Stern), who tells him not to do it.
THE LAST HEIST (2016)
Some bank robbers run into complications when it turns out one of their hostages (Henry Rollins!) is a psychotic serial killer. From director Mike Mendez (Big Ass Spider!, Don’t Kill It).
MISS FISHER AND THE CRYPT OF TEARS (2020)
Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) frees a young girl in Jerusalem and gets involved in an old mystery about an ancient curse and the suspicious disappearance of an entire tribe in this stand-alone movie spin-off of the Australian TV series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION (1984)
Paul Bartel (Eating Raoul) directed this comedy in which a tabloid reporter (Nancy Allen) stumbles across a sex scandal/blackmail conspiracy and tries to use it to advance her career. Brand new 4K master and commentary by filmmaker Allan Arkush (Rock ’n’ Roll High School) and historian Daniel Kremer.
Werner Krauss (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) plays the sixteenth century philosopher and homeopathic doctor in an expensive biography made in Germany at a terrible time by director G.W. Pabst (Don Quixote, The 3 Penny Opera). Includes three historical background slide shows and original promotional materials.
PATTY HEARST (1988)
Natasha Richardson stars in director Paul Schrader (First Reformed)’s story of the Hearst kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army, with Ving Rhames in an intense early role. Vinegar Syndrome presents a new 2K restoration with an interview with Schrader.
PRIMAL RAGE (1988)
A rage virus spreads from a lab baboon “to a trio of rapists and a valley girl, all of whom go on killing sprees.” Written by Umberto Lenzi (Cannibal Ferox), with music by Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti (Demons, Opera).
PROMISE AT DAWN (2017)
The tragic-comic life of French novelist Romain Gary, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg as his mother Nina. Matt Fagerholm of HYPERLINK “http://rogerebert.com”rogerebert.com writes that, “The relentless momentum of the film’s pacing [has] a poignant cumulative impact, reflecting how Roman’s coming-of-age was a literal race against time to ensure his status as a French literary genius was solidified prior to Nina’s encroaching demise.” He also says that, “What’s a little surprising, in light of the subject matter’s considerable weight, is how funny the film frequently proves to be.”
RAD (1986) (4KULTRA / Blu-Ray)
We’ve sincerely been waiting decades for a good release of this BMXploitation favorite of many a Gen-X childhood. Directed by Hal Needham (Cannonball Run), it features numerous bicycle tricks, a young Lori Loughlin, and that song “Send Me An Angel.” It was never released on DVD, and our VHS copy had an annoying buzz sound when played on some VCRs. Now the heroes of Vinegar Syndrome have made a limited edition Blu-Ray (and even a 4K Ultra-HD disc!) of a new 4K restoration from the original negative. The many extras include new commentaries from stars Bill Allen and Talia Shire, an old one with Allen, Bart Conner, writer Sam Bernard and some BMX stunt riders, interviews with Needham and Bernard, footage from a 25th anniversary event, a music video, and more.
(2 discs rented together – Blu-Ray with 4K Ultra HD)
SCENES FROM THE CLASS STRUGGLE IN BEVERLY HILLS (1989)
Another black comedy from Paul Bartel, this one about two rich families sharing one mansion for a weekend. New 2K master and interview with co-star Robert Beltran.
Feature length documentary following three years in the life of one of the four plaintiffs in the lawsuit that ended New York’s “stop-and-frisk” policy, putting the controversy in the context of a long history of civil rights battles.
SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO (2007) (2 VERSIONS)
Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer, 13 Assassins)’s colorful English language tribute to spaghetti westerns stars Hideaki Ito (The Princess Blade) and has an appearance by Miike super-fan Quentin Tarantino. Includes an extended cut, making of documentary, deleted scenes, sizzle reel and promotional clips.
WILD PALMS (1993)(COMPLETE MINISERIES)
There aren’t too many things like this: a five-part neo-noir mini-series, executive produced by Oliver Stone, based on a comic strip that ran in Details magazine, set in near-future L.A., with elements of (then trendy) virtual reality. The soundtrack is by Ryuichi Sakamoto (The Last Emperor, The Revenant) and the episodes are directed by Peter Hewitt (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), Keith Gordon (Mother Night), Kathryn Bigelow (Near Dark, Strange Days, Zero Dark Thirty) and Phil Joanou (Three O’Clock High). The blu-ray features a new 2K master and several audio commentaries from stars Jim Belushi and Dana Delany, creator Bruce Wagner and directors Gordon and Joanou.