by Bryan Theiss
In this week’s new arrivals we have romance, serial killers, road raging Russell Crowe, a 70-foot-tall radioactive man, super hero comedy, super hero horror, two different impeached presidents, one president who’s not impeached but is friends with Willie Nelson, a new Herzog documentary, and two highly anticipated Criterion editions (hint: one rhymes with “Toast Blog: Day of the Glamour Guy”).
AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON (1987)
This cult classic sketch comedy movie is sort of an unofficial semi-sequel to The Kentucky Fried Movie and is formatted as commercials and vignettes interspersed between scenes of a dated sci-fi movie playing on late night TV. Segments were directed by Joe Dante and John Landis, and some of the recognizable faces who show up include Steve Allen, Rosanna Arquette, Paul Bartel, Ed Begley Jr., Sybil Danning, Griffin Dunne, Carrie Fisher, David Alan Grier, Steve Guttenberg, Arsenio Hall, Phil Hartman, Howard Hesseman, B.B. King, Michelle Pfeiffer and Joe Pantoliano. This long overdue special edition includes film historian commentary, newly discovered outtakes and dailies from Joe Dante’s personal archive, deleted scenes, and the featurette Bullshit Or Not: The True Story of Amazon Women On the Moon.
THE BROKEN HEARTS GALLERY (2020)
After a New York City art gallery assistant (Geraldine Viswanathan) gets dumped by her boyfriend, she decides to create a space for displaying souvenirs of failed relationships. Christy Lemire of FilmWeek says, “It’s totally charming. A very traditional, throwback romantic comedy.”
THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY (1989)
This award-winning but under-the-radar film about “the British Jeffery Dahmer” has been compared to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Arrow’s limited edition features a new restoration from the original 16mm negative, new commentaries by writer/director Fhiona-Louise and film historians, interviews with some of the actors, a promo film made to raise financing and two shorts by the director.
THE COMEY RULE (COMPLETE MINISERIES) (2020)
Showtime’s mini-series is based on former FBI director James Comey’s book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership and deals with the clash between Comey (Jeff Daniels) and Donald Trump (Brendan Gleeson). Part 1 deals with the pre-election investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails, part two is about the first two months of Trump’s presidency, including when he asked Comey to pledge loyalty to him. Also featuring Holly Hunter as Sally Yates, Scoot McNairy as Rod Rosenstein, Peter Coyote as Robert Mueller, William Sadler as Michael Flynn and Kingsley Ben-Adir as Barack Obama. Writer-director Billy Ray previously wrote The Hunger Games, Captain Phillips and Richard Jewell.
French-Belgian court room drama about a juror who believes in the innocence of an accused murderer so much she convinces a tenor of the bar to defend him in his second trial and helps try to clear him. Based on a true story.
DEATH OF ME (2020)
In this horror version of The Hangover, Maggie Q and Luke Hemsworth play a couple on vacation in Thailand who wake up with no memory of the night before, but find a mysterious video that somehow shows one killing the other. Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II-IV, Repo! The Genetic Opera, Abattoir).
THE DEVIL HAS A NAME (2020)
David Strathairn plays a widowed farmer who crusades against a multi-national oil conglomerate that’s poisoning his water. Based on a true story and directed by Edward James Olmos, who co-stars along with Kate Bosworth and Pablo Schreiber.
GHOST DOG: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI (1999) (CRITERION)
Jim Jarmusch’s one-of-a-kind story of an eccentric mob hitman (Forest Whitaker) who lives his life by the samurai code is a favorite of many of us here at Scarecrow, and we’re thrilled to see Criterion rescue it from its previous non-anamorphic DVD purgatory. The director-approved 4K restoration would be enough for us, but they’ve also included a new Q&A with Jarmusch, conversation between Whitaker and co-star Isaach De Bankolé, interviews with casting director Ellen Lewis and USA Shaolin Temple founder Shifu She Yan Ming, a 2000 making-of program, archival interviews, deleted scenes and outtakes, and a video essay on RZA’s all-time-classic score (which, incidentally, you can listen to on an isolated track).
(we have the DVD and the Blu-Ray will arrive soon)
GRACE OF MY HEART (1996)
Alison Anders (Gas Food Lodging, Mi Vida Loca) wrote and directed this acclaimed film starring Ileana Douglas as a fictional ‘60s pop music songwriter struggling to make it as a singer. Executive produced by Martin Scorsese, and partly edited by beloved friend of Scarecrow Thelma Schoonmaker. Also it should be noted that a long time ago Anders visited our store and was really nice. This new blu-ray features a commentary with Anders, making-of doc and deleted scenes.
Animated super hero comedy about an aspiring henchman (Thomas Middleditch) and his mentor (James Marsden) who reluctantly decide to save the world from another super villain (Alfred Molina). Also featuring the voices of Rosario Dawson, Will Sasso, Nathan Fillion, Rob Riggle,Jane Krakowski, Craig Robinson and Bobcat Goldthwait.
I WAS AT HOME, BUT… (2019)
“After a 13-year-old student disappears without a trace for a week and suddenly reappears, his mother and teachers are confronted with existential questions that change their whole view of life.” Also includes three shorts by director Angela Schanelec.
IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA: SEASON 14
This ten episode season ties It’s Always Sunny with The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet for longest running live action American sitcom in number of seasons. Guest-starring Dolph Lundgren as “Thundergun.”
JIMMY CARTER: ROCK & ROLL PRESIDENT (2020)
Documentary about Jimmy Carter’s relationships with musicians like Willie Nelson, the Allman Brothers and Bob Dylan and how they helped him get into office.
MOONSTRUCK (1987) (CRITERION)
Norman Jewison’s charming New York City romantic comedy won Oscars for Cher, Olympia Dukakis and screenwriter John Patrick Shanley and got a nomination for supporting actor Vincent Gardenia. You could argue that Danny Aiello and Nicolas Cage deserved nods too. Criterion’s decades-spanning collection of extras includes new interviews with Shanley and scholar Stefano Albertini (about the use of opera in the film), a 2013 introduction by Cher, 1987 interviews with Jewison, Cher, Cage, Gardenia and Dukakis, a 2002 one with Aiello, 1989 audio interview with Shanley, 2006 featurettes At the Heart of an Italian Family and The Music of Moonstruck, and a 1998 commentary with Cher, Jewison and Shanley.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
THE NEW MUTANTS (2020)
The long-delayed final entry in the two-decade-old X-Men cinematic universe is a horror spin-off about super-powered mutant teens locked in a hospital (X-Men meets A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors). The cast includes Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga and Adam Beach, there is a character called “Demon Bear,” and the writer-director is Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars, The Stand). Includes deleted scenes and “Origins & Influences” with the filmmakers and comics legend Bill Sienkiewicz.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
THE NEW POPE: COMPLETE SERIES (2020)
Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty) sequelizes his previous series The Young Pope in a 9-episode saga with Jude Law returning as Pope Pius XIII, joined by John Malkovich as Pope John Paul III, the new pope of the title.
NOMAD: IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BRUCE CHATWIN (2019)
Werner Herzog’s latest documentary is a portrait of his decades-long friendship with travel writer Bruce Chatwin.
PENANCE: SEASON 1 (2020)
This thriller series from Sundance Now is about a grieving mother and daughter (Julie Graham and Tallulah Greive) whose lives are further torn apart by a young man (Nico Mirallegro) they meet in a bereavement support group.
After an elderly woman (Robyn Nevin) mysteriously disappears and reappears, her daughter (Emily Mortimer) and granddaughter (Bella Heathcote) begin to notice signs of dementia and/or supernatural happenings. This slow burn horror movie has a 91% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. UK film critic Mark Kermode writes, “I’d wager that this spine-tingling, heartbreaking tale of a woman with Alzheimer’s becoming lost in the labyrinthine corridors of her mind, and her home, has a universal power that will resonate with anyone, regardless of personal experience.”
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
Documentary about three Midwest women (Bryn Bird, Julie Cho and Myya Jones) who tried to reshape their local politics by running for office.
SEVEN DAYS SEASON 1-3 (1998)
Thanks to a generous donor we now have all three seasons of this UPN sci-fi series about a secret branch of the NSA that developed a time travel device based on alien technology found at Roswell. Created by the co-writer of The Last of the Mohicans.
THE SPECIAL (2020)
Described on the box as “Fatal Attraction meets The Blob,” this is an unusual genre hybrid about a man who picks up a bizarre sexual addition after “a supernatural encounter in the back room of a brothel.” It’s adapted from a novel by Mark Steensland, who directed the movie The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick and used to be our sales rep at the distributor we got most of our movies from for years.
“During World War II, an Englishwoman opens her heart to an evacuee after initially resolving to be rid of him in this moving journey of womanhood, love and friendship.” Starring Gemma Arterton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Tom Courtenay.
TENNESSEE JOHNSON (1942)
Van Heflin stars in this biopic of Andrew Johnson, the first president to be impeached, with Lionel Barrymore as his nemesis Thaddeus Stevens. From the director of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Devil and Daniel Webster. “As with most biopics of the era, the film should be viewed today as a reflection of Hollywoods tendency to take factual liberties in order to give audiences an uplifting story and, above all, entertain,” say the promotional materials.
THEN CAME YOU (2020)
Kathie Lee Gifford stars as a lonely widow who gets a second chance at love when she meets a Scottish innkeeper (Craig Ferguson) while on a trip around the world with her husband’s ashes to visit the locations of their favorite movies. Gifford wrote the screenplay and even performed and wrote the lyrics for the theme song.
UNCLE PECKERHEAD (2020)
Horror comedy about a punk band whose tour gets a little tricky when they hire a man-eating demon as a roadie. This was donated to the store by our own Leo, who told me it’s pretty good and has lots of practical gore effects.
THE UNTOLD STORY (1993)
Anthony Wong (Hard Boiled, Infernal Affairs) won best actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards for this based-on-a-true-story role as a restaurant owner suspected of a series of murders that may or may not have changed the recipe of his pork buns. This special edition includes three commentaries (director Herman Yau, star Anthony Wong, historians Art Ettinger & Bruce Holecheck), Cantonese Carnage interview with Rick Baker and the documentary Category 3, The Untold Story of Hong Kong Exploitation.
It’s bad enough to have some road rage guy dedicate his life to terrorizing you and your family because you cut him off or whatever, but for it to be Russell Crowe? That’s just terrible luck. From the writer of Red Eye, Disturbia and the remake of Last House on the Left.
WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST (1958)
Why don’t they ever make movies about the peace of the colossal beast? Until they do we’ll have to make do with Scream Factory’s presentation of this The Amazing Colossal Man sequel about the continuing misadventures of the colonel transformed by an experimental plutonium blast into “the towering terror from Hell!” This new scan from a fine grain print includes a film historian commentary, alternate black and white ending and the featurette Size Matters: Bert I. Gordon at AIP.
This German expressionist horror anthology is framed as tales told by a poet hired to tell the backstories of three figures at a wax museum: Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid, Ivan the Terrible and Jack the Ripper. The film’s style captured the attention of Universal to bring director Paul Leni to Hollywood, where he made The Cat and the Canary and The Man Who Laughs. Though the original German version has not survived, this English edition has been restored from export prints and materials found in archives around the world. You have the option of watching with one of two new scores: a piano one by Richard Siedhoff or an instrumental one performed by Ensemble Musikfabrik.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
WESTWORLD: SEASON 3 (2020)
Subtitled “The New World,” this season of the HBO sci-fi series adds Aaron Paul and Vincent Cassel to a cast that already had Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson and Ed Harris. Dolores (Wood) takes up residence in Neo-Los Angeles and Maeve (Newton) finds herself in a section of the park based on WWII Fascist Italy.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
WHEN KNIGHTHOOD WAS IN FLOWER (1922)
Marion Davies stars as Mary Tudor in this lavish costume epic, restored from an original 35mm nitrate print preserved by the Library of Congress, its original color tints and hand-coloring digitally reinstated. Theatre organ score by Ben Model.
THE WONDERS OF ALADDIN (1961)
Donald O’Connor of Singin’ in the Rain fame plays Aladdin, Bicycle Thieves director Vittorio De Sica plays the genie in this Italian-French-American fantasy comedy co-directed by horror legend Mario Bava. With commentary by film historian Tim Lucas.
WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS (2020)
Charlie Plummer stars as a smart high school senior who is diagnosed with schizophrenia while falling in love with a brilliant classmate (Taylor Russell). Shaena Montanari writes in the Arizona Republic that “Plummer’s genuine, heartfelt performance will likely go a long way in humanizing a diagnosis that is often unfairly stigmatized.” This might be the first movie with important events staged at a screening of the Drew Barrymore movie Never Been Kissed.
Many know director Takashi Miike for disturbing movies like Audition and Ichi the Killer, but he’s not above doing a comedy about a grade school teacher dressing up as an obscure TV super hero and stumbling into defending the world from crab monsters and alien slime and stuff.