by Bryan Theiss
This week we have super-intelligent sharks, a previously lost piece of Black cinema history, horror classics from Italy and Indonesia, a couple of Douglas Sirk films, a Jean Renoir, a Stephen King mini-series, some mysteries, the new Judd Apatow, a giant Yeti, and much more. You can rent them all by mail, and our pickup window opens at noon.
ALL I DESIRE (1953)
Barbara Stanwyck plays a stage actress who ditched her family ten years ago, but returns to their small Wisconsin town to watch her daughter’s play. Directed by Douglas Sirk (Imitation of Life), so it’s a melodrama. Includes commentary by film historian Imogen Sara Smith and interview with actor Clinton Greyn.
A rising filmmaker about to premiere his second film at the London Film Festival meets a French singer and tours the city with him.
THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY (2019)
A full-of-himself Milan art critic (Claes Bang) tries to steal a painting from an enigmatic and reclusive painter (Donald Sutherland) with the help of an American tourist (Elizabeth Debicki of Widows). It sounds like a pretty loose adaptation of the great book by Charles Willeford (Miami Blues, Cockfighter), but it’s written by Scott B. Smith (A Simple Plan) and it has Mick Jagger in it.
Two cargo pilots (Alan Ladd and William Bendix) try to solve and avenge the murder of a fellow pilot. One of them falls for their dead friend’s fiancee (Gail Russell), who may or may not be in on it. With commentary by critic Nick Pinkerton.
(We have added a DVD along with the recently acquired Blu-Ray)
CANE RIVER (1982)
According to the New Orleans Film Society, “Cane River is set near Natchitoches, in one of the first ‘free communities of color.’ Richard Romain plays Peter Metoyer, home to fight for his land, and Tommye Myrick plays the headstrong Maria Mathis, reluctant to succumb to his charms just because he’s the scion of a famous family. Together they confront schisms of class and color that threaten to keep them apart and that still roil America today.” This independent film from a Black director and financers was lost when writer/director Horace B. Jenkins died shortly after its premiere. Indiewire explains the film’s background, disappearance and rediscovery.
DEAD STILL: SERIES 1 (2020)
Darkly comic mystery series about a photographer in Victorian Ireland who gets drawn into a murder investigation because of his portraits of the recently deceased.
DEEP BLUE SEA 3 (2020)
Yes, it’s true – the 1999 cult classic by Renny Harlin has spawned a direct-to-video sequel series. This installment is directed by John Pogue (writer of U.S. Marshals, The Skulls and Ghost Ship) and written by Dirk Blackman (Black Mask 2: City of Masks, Outlander) and involves environmentalists who are studying climate change at a man-made island conservatory in the Mozambique Channel when they encounter the even more immediate threat of genetically enhanced super-intelligent sharks.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
Considered by some to be the best film by Lucio Fulci (Zombi, The Beyond, City of the Living Dead), Demonia is about a Canadian team of archaeologists who unleash the spirits of crucified Satanic nuns in the ruins of a medieval Sicilian monastery. New 4K scan from the original negative which Severin Films says was “recently discovered in the attic of a Collevecchio convent.” (What were they doing with it?) Includes interviews with assistant director/uncredited co-writer Antonio Tentori, camera operator Sandro Grossi and Fulci himself (on the set of the film), plus an audio commentary by Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci author Stephen Thrower.
DOGS DON’T WEAR PANTS (2019)
An emotionally distant widower happens to meet a dominatrix and enters the BDSM subculture in this well-reviewed Finnish erotic black comedy. Alexandra Heller-Nicholas of Film International writes, “The success of Dogs Don’t Wear Pants lies in its genuine open mindedness to sexuality which underscores its thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and humanity.”
DRIVE ME TO THE END (2020)
Estranged family members, one of them on the Autism Spectrum, share a car driving to a funeral in the Scottish Highlands.
ENDEAVOUR: SEASON 7 (2012)
Inspector Morse officially enters the 1970s in this season of the prequel series starring Shaun Evans.
FINAL SPACE: SEASON 1&2 (2018)
Astronaut Gary Goodspeed befriends a planet-destroying alien he names Mooncake who is wanted by the Lord Commander, and they set out to save the universe in this TBS/Adult Swim animated space comedy for adults.
Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo the Iron Man) directed this film about a doctor in 1910 Tokyo who discovers shocking secrets after his parents are murdered. Mondo Digital called it, “A skin crawling gothic horror film packed with enough colourful, nightmarish imagery to send most Western critics into fits.” This first-ever blu-ray release includes a new HD transfer, a making-of documentary directed by Takashi Miike (!), a makeup demonstration, a featurette about the premiere, and more.
HELL BENT (1918)
In one of actor Harry Carey’s collaborations with young director John Ford, his outlaw character Cheyenne Harry falls in love with a dance hall girl and travels across the desert to rescue her when she’s kidnapped. Kino Lorber’s new 4K restoration includes music by Zachary Marsh, archival audio interview with John Ford by Searching for John Ford author Joseph McBride, a commentary by McBride and a video essay by Tag Gallagher.
THE HOTTEST AUGUST (2019)
This documentary that Glenn Kenny of the New York Times calls “Fascinating. A cinematic gift. An intellectual challenge and an emotional adventure” is advertised as “offering a mirror onto a society on the verge of catastrophe.” Unfortunately for said society, that’s referring to the month of August, 2017, because it focuses on New York City inthat specific window of time, as anxieties rise over news of the new president, marching white nationalists, wildfires and hurricanes around the country.
IN MY ROOM (2018)
A German take on the Quiet Earth type premise of a person suddenly finding that everyone else in the world has disappeared. Mike D’Angelo of The AV Club writes, “This droll yet poignant amalgam of the fantastic and the mundane ultimately suggests that while people can dramatically alter their behavior in response to extreme circumstances, on some fundamental level they don’t really change.” Guy Lodge of Variety writes that it “presents and accepts its partial apocalypse with unquestioning calm – an extreme contrivance that merely enables an elegant, exacting character study.
Bella Thorne and Jake Manley play a sort of Instagram-era Bonnie and Clyde who gain online fame by posting about their crime spree. Writer/director Joshua Caldwell is from Seattle; his 2014 film Layover premiered at SIFF.
THE INFILTRATORS (2019)
A group of undocumented kids intentionally get detained by Border Patrol to infiltrate a for-profit detention center. This true life thriller combines re-enactments with documentary footage, and is co-directed by Cristina Ibarra (a documentarian) and Alex Rivera, who did the cool 2008 sci-fi movie Sleep Dealer, which also dealt with immigration issues in an interesting way. Critic Amy Nicholson writes, “You see that these kids have so much potential to really be great leaders in this country, [but] many of them can’t even go to college and so they are using their energy here. It’s really spectacular that they’re doing that.”
THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND (2020)
Judd Apatow’s directorial followup to 2015’s Trainwreck stars young Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson in kind of his equivalent to Eminem’s Eight Mile – a fictional story that’s clearly based on his own messy life of hardships and designed to showcase his working class neighborhood. Davidson – whose real life father was a firefighter who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11 – plays an aimless, suicidal wannabe tattoo artist who gets upset when his widowed mom (Marisa Tomei) starts dating another firefighter (Bill Burr). It features Apatow’s trademark balance of goofy riffing and emotional character drama as Davidson’s character tries to grow and come to terms with his father’s life and death. One highlight is the warm presence of real life firefighter Steve Buscemi as a guy who knew his dad and can tell him some stories.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
LADY KILLS (1971) / PERVERTISSIMA (1972)
Mondo Macabro presents a double feature of films by director Jean Louis Van Belle (Forbidden Paris) that have never been available on video before. The first is about a woman on a killing spree from London to Rome, the second is about a woman researching “Love in Paris” for a tabloid, and apparently she comes across a mad scientist creating sex robots. New 2K transfers with introductions by writer Christophe Bier and a documentary, Who Is Louis Van Belle?
THE LONGEST WAR (2020)
Showtime documentary about the human stories behind the war in Afghanistan.
RECKLESS AGE (1924)
British amateur boxing champ turned silent movie star Reginald Denny stars in a romantic comedy about an insurance agent and a wealthy heiress. This disc from Kino Lorber’s Reginald Denny Collection includes music by Jake Monaco and audio commentary by film historian Anthony Slide.
SATAN’S SLAVE (1980)
Last week we got Satan’s Slaves, the recent festival favorite from director Joko Anwar – this is the original Indonesian horror classic about a teenager discovering some scary business while mourning the death of his mother. Includes interviews with producer Gope T. Samtani, screenwriter Imam Tantowi and remake director Anwar.
SHAKESPEARE & HATHAWAY: PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS SEASON 3 (2018)
Third season of the BBC mystery series set in present day Stratford-upon-Avon
SIGN OF THE CROSS (1932)
Cecil B. DeMille’s pre-Code epic of Ancient Rome stars Charles Laughton as Emperor Nero, Fredric March as Prefect Marcus Superbus and Claudette Colbert as Empress Poppaea, and has the same cinematographer as Sunrise. Some of the sets and costumes were left over from The Ten Commandments. Includes two separate commentaries by film historians Mark A. Vieira and David Del Valle. They’ll probably mention that the famous scene where Poppaea bathes in milk took several days to film and ended up not smelling great.
SKINNER’S DRESS SUIT / WHAT HAPPENED TO JONES? (1926)
Two more comedies from Kino Lorber’s Reginald Denny Collection. In the former (with music by Leo Birenberg) he’s a clerk who lies about getting a raise, so his wife buys him an expensive suit that changes in his life. In the former (with music by Anthony Willis) his poker game gets raided on the night before his wedding so he has to go on the run wearing ridiculous disguises. Both have commentary tracks by film historian Anthony Slide.
THE STAND (1994) (COMPLETE MINISERIES)
A deadly plague wipes out most of the world, and the survivors split into two groups for a final battle between good and evil. This most ambitious of the ‘90s Stephen King TV adaptations is a four-part mini-series filmed on location in Utah, Colorado, Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania and featuring Gary Sinise (right after Forrest Gump), Miguel Ferrer, Rob Lowe, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Jamey Sheridan, Laura San Giacomo, Molly Ringwald, Corin Nemec, Adam Storke, Ray Walston, Ed Harris, Matt Frewer, Joe Bob Briggs and Stephen King among its over 125 speaking parts.
SUZI Q (2019)
Documentary about the career and influence of singer-songwriter Suzi Quatro.
THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW (1955)
Douglas Sirk (All That Heaven Allows) directed Double Indemnity stars Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in this romantic melodrama about a husband who feels under appreciated and then runs into an old flame, now divorced. With commentary by film historian Samm Deighan.
THE TOBACCONIST (2018)
This is a coming of age story about a teenager who becomes friends with Sigmund Freud (Bruno Ganz) while apprenticing at a tobacco shop in Vienna. Then the Nazis arrive and he has to decide whether or not to flee.
TONI (1935) (CRITERION)
Jean Renoir’s story about an Italian migrant was filmed partly on location in an immigrant community in the South of France, and with nonprofessional actors, and became an influence on Italian neorealism and the French New Wave. Criterion’s edition includes a new 4K restoration, commentary by critics Kent Jones and Phillip Lopate, a 1961 introduction by Renoir, a 1967 TV episode about Renoir directed by Jacques Rivette, a new video essay by Christopher Faulkner and new subtitle translation.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
TRIP TO GREECE (2020)
The latest (and last?) in director Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip franchise has Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon converse while conducting a restaurant tour that follows the path of The Odyssey.
YES, GOD, YES (2019)
This is an early 2000s period piece comedy about an innocent Midwest Catholic teen who learns about masturbation from an AOL chat room. Worried her new hobby will send her to Hell, she attends a religious retreat to try to suppress her urges. Los Angeles Times critic Katie Walsh writes that writer/director Karen Maine (Obvious Child) “captures something indelible about adolescent female desire, without condescending or objectifying, because she understands, subjectively, what that looks and feels like: all the confusion and shame, but yes, also the pleasure.”
YETI: GIANT OF THE 20TH CENTURY (1977)
A giant Yeti is found frozen in ice. A corporation tries to exploit it. Could be trouble. A new high def master of the Italian giant monster movie from the director of the Sabata spaghetti westerns.