by Bryan Theiss
This week we have some horror (new, classic and controversial), some new sci-fi oddities (one Russian, one religious), some documentaries, an acclaimed super hero mini-series, and much more. All are available from our pickup window or via rent-by-mail.
Award winning documentary about Jewish-Israeli attorney Lea Tsemel, who has made a career out of defending Palestinians in Israeli courts. It follows her current caseload while revisiting her landmark cases and investigating “the personal price one pays for assuming the role of devil’s advocate.”
Asia Argento (Scarlet Diva) stars as a New Yorker confronting strange visions, spectres and witches while in Tuscany to deal with her estranged mother’s estate. Special appearance by Franco Nero (Django).
ALIAS NICK BEAL (1949)
Film noir version of Faust stars Thomas Mitchell as an honest D.A. who makes a deal with the titular smooth-talking mystery man (Ray Milland) in hopes of catching a crime boss (Fred Clark). Directed by John Farrow (Five Came Back, The Big Clock, Plunder of the Sun).
AMERICA AS SEEN BY A FRENCHMAN (1960)
French documentarian François Reichenbach travelled late-‘50s America for 18 months, chronicling its eccentricities in places ranging from Disneyland to a prison rodeo and a town only for twins. Music by Michel Legrand (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg). This edition includes a new video appreciation of the film by author/critic Philip Kemp.
ASSASSIN 33 A.D. (2020)
This hybrid science fiction and Christian film involves extremists hijacking a time machine to go back in time and kill Jesus and his Disciples. The young scientists who invented the technology must go back to restore the resurrection while interacting with Jesus, Mary, Peter and other Biblical figures.
THE BLACKOUT: INVASION EARTH (2019)
Russian sci-fi film about the survivors of an alien phenomenon that wipes out much of the human race and leaves only a small area in Eastern Europe with electricity.
Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs, Bridesmaids) stars in a drama about “The sexual, psychological, and moral unraveling of an obsessive-compulsive suburban mom.” Directed by Debra Eisenstadt, who starred in David Mamet’s Oleanna.
DOCTOR WHO: SERIES 12 (2005)
Jodie Whittaker’s second series as the Thirteenth Doctor. “Doctor Who‘s twelfth outing adds welcome nuances to Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and some scary new layers of horror to some of the series’ most terrifying villains,” according to Rotten Tomatoes.
THE ETRUSCAN SMILE (2018)
Brian Cox stars as a rugged Scotsman who has to leave his home on an isolated island and live with his estranged son in San Francisco to get medical treatment. Includes an intro by Cox.
GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992) (SHOUT SELECT) (COLLECTOR’S ED.)
A-B-C – Always Be Collecting Shout Select’s collector’s editions. Or at least renting them from us. David Mamet’s classic of sweaty competitiveness and desperation among Chicago real estate salesmen is presented with a new 4K transfer from the original negative, new conversations with director James Foley and actor Joe Mantegna, separate audio commentaries with Foley and Jack Lemmon, and scenes with bonus commentary by Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchia and production designer Jane Musky.
THE HUNT (2020)
Nick Cuse & Damon Lindelof (The Leftovers, Watchmen) wrote this Blumhouse-produced horror film promoted as being about “liberal elites” capturing and hunting “deplorables.” Intended as a button-pushing satire about political division, it was delayed when a Fox News story caused a certain high ranking U.S. politician to angrily tweet about it, then finally released shortly before Covid-19 caused theaters to close. So it’s either controversial or cursed. The cast includes Betty Gilpin from GLOW, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts, Sturgill Simpson and Hilary Swank.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
LAST AND FIRST MEN (2017)
The late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (Sicario, Arrival, Mandy) directed and scored this experimental 16mm film starring Tilda Swinton, based on the 1930 “future history” sci-fi novel by Olaf Stapledon, set to music performed by the BBC Philharmonic.
LAUREL & HARDY: THE DEFINITIVE RESTORATIONS
Six discs of fully restored material including two features (Sons of the Desert and Way Out West) plus 17 shorts with commentaries and more than eight hours of exclusive special features.
To make this set easier to view during one rental period, we’ve divided the discs up as six separate rentals:
SONS OF THE DESERT / THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY
BERTH MARKS / BRATS / HOG WILD
ONE GOOD TURN / HELPMATES / THE MUSIC BOX
THE CHIMP / COUNTY HOSPITAL / SCRAM! / THEIR FIRST MISTAKE
TOWED IN A HOLE / TWICE TWO/ME AND MY PAL / THE MIDNIGHT PATROL / BUSY BODIES
WAY OUT WEST / THAT’S THAT / THE TREE IN A TEST TUBE
LETTERKENNY: SEASON 3&4 (2016)
Two more seasons of the cult sitcom about a rural Canadian town. “There are 5000 people in Letterkenny. These are their problems.”
LOST IN AMERICA (2018)
Director Rotimi Rainwater (Sugar), a Navy veteran who was once homeless, travels the country to show the realities of young people living on the streets – how they got there, the challenges they face, and what might be done to help them. He also talks to celebrities who have themselves been homeless, like Jewel and Tiffany Haddish.
THE MAD FOX (1962)
Director Tomu Uchida (Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji) took inspiration from kabuki and Bunraku in this colorful, expressionistic tale of murder, madness and forest spirits presented her for the first time outside of Japan. Arrow’s edition includes audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp.
A MIDNIGHT CLEAR (1992) (SHOUT SELECT)
Toward the end of WWII, a group of American soldiers patrolling the snowy French-German border discover a German platoon reluctant to fight, and attempt to stage a battle and capture. The great cast includes Ethan Hawke, Gary Sinise, Kevin Dillon, Peter Berg, Frank Whaley and Ayre Gross. Shout’s new edition includes a featurette with writer/director Keith Gordon (Mother Night) and stars Hawke, Whaley and Gross, commentary with Gordon and Hawke, and deleted scenes with commentary by Gordon.
MODERN FAMILY: SEASON 11 (2010)
The final season of the popular ABC sitcom.
MY 20TH CENTURY (1989)
Polish actress Dorothy Segda stars as twins separated in their youth and reunited on the Orient Express in this winner of the Camera d’Or for best first feature at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival. Includes introduction and audio commentary by director Ildikó Enyedi (in Hungarian with option English subtitles) and interview with Enyedi by In Fabric director Peter Strickland.
NEMESIS 2 / NEMESIS 3 / NEMESIS 4 TRIPLE FEATURE
A trilogy of sequels to Albert Pyun’s low budget sci-fi favorite about the wars between humans and cyborgs. Part 2 stars John Wick director Chad Stahelski!
NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS (2020)
Two teenage girls from rural Pennsylvania journey to New York City for medical help with an accidental pregnancy when no one will support them at home. Willow Maclay of Curtsies and Hand Grenades writes that it, “shows with such clarity that there is a world of women’s stories existing underneath the surface that desperately need to be told,” and it has a 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
THE PHANTOM RIDER (1936)
Buck Jones takes on a band of ruthless outlaws in a 15-chapter serial, restored in 2K from the original 35mm masters.
RED COW (2018)
Israeli coming-of-age and coming-out tale about the sixteen year old daughter of a right wing religious extremist in the days leading up to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Nominated for best actor, supporting actress, cinematography and music at the Israeli Academy Awards.
Documentary following the eccentric, obsessive architects behind The Forevertron and Bishop Castle, two unique structures built from salvaged materials. From Paul von Stoetzel, director of Snuff: A Documentary About Killing On Camera (see below). According to Underground Film Journal, “Von Stoetzel has proved with two docs that he has the craftsmanship of an artist, which is why he must have felt so drawn to these two men.”
SNUFF: A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT KILLING ON CAMERA (2008) (ANNIVERSARY EDITION)
This disturbing and controversial film explores the urban legends of murders on film through interviews with filmmakers, FBI profilers and academics. Did they ever really exist, and if not, why do so many people believe they did?
SOFT TOP HARD SHOULDER (1992)
Long before he was a Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi wrote and starred in this drama about a children’s book illustrator on a drive with a hitchhiker from London back home to Glasgow to earn his share of the family ice cream business.
(PAL CODE 2 DVD – requires special player or software to play)
THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH (1971)
Edwige Fenech (The Case of the Bloody Iris) stars as an ambassador’s wife trying to figure out which one of the men in her life is a serial killer in this giallo from director Sergio Martino (Torso). Severin’s new 4K restoration includes interviews with the director, screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, actor George Hilton, an archival interview with Fenech, an introduction by Hilton, and a commentary by Kat Ellinger, author of All the Colors of Sergio Martino.
THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE
Director Freddie Francis’ sci-fi thriller about extra-terrestrial body snatchers that arrive on meteorites and a professor who happens to have a metal plate in his head that prevents them from turning him into a moon-slave. New 4K master with commentary by film historian David Del Valle and filmmaker David DeCoateau.
(We got the Blu-Ray last week and added a DVD this week)
VICTOR AND VICTORIA (1933)
The basis of Blake Edwards’ Victor Victoria starring Julie Andrews was this German musical romance about a young singer (Renate Müller) whose career only takes off after she pretends to be a man. Includes audio commentary by film historian Gaylyn Studlar.
WATCHMEN: THE COMPLETE SERIES (2019)
It seemed impossible, but somehow Damon Lindelof (Lost) made a mini-series sequel to Alan Moore’s classic revisionist super hero graphic novel that honors the original story and characters while pushing the themes into the 21st century. It begins with the real life Tulsa massacre of 1921 and continues into an alternate present where a white supremacists inspired by the late vigilante Rorschach wage war against minorities and the police who enforce reparations. Regina King, Oscar winner for If Beale Street Could Talk, stars as a police detective who moonlights as the masked vigilante Sister Night in this nine-episode, self-contained story. “Never did I think a show that discusses inter-dimensional squid-beings would also create poignant commentary about America’s violent racist history and how that trauma is carried on through generations,” writes Mary Beth McAndrews of Film School Rejects.
(DVD or Blu-Ray)
WATERLILY JAGUAR (2018)
James Le Gros (Drugstore Cowboy) stars as a famous novelist whose attempt to write a more serious book spirals into obsessions and messes up his life. Also starring Mira Sorvino and Dominic Monaghan. It’s the feature directing debut of actress Melora Walters and is executive produced by Paul Thomas Anderson, who directed her in Hard Eight, Boogie Nights and Magnolia.
WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS (2019)
Horror film set in 1988, when a trio of young women pick up some boys at a heavy metal concert to kill and blame it on satanists. It stars and is produced by Alexandra Daddario (Bereavement, Texas Chainsaw 3D, True Detective). Bloody Disgusting called it, “a throwback midnight movie full of well-rendered characters, metal mayhem, blood sacrifices, and a whole lot of fun.”
(DVD or Blu-Ray)
WINDERMERE CHILDREN (2020)
Thomas Kretschmann and Ian Glen are among the stars of this story about child survivors of the Holocaust, the people who helped them rebuild their lives and the lifelong friendships made in the process. Includes the companion PBS documentary about the true story.
THE VENERABLE W (2017)
Barbet Schroeder (Reversal of Fortune, General Ida Amin Dada: A Self Portrait) directed this documentary about religious tensions between Muslims and Buddhists as shown through the Islamophobic movement of Myanmar Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu.
WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL (2018)
Portrait of the pioneering New Yorker critic through archival footage and new interviews with interested parties including Francis Ford Coppola, David O. Russell, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Towne and Stephanie Zacharek.
WHITE FIRE (1985)
Robert Ginty (The Exterminator) and Belinda Mayne (Krull) play sibling jewel thieves whose quest for a diamond that literally burns those who touch it is interrupted by Fred Williamson, who thinks they know something about the missing prostitute he’s trying to find. Arrow edition with audio commentary by critic Kat Ellinger and new interviews with Williamson, writer-director Jean-Marie Pallardy and editor Bruno Zincone.
New to the Collection
We also added a few titles to our New to the Collection section – not new releases, but older things we recently picked up
AGE OF THE HOBBITS (2012)
Asylum, the studio behind such shameless “mockbusters” as Transmorphers, The Da Vinci Treasure and Independents’ Day, claimed that “Age of the Hobbits is about the real-life human subspecies, Homo floresiensis, discovered in 2003 in Indonesia, which have been uniformly referred to as ‘hobbits’ in the scientific community.” So it’s not a Tolkien rip-off, it’s the very scientific story of Home floresiensis who join with the humans to fight against “a race of flesh-eating dragon-riders.” A lawsuit forced them to first delay the movie, then change the title to Clash of Empires.
BLACK PIRATE (1961)
Ricardo Montalban stars as Captain Gordon, a buccaneer who battles the slavery trade. Co-starring Vincent Price.
(PAL DVD – will not play on NTSC players)
SHA NA NA IN CONCERT (1989)
The retro ‘50s style rock ’n roll doo-wop group perform hits of the ‘50s and ‘60s live on stage 20 years after they somehow opened for their friend Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock and 8 years after the end of their syndicated variety show.