by Bryan Theiss
This week we’ve got super-powered Vin Diesel, slow-burn horror, a spin-off of The Big Lebowski(!?), four new Criterion releases, a 14-hour journey into the history of films directed by women, and much more. Remember, you can rent the all by mail! Here are the new titles we put out today:
ALONE ACROSS THE ARCTIC (2019)
“Canada’s Indiana Jones” Adam Shoalts attempts to complete a 4,000 kilometer canoe trek through uncharted waterways from the Yukon to Nunavut before the approaching winter makes it impossible. Shoalts shot the harrowing footage himself with a film crew air-dropping in three times over four months for establishing shots.
Liam Hemsworth and Clark Duke play lowly drug dealers who run afoul of scary kingpin Frog (Vince Vaughn). Michael K. Williams, Vivica A. Fox and John Malkovich also star in this thriller based on a book by John Brandon. This is the feature directorial debut of Duke, who you may remember as a funny nerd kid in Hot Tub Time Machine and The Office.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
BAPTISTE: SEASON 1
Tchéky Karyo stars as a stubborn investigator who moves to Amsterdam to look after a grandchild and helps the Dutch police look for a missing sex worker. As seen on Masterpiece Mystery, it’s a spin-off from The Missing.
BETTER DAYS (2019)
Chinese dramatic thriller about a bullied high school girl and her petty criminal boyfriend who are dragged into a murder investigation.
Now, with the safety of DVD and Blu-Ray, we can enjoy the Vin Diesel movie we were too scared to see in those last days before the movie theaters closed, just as the world was going to hell. When I say “we” I guess I mean “I,” but I bet I’m not the only one who was excited to see Vin as a soldier blown up and given nano-bot healing powers who discovers he’s the victim of some corporate conspiracy or something and then jumps off buildings and super-punches bad guys’ heads off. Includes an alternate ending, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes, blooper reel and two featurettes.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
BRIGHTON ROCK (1948)
Hermoine Baddeley plays a woman trying to find out the truth about her journalist’s friend when she falls for a hoodlum (Richard Attenborough), not knowing he’s the guy who did it! Kino Lorber’s release includes a new commentary by film historian Tim Lucas.
THE CREMATOR (1969) (CRITERION)
Controversial, darkly comic and once-banned film from Czechoslovak New Wave director Juraj Herz about a crematorium manager in 1930s Prague. “One of cinema’s most trenchant and disturbing portraits of the banality of evil.” Criterion presents a new 4K restoration, plus Herz’s debut short The Junk Shop (1965), a 2011 documentary about him revisiting the filming locations, a 2017 documentary about composer Zdeněk Liška featuring Herz, filmmakers Jan Švankmajer and the Quay Brothers, and some new interviews.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
DESTRY RIDES AGAIN (1939) (CRITERION)
Criterion’s edition of the comic western musical starring Marlene Dietrich and Jimmy Stewart features a new 4K restoration, new interviews with critics and biographers, illustrated audio excerpts from a 1973 AFI oral history interview with director George Marshall, and a 1945 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
DISTANT CONSTELLATION (2017)
“A beautifully composed and magical documentary, Distant Constellation introduces us to the colorful residents of a Turkish retirement home, a community made up of pranksters, historians, artists and would-be Casanovas.” It won best documentary at the Tacoma Film Festival and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.
THE GOLEM (1920)
Kino Lorber’s blu-ray of the German silent horror classic includes the original German version in a 4K restoration with three music options (Stephen Horne, Admir Shkurtai or Lukas “Wudec” Poleszak), a commentary by film historian Tim Lucas, the U.S. release version with music by Cordula Heth, and a comparison of the two versions.
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (CRITERION)
Arguably Wes Anderson’s most ambitious film yet gets its thorough and well-deserved Criterion treatment. Extras include a new commentary track with Anderson accompanied by Roman Coppola, Jeff Goldblum and critic Kent Jones, storyboard animatics, a new making-of documentary, new interviews, video essays by Matt Zoller Seitz and David Bordwell, and special effects test footage.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
HUMAN CAPITAL (2019)
Liev Schreiber, Alex Wolff, Marisa Tomei, Peter Sarsgaard and Maya Hawke star in a remake of the 2013 Italian film (and 2004 novel). From the director of My Friend Dahmer and We Summon the Darkness.
AN INSPECTOR CALLS (1954)
Everybody’s favorite Scrooge Alastair Sim stars as the titular inspector in this classic murder mystery from director Guy Hamilton (Evil Under the Sun), based on a play from the author of The Old Dark House. Includes new commentary by film historian David Del Valle and interview with actress Jane Wenham.
A single pregnant New Yorker (Marlo Thomas) and a filmmaker trying to avoid the draft (Alan Alda) meet in Central Park, become friends and decide their problems can be solved with a marriage of convenience. The trouble is, she starts to fall for him, and he’s in a relationship with someone else. New 4K master and audio commentary by film historians Lee Gambin and Jarret Gahan.
THE JESUS ROLLS (2019)
Yes, it’s true – the Coen Brothers let John Turturro write/direct/star-in a movie about his The Big Lebowski character Jesus Quintana. And it’s a remake of Bertrand Blier’s controversial 1974 film Going Places. I’m just reporting the facts. Jesus gets out of prison and “embarks on a freewheeling joyride of petty crime and romance” with fellow “sexually depraved misfits” played by Bobby Canavale and Audrey Tatou. Also starring Pete Davidson, Jon Hamm, Susan Sarandon, Sonia Braga, Christopher Walken and J.B. Smoove.
THE LODGE (2019)
Weird things start to happen after a blizzard traps cult survivor Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road) in a cabin with her boyfriend’s two kids. Alicia Silverstone plays their devastated mother. From the director of Goodnight Mommy.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW (CRITERION)
At the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, the Camera d’Or prize went to this funny, original film that was the debut of director Miranda July, previously known as a performance artist out of Portland’s riot grrrl scene. John Hawkes plays a single father who learns a new perspective on life from a quirky/weirdo visual artist played by July. Criterion’s extras include a new documentary with July discussing the movie with Lena Dunham, footage from the Sundance Directors Lab workshop of the film, deleted scenes, and a bunch of July’s documentaries and shorts: Open to the World (2017), July Interviews July Deauville, 2005 (2005), The Amateurist (1998), Nest of Tens (2000), and four films from the Joanie 4 Jackie video chain letter.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
ME, NATALIE (1969)
How’s this for a cast: Patty Duke, James Farentino, Martin Balsam, Al Pacino (his film debut), Shelley Winters, Elsa Lanchester and Bob Balaban! It’s from the writer of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and has a score by Henry Mancini. Duke won the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Comedy or Musical for her starring role as an awkward Brooklyn teen learning to feel good about herself. New HD transfer.
ORDINARY LOVE (2019)
Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson star as a couple facing the challenges of breast cancer. “Intimate, unsparing, and attuned to the micro-nuances of a longtime relationship, it is made special by the two actors at its center, both out-size talents who here relish the opportunity to play close and draw from life,” according to Ty Burr in The Boston Globe.
POOL OF LONDON (1951)
Basil Dearden’s film about two sailors caught up in a crime while on shore leave was filmed on location at London’s River Thames and features one of the first interracial relationships in British film history. Includes a new commentary by author Bryan Reesman, interview with star Earl Cameron and location featurette with film historian Richard Dacre.
“A love story told through the memories of two nameless lovers in different stages of their lives.” Starring Linda Caridi (Antonia) and Luca Marinelli (The Great Beauty).
After the cult classic The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires there was one more co-production between England’s Hammer and Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers Studios. Stuart Whitman plays a hitman who, after being hired to assassinate an African dictator, finds he’s been set up and is being pursued by gangsters and government agencies. He gets the great Ti Lung (Return of the One-Armed Swordsman, The Brave Archer, A Better Tomorrow, Drunk Master II) to protect him and help him get his money. Some of it is directed by Monte Hellman (he was replaced halfway through production) and it features Peter Cushing’s last performance for Hammer. Includes an audio commentary with Hellman and Whitman, moderated by Scarecrow alum Norman Hill.
In 2004, a welder in Colorado went on a two-hour rampage through his town in a bulldozer he’d fortified in layers of steel and concrete, demolishing 13 buildings including town hall and the former mayor’s house. Luckily he was the only one killed. This is a documentary about that man and what led him to such an extreme act. From director Paul Solet (Grace, Tales of Halloween, Bullet Head).
WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS (2018)
Director Jon Kasbe followed a small-time ivory dealer and his cousin, a conflicted wildlife ranger, for three years in the Kenyan bush as they faced the existential crisis of plummeting elephant populations. The Stranger’s Charles Mudede calls it “brilliant” and explains, “If the poachers stop killing elephants, then the rangers will lose their jobs. Therefore, we have the poachers exploiting the elephants, and the rangers exploiting the poachers.” “Its non-preachy stance is a revelation,” according to The London Evening Standard. Oscilloscope Laboratories’ release includes an interview with the director.
WOMEN MAKE FILM: A NEW ROAD MOVIE THROUGH CINEMA
This epic fourteen hour series from the writer/director of The Story of Film is a celebration and revisionist history of cinema through the works of the world’s greatest female directors. The scope of women’s contributions to the art form are illustrated through 700 clips from 183 filmmakers, and many narrators including Tilda Swinton, Jane Fonda, Thandie Newton, Adjoa Andoh and Debra Winger.