The revelation that older audiences have become a reliable movie-going demographic means that it’s become easier to build big-screen vehicles around the likes of Helen Mirren and Lily Tomlin. Add to that list one of my favorite, underutilized actresses: the great Blythe Danner, who’s front and center in the charming love story I’ll See You in My Dreams (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment).
In her first movie lead in 40 years, Danner stars as a widow who’s been comfortably wallowing in a comfortable rut, including a weekly bridge game with her three best pals (Mary Kay Place, Rhea Perlman and June Squibb). A series of unexpected circumstances, including a giant rat in the house, shakes up her existence, leading to friendship with her slacker pool boy (Martin Starr), reconciliation with her daughter (Malin Akerman) and, surprisingly, courtship with a new fella (Sam Elliott). It’s a sweet tale that gives Danner a much-deserved moment in the spotlight.
Also available: John Cusack and Paul Dano got rave reviews for playing musical genius Brian Wilson at different phases of his life in the biopic Love & Mercy (Lionsgate); the comedy Results (Magnolia Home Entertainment) sees personal trainer Colbie Smulders seeing her life get intertwined with an acerbic millionaire (Kevin Corrigan) and the owner of her gym (Guy Pearce); 9 Full Moons (MVD Visual) stars Amy Seimetz (Upstream Color) and Donal Logue (Gotham) in a contemporary L.A. romance.
In Finding Neighbors (Strand Releasing Home Entertainment), Michael O’Keefe plays a work-at-home graphic novelist who becomes best pals with the gay househusband next door; taut revenge drama Return to Sender (RLJ Entertainment) stars Rosamund Pike, Shiloh Fernandez, Nick Nolte, Camryn Manheim, Rumer Willis and Illeana Douglas; Sean Astin, Chris Mulkey and Mimi Rogers are three strangers who must rely on each other for survival in The Surface (eOne Entertainment).
The Journey Home (RLJ Entertainment) features Dakota Goyo as a young man who rescues a young polar bear cub; Five Star (XLrator Media) blends fact and fiction in an exploration of gang life; a singer-songwriter discovers her parents’ lives have moved on without her in the comedy Theresa Is a Mother (Garden Thieves Pictures); Kevin Bacon stars in the sleeper hit Cop Car (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment), about kids who get in trouble with a corrupt officer when they hijack the titular vehicle; American Idol’s Diana DeGarmo as a lesbian in the mob movie Alto (Cinema Libre)? Why not?
Reality (IFC Midnight/Shout Factory) is bent, spindled and mutilated in the latest comedy from provocateur Quentin Dupieux (Rubber, Wrong Cops). This oddball tale ties together a would-be director (Alain Chabat), a young girl (Kyla Kenedy), a temperamental filmmaker (John Glover), a hypochondriacal TV host (Jon Heder), and a number of other characters in overlapping vignettes that might be dreams, might be reality, or might be parts of one of several films-within-the-film. And with a cast that also includes Eric Wareheim, Élodie Bouchez and Patrick Bristow, you’ll enjoy sorting out the hilarious weirdness of it all.
Also available: If you liked watching Gemma Arterton playing a contemporary Bathsheba Everdeen in Tamara Drewe, you’ll get a kick out her putting a spin on Gustave Flaubert’s legendary heroine in Gemma Bovery (Music Box Films); along the lines of that joke that says Chinese food in China is just “food,” The Connection (Cinedigm), starring Jean Dujardin (The Artist) is a French take on The French Connection; young French lovers endure boot camp in the César-winning Love at First Fight (Strand Releasing Home Entertainment).
Queen and Country (BBC Home Entertainment) is director John Boorman’s follow-up to the autobiographical Hope and Glory, about his life as a young soldier; the sexy The Duke of Burgundy (Sundance Selects/Shout Factory) has audiences around the world getting steamed up by its provocative look at a BDSM relationship.
There was something mythically bananas about Cannon Films, the 1980s studio that soared, then crashed, with a nutty mix of ninjas and Chuck Norris, with a side order of challenging works from auteurs like Jean-Luc Godard and John Cassavetes. Director Mark Hartley’s Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) takes an affectionate and gobsmacked look at unlikely moguls Menahem Golan and Yoran Globus and their big, crazy dreams of moviemaking. Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood) gets many of their collaborators on camera – appropriately, a mix of folks that ranges from Michael Dudikoff and Lucinda Dickey (Breakin’) to Molly Ringwald and Barbet Schroeder – to talk about the “Go-Go boys” and their singularly bizarre oeuvre.
Also available: Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me (Virgil Films) follows the music legend on one final tour as he grapples with the early stages of Alzheimer’s; the publication of a new novel by the reclusive author prompted the re-editing of a previous documentary into Harper Lee: From Mockingbird to Watchman (First Run Features); if you’re a fan of TLC’s I Am Jazz, you’ll be fascinated by other stories of Growing Up Trans (PBS Distribution).
The landmark 1924 documentary The Epic of Everest gets a gorgeous Blu-ray release from Kino Classics; meet Our Man in Tehran (First Run Features) in this compelling look at the real people behind the incidents that inspired Argo; speaking of the Middle East, Meeting ISIS (MVD Visual) takes us deep into the recruitment process for the terrorist organization.
Slasher fans won’t want to miss the captivatingly in-depth Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (RLJ Enertainment), which features a camp-full of cast and crew sharing their stories; film legend Dennis Hopper is the subject of the long-unavailable The American Dreamer (Etiquette Pictures), produced during the shoot for his controversial The Last Movie; an industrial town seeks to find a future after the plants have closed in Braddock America (First Run Features); Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC (1980-90) (MVD Visual) remembers the capital city’s vibrant subculture during the Reagan/Bush years.
You’ve got to hand it to the folks at Scream Factory; they’re putting out really exquisite editions for horror movies, both new and vintage, and they’ve managed to dig some really odd treasures out of the vault. Case in point: The Sentinel, Michael Winner’s 1977 adaptation of Jeffrey Konvitz’s novel about a New York brownstone that’s actually the gateway to hell. After Rosemary’s Baby made it cool for Hollywood legends to do devil movies, The Sentinel assembled an impressive ensemble, including Ava Gardner, José Ferrer, John Carradine, Eli Wallach, Martin Balsam and Burgess Meredith (alongside up-and-comers Beverly D’Angelo, Deborah Raffin, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Berenger and Christohper Walken). It’s deliciously demented stuff.
Also available: Horror legends Robert Englund and Tobe Hooper crossed paths in the cult favorite Eaten Alive (MVD Visual); three Power Rangers vets co-star in the visceral thriller Blood Punch (Midnight Releasing); Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross wind up in England’s creepiest B&B in The Legacy (Scream Factory); Fantastic Fest award-winner Felt (Anchor Bay/Amplify Releasing) tracks a young woman’s descent into madness following a traumatic incident.
Queen Crab (Wild Eye Releasing) pays homage to old-school stop-motion creature features; co-director Adam Brooks stars as The Editor (Scream Factory), accused of killing the cast of a gut-bucket horror movie one by one; Kevin Durand (The Strain) and Lukas Haas are small-town cops facing something truly terrifying in the forest in Dark Was the Night (Image Entertainment); zombies are an endangered species who still find themselves hunted by the living in the inventive A Plague So Pleasant (Wild Eye Releasing).
A couple comes to regret a camping trip to the Backcountry (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory); Lost After Dark (Anchor Bay Entertainment) goes full retro in paying homage to 1980s horror; Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer director John McNaughton returns with The Harvest (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory), starring Samantha Morton and Michael Shannon; martial-arts star Marko Zaror kicks a ton of ass and then some in Redeemer (MPI/Dark Sky Films).
I really want the Army of Frankensteins (Scream Factory) to be followed by a guy insisting, “Uh, you mean, Army of Frankenstein’s Monsters”; the instructions are pretty basic in the thriller Run, Hide, Die (Image Entertainment); the late Wes Craven’s Shocker (Scream Factory) gets an extras-laden Blu-ray release.
Whether you’re starting your holiday shopping early, prepping for the release of SPECTRE or just missing a cornerstone in your home video library, you’ll want to pick up The Ultimate James Bond Collection (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment/MGM), a snazzy box set with a complete run of 007’s adventures from Dr. No to Skyfall. Great movies, tons of extras and sleek packaging combine to create a must purchase for any action fan.
Also available: Merchant-Ivory went from being a filmmaking team to an adjective for a whole school of filmmaking with A Room with a View (The Criterion Collection), a smart and sexy adaptation of E.M. Forster that became an international smash; Truman Capote and John Huston collaborated on the offbeat screenplay for Beat the Devil (The Film Detective), a singularly eccentric comedy with Humphrey Bogart that finally makes it onto Blu-ray; also in hi-def is Dick Powell’s memorable turn as Philip Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet (Warner Archive Collection).
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: 40th Anniversary (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment) will have fans quivering with satis…faction; Gary Oldman followed Sid and Nancy with another dead-on portrayal of a real artist, as playwright Joe Orton in Prick Up Your Ears (Olive Films); Polish bad boy Walerian Borowczyk’s sexy twisted features Immoral Tales and The Beast both get new Blu releases from MVD Visual; Kevin Bacon is a struggling film school grad in Christopher Guest’s witty show-biz satire The Big Picture (Mill Creek Entertainment).
One of the great films ever made about organized labor, Salt of the Earth (The Film Detective), finally gets a Blu-ray release; 25 years later, Postcards from the Edge (Mill Creek Entertainment) remains sharp and quotable, with indelible lead turns from Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine; James Garner nails the balance of comedy and Western as the lead in two cult faves Support Your Local Sheriff and Support Your Local Gunfighter (both Kino Classics); Robin Williams’ debut as a lead in The World According to Garp (Warner Archive Collection), now on Blu-ray, offered him one of his richest screen roles; Jean-Jacques Annaud’s classic merits another look in The Bear: 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (Shout Factory).
The upcoming Peanuts animated feature has to compete with our ongoing affection with the earlier movies and TV shows based on Charles Schulz’s comic strips, and there are more of them than the Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas specials that immediately come to mind. The new Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) offers a look at some of the deeper cuts in the catalog, ones that don’t regularly air anymore, but still effectively communicate the sometimes sweet, sometimes prickly humor of Charlie Brown and company.
Also available: If you missed Empire: The Complete First Season (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment), you’ve still got a chance to catch up on a show that manages to be water-cooler fodder in the TiVo age; not a lot of TV shows get the 3-D treatment, but Doctor Who: Dark Water/Death in Heaven 3D (BBC Entertainment) offers a rare exception to that rule; The League: The Complete Season Six (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment) sees the fantasy-football-playing frenemies taking rivalry to new heights.
Vicious: The Complete Second Season (PBS Distribution) features more wonderfully acrid insults exchanged by old pros (and Sirs) Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi, with able assists from Frances De La Tour; Sundance series Deutschland 83 (Kino Lorber) plays like The Americans in Germany, East and West; there’s more Canadian mounted romance to be found in When Calls the Heart: Heart and Home (Shout Factory).
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (HBO Home Entertainment) just might put convict a man of murder, but that’s not the only notable element of this riveting documentary miniseries; Jason Momoa stars in the powerful The Red Road: The Complete Second Season (Anchor Bay Entertainment); a 1990s TV fave makes it to DVD for the first time with the release of Sisters: Seasons One and Two (Shout Factory).
David Oyelowo (Selma) gives a riveting performance in the disturbing one-man movie Nightingale (HBO Home Entertainment); the procedural Vera, Set 5 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn) stars Brenda Blethyn as a savvy detective; the reissued Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. 1 (Shout Factory) gives fans a chance to get this collection of early classic episodes (Catalina Caper, The Creeping Terror, Bloodlust and The Skydivers) without having to pay out-of-print prices; the romantic-historic fan favorite completes its original outing with Outlander: Season 1, Volume 2 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment).
If you’re the sort of fan who’s going to saddle up for My Little Pony — Friendship Is Magic: Games Ponies Play (Hasbro Studio/Shout Kids), you know who you are; Homeland: The Complete Fourth Season (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment) sees the critically-acclaimed series regain its footing after a third-year slump; a policewoman must balance her job and her desire for vengeance in the gripping British series Happy Valley: Season One (BBC Home Entertainment); before we got the American version, The Slap (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn) was an acclaimed Australian miniseries starring Essie Davis (The Babadook), Sophie Okonedo and Melissa George.
And finally, the folks at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment have made it easy to get caught up with their new fall shows with the recent release of (deep breath) The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Eighth Season, The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Sixth Season, The Originals: The Complete Second Season, Gotham: The Complete First Season, Supernatural: The Complete Tenth Season, iZombie: The Complete First Season, Jane the Virgin: The Complete First Season and The Flash: The Complete First Season.
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