Monday, October 17, 2016

Paramount Home Media Selects Dec. 13 For The DVD And Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Debut Of Director Stephen Frears' Florence Foster Jenkins

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Truth can be, as often stated, stranger than fiction.   Such is the case with Paramount Home Media’s announcement this past week that director Stephen Frears — who has been a fan of biopics with such offerings as Philomena, The Queen and Mrs. Henderson Presents — will see his latest, Florence Foster Jenkins, released as both DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack offerings on Dec. 13.

The ARR comes in at 123 days and domestic ticket sales currently stand at $27.3 million.
We pick up the story of Florence Foster Jenkins, as played by Meryl Streep, at the end of her “career” as a singer and stage performer.   If you remember that running joke in the musical, Singin’ in the Rain, where Jean Hagen’s character — who is a major star at the dawn of sound movies — can’t sing.   Well, that’s Florence Foster Jenkins … she is dreadful.

In real life Jenkins had a trust fund left to her by her father, which gave her the freedom from the 1910s into the tumultuous days of World War II to be both a patron of the arts and stage small plays and musical theatre productions for the haute société of New York.  

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
She would be the star, often dressed in elaborate costumes of her own design, and lead singer.   She was a dreadful singer, but managed over the years to build something of a “cult” following.   For dramatic reasons this history is compressed into an end-of-career comeback story — which is fine as Streep plays the mature Jenkins to a tee.  

There are a couple of other backstory elements that filmmaker Stephen Frears did capture and encapsulate into this winning “dramedy” … Jenkins first husband did give her syphilis, she never spoke to him again, but there is no evidence in the public record that they ever divorced.   And, for the last 40 years of her life she did live with a Brit named St. Clair Bayfield (played by Hugh Grant) … there is also no public record that they ever married.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
After years of staging her intimate productions, and, as mentioned building something of a cult following, she decided to book Carnegie Hall in the fall of 1944 for an elaborate production to entertain those in the military.   The run up to this big event is the central focus of the film, which plays out marvelously well.

Bonus features, which are limited to the Blu-ray SKU, included a Q&A session with Meryl Streep, footage of the film’s world premiere, deleted scenes and four production featurettes — “Ours is a Happy World,” “Designing the Look,” “From Script to Screen” and “The Music and Songs of Florence.”

Vinegar Syndrome's New 4K Restoration For Director Paul Kyriazi's Death Machines Tops The Nov. 29 Release Package

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
During the summer of 1976 director Paul Kyriazi, writer Joe Walders and film producer Ron Marchini correctly surmised that any indie-produced martial arts film being released theatrically at the height of the “Chop-Socky” craze might need a little something else to cut through the clutter. 

This was the case with the Crown International release of Death Machines, which has been given a new 4K transfer (from the original 35mm Technicolor negative) by Vinegar Syndrome … Nov. 29 will be the street date for a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack edition.

Madame Lee (Mari Honjo) is a Yakuza crime lord who has the ability to take control of the minds of men, which she does by creating three assassins, with martial arts skills, to do her bidding as zombie-like killing machines.   Cleverly, the three killers are white (played by Marchini), black (Joshua Johnson — The Weapons of Death) and Asian (Michael Chong — To Live and Die in L.A., Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects), which means that Death Machines knew exactly who the target audience was at the time.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Additionally, the marketing campaign for Death Machines ripped a page from the success that New World Pictures had with the theatrical release of Death Race 2000 the previous year and spun a bit of sci-fi into the marketing mix.   It worked like a charm … an instant “cult” classic was born!

Bonus goodies include a commentary option from filmmaker Paul Kyriazi, who also provides a newly-prepared introduction to the film, plus there is a video session with the Asian killing machine, Michael Chong!

Also on the Nov. 29 release slate from Vinegar Syndrome is the next installment in the company’s incredibly successful Peekarama DVD series.   Newly restored from the original vault elements are two gems from adult filmmaker Lawrence Talbot … these are: Silk Satin Sex (1983, featuring a who’s who of adult stars, including Jessie St. James, Vanessa Del Rio and Joanna Storm) and Turn on With Kelly Nichols (1984, toplined by Kelly Nichols with a little help from her friends, Chelsea Blake, Brooke Fields, Sharon Kane and Taija Rae).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyAlso on DVD from Vinegar Syndrome on Nov. 29 is the double-disc collection titled 3 Alex de Renzy Documentaries.   These three “documentaries” represent de Renzy’s early approach to adult filmmaking … included in the mix (and restored from the original 16mm film elements) are Sexual Encounter Group (1970, a cinéma vérité examination of an “encounter group” and their feelings about sex) Innocents Abroad (unknown – a look at European sexual issues … likely shot around the same time as Pornography in Denmark: A New Approach) and lastly, Weed (1972, an exposé on the use of marijuana in the early 70s), which is presented for the first time uncut and uncensored.

And last, but certainly not least, is the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack double-feature of Taboo II (1982, directed by Kirdy Stevens and starring Kay Parker) and Taboo III (1984, also from Stevens and starring Kay Parker and Honey Wilder).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

The Film Detective Preps Nine New Film Restorations For Delivery To The DVD Market Place On Oct. 18

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Film Detective announced nine new film restorations that will be available as priced-to-collect DVD product offerings on Oct. 18.

Leading the way is director Edwin L. Marin’s 1933 film adaptation of Madelon St. Dennis’ popular 1932 mystery novel, The Death Kiss.

Following the success of Universal’s Dracula in 1931, Bela Lugosi suddenly found himself a hot commodity and quickly appeared in a number of interesting films from all different sorts of competing production sources including 20th Century-Fox, United Artists, Universal Pictures and indie World Wide Pictures, Inc., where he delivered the very effective studio-themed The Death Kiss.

He plays Steiner, the production manager for Tonart Studios, whose latest production, The Death Kiss, is thrown into chaos when the star of the film (played by Edmund Burns) is killed during the filming of a critical scene in the film.  The police are called in and it becomes a full-blown whodunit when a real bullet is found that doesn’t match the caliber of the “stunt” gun.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Who did it?   There are plenty of suspects to be sure … and certainly Lugosi’s character has secrets that might make him the killer!   The Death Kiss is a terrific early sound film that gives you a glimpse into the movie-making process back then … in addition to providing an entertainment mystery.

Also from the 1930s is director Sam Newfield’s 1936 Western Sci-Fi thriller, Ghost Patrol, starring Tim McCoy and featuring a plot focusing on the ability to bring down aircraft with radium ray.   Cowboys, pre-war aeronautics and a mysterious death ray … who could ask for more!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Also from 1936 is director Arthur Lubin’s Yellowstone, which features a stash of stolen loot and a murder mystery all showcase against the rugged backdrop of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks (which is pretty cool considering the technology to produce a sound film in 1936).

Additional film restorations coming from The Film Detective on Oct. 18 include Black Gold (1936, with Frankie Darro), Boy! What A Girl! (1947 musical with Tim Moore and Elwood Smith), Crashing Through Danger (1936), Family Enforcer (aka: The Death Collector) and the webisode mystery, Whitlock: A Study in Starlet.

Wolfe Selects Dec. 13 As The Domestic DVD Release Date For Writer/Director Alexandra-Therese Keining’s Girls Lost

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Wolfe announced this past week that writer/director Alexandra-Therese Keining’s magical tale, Girls Lost, will be making its domestic DVD debut on Dec. 13.

Many an adolescent, whether boy or girl, has secretly wished that they he or she could be someone else.  They wish that they could be someone with power; a kid with confidence … someone that isn’t bullied or looked down upon.   Yeah, that’s it, just a snap of the fingers and all of their problems are solved!

So with Kim (Tuva Jagell) and her two friends drink the nectar of a seemingly magic flower they find that their wishes are granted.   They are transformed from bullied girls, into alpha males.   The power of it … simple girl, bullied and outcast, to the leader of the pack with just a sip of some nectar!  

It has to be nirvana; a complete state of bliss, but in fairytales we are often cautioned to be “careful of what you wish for.”   Such is the case here as Kim, Bella (Wilma Holmén) and Momo (Alexander Gustavsson), who were friends by common cause, suddenly find that this new found freedom — power — brings with it issues that individually they may not be able to cope with.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Especially so when the power of the nectar might run its course, but one of their number has found their “true state.”   Yes, Girls Lost is a provocative statement of identity … especially identity as youth; identity as one grows.

Girls Lost is presented in Swedish with English subtitles.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Engine 15 Media Group's Boonville Redemption To Make Its DVD Debut On Nov. 8

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Engine 15 Media Group’s DVD debut of Don Schroeder’s Dove Family Approved film, Boonville Redemption, will take place on Nov. 8.   Domestic sales and distribution support will be proved by MVD Entertainment Group.

It is 1906 on the Western frontier, tamed, perhaps, but still seemingly remote, even backwards.   The Western “frontier” in this case is Boonville, California, where we meet Melinda (Emily Hoffman — in her film debut), a 13 year-old girl with a prestigious family background — her stepfather, a man named Maddox (Richard Tyson), is the most powerful businessman in the area.   But, for the locals, her standing means nothing as she is a child born out of wedlock.   There’s a special name for that, which, since this is a family-oriented film, we won’t use here.

An outcast in the local community, Melinda decides to make it her special mission in life to uncover the truth about her birth.   Boonville is a small town, and such “diggings” are likely to expose things in the past that most would like to leave buried in the past. 

This film adaptation of Judy Belshe-Toernblom’s novel, “Boonville Redemption: The End of the Beginning,” stars Pat Boone, Ed Asner and Diane Ladd.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Targets Nov. 15 For The Blu-ray Release Of Space Jam: 20th Anniversary Edition

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment made several interesting product announcements this past week.   

First up, director Joe Pytka’s 1996 mix of animation (featuring Looney Tunes stalwarts)  and live-action, Space Jam, will be getting a SteelBook Blu-ray push on Nov. 15 as Space Jam: 20th Anniversary Edition.

Bonus nuggets include commentary from filmmaker Joe Pytka, who is joined by Daffy Duck (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) and Bugs Bunny (voiced by Billy West), the featurette titled “Jammin’ with Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan” and two music videos, including “Fly Like an Eagle” by Seal.

Also on the Blu-ray release front is the Nov. 1 Blu-ray debut of director Michael Anderson’s 1975 film release of Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, starring Ron Ely as the iconic pulp novel adventurer of the 1930s.

And Oct. 18 will see the DVD debut of documentary filmmaker Bill Teck’s One Day Since Yesterday: Peter Bogdanovich & the Lost American Film, an in-depth look at Bogdanovich’s disastrous 1981 film, They All Laughed … it was Audrey Hepburn’s final film and Dorothy Stratten, who co-stars, was living with Bogdanovich when she was murdered by her estranged husband after the film was completed, but before its theatrical release.

The Criterion Collection Announces Its January Of 2017 Release Slate

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Criterion Collection will be celebrating the New Year with a newly minted hi-def restoration of iconic filmmaker Howard Hawks’ 1940 screwball comedy, His Girl Friday.   The street date for both double-disc DVD and double-disc Blu-ray editions will be Jan. 10.

So why does it take two DVD discs or two Blu-ray discs for the home entertainment release of this this breezy comedy starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell?    

Well, there’s also a new 2K restoration of director Lewis Milestone’s 1931 film adaptation of the 1928 Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur hit Broadway stage play, The Front Page … this was the original film version, so Criterion has gone the extra mile here with a presentation of both 1931 and the 1940 film adaptations of the original stage play (a nice comparison for films fans to enjoy).

Other bonus goodies include a newly prepared video session with film scholar and author David Bordwell (“The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960,” “Film History: An Introduction,” “Figures Traced in Light: On Cinematic Staging” and many more), an archival video session with filmmaker Howard Hawks, a trio of 1999 featurettes related to the film, the 1940 radio adaptation of His Girl Friday, two radio adaptations of The Front Page (circa 1937 and 1946) and new featurettes — on the restoration of The Front Page and the second is a look at the life and times of Ben Hecht (he was nominated for six Academy Awards for his scripts, with wins for Underworld in 1927 and The Scoundrel in 1935).
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey 
The following week, Jan. 17, 2017, Criterion is back with a new 2K restoration of the ultra-rare 1961 film release of Something Wild, teaming Carroll Baker (as the star) with her then-husband, Jack Garfein (as both director and co-writer).

The 1956 release of director Elia Kazan's Baby Doll catapulted Baker to star status (she was nominated Best Actress … losing out to Ingrid Bergman in Anastasia), but her ability to capitalize on the success was short-circuited by a contract dispute with Warner Bros. — she lost some important roles, including that of Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (one can only wonder).

She was a star in the making — a “real” actor from the “method school” — but caught in a trap.   Something Wild, on paper, seemed like a perfect way to escape … after all, she would star, her husband would produce and direct and they would have total control.  

The film is something of “Kitchen Sink” drama (think: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, A Taste of Honey, Room at the Top, etc.), very gritty, well-produced and very, very much ahead of its time.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyAlthough you can see the range of Carroll Baker’s acting chops in films such as Baby Doll, The Carpetbaggers, Harlow and How the West Was Won (among others), this film, Something Wild, is a real treasure in that it is so raw; honest.

Bonus features include new video sessions with Carroll Baker, a second featuring filmmaker Jack Garfein (he supervised the restoration), who is joined by film critic Kim Morgan and a third with film scholar Foster Hirsch. 

Rounding out the January of 2017 DVD and Blu-ray releases from The Criterion Collection are German auteur filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1975 film release of Fox and His Friends (Jan. 17) and filmmaker Ousmane Sembene’s 1966 arthouse entry, Black Girl (in French/Wolof with English subtitled … available on Jan. 24).