Wednesday, December 26, 2012

VCI Entertainment Expands February Product Line Up

VCI Entertainment has added two addition DVD release waves for the month of February.  
Already in place on Feb. 5 are the special edition release of iconic filmmaker Sam Peckinpah’s Dead Companions: The Cary Roan Signature Edition, plus the seven animated story collection titled Children's Heroes of the Bible: New Testament and yjr comedy double-features of Norman Wisdom: Double Feature, Volume 2 and Will Hay: Double Feature, Volume 2.

Now comes the Feb. 12 DVD release of the animated adventure stories for children with a Christian theme titled Christian Cowboy Double Feature.  

Priced at just $9.99 are two separate tales from the Old West — Danger on the Pioneer Express (Brent Towers, the Christian Cowboy, and his two young friends race to stop a plot to derail the Pioneer Express) and Bedrock Valley Gang (Brent returns to crack the case of a mysterious cattle disease that is being used to “rustle” cattle on the cheap).

Also on Feb. 12 is director Harold Schuster’s 1958 film, The Power of the Resurrection, starring Jon Shepodd at Jesus, with two-time Golden Globe and three-time Emmy-winner Richard Kiley as Peter.
The following week, Feb. 19, VCI Entertainment returns with six addition DVD product offerings, including in this next wave of selections are Brit comedians Will Hay and Norman Wisdom, plus four feature-length Bible-themed films.   

First up is Will Hay in the DVD release of Will Hay: Double Feature, Volume 3, which includes Oh, Mister Porter (1937, with Hay as an inept railway station manager who still finds a way to save the day) and Convict 99 (from 1938, with Hay mistaken for a tough-as-nails prison warden, who ends up running a prison for the worst of the worst … they don’t know what they are in for!!!).

To the post-war period we have Norman Wisdom: Double Feature, Volume 3.  Included in this volume are Just My Luck (1957, with Jill Dixon and a brief appearance by Margaret Rutherford … a lovelorn Wisdom hits it big at the race, but collecting might be a horse of a different color) and The Square Peg (1958, with Honor Blackman and Edward Chapman … Wisdom is accidently drafted, parachuted into Nazi Germany and then comes up with a brilliant plan to escape).

The four biblical epics included in the Feb. 19 release mix are: Great Leaders of the Bible (1965, starring Fernando Rey), Jacob: The Man Who Forgot God (1963, with Judy Parker and Giorgio Cerioni), Joseph and His Brethren (1962, with a cast that includes Robert Morley, Belinda Lee, Terence Hill and Geoffrey Horne as Joseph) and Saul and David (1964, Norman Wooland as Saul, with Gianni Garko as David). 

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Breaking Glass Pictures' Madrid, 1987 Debuts on DVD on Feb. 26

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Breaking Glass Pictures announced this past week that writer/director David Trueba’s 2012 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize finalist, Madrid, 1987, will making its domestic DVD debut on Feb. 26.

The bon mots come flying in from all directions as legendary Spanish film and theatre actor José Sacristán is given free reign in what is essentially a two-person stage play written directly for the screen.   

The set-up is fairly straight forward, Sacristán plays a veteran journalist named Miguel who meets up with an eager young student named Angela (María Valverde) with the intension of dazzling her with his presence; his fame; his wisdom … and then seduce her.

Step one is accomplished with her willingness to move from his “office” at the local café to the nearby apartment of a friend.   It’s a nice little place, but Miguel’s accommodating friend left out one little bit of advice in using the would-be love nest, which becomes the centerpiece of the film when “step two” (the seduction) goes badly.

A naked Angela retreats to the bathroom and is pursued by the equally naked Miguel, the door is shut and the two find themselves locked in.   That was the little detail that was left out … don’t shut the door to the bathroom!

As Sacristán serves up insights, opinions and witticisms in a rat-a-tat-tat manner, Angela is left to ponder an escape.   He keeps his eye on the ultimate goal, which is tantalizingly close, but he too begins to yearn for his creature comforts. 

Madrid, 1987 is a delightful dance!   A fun and unique comedy that is carried by its two participants … yes, Angela does get her licks in too!

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Well Go U.S.A.'s The Thieves on Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 12

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
South Korea has put out some amazing films (The Warrior, Front Line, Brotherhood of War, My WayOld Boy, anyone?) but a new one has them all beat when it comes to the box office.

The Thieves became Korea’s highest-grossing movie in history, selling more than 10 million tickets in its first three weeks, half a million of those during its first day.  By the time it exited theaters last fall, more than 13 million tickets for the film had been sold.

Well Go U.S.A. streets The Thieves on DVD and Blu-ray on Feb. 12.  The ARR works out to 123 days and the domestic box office take for the film’s limited major metro run was a nice $681,594. 

Director Dong-hoo Choi (Woochi, The Big Swindle) takes heist films to another level, following five top-notch thieves planning a major casino robbery, with the “Tear of the Sun” (a $20 million, 318-carat diamond) being the ultimate prize.  An impenetrable vault, too many cops to count and no trust among each other combine for a wild ride.

Bonus feature include two featurettes — “Meet The Thieves” and “The Making of The Thieves.” 

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Criterion Collection Sets March Release Package

DVD & Blu-ray Release ReportThe Criterion Collection, with sales and distribution support provided by Image Entertainment, announced a six-strong slate of new Blu-ray and DVD film product offerings for the month of March this past week.

As with all of Criterion’s eclectic monthly product selections, the front-runner is always a matter of personal taste.  With that said, one would be relatively safe is selecting the Blu-ray and DVD debut of filmmaker Fritz Lang’s 1944 film noir thriller, Ministry of Fear, as the one selection that the majority of film affectionados will be looking forward to.  Street date is Mar. 12.

Ray Milland is the least likely to be believed when he uncovers, quite by accident, what he believes to be a nest of Nazi spies.   After all, he just got out of mental hospital, so who in authority is going to believe him?   

That lack of creditability only adds to his own panic and confusion … why is the blind man on the train trying to kill me over a slice of cake?   Nevertheless, Ministry of Fear works both as a film noir and as a straight wartime thriller … but for it to have been a real “super nova” film noir — one that would have just knocked your socks — Lang needed to have Carla (Marjorie Reynolds) double cross Milland in the big showdown! 

The only bonus nugget is a newly minted video interview with Fritz Lang scholar Joe McElhaney (“The Death of Classical Cinema,” “Vincente Minnelli: The Art of Entertainment,” etc.).

Also streeting on Mar. 12 is a Blu-ray edition of the Steve McQueen sci-fi gem from 1958, The Blob.  Bonuses include two commentary options — one with producer Jack H. Harris and film historian Bruce Eder; the second teams director Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. with actor Robert Fields (as Tony) — and a collection of a stills, posters, etc. in a featurette titled “Blobabilia!”

Director Terrence Malick’s 1973 film, Badlands, teaming Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek  — “inspired” by the life of notorious spree killer Charles Starkweather and his 14 year-old girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate — has been restored for a Blu-ray and DVD push on Mar. 19.

There’s a new documentary on the making of the film included as a bonus nugget, plus there are a pair of newly prepared video interviews with film editor Billy Weber and producer Edward Pressman.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Also on Mar. 19 are Blu-ray and DVD (a double-disc set) editions of The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp.   Bonuses include commentary from director Michael Powell, who is joined by auteur Martin Scorsese, plus Scorsese hosts a restoration demonstration.

The last street-date Tuesday of the month, Mar. 26, sees Blu-ray and DVD editions of French filmmaker Robert Bresson’s 1956 World War II prison escape thriller, A Man Escaped, starring François Leterrier as the man with the plan.  Bonuses here include a 45-minute documentary titled “The Essence of Forms.”

Also heading home on Mar. 26 are Blu-ray and DVD editions of the new film restoration for Charlie Chaplin’s 1947 film, Monsieur Verdoux.

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Monday, December 24, 2012

Green Apple Entertainment's Spirit of the Church debuts Feb. 5

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Green Apple Entertainment will be launching a 12-volume DVD collection of gospel music presentations drawn from with the legendary TV Gospel Time series nationally that was broadcast nationally on Sunday mornings during the mid-1960s.   The first installment is due at retail on Feb. 5 and titled Spirit of the Church: A Celebration of Black Gospel Music, Volume One.

In this first edition of the series, four complete broadcasts are included showcasing the singing talents of such greats as Rev. Milton Brunson and the Thompson Community Singers, Brother Joe May, Marie Knight and Inez Andrews.  

Plus there are two bonus performances from Mahalia Jackson … and all of the vintage television commercials from the period are included in the presentation.

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Paramount's Paranormal Acitivity 4 Arrives On Jan. 29

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
There is that scene from Apocalypse Now when Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall) strides boldly along the beach — seemingly oblivious to the incoming mortar fire — and says, “I love the smell of Napalm in the morning.”   

He rambles on for a bit, then hits us with “Smelled like victory.”  Perfect.

The same holds true for film franchises, in a metaphorical sense, they “smell like victory.”  The studio brass love that smell of Napalm in the morning when those box office grosses come rolling in for their latest “carpet-bombed” theatrical rollout (3,000 screens and more).  There is that certain “aroma of success” from the latest installment in a carefully nurtured set of film sequels.  

Such is the case with Paramount Home Media Distribution’s Jan. 29 DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack (with UltraViolet) of the directing team of Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s Paranormal Activity 4.   Victory in every sense of the word!

This “haunted house” film franchise has quickly become an annual Halloween event.  The trick is sustaining it … being creative; new twists and turns.  With Paranormal Activity 4, the filmmakers did just that with new characters (plus a visit from old “friend” … or is that “fiend?”) and plenty of new creepy goings-on.  

With a domestic box office take of $53.8 million, the odds favor a fifth installment or some creative spin-off that pretty much acts as a fifth film entry in the series by Halloween of next year.  Bet on it!
In the meantime, the Jan. 29 home entertainment release date for Paranormal Activity 4 yields an ARR that works out to 102 days. 

Fans of the series will have a choice of either the R-rated theatrical release or an uncut version of the film as viewing options — that’s for both the DVD and the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack.  Exclusive to the Blu-ray SKU is 30 minutes of “found footage” presented as “The Recovered Files.”

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Warner Home Video Says Feb. 19 For Ben Affleck's Argo

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Is Ben Affleck the next Clint Eastwood?   That would be an actor who learns the art of filmmaking from the inside out and in the process develops an extraordinary talent to craft both commercial and compelling films.

With Argo, due out from Warner Home Video on Feb. 19 as DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack product offerings (both featuring UltraViolet), it appears that Affleck has moved several steps closer to being the next Eastwood, especially for Warner Bros., a studio that loves to have long-term filmmaking relationships.   

And, with that street date, the home entertainment division is planning for Oscar activities to give this film quite the jolt … the gold is handed out on Feb. 24.  Timing is spot-on.

For the record, the ARR works out to 130 days and the box office take was a solid $105 million (and still growing).

Two things.  First, Argo is an absolute lock for a Best Picture nomination.  There are four of these this year — Argo, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty and Les Miserables.  Any other film(s) nominated would just be there to fill out the field.  

Even Lincoln is suspect in winning Best Picture.   But, Daniel Day Lewis can make room on his mantle for an Oscar right now — for those in Oscar pools that pick will be circled on every entry card.   If President Lincoln had the instrument at his disposal he could phone it in … telegraph — tap, tap, tap — will have to do.

Second, what makes Affleck’s Argo so impressive is that he’s basically taken the “passion play” motif and made it compelling.  

You can’t make a film about Jesus without hitting all the right marks — the 12 Disciples don’t suddenly ride to his rescue.  You know the outcome from the get-go.

Ditto for Romeo and Juliet.   They do this, they say that, they die tragically.   That’s the way it is … how you get there (in filmmaking) is the trick.

With Argo, Affleck and first time screenwriter Chris Terrio are saddle with a story that has an absolute finish, with all of the details in between firmly established.   It begins on Nov. 4, 1979 with the U.S. Embassy in Tehran being stormed and hostages taken, with the exception of six who managed to make it to a tenuous sanctuary at the home of the Canadian ambassador.   On Jan. 27, 1980 the six boarded a flight out of Tehran (with Canadian passports in hand) and successfully evaded captured.   

How they did it — how they got out undetected — is the trick to making the film work.  You have to tell it straight, no shootouts, car chases or loud Hollywood-style explosions with half the city of Tehran going up in flames.   This happened, that happened, they got out … end of story.  Ben Affleck nailed it.  Period.

As to bonus goodies included in the home entertainment releases.   The DVD edition is limited to the featurette titled “Rescued from Tehran: We Were There.”   

The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack has that same featurette, plus four additional features — including one titled “Argo: Absolute Authenticity” — commentary by director Ben Affleck and the “Picture in Picture: Eye Witness Account” viewing option.

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report