Monday, October 24, 2016

Oscilloscope Laboratories Releases Project Shirley: The Magic Box – The Films of Shirley Clarke, 1929-1987 For DVD And Blu-ray Release On Nov. 15

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Oscilloscope Laboratories and Milestone Films will be teaming on Nov. 15 for the release of DVD and Blu-ray collections of Project Shirley: The Magic Box – The Films of Shirley Clarke, 1929-1987.

The “project” was eight years in the making and was accomplished with the untiring assistance from the Wisconsin Center for Film & Television, The Museum of Modern Art Film Department, the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the Academy Film Archive and more, many, many more … all of whom collaborated to bring this unique collection together.

Shirley Clarke (née, Brimberg) was an avid dancer and a would-be choreographer, but when she failed to achieve the success in that field that she so coveted, she turned her creative talents to filmmaking in the early 1950s.   By 1959 she had earned an Academy Award nomination (Skyscraper, 1959 - Best Short Subject, Live Action), and was a member of the Independent Filmmakers of America.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyAssembled in this three-disc collection, which is the fourth and final in series, are Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel With The World, her 1963 documentary featuring Robert Frost and John F. Kennedy, which won the Oscar for Best Documentary (awarded to the producer, Robert Hughes), the aforementioned Skyscraper, her two companion short films, Tongues and Savage/Love.

Additionally, this collection contains a series of short and experimental films, plus the remarkable “Four Journeys into Mystic Time” series … four short films that focus on the choreography of Marion Scott.

Other DVD and Blu-ray releases included in the Project Shirley series are: The Connection, Portrait of Jason and Ornette: Made in America.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

The Film Detective Prepares Blu-ray Film Noir Collection For Delivery To Consumers On Nov. 2

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Film Detective will be kicking off the month of November with the release of a Blu-ray three-pack on Nov. 2 featuring three film noir classics.   Included in the Film Noir Collection are The Red House, Hollow Triumph and Kansas City Confidential.

The Red House is writer/director Delmer Daves’ 1947 film adaptation of George Agnew Chamberlain’s twisted mystery thriller of the same name (restored from original source 35mm film elements).   Edward G. Robinson and his sister (played by Judith Anderson) have kept a deep dark secret from their adopted child (played by Allene Roberts in her screen debut), but now that she is in high school that is about to come to an end … questions are being asked!

Director Steve Sekely’s 1948 film noir adaptation of the Murray Forbes novel, Hollow Triumph, finds Paul Henreid as a murderer on the run who hits upon the perfect hide-in-plain-sight identity … only to fall victim to his own cleverness.   And lastly, we have Director Phil Karlson’s 1952 film noir gem, Kansas City Confidential, starring John Payne as an ex-con patsy framed by “Mister Big” (Preston Foster) as part of an elaborate heist scheme.   The restoration is from original 35mm source material (with a restored audio track as well).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
All three films have been available from The Film Detective as individual Blu-ray product offerings … this Nov. 2 package is priced so that you basically buy two and get the third one free.   That’s a sweet deal!

Not done yet!   The Film Detective is also releasing — on Nov. 2 — ten new film restorations on the DVD format.   All priced-to-collect!

Leading the parade is the ultra rare DVD release of director Ken Kennedy’s 1962 thriller, The Silent Witness.    This Emerson Films production got a regional “checkerboard” theatrical release that went on for at least 18 months (a limited number of 35mm prints were struck and “bicycled” from market to market during that period).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyThe storyline features Marjorie Reynolds (Holiday Inn, Ministry of Fear, etc.) as a recently widowed wife of a police officer who has a teenage son named Danny (played by Billy Shanley), who, by chance, witnesses the murder of a woman (Andrea Lane — Panic in the Year Zero) by her “boyfriend” (played by George Kennedy in one his early film roles), a professional wrestler named Gus Jordan.   

Tristram Coffin (King of the Rocket Men, Perils of Nyoka, Spy Smasher, etc.) stars as a police lieutenant who has a thing for Danny’s mom, but she keeps him at bay, not wanting to be involved with another member of law enforcement (too painful, etc.).   When Danny becomes the target of Jordan’s rage it is Coffin to the rescue!

What’s cool about The Silent Witness, which is basically a B-movie “filler” with an interesting cast, is that it also features Dick Haynes, who made quite the name for himself in radio and early television broadcasting.   The Silent Witness was filmed on location in Denver.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Also on the Nov. 2 DVD release slate from The Film Detective are a trio of classic Westerns from the 1930s.   These are: Director Robert Hill’s 1934 Western, Frontier Days, which features father and son — Bill Cody and Bill Cody, Jr. — in a tale of murder and mistaken identity (an early sound film shot on location in the Lone Pine area), director Edward F. Cline’s 1934 film adaptation of Zane Grey’s The Dude Ranger (starring George O’Brien as the Dude … Irene Hervey co-stars) and director Robert Hill’s 1937 film release of The Feud of the Trail, which was a star vehicle for Tom Tyler (Harley Wood co-stars).

Another interesting film restored for DVD is the 1933 “poverty row” aviation thriller titled The Flaming Signal, which features John Horsley (Charlie Chan's Courage, Fighting Lady, etc.) as an aviator who crashes near a remote “Hawaiian” island with his dog Flash (played by Flash the Wonder Dog).  There he has to contend with a brutal trading post operator (played by Noah Berry), while trying to make time with the daughter (Marceline Day) of the local missionary.   Legend has it that The Flaming Signal was going to be the first in a series of Flash the Wonder Dog movies, but that never materialized.

Rounding the out the Nov. 2 release package are Murder with Music (1941), Crashin’ Broadway (1933), Mission to Glory (1977), The Hanged Man (1974) and documentary filmmaker Marshall Flaum’s 1963 release of Hollywood: The Great Stars, hosted by Henry Fonda and featuring such “stars of tomorrow” as brother and sister Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine!!!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Paramount Home Media To Release DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Editions Of Director Timur Bekmambetov’s Ben-Hur On Dec. 13

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
One of the most underrated films of the year is director Timur Bekmambetov’s latest film adaptation of Major General Lew Wallace’s 1880 best-selling novel, Ben-Hur.   Paramount Home Media announced this past week that it will be heading to the home entertainment arena as DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack editions on Dec. 13.

The ARR comes in at 116 days and domestic ticket sales totaled $25.4 million.

When you go up against director William Wyler’s 1959 Oscar-winner (12 of those little golden statues — Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, etc. etc.) you are going to get judged by that classic … before the film even gets screened it already got bad press.

That was unfair.   Bekmambetov’s adaptation, which is the third theatrical interpretation of the Wallace tome (the 1925 silent version with Ramon Novarro as Judah Ben-Hur, and, of course, the 1959 Charlton Heston presentation), is technically sound, well-produced and the acting, while perhaps not of the grandeur of Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd and Hugh Griffith, is not lacking ... Jack Huston (perhaps best known as Harrow in the Boardwalk Empire cable series) as Judah Ben-Hur and Toby Kebbell as Messala Severus do just fine in their respective roles.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyIf anything, the film is more reverent to the source material.   Which is something of a    They will gladly rent or buy DVD and Blu-ray editions of the film and view it — and enjoy it — in the privacy of their own homes, but going to the movies to see it, not so much.   There is a certain cynicism on their part that is difficult to overcome.
problem since Hollywood has done such an excellent job in turning that potential audience off to going to the movies these days.

As to the current “core” audience, Ben-Hur is not bloody enough, or loud enough, to satiate their needs.   Which brings us full circle back to Ben-Hur being one of the most underrated films of the year … the box office belies that as it had three-strikes against it going in.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
It is the remake of a timeless classic (squeals of “How could they do such a thing” could be heard before the film was even screened), the audience most likely to enjoy it is turned off by “Hollywood” these days and the audience most likely to buy tickets is not drawn to films based on narrative … they just want noise.    Thank goodness for home video!

As to bonus goodies (all limited to the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack), there are four featurettes — “Ben-Hur: The Legacy,” “The Epic Cast,” “A Tale for Our Times” and “The Chariot Race” — deleted and extended scenes and unspecified “Music Videos” … we assume that Andra Day’s “The Only Way Out” will be included in the mix.

Also getting a DVD release in December is director Andrew Neel’s Goat, the film adaption of Brad Land’s 2005 best-selling novel “Goat: A Memoir.”

The DVD will be ready on Dec. 20, which yields an ARR of 88 days … ticket sales from the film’s very limited theatrical run were $23,020.

Goat is the anti-Animal House.  The fun-loving frat boys of Delta Tau Chi are nowhere to be found in Goat.   

Based on a true story about fraternity hazing experiences, we are introduced to Brad (Ben Schnetzer), a 19 year-old freshman who pledges the same fraternity that his old brother, Brett (Nick Jonas) belongs to.   That decision will put their relationship as “brothers” to the ultimate test when hell week begins!  

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Don't Breathe — The Blockbuster Thriller From Writer/Director Fede Alvarez — Arrives On DVD And Blu-ray On Nov. 29

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
To borrow a few terms from Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel, “A Clockwork Orange,” what happens when two droogs and a devotchka spot a dedoochka and decide that they’ve found an easy mark, especially so since their prey is blind?   Of course, the next step is for them to make their plans to crast him; that is to “rob” him.   

So why the gibberish in the lead up to the news that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has selected Nov. 29 as the release date for DVD and Blu-ray editions of writer/director Fede Alvarez’s blockbuster thriller, Don’t Breathe?

For the record, the ARR for Don’t Breathe comes in at 95 days and domestic ticket sales were a sizzling $88.2 million.

Burgess described a society — a near-future society — that was nominated by disaffected youth, who were prone to violence.   Don’t Breathe is a story about three young people, petty criminals, who are prone to violence and when they spot their “mark,” it’s as if Alex and his mates have come full circle to their easy “mark” so many years ago … the home of the “cat lady.”  

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Hell, even one of the characters in Don’t Breathe is named Alex … and their easy mark turns out to be no easy mark at all as their home-invasion robbery also goes horribly wrong.   And one more little parallel … the ruins of Detroit’s many abandoned neighborhoods (just glimpsed here) could easily substitute for the slums that Alex and his droogs roam in search of things to do.

These slight parallels end there as Alvarez’s tale of misguided youth focuses on the violence of a single evening, with no broad context of an entire society come unhinged.  

Alex (Dylan Minnette — Goosebumps, Prisoners, etc.) and Money (Daniel Zovatto — It Follows) are our two droogs, while Rocky (Jane Levy — as Mia in Alvarez’s 2013 reboot of Evil Dead) is the devotchka of the story.   They, like Alex (Malcolm McDowell), become anti-heroes as the story develops … and it is one sweet story that Alvarez delivers here.  
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyThe trio survive by breaking into homes, stealing what they can and selling it.   It’s a risky proposition that offers little in the way of a future and only meager profits.   Rocky wants to pull together enough to escape with her sister to the golden state of California and this could be that score that makes that possible.  It is rumored that their “mark,” Norman, the blind guy (Stephen Lang — Avatar, Gods and Generals), received a significant cash settlement for some car accident that claimed the life of his daughter.   

Once inside the house the horror begins.   Norman is blind, but lethal and he has his secrets — some pretty BIG secrets (hint: don’t go in the basement) — and these three thieves turn out to be no match for him.   

Don’t Breathe is one of the best mixed-genre thrillers (part suspense and part haunted house horror tale) of the year and it certainly gives filmmaker Fede Alvarez plenty of options going forward.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyAs to bonus materials, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has included a commentary track featuring Alvarez, co-writer Rodo Sayagues and actor Stephen Lang, plus there are deleted scenes (with commentary) and five featurettes — “No Escape,” “Creating the Creepy House,” “Meet the Cast,” “Man in the Dark” and “The Sounds of Horror.”

Arrow Video Restores Director Michael Gornick's Creepshow 2 For A Blu-ray Launch On Dec. 13

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Arrow Video, with domestic sales and distribution expertise provided by MVD Entertainment Group, has targeted Dec. 13 as the release date for a Blu-ray edition of a newly remastered 2K restoration of director Michael Gornick’s 1987 Stephen King-inspired horror anthology, Creepshow 2

Three Stephen King-inspired short stories, adapted for the screen by none other than George A. Romero, are hosted by Creepshow Creep — these are: “Old Chief Wood'nhead,” “The Raft,” and “The Hitch-hiker.”  Creep appears in the connecting segments along with a boy named Billy, who is pursued by bullies … they end up becoming lunch courtesy of one of Billy’s mail order “special interests!”

Bonus features include commentary by director Michael Gornick (Cinematographer for Romero’s Martin, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead), who is joined by producer and documentary film director Perry Martin, behind-the-scenes footage and a pair of featurettes — “Nightmares in Foam Rubber” and “My Friend Rick.”

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment's The BFG Runs For Cover — Nov. 29 Is The New Street Date

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
It is nice to see advice taken, even if the DVD & Blu-ray Release Report was likely not the cause-and-effect agent.

In last week’s edition of the DVD & Blu-ray Release Report the subject of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s smart move in not doing a lemmings-off-the-cliff follow-on announcement for Pete’s Dragon on the same street date as Spielberg’s The BFG was examined.

The backstory of that goes something like this, Disney made a long-lead announcement for The BFG on Dec. 6, which was all well and good.  Then about two weeks ago Universal Pictures Home Entertainment literally crushed that with a Dec. 6 announcement of their own for both Jason Bourne and The Secret Life of Pets

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyWe gave Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment kudos for not placing Pete’s Dragon in that mix, but targeting Nov. 29 as a better release option.  Picking Dec. 6 would have been a pretty typical release pattern — long lead for one theatrical title and then a follow-on announcement for a second theatrical product offering on the same date.    

The idea is that you build a street-date Tuesday “island” and then expand upon that real estate, but when a rival studio comes along with even bigger titles, that strategy goes right out the window.

On Tuesday morning of this past week the payoff came when an email arrived from Disney … The BFG has been moved to Nov. 29.   How sweet it is!

MVD Entertainment Group Team With The Henry Hadaway Organization For The Nov. 18 DVD Debut Of The Peter Green Story: Man of the World

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Henry Hadaway Organization will be teaming MVD Entertainment Group for the Nov. 18 (a Friday) DVD release of documentary filmmaker Steve Graham’s The Peter Green Story: Man of the World, a fan-friendly look at the life of Fleetwood Mac founder, Peter Green.

Graham had access to everyone involved as Green’s career is covered in interview sessions with the likes of Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Carlos Santana, producer Mike Noel Gallagher, John Mayall, guitarist Jeremy Spencer, Green himself and even the group’s road manager, Dennis Keane.    

These interview sessions are blended deftly with rare footage from concert and studio sessions.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment Picks Dec. 6 For The DVD Debut Of The Rocky Horror Picture: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment announced this past week that director Kenny Ortega’s Oct. 20, 2016 event TV remake of Jim Sharman and Richard O’Brien’s cult “sci-fi” musical, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, will be available as an extended cut DVD release on Dec. 6.   

So as not to confuse the original with this version, it is titled The Rocky Horror Picture: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again.  Brad is played by Ryan McCartan, Janet by Victoria Justice and Dr. Frank-N-Furter takes transgender to a whole new level with Laverne Cox (as Sophia in Orange is the New Black) starring in that juicy role.   And, drum role please, Tim Curry joins the cast as the film’s narrator (aka: A Criminologist … an iconic role made famous in the original by Charles Gray).

This extended version features deleted scenes and an additional musical number, “Once in a While,” Laverne Cox’s screen test, the 2016 Comic-Con session and the featurette titled “Don’t Dream It, Make It: Celebrating Rocky Horror.”