Sunday, July 30, 2017

Icarus Films Adds Three New DVD Releases To Its September Release Calendar — Including Director Roberto Andò’s Viva la Liberta

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
A generation ago it would have been Peter Sellers in the starring role, but with the Icarus Films’ Sept. 26 domestic DVD debut of the Distrib Films release of director Roberto Andò’s Viva la Liberta, you can enjoy Toni Servillo’s marvelous Sellers-like performance instead.

Icarus Films has been releasing the Distrib Films (French-based) production inventory for several months now and this latest entry took awhile to make its transition from its arthouse run (back in November of 2014) to its home entertainment launch (where people without access to a first-run arthouse venue can now finally catch it).   For the record, the ARR is a whopping 1,054 days.

Toni Servillo (The Great Beauty, The Confessions, The Girl by the Lake, etc.) has a field day in the duel role of Italian politico Enrico Oliveri, who takes it on the lam when things go sour for him to have a fling in France with a now married former lover (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi), and as his twin brother Giovanni, who has a screw loose (he’s been institutionalized and is heavily medicated).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
When Enrico turns up missing, party bosses have a panic attack, but Enrico’s chief of staff, Andrea Bottini (Valerio Mastandrea), comes up with the idea of substituting his twin brother Giovanni until Enrico can be found.   What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty!  Giovanni takes the job of politician to heart and starts making speeches and public appearances.   The speeches are misinterpreted (think: Peter Sellers in Being There) and suddenly this down and out political leader is back in favor with the populace.  What is the real Enrico to do?   What is Bottini to do?  

Tune in on Sept. 26 and find out!

Viva la Liberta is presented in Italian with English subtitles.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Also making its DVD debut on Sept. 26 is the Bullfrog Films production of writer/director Debra Granik’s Stray Dog, a documentary about Ronnie Hall, who played the role of Thump Milton in her Oscar nominated film, Winter’s Bone (Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (John Hawkes) and for Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini’s Adapted Screenplay).

Ronnie Hall could be right out of central casting as an aging Vietnam vet, grizzled, hog-riding, tough as nails, but with a kind heart.   But Ronnie Hall is the real deal and Granik, who likely got to know him while shooting Winter’s Bone (not confirmed), thought that his story (and the men and women like him) was worth telling.

We follow him on “Run for the Wall” with fellow veterans, get to know about his trailer park that he runs in Missouri, about his wartime experiences (and how they relate to current veterans), his relationships and more.   Granik uses these touchstones in Hall’s life to the issues that veterans of all wars face — the indifference of the government bureaucracy, drugs, suicide and the sense of loss.

Lastly, Icarus Films will be teaming with The KimStim Collection on Sept. 19 for the DVD debut of Thai filmmaker Anocha Suwichakornpong’s film release of By the Time It Gets Dark.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyThis film-within-a-film takes a look at the 1976 Thammasat University massacre in Bangkok in the form of a docuemtnary filmmaker named Ann (Visra Vichit-Vadakan) interviewing Taew (Rassami Paoluengton), a “survivor” of that October night in 1976.   But the film goes beyond just the remembrances of the student uprising to become a surreal experience that encompasses several different storylines, including that of the filmmaker, a man named Peter (Arak Amornsupasiri) and yet a third main character that assumes many roles throughout the narrative (played by Atchara Suwan).   

Sequences repeat themselves, but with a different emphasis, and Ann, the initial detached documentarian, takes us on a very personal trip that seems to jump about in time.   Telling tales of the past can, as director Anocha Suwichakornpong expresses here, can be a dicey proposition as memories fade, memories shift and memories are never quite what they seem.

By the Time It Gets Dark is presented in Thai with English subtitles.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Arrow Video To Release DVD And Blu-ray Editions Of Writer/Director Gareth Tunley's The Ghoul On Sept. 5

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The influence of British filmmaker Christopher Nolan (who is front and center right now with the box office smash, Dunkirk) is clearly felt in Arrow Video’s Sept. 5 DVD and Blu-ray release of actor-turned-writer/director Gareth Tunley’s mystery thriller, The Ghoul.   There’s a touch of David Lynch here as well.

It seems — on the surface — to be a routine mystery story involving a London detective named Chris (Tom Meeten — Sightseers, Tank 432), who arrives at the scene of a double-homicide where it appears that the two victims kept moving after they were clearly dead.   A mystery, indeed.    

The case takes a peculiar turn when Michael (Rufus Jones), the landlord of the building, suddenly goes missing and Chris’ investigation of his flat reveals that he is a crime scene junkie, or as the Brit’s call it, “a crime scene ghoul.”  It is also revealed that he is under the care of a psychiatrist.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Perhaps these two events, the dead bodies and the missing landlord, are connected.   And, Chris reasons that the psychiatrist might be a connecting — or at least a revealing — link to the two.

A plan is hatched (which seems Rube Goldberg in nature) with a colleague named Kathleen (Alice Lowe), a police profiler, to come up with a backstory for Chris that points to him as suffering from some sort of “mental illness.”  He is in search of some psychiatric help.   That help, naturally, would come in the form of Michael’s psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Fisher (Niamh Cusack— Departure, Testament of Youth, Hereafter, etc.).

You’ve been led down a path — a rabbit hole, if you will — where an odd crime scene, a possible missing link to the crime and a visit to a psychiatrist to gather information on the chief suspect all seem to be the natural order of things.   But the hair goes up on the back of your neck (or mental antenna) when a sane individual takes on the disguise of a mental patient.   This can’t go well.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyYes, things for Chris do indeed go south from there.   His entire world, through the “fake” therapy sessions, comes slowly unwound.   Is he actually investigating a mysterious crime and a missing person, or is he somehow unhinged and actually a mental patient clinging to what sanity he has by inventing this elaborate detective story.    Time jumps around (Nolan) and memories shift hither and yon until we, the viewer, are never really sure of what is real … and what is the ramblings of a tortured mind.

Bonus goodies for this stylish mystery within a mystery are commentary from filmmaker Gareth Tunley, his 2013 short film, The Baron (also starring Tom Meeten) and video sessions with members of the cast and crew.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Paramount Home Media Sets Six For Oct. 10 — Including SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Ninth Season

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Paramount Home Media set some long-lead announcements for the month of October this past week, which is usually a strong indicator that a recent theatrical hit (hint: they transform) will be getting a formal announcement soon (don’t “step” on the lesser title announcements is smart PR).

We zero-in this week on Oct. 10 with news that the gang from Bikini Bottom will be celebrating the DVD release of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Ninth Season … all 20 fun-packed episodes presented as a four-disc collection.

Bonus features (with more to come) include five “Krabby Patty” short films.

Comedy Central’s jumbled-character adult-themed animated comedy, Drawn Together, also arrives on Oct. 10 as a complete collection (all 36 episodes on seven-discs).   The bonus here is The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, yes, Christmas!   Even though it is the end of July, Paramount Home Media is positioning a four title promotion on Oct. 10 that is all-Christmas themed in nature … let’s get to them.

First up with have Frasier: Christmas Episodes, a single-disc presentation that contains all eight of the Christmas-themed episodes from the Emmy-winning comedy series.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyJoining the fun on Oct. 10 are: Sabrina, The Teenage Witch: Christmas Episodes, a six-episode collection; The Honeymooners: Christmas Special, which features the Christmas-eve of 1955 broadcast “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” plus five bonus episodes, and the 1988 feature-length special, The Brady Bunch: A Very Brady Christmas (a sort of 20-year reunion featuring the children as grown adults with kids of their own).

MVD Entertainment Group Tabs Sept. 8 For The DVD Debut Of A Tribute To Les Paul: Live From Universal Studios Hollywood

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Les Paul, father of the electric guitar and 1950s hit maker, is the subject of MVD Entertainment Group’s Sept. 8 (Friday) DVD debut of A Tribute To Les Paul: Live From Universal Studios Hollywood (A Live Concert Tribute to the “Godfather of Modern Music”).

Filmed live at the Gibson Amphitheatre during the winter of 2006, an all-star group of “self-styled” Les Paul disciples gathered to pay tribute to the recording legend, who, teamed with Mary Ford, delivered such Billboard hits as “How High the Moon,” “Tennessee Waltz,” “Vaya con Dios” and “Mockin' Bird Hill.”   Between the end of World War II and 1961 Les Paul had over fifty (that’s right, fifty, five-oh) Billboard hit singles.

That was reason enough for the likes of Slash (Guns N' Roses), Edgar Winter, Steve Lukather (Toto), Joe Perry (Aerosmith), blues guitar legend Buddy Guy, rock guitarist Joe Satriani, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, singer Shayna Steele, Neal Schon (Santana) and Robben Ford (KISS) to celebrate Les Paul, but they were also there to celebrate and acknowledge the cutting-edge recording techniques that Les Paul pioneered.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
This “axemen” concert set includes: “Superstition,” “Little Wing,” “Watch Boogie,” “House Full of Bullets,” “Going Down Slow,” “Hooch Koochie Man,” “Lovin' Cup,” “I Wanna Know You” and “Rock & Roll Hooch Koo.”

As a bonus there are interviews with Les Paul (recorded just prior to his passing in 2009).  

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Director Kate Lane's Fear Of Water Arrives On DVD On Sept. 12 From Ariztical Entertainment

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Ariztical Entertainment announced this past week that British filmmaker Kate Lane’s feature-length directorial debut, Fear of Water, will be making its way to the domestic home entertainment marketplace on Sept. 12.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s Fear of Water would be right at home with the Kitchen Sink realism of that period — akin to A Taste of Honey, The L-Shaped Room, A Kind of Loving, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, etc.   Based on actual experiences in Lane’s own life (script is by Edward Davenport), we meet Alexia (Lily Loveless — perhaps best known as Naomi in the television series Skins), who is welfare-class poor and hustles drugs and other odd jobs to put food on the table.    

Her father is disabled, her mother is a drunk … these living conditions, and the environment that goes with it, have made her tough beyond her young years … she wants something better, but lacks a clear path out of her loneliness; her despair. 

Eleanor (Chloe Partridge — The Crypt, Blood Lust), on the other hand, is from wealth and privilege.   Her father is a barrister (a fancy word for lawyer), who is almost hostile in having his teenage daughter home from boarding school … she’s an inconvenience.   To complicate things further, her grandmother dies on the day she returns home from school and her mother has long since abandoned the family.   Educated and free from financial worries, she too is nevertheless alone; she is adrift.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyBy happenstance the two meet, form a bond of friendship and find solace in meeting at a quiet lake area (although Eleanor is afraid of the water).   Their friendship blossoms into a genuine affection as they discover — although from different sides of the proverbial “tracks” — that they have much in common.   

This friendship will be tested as their respective “environments” have a nasty way of reaching out and saying “no, no, no.”

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Fear of Water is a lovely coming of age film that tests the status quo (rebellious daughter; a young woman not knowing her place) and is blessed with gorgeous cinematography (Nick Lowen in his first feature-length film … although a “camera operator” on such Brit series as Midsomer Murders and William and Mary).  Be sure to mark Sept. 12 on your viewing calendar for this late-summer respite.

Lionsgate Home Entertainment To Release Director Benny Boom's All Eyez On Me As DVD And Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Product Offerings On Sept. 5

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Lionsgate Home Entertainment is looking to the first post-Labor Day window for the release of director Benny Boom’s Tupac Shakur biopic, All Eyez on Me.   Planned for release on Sept. 5 are DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack editions … no 4K Ultra HD release plans at this time.

The ARR is a quick-to-market 81 days and ticket sales were an impressive $44.8 million.

Bonus features common to both SKUs are a pair of featurettes — “Legends Never Die: The Making of All Eyes on Me” and “Becoming Tupac.”  Exclusive to the Blu-ray edition are deleted scenes, an additional featurette titled “All Eyez on Me Conversations” and footage of Demetrius Shipp, Jr.’s audition for the role of Tupac Shakur.

Paramount Home Media's Baywatch Arrives In The Home Entertainment Marketplace On Aug. 29

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Paramount Home Media will be going into the Labor Day weekend with the end-of-summer home entertainment rollout of director Seth Gordon’s reboot of David Hasselhoff’s 1990s television series, Baywatch

DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo Pack editions will be available on Aug. 29.   That street date yields an ARR of 95 days and local multiplex ticket sales registered $57.8 million. 

Media critics loathed it (which is to be expected), but fans came away more than pleased with the results … and that’s all that counts.   When you add in overseas tickets sales — well over $100 million — you would have to score this Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron action/comedy a hit.

Paramount has an extended, unrated cut of the film planned.   It arrived in theatres as an R-rated film release, so it will be interesting to see what the unrated version contains … of note, it does clock in at 116 minutes, so perhaps these trims are for length.   Still, 45-minutes of additional material is something to take note of.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
As to the film itself, Johnson is Mitch Buchannon (Hasselhoff’s character), the head of the Emerald Bay, Florida lifeguards (the original series was in SoCal), with Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera — as Deb Kawi from the Billions TV series) and C. J. Parker (Kelly Rohrbach) — as his go-to girl guards.   New to the team for the fun-in-the-sun season are Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario), Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass) and former Olympic standout, Matt Brody (Efron), who immediately butts heads with Buchannon.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The plot revolves around a drug-smuggling operation run by Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra), the owner of the exclusive Huntley Club, whose ultimate plan is to take the entire beach front private by either buying up competing businesses or killing their owners.   She is beautiful, but deadly.

Bonus goodies include deleted and extended scenes and a trio of featurettes — “Meet the Lifeguards,” “Continuing the Legacy” and “Stunts and Training.”

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey