CHOICE OF THE WEEK
DEAD MEN DO NOT WEAR TILES (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): The second big-screen collaboration between Steve Martin and Carl Reiner, after the jerk (1979), this 1982 comedy did not enjoy the same financial success, but found its cult following on cable, and Reiner considered it a personal favorite.
Martin plays Rigby Reardon, the preeminent Los Angeles private investigator hired to investigate the murder of a famous scientist and cheese maker by his daughter (full Rachel Ward fatal Woman fashion). The fearless Reardon meets a variety of mysterious, alluring and / or menacing characters played by Humphrey Bogart, Burt Lancaster, Barbara Stanwyck, Edmond O’Brien, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant and others – in clips from the 1940s. thrillers that have been seamlessly and playfully incorporated into the narrative.
In addition to being a remarkable technical achievement, the film is also an affectionate, even ingenious, transmission of the film-noir era, full of internal references and jokes. The film marked the last feature film by legendary costume designer Edith Head (to whom the film is dedicated) and composer Miklos Rosza. Dead men don’t wear plaid is a nostalgia fan’s delight, and you really can’t beat this cast!
The Blu-ray Special Edition ($ 24.95 retail) includes audio commentary, a theatrical teaser and trailer, as well as radio and TV spots. Classified PG. ***
“THE WORLD SERIES 2021” (Major League Baseball / Shout! Factory): For the first time in a quarter of a century, the Atlanta Braves won the World Series, beating the Houston Astros in six games, which is duly commemorated in this documentary narrated by the Grammy-winning recording artist. and Ludacris, from Atlanta, available on DVD ($ 19.98 retail) and DVD / Blu-ray combo ($ 26.98 retail). Major League Baseball / Scream! Factory also released “2021 World Series Collector’s Edition: Atlanta Braves,” which includes the original broadcast of all six games, the NLCS Game 6 game-changer against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and more.
ARABESQUE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren make an attractive on-screen couple in director Stanley Donen’s award-winning spy film In the Hitchcock vein, starring Alan Badel, Kieron Moore, George Coulouris, Duncan Lamont and John Merrivale (in its final feature) in Hand, available on Blu-ray ($ 24.95 retail), is packed with bonus features, including audio commentary, theatrical and TV trailers, and more. ** ½
BACK TO SOLOZ (IndiePix Films): Renowned filmmaker Serge Avedikian revisits his roots in this feature-length documentary (originally titled Return to Soloz), which he filmed over a span of 33 years and during four separate visits to the Armenian village his family came from, and how political and social unrest rocked the region for decades. In Armenian and French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($ 24.95 retail).
BROKEN LULLABY (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): The Blu-ray Arc ($ 24.95 retail) of Ernst Lubitsch’s 1932 adaptation of Maurice Rostand’s play The man I killed, with Phillips Holmes as a French violinist and World War I veteran returning to Germany to meet the family of a soldier he killed, only to befriend the deceased’s fiancée (Nancy Carroll) and his grief-stricken father (Lionel Barrymore). Bonus features include audio commentary.
COPPELIA (Shout! Factory): Michaela DePrince leads an internationally renowned dance troupe in this colorful and whimsical combination of animation and live ballet, based on the works of ETA Hoffmann, in which the inhabitants of a perfect city are corrupted by the arrival of manipulative cosmetic surgeon Dr. Coppélius (newcomer Vito Mazzeo), available as a DVD / Blu-ray combo ($ 26.98 retail), with bonuses. ***
DESCEND A DARK STAIRCAGE (Kino Lorber): Originally broadcast on “PBS Independent Lens,” the award-winning feature documentary by producer / director Ursula Liang details the case of Peter Liang, a Chinese-American police officer who killed the African-American man. gunned down Akai Gurley in a dark Brooklyn apartment in 2014, which sparked a storm of controversy and literally pitted two minorities against each other. Remarkably impartial, to say nothing of the opportune moment, this provides ample food for thought and discussion. The DVD ($ 19.95 retail) includes bonus features. ***
“LE CUR GUY”: SEASON 5 (Acorn TV): Rodger Corser returns as Hugh Knight, a brilliant but arrogant doctor forced to start over in his rural hometown of Whyhope after his personal life collapsed, in all eight episodes of the 2021 season (and final ) from the popular Australian comedy / drama series (originally titled Doctor, Doctor), with Hayley McElhinney, Ryan Johnson, Nicole da Silva and Chantelle Jamieson in support, available in a two-DVD collection ($ 59.99 retail).
“A DIVIDED HOUSE”: SEASON 3 (AllBlk) Executive producer Dan Garcia created this web TV series exploring the secrets and scandals surrounding the Sanders family, one of Los Angeles’ oldest and wealthiest black families, and how its members deal with the Patriarch widower Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and lover Demetria McKinney, who has her own agenda, with Paula Jai Parker, LisaRaye McCoy, David McKnight, Parker McKenna Posey and reliable Art Evans in support. The two-disc DVD ($ 17.96) includes all eight episodes of the 2021 season.
IN THE CLASSROOM OF BALANCHINE (Zeitgeist Films / Kino Lorber): After studying with the famous Russian-born choreographer George Balanchine (1904-’83), first producer / director Connie Hochman gives a glimpse of this self-explanatory feature documentary, which is less a documentary than a thesis on his ideas and techniques, with interviews with personalities such as Jacques d’Amboise, Edward Villella, Heather Watts, and others. Paced rather leisurely, but vintage performance footage makes this a must-have for ballet lovers. The DVD ($ 19.95 retail) includes bonus features. ** ½
THE KING’S BET (Indican Pictures): Filmmaker Joseph Sayer’s unsuccessful debut feature stars Blake Webb as a young man who discovers he has mystical powers and, with the help of his girlfriend Rebecca Galarza and of his best friend Reggie Powers, tries to manage the potential fallout. Spotty and drab, it feels unfinished and plays like a bad TV pilot, filled with an ending that portends a sequel, available on DVD ($ 24.99 retail). ½
“LAIKA LUXURY EDITIONS” (LAIKA Studios / Shout! Factory): A selection of acclaimed animated feature films produced by LAIKA Studios, each available on Blu-ray ($ 22.98 retail), each PG rated, each nominated for Best Feature Film. animation, and each one is packed with bonus features: Coraline (2009), based on the short story by Neil Gaiman; Paranormand (2012); Boxtrolls (2014) ; and Kubo and the two strings (2016), which also won an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects.
LITTLE VAMPIRE (Shout! Kids Factory / Shout! Factory): Original title Little vampire, acclaimed cartoonist Joann Sfar made this award-winning animated adaptation of feature films from his popular graphic novels, detailing the friendship between the title character (voiced by newcomer Louise Lacoste) and an imaginative young boy (voiced by Claire de la Rue du Can), available on DVD ($ 19.98 retail) and DVD / Blu-ray combo ($ 22.98 retail), each offering audio options in French (with English subtitles) and English.
LUZZU (Kino Lorber): Winston-Salem’s Ramin Bahrani produced film editor Alex Camilleri’s award-winning debut feature as writer / producer / director, with Jesmark Scicluna, a true fisherman from Malta, who plays a hardworking fisherman torn between his skinny life and join a profitable black market fishing operation. In Maltese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($ 19.95 retail), filled with audio commentary, short documentaries and more.
MASS CALL (Code Red / Kino Lorber): Jack Lemmon headlines director Glenn Jordan’s award-winning 1984 adaptation of screenwriter’s first-time Broadway play Bill C. Davis in 1980 as a folk suburban priest who confronts the progressive seminarian Zeljko Ivanek but sympathizes with his point of view, much to the dismay of the imperious Bishop Charles Durning. All three tracks are certainly watchable – it could easily be interpreted as “Oscar bait” – but the narrative is pretty straightforward and predictable. Also appearing are Louise Latham, Talia Balsam, Jerry Hardin and Gloria Stuart, available on Blu-ray ($ 29.95 retail). Classified PG. ** ½
THE MONKEY KING: REBORN (Well Go USA Entertainment): The animated feature film by director Wang Yun Fei, derived from the popular live-action Monkey king franchise, sees the main character and his followers battle the Demon King and his minions, lest the Earth be consumed by evil, available on DVD ($ 19.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($ 29.98 retail), each with the audio option dubbed in English.
“MY LIFE IS A MURDER”: SERIES 2 (Acorn): Executive producer Lucy Lawless is back on the case as ex-cop turned private investigator Alexa Crowe, who returns to her hometown of Auckland where she balances personal and private life while teaming up starring Local Police Inspector Rawiri Jobe, in all 10 episodes of the 2021 season of the popular mystery series, with appearances by William Shatner, Jay Ryan, Sara Wiseman, Michelle Ang, Bill Bailey and Renee O’Connor (who has co-starred with Lawless in Xena: warrior princess), available on DVD and Blu-ray (retail $ 39.98 each).
REMINISCENCE (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Hugh Jackman stars in writer / producer / director Lisa Joy’s debut feature, rated PG-13, an existential sci-fi mystery in which he plays a tough private investigator who becomes obsessed with the location of his last client (Rebecca Ferguson), who has inexplicably disappeared, with Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, Daniel Wu, Brett Cullent, Angela Sarafyan, Nico Parker and Mojean Aria in support, available on DVD ($ 34.98 retail), Blu-ray ($ 39.98 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($ 49.98 retail).
THE UNAPPRESSED MIND (DreamWorks Animation / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): The Old West has gotten a little wilder in this PG-rated spin-off / reboot of the 2002 animated feature film Spirit: Cimarron Stallion and the following Netflix series Spirit Riding Free, depicting the adventures of the titular Mustang, with a star-studded voiceover cast including Isabela Merced, Andre Braugher, Mckenna Grace, Marsai Martin, Elza Gonzalez, Jake Gyllenhaal and Julianne Moore, available on DVD ($ 29.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($ 34.98 retail), each loaded with bonus features including audio commentary, behind-the-scenes features, deleted and expanded scenes, and more.
(Copyright 2021, Mark Burger)