“Beast” (2018, Lionsgate) Smothered under the emotional rubble of her dysfunctional family and troubled past, Moll (Jessie Buckley) finds what seems like salvation in rough-hewn but ruggedly handsome Pascal (Johnny Flynn); so great is her need to escape that she not only overlooks his status as the prime suspect in a series of child murders, but even offers an alibi to the police. British drama from director Michael Pearce works best when plumbing the murky psychological depths of its protagonists, both expertly played by relative newcomers, to understand how trauma and neglect can breed complicity; the thriller aspect is grisly but less compelling. Lionsgate’s Blu-ray includes a making-of featurette.
“Black Peter” (1963, Second Run DVD) Czech teenager Peter (Ladislav Jakim) tries to navigate a world where customers at his job are regarded as thieves, where his father espouses empty bromides about hard work, and where ineptitude and laziness give a pass to boorishness. Debut feature by the late Milos Forman offers an unvarnished look at being young and powerless in an adult world – a succinct metaphor for Czech life under Communist rule – as well a hint at the rebellious spirit in his later work (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”). Second Run’s all-region Blu-ray includes a new HD transfer sourced from a 4K restoration, an archival interview with Forman on his early films, commentary by Michael Brooks and an interview with actress Pavla Martinkova, who plays Peter’s love interest.
“Generation Wealth” (2018, Lionsgate) Follow-up to writer-director Lauren Greenfield‘s jaw-dropping “The Queen of Versailles” takes a broader look at excessive wealth, as well as the personal toll it can take. The obvious suspects are included here – our Commander-in-Chief, of course, and the Kardashian/Jenner clan, though in the face of such money monsters as German businessman Florian Homm, they feel like the tip of an iceberg built on reckless privilege and decadent behavior. Greenfield also examines her own interest in this world, which seems to be rooted in her obsession with work; all the moving parts, while beautifully photographed and edited, don’t quite gel into anything more substantive than underscoring the fact that greed can be toxic. It’s a piquant reminder, but nothing that 99% of viewers don’t consider every day by watching the news. Greenfield’s photographic portraits of the nouveau rich are included on the DVD.
“Special Delivery” (1976, Kino Lorber) Forced to stash the take from a foiled bank robbery in a downtown L.A. mailbox, Vietnam vet Bo Svenson discovers that his plan has been observed by divorcee Cybill Shepherd and desperate bartender Michael C. Gwynne, both with separate and very different intentions for the loot. Lightweight but likable caper from director Paul Wendkos, whose talent for crime and suspense is well utilized during the robbery; he’s less capable with the comic elements, but Svenson and Shepherd do breezy flirtation well (accompanied by Lalo Schifrin‘s score), and there are amusing turns by scene-stealers Jeff Goldblum and Gerritt Graham (as small-time goons), Vic Tayback, Sorrell Booke and briefly, Kim Richards. Kino’s Blu-ray includes commentary by Lee Gambin and a fistful of ’70s-era trailers from Kino’s library, including “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.”
“Modern Life is Rubbish” (2017, MVD Visual) British comedy opens with a breakup in progress, as guitarist Josh Whitehouse and art designer Freya Mavor sort through the ugly business of dividing their vast record collection. Flashbacks to major ups and downs throughout their ten-year relationship show how music served as not only the element that brought them together, but also as the wedge that drove them apart (Whitehouse refuses to compromise his music, leaving the burden of finances and maturity to Mavor). If scripting and dialogue isn’t particularly fresh (Liam’s high-mindedness, in particular, becomes annoying), the performances of the two leads keep things buoyant, as does a soundtrack filled with new and classic Britpop (Radiohead, Stereophonics, Kooks, the 1975). MVD’s DVD includes a making-of featurette.
“Home from the Hill” (1960, Warner Archives Collection) Though epic in its telling – and shot in Cinemascope – Vincente Minnelli’s drama focuses on the granular details of a complex family dynamic, specifically that of Texas land baron Robert Mitchum, whose overbearing masculinity and constant philandering has driven away his wife (Eleanor Parker) and two sons (George Hamilton and George Peppard), but not quenched his need to be wanted, feared and desired. In short, a timely Blu-ray release. Dialogue hews towards the florid and the film runs long (150 mins), but performances are all solid (especially Hamilton, who does well with a wider range that usually allowed) and Minnelli balances the emotional material with some impressive action set pieces (a boar hunt, for one). Warner’s HD transfer includes the theatrical trailer.
And: “Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town” (2018, Shout Factory), which was covered during its theatrical run, is available on Blu-ray; a well-acted indie about a struggling LA waitress attempting, perhaps unwisely, to right a perceived wrong, the “Izzy” disc includes commentary by writer/director Christian Papierniak, interviews with the cast and crew and deleted scenes. Meanwhile, “Schlock” (1973, Arrow Video), John Landis’s goofball tribute to ’50s monster movies, was previously issued in limited release by Germany’s Turbine Media; Arrow’s Blu-ray shares several extras, including commentary by Landis and effects legend Rick Baker and multiple promo spots, while adding an interview with critic Kim Newman and DP Bob Collins.
If you’re ever interested in writing about the Hollywood Icon Dennis Woodruff, let me know. https://vimeo.com/channels/1358389
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