Movies Till Dawn: Mysteries of Life

Incredible But True” (2022, Arrow Video) Middle-aged couple Alain Chabat and Lea Drucker discover that a bizarre and miraculous aspect of their new suburban home – a tunnel in the basement that sends users 12 hours ahead in time but also shaves off three days of their lives – also has numerous complications. Slight but amusing French fantasy-drama from writer/director/DP/editor Quient Dupieux delivers a more genteel take on the off-kilter world of his more bizarre previous efforts (e.g., “Rubber,” about a killer car tire, and “Deerskin,” which concerns a cursed buckskin jacket), with room afforded for brief considerations about the ignominy of getting older along with the decidedly weirder elements (like Chabat’s boss, whose manhood is Bluetooth-compatible). Arrow’s Blu-ray includes subtitled interviews with cast and crew, a video essay on the film and its director, and several trailers.

Mystery Men” (1999, Kino Lorber) Loose adaptation of the titular characters, a group of second-string, working-class superheroes originally featured in Bob Burden’s “Flaming Carrot Comics,” who get their shot at the big league when mad genius Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush) captures their city’s top crimefighter, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear). The eclectic cast is game to play underdogs, and there’s amusing work by Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, William H. Macy, Hank Azaria, Paul Reubens, and Wes Studi (with support from Tom Waits, Louise Lasser, and Ricky Jay, among others). And while commercial director Kinka Usher has a fine eye for production design and visual effects, he can’t corral his players or maintain an even tone, which leaves “Mystery Men” feeling more like a handful of enjoyable standalone moments (e.g. the superhero recruitment barbecue) and ad libs in a jumble of loose threads. Kino’s two-disc set offers restored Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray presentations along with commentary by Usher, several interviews with the creative team, a vintage making-of, and deleted (and inconsequential) scenes.

The Guilty” (1947, Flicker Alley) Gloomy no-budget noir from Monogram, with one-time Nancy Drew Bonita Granville as twin sisters (one good, one bad, of course) who run afoul of Wally Cassell, an ex-GI prone to “spells” after wartime trauma. Bad Granville turns up dead, of course, which leaves his roommate Don Castle and eternal movie cop Regis Toomey to figure out if Cassell committed the crime. Despite the financial burdens, director John Reinhardt and DP Henry Sharp mine considerable atmosphere and dread out of the material, which drew much of its underlying morbid tone from its source story by Cornell Woolrich. Featured as part of Flicker Alley’s two-fer Blu-ray –both restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive and Film Noir Foundation – of forgotten noirs produced by Texas oilman Jack Wrather (who married Granville and produced “Lassie”) and featuring many of the same cast and crew (the other being the deeply weird “High Tide“). The extensive extras include featurettes on Wrather, Reinhardt, the grim lives of Castle and Woolrich, and extensive liner notes by Alan K. Rode.

Twilight” (1998, Kino Lorber) Out of the Past: ex-cop Paul Newman is tasked to deliver a package for terminally ill movie star Gene Hackman and finds himself entrenched in a decades-old unsolved murder case involving the first husband of Hackman’s sultry wife (Susan Sarandon). Elegant Los Angeles noir doesn’t trend new ground in the plot department: the script by Robert Benton and Richard Russo (who previously paired with Newman on “Nobody’s Fool”) is distinguished more by the tang of its dialogue, which is delivered with effortless skill by a peerless cast that includes James Garner (seen-it-all ex-cop), Reese Witherspoon (Hackman’s wayward daughter), Liev Schreiber (Witherspoon’s sleazoid boyfriend), Stockard Channing (brassy police chief), and in stellar support, Giancarlo Esposito, Margo Martindale, M. Emmett Walsh, and John Spencer. Watching these total pros spar and tangle is the chief pleasure of watching “Twilight,” though the LA Plays Itself locations (the Arch Oboler Complex in Malibu, George Jacobson House in Hollywood) and DP Piot Sobocinski’s shadow-steeped compositions are a pleasure unto themselves. Kino’s Blu-ray includes commentary by noir experts Alain Silver and James Urbini.

Night Gallery: Season 3” (1972-73, Kino Lorber) The Rod Serling-hosted anthology series limped into its final network season in a revamped format: episodes were reduced from 60 to 30 minutes and featured just one story per airing instead of multiple segments (it also earned an aggressive new title theme by Eddie Sauter). Fifteen episodes were issued before NBC pulled the plug, and as before, the third season is comprised of effective supernatural stories and misfires. Chief among the former is the eerie “Whisper,” with Sally Field as a young woman attuned to the voices of the dead; “Death on a Barge,” with Leonard Nimoy helming a Gothic-romantic vampire story; and John Badham’s “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes,” featuring Joanna Pettet as an alluring model with a deadly secret. Serling wrote four of the episodes – all solid if unremarkable stories – and producer Jack Laird’s penchant for comic sketches is restrained to just two entries. Kino’s two-disc Blu-ray bundles all 15 episodes, all looking impressive in remastered form and accompanied by commentary by (among others) Field, Badham, Dean Stockwell, Lindsay Wagner, Kim Newman, Guillermo Del Toro, Tim Lucas, and vintage recordings of Serling. The final segment of Craig Beam’s excellent “Syndication Conundrum’ featurettes is also included, and details here the network’s attempts to flesh out the “Night Gallery” syndication package with truncated episodes of the paranormal drama “The Sixth Sense,” which required Serling to return for new introductions. The intros are included here (the repurposed episodes still air on TV), and should please “Gallery” and horror anthology fans to no end.

About Paul Gaita

Paul Gaita lives in Sherman Oaks, California with his lovely wife and daughter. He has written for The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Variety and Merry Jane, among many other publications, and was a home video reviewer for from 1998 to 2014. He has also interviewed countless entertainment figures, but his favorites remain Elmore Leonard, Ray Bradbury, and George Newall, who created both "Schoolhouse Rock" and the Hai Karate aftershave commercials. He once shared a Thanksgiving dinner with celebrity astrologer Joyce Jillson and regrettably, still owes the late character actor Charles Napier a dollar.
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