Movies Till Dawn: Some Kind of Love

* indicates that this title is also available to rent, stream, or purchase on various platforms. Please note that streaming options may differ from these home video presentations in terms of visuals, supplemental features, etc.

True Love” (1989, Kino Lorber) With a title like “True Love,” Nancy Savoca’s comedy-drama should be about all the little moments – the swirling emotions of to-be-marrieds Annabella Sciorra and Ron Eldard, the lunacy and love of their very Italian parents, the traditions, both sensible and otherwise – that form the building blocks of a wedding. Instead, this insightful indie looks at the reasons that two people shouldn’t come together in matrimony, and why their relationship still heads in that direction, despite all the red flags. “True Love” also doesn’t truck in tragedy: the humor and pathos aren’t mined from the couple’s downward trajectory, but rather from choices that are made based on family, tradition, experience, and sometimes, just how things are. There is love in “True Love,” but it’s complicated, and as such, rings a lot truer than a sunny rom-com or a gloomy “anatomy of a break-up” drama. Kino’s Blu-ray includes commentary by Savoca and co-writer/co-producer Richard Guay (also Savoca’s husband) and interviews with members of the production team, who recall the challenges and joys of working on a budget-minded indie in the 1980s.

Drive-Away Dolls” * (2024, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) Loquacious trainwreck Margaret Qualley and reluctant, straight-laced sidekick Geraldine Viswanathan embark on a road trip to Florida, which Qualley sees as a direct ticket out of her relationship with cop Beanie Feldstein and a chance for Viswanathan to explore her latent queerness. What it becomes instead is a pursuit across the Sunshine State by a trio of eccentric hoods (including Bill Camp and Colman Domingo) after a suitcase stashed in the women’s rental car. Solo effort by Joel Coen harkens back to the meta-loopiness and genre-fusing of some of his his best-loved efforts with brother Ethan, like “Raising Arizona” and “The Big Lebowski”; if the quirkiness here feels a little more forced, Cohen benefits an excellent cast (which includes Pedro Pascal and briefly, Matt Damon and Miley Cyrus) and cinematography by Ari Wegner, a typically eclectic soundtrack (Le Tigre, Funkadelic, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, and a handful of Fat Possum acts), and some surprisingly raunchy laughs (for a Coen-related project). The UPHE Blu-ray includes a making-of doc and conversation with Joel and editor/spouse Tricia Cooke, who discuss the genesis of “Dolls” (it involves Allison Anders) and their collaborative process.

The Shape of Night” (1964, Radiance Films) Tracing the downward spiral of factory worker Kowano Miyuki, whose second job as a bar hostess brings her into the orbit of small-time gangster Hira Mikijro, whose flashy affections mask more diabolical intentions. Japanese New Wave entry from Shochiku, rarely seen in Western circles, but worth a second look for its icy color palette and the concentric circles of despair traveled by all of the participants, including a client (Sonoi Keisuke) of Miyuki who seems himself as the answer to her problems. A detailed study of emotional violence from Oscar-nominated director Noboru Nakamura; the all-region Limited Edition Radiance disc features a high-def transfer that showcases Toichiro Narushima’s cinematography, as well as an interview with Nakamura’s son and a visual essay by historian Tom Mes on Shochiku’s film output in the 1960s. An accompanying booklet includes an essay on the film by Chuck Stephens and a repro of a 1964 article on the film written by Narushima.

Accidentally Preserved: Volume 5” (1925-1928, Undercrank Productions) All kinds of love are featured in the four features showcased in Undercrank’s fifth collection of rare silent films, here courtesy of collector and accompanist Jon C. Mirsalis, who also provides original scores for each film. Familial love launches 1925’s “Lorraine of the Lions,” with wealthy San Franciscan Joseph J. Dowling employs psychic Norman Kerry to locate his missing granddaughter (Patsy Ruth Miller from the Lon Chaney-led “Hunchback of Notre Dame”), who rules over the animal inhabitants of a tropical island, (!), including stuntman Fred Hughes as a gorilla. Romance, and specifically, pitching woo is at the forefront of 1928’ “Love at First Flight,” which stars Lige Conley as a pilot who attempts to rescue Mack Sennett’s Bathing Beauties; shenanigans ensue, as does a brief dance sequence filmed in Technicolor. The affection between an animal and its human companion fuels the drama of 1928’s “Hoofbeats of Vengeance,” a vehicle for top-billed Rex, the Wonder Horse, who not only gets to track down the heel that killed his owner, but even exchanges dialogue with the other horses in the film (via title cards). And the complexities of love are on full display in “The Fourth Commandment,” a 1927 melodrama about misunderstood affections between sons, spouses, and mothers which leads two jealous types down the road to ruin. All four films are 2k scans taken from 16mm prints owned by Mirsalis and restored by the Library of Congress.

Tormented” * (1960, Film Masters) Jazz pianist and closet cad Richard Carlson’s impending marriage to Lugene Sanders is nearly upended by his venomous ex (Juli Reding) until she takes a tumble from a lighthouse; death, however, does not end her campaign to break up the couple or pin her demise on Carlson. Supernatural thriller from producer-director Bert I. Gordon, who specialized in science fiction featuring oversized flora and fauna (see: “The Amazing Colossal Man,” “Empire of the Ants,” etc.); his success in the ghost department is hampered by the budget required to pull off convincing effects, though the sight of Reding’s detached head calling out Carlson is admirably audacious. With its surfeit of guilty consciences and jilted lovers, “Tormented” actually works better as a low-budget noir, a notion borne out by Albert Glasser’s jazzy score, but it’s agreeable Saturday afternoon fare for creepshow fans too. The Film Masters Blu-ray has a hi-def transfer of “Tormented” that’s one of the best presentations of the film, as well as commentary by Gary Rhodes, who details Gordon’s career and that of its primary cast members (including Joe Turkel, later the menacing bartender in “The Shining”); the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” take on “Tormented,” an archival interview with Gordon and several well-made featurettes on the film and its director round out the disc, which is capped by an unsold TV anthology pilot produced by Gordon and starring Vincent Price, which turns out to be a condensed version of “Tormented.”

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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