Movies Till Dawn: Some Kind of Love 2

* 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.

Lost Angel: The Genius of Judee Sill” * (2023, Greenwich Entertainment) There is a lot of tragedy in “Lost Angel,” a documentary about the singer-songwriter Judee Sill from directors Andy Brown and Brian Lindstrom. Sill navigated a library’s worth of noir scenarios before her brief ascent in the Los Angeles music scene of the early 1970s: abusive parents and parents, drug dependency, even a stint in prison. Brown and Lindstrom might have laid this early misfortune onto Sill’s life and matched it with her tragic downward spiral to death at the end of the 1970s to show her life as a fait accompli; to their credit, they focus instead on her music – haunting tracks like “Jesus was a Crossmaker,” “Crayon Angels,” and “The Pearl” – and the talent needed to create such unique work in spite of the trauma-go-round of her life. Collaborators (David Crosby, Jackson Browne), romantic entanglements (J.D. Souther, David Geffen) and admirers (Fleet Foxes, Shawn Colvin) lend perspective and testimony to why her music endures long after her name has faded; Greenwich’s DVD includes the theatrical trailer.

Edge of Everything” * (2023, Lightyear Entertainment) Performances anchor this relatively short (81 mins) indie drama about a teenager (Sierra McCormick) in flux after the death of her mother. Life with her father (Jason Butler Harmer) is fraught with complications – there’s a new girlfriend (Sabina Friedman-Seitz) – and an out materializes in new friend Ryan Simpkins, who exists in a whirlwind of social pleasures and perils. An honest depiction of the teenage experience on film is less a matter of plot than tone, and directors Sophie Sabella and Pablo Freedman deliver those sudden shifts from elation to boredom and confusion that fuel the teen years with anxious camerawork and understated but entirely accurate work by the leads. The Lightyear DVD features the theatrical trailer.

American Gigolo” * (1980, Arrow Video) LA male escort Richard Gere’s cool/cruel veneer cracks after he’s linked to the murder of a client, which also complicates a burgeoning relationship with another regular (Lauren Hutton). Glossy but still substantive portrait of yet another in writer/director Paul Schrader’s catalog of lonely men (see “Taxi Driver, “The Master Gardener,” etc.), locked in existential combat with the external world and their inner turmoil; Schrader’s affection for noir and the French New Wave are employed skillfully here, especially in the complicated emotions surrounding his transactional lifestyle. With Bill Duke, K Callan, and Nina Van Pallandt; Arrow’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation includes a wealth of new material commentary by critic Adrian Martin, interviews with Schrader, Duke, Hector Elizondo, production team members, and KCRW DJ Dan Wilcox, who discusses Giorgio Moroder’s score, as well as liner notes and poster/postcard reproductions of new and original promotional artwork.

Arthur Dong’s LGBTQ Stories” (1994-2002, Kino Lorber) Four documentaries profiling the LGBTQ’s struggle for equality over the past half-century by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Arthur Dong. “Coming Out Under Fire” (1994), the longest of the four films compiled on Kino’s Blu-ray, looks at the U.S. military’s repressive and destructive policies towards gay servicemen and women, including those who had acted with valor during World War II. The more recent “Family Fundamentals” (2002) explores the deep emotional wounds experienced by gay children of conservative Christian parents (and surrogate parents, as the story of Brian Bennett, chief of staff to the loathsome California Republican Congressman Robert Dornan). “License to Kill” (1997) is a truly harrowing look at the rationale employed by felons convicted of murdering gay men, including the terrifying serial killer Jay Thomas Johnson, as well as the limited police response to these crimes. The shortest piece in the set “Out Rage ’69,” originally aired on PBS as part of the limited documentary series “A Question of Equality” and focuses on the gay rights movement in the years before and during the Stonewall riot in Greenwich Village. All four films are celebrated and award-winning efforts, and required viewing for students of all history, not just of the LGBTQ movement.

Le Combat dans l’ile” * (1962, Radiance Films) Wealthy, emotionless, and frequently brutish Jean-Louis Trintignant is duped by radical right-wingers into what he believes is the assassination of a socialist politician. When the murder proves to be a set-up, Trintignant and wife Romy Schneider go into hiding with his school friend (Henri Serre), who sparks long-dormant in both halves of the couple: romance for Schneider, and jealousy from Trintignant. Long-unavailable French New Wave drama from director Alain Cavalier occasionally draws comparison to “Jules and Jim” thanks to its woman-comes-between-two-men plot, but the similarities begin and end with the presence of Serre (who appeared in both films) and Francois Truffaut’s role here as producer/co-writer. “Combat” plays more like a parable on the pitfalls of devotion to a cause instead of friendship and love; Trintignant is too busy playing radical to see that he’s been duped by his collaborators and abandoned by his wife for his (decidedly more manly and free-thinking) pal. Radiance’s Blu-ray draws on a 2K restoration from the original camera negative and includes short vintage interviews with Cavalier, Trintignant and critic Philippe Roger; two shorts by Cavalier and behind-the-scenes photos from Louis Malle’s archives.

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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