Kino Lorber

Kino Lorber

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Discs Section: Pick of the Week

BACK IN CRIME dvdBack in Crime

Richard Kemp (Jean-Hugues Anglade) is a burnt out detective investigating a murder that seems strangely familiar when he’s knocked into a river and left for dead. Instead of dying though he resurfaces to discover he’s traveled back in time by two decades to the beginning of a series of unsolved killings. He attempts to work the case with his future knowledge even as his unaware younger self stumbles along, but he inadvertently makes himself a suspect.

This French film’s actual (and preferable) title is The Other Life of Richard Kemp, and that’s the key to the its strength. The murder mystery is just a part of the story as the true focus is Kemp’s opportunity to craft a better, other life for himself with the benefit of hindsight. The killer’s reveal is actually the film’s weakest element while the character work and humanity on display are damn good.

[DVD extras: None]

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GRAND PIANO bluGrand Piano

Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) was one of the best young pianists in the world before an onstage screw-up gave him stage fright. The death of his mentor leads to celebratory concert and Tom’s reluctant return to the stage, but stage fright may be the least of his worries this time around. A sniper (John Cusack) has put in place a plan to keep Tom playing under the threat of murder.

This is a ridiculous movie. Only somewhat jokingly described as “Speed with a piano” the film is closer to being the best Brian De Palma film not made by De Palma thanks to its split screens, tracking shots, goofy plot and aggressive style. Things crumble with too much critical thought, but it’s a rare example of a movie that’s low on smarts but succeeds anyway thanks to creativity, energy and execution.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurettes]

LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE bluLike Someone in Love (Criterion)

Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami’s Japan-set Like Someone in Love might seem at first to be an afterthought to the cerebral themes that dominated his masterful Certified Copy. But as the film gradually unravels, Like Someone in Love reveals itself to be yet another (if this time subtler) endlessly intriguing exploration of the various ways that we perform versions of our selves for others in daily life.

An elder professor’s appointment with a young student and part-time prostitute quickly blossoms into a warm and curious bond. Deftly avoiding “call girl with a heart of gold” clichés, Like Someone in Love uses prostitution as a means of examining our daily simulations more broadly, exploring how we often choose select versions of our selves to present to other people depending on the circumstances. It’s a surprising, engrossing, and beautifully realized film whose small, occasionally enigmatic touches quickly add up to a fascinating and slyly complex portrait of living. – Landon Palmer

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Behind-the-scenes documentary; trailer; illustrated essay by film scholar Nico Baumbach]

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3 Days to Kill

A spy (Kevin Costner) hoping to retire is drawn back in to the game by a fellow agent (Amber Heard) looking to complete a very specific mission, but the job quickly gets in the way of familial responsibilities. I’m a big fan of both leads, but neither of them is enough to get the film past its incredibly mismatched halves. The action film is competent on its own, as is the father/daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) half, but together they’re an awkward and tonally flawed pairing.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurettes]

About Last Night

Two couples explore the ups and downs of the early days of romance with varying success. All four leads do solid work here, but the film is never more than a somewhat obvious affair punctuated with some laughs. Kevin Hart has quickly become an acquired taste capable of wearing out his welcome if not kept in check, but he’s used almost exclusively as comic relief while Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant get most of the drama.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurettes]

Gang War in Milan

Toto is Milan’s premiere pimp, but when a French crime boss arrives in town and tries to force a partnership all hell breaks loose in the city streets. Gangsters get blown up, hookers get excessively slapped and one guy even gets his balls electrocuted. Umberto Lenzi’s first foray into gangland cinema is a violent affair for everyone involved, but the women in particular do not fair well. If you can swallow that then the film is an exciting and vibrant crime thriller.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Intro, booklet]

Happy Days: The Fifth Season

Fonzie, Richie, Postsie, Ralph and the others find all new adventures in 1950s America across all 26 season five episodes. There are lots of firsts this season including the introductions of Mork from Ork (Robin Williams), Chachi (Scott Baio) and Leather Tuscadero, but the real “star” of the season is the birth of the phrase “jump the shark.” Because Fonzie literally jumps over a shark. So yes, the show’s charm may have been wearing off by this point, but the creativity and fun was set to 11.

[DVD extras: 40th anniversary special]

House of Dust

A sanitarium in the ’50s deals with a bloody slaughter by burning the bodies of all involved (some of them still alive), and sixty years later a handful of college students inhale the cursed ashes. This supernatural chiller features a handful of suitably creepy images, but the writing and characters aren’t nearly as strong or interesting.

[DVD extras: None]

In Secret

A young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) in an emotionally empty marriage falls in love with her husband’s friend. This leads to some complications, obviously. Emile Zola’s “Therese Raquin” has come to the screen before, most recently with Audrey Tautou, and while this new version adds nothing much new to the story it’s at least an attractive production of a tale told well. Olsen in particular is quite good as a woman torn between her heart and her perceived duty.

[DVD extras: Deleted scenes, commentary]

LA Law: Season Two

Steven Bochco’s hit ’80s series about the highs and lows of practicing law in Los Angeles saw its cast grow in season two with some very memorable newcomers. Blair Underwood and Larry Drake both brought unique characters to the show and went on to become key players throughout the series. Shout! Factory’s release is free of extras, but it’s the season’s DVD debut so their absence is a non-existent issue.

[DVD extras: None]

Martial Arts Movie Marathon

Wong Fei Hung fights a local bad guy in The Skyhawk, a fighter reluctantly enters a deadly tournament in The Manchu Boxer, a cop works to crack a prostitution ring in The Association and a pair of evil siblings meet their match in The Dragon Tamers. Shout! Factory collects four “chopsocky” action films across two discs, and while none of them truly stand out as masterpieces fans of the genre will find a lot to enjoy here. Sammo Hung and Angela Mao Ying makes appearances, and The Dragon Tamers is actually a very early directorial effort from John Woo. And not for nothing, but The Association is loaded with nudity, sexual shenanigans and inappropriate violence. So, good fun.

[DVD extras: None]

McCanick

A detective (David Morse) sets out to re-capture an ex-convict (Corey Monteith) he believes has yet to pay his debt to society, but there may be a darker reason for the pursuit as well. The film moves back and forth between the present and the detective’s morally suspect past to reveal the truth that fuels his actions. Morse is fantastic in a rare lead role, and while the film doesn’t quite live up to his level it remains a solid tale of corruption and sin.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Behind the scenes, deleted scenes, trailer]

Mischief Night

It’s the night before Halloween and Kaylie is babysitting in a nice suburban neighborhood when a knock at the door sets in motion a chain of suspicious events. A friend, three local troublemakers, Malcolm McDowell and a self-identified serial killer are circling the house, but when one of them gets in the night takes some very surprising turns. There are some fun ideas at play here, but Travis Baker’s script is more successful with them than his direction. Still, new ideas are a welcome sight in horror, so give it a shot.

[DVD extras: None]

The Moneychangers

A bank president announces his imminent retirement sending his two vice presidents (Kirk Douglas and Christopher Plummer) at each other’s throats in the hopes of earning the promotion. This is an old-school television mini-series running over five hours long and loaded with recognizable faces in the service of a weighty tale. In this case it’s an adaptation of one of Arthur Hailey’s bestsellers, and the story about financial corruption is just as relevant now as it was then.

[DVD extras: None]

The Monuments Men

A group of professionals enter the fray of World War II on a mission to rescue works of art from the Nazi death and destruction machine. George Clooney brings this true story to the screen as star, co-writer and director, and good god is it an aimless, weightless and dull affair. The cast alone makes it worth watching, in theory, but they’re given nothing of interest to do. Worse, the film’s tone prevents anything of substance from sticking.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]

Nosferatu: The Vampyre

Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski) sets his fangs on his real estate agent’s wife, and he goes on to bring terror to everyone who gets in way of his desire. Werner Herzog’s late ’70s remake of the original German classic is a gorgeous film, but its beauty and lead actor prevent it from ever feeling creepy or truly atmospheric. Kinski and Herzog do however manage to deliver cinema’s first emo vampire, predating Twilight by three decades.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: German and English language versions, commentary, making of, trailer]

Pompeii

The city of Pompeii is known almost exclusively for being buried in volcanic ash back in 79 AD leaving its citizens and buildings captured in time. The film tells a story in the days and hours leading up to that volcanic eruption, and the fact that we know everyone ends up “frozen” in time and in motion kind of deflates the drama and suspense a bit. Paul WS Anderson delivers some fine disaster effects, but his story and actors just aren’t up to the task of delivering a competent disaster film. Skip it and watch Volcano instead.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes]

Raze

Sabrina (Zoe Bell) is held captive along with dozens of other women and forced to fight each other to the death. They can choose not to fight of course, but threats against their families outside this compound force their hand. The fights are orchestrated by a maniacal couple for wealthy viewers. The storyline is exactly what we’ve seen before with the singular distinction that the fighters are all women. Question. If you’re going to kidnap ostensibly attractive women, dress them in white tang-tops and make them fight, why issue them bras too? I’m a stickler for logic so this bothered me. Also, the fights just aren’t all that good, especially for a film about fighting. Also, shame on the filmmakers for giving Rachel Nichols second billing.

[DVD extras: Commentary, interviews, featurettes deleted scenes, gag reel, original short film, poster gallery, trailer]

The Revengers

William Holden, my real-life cousin, clearly several families removed, stars as a rancher whose family is slaughtered by Comanche Indians led by an evil white guy. He sets out for vengeance with the aid of half a dozen convicts hired for just that purpose. It’s a solid film that isn’t too obvious in its attempt to recapture some of the magic of The Magnificent Seven and The Wild Bunch (which also stars Holden and Ernest Borgnine) thanks in part to the moral divide between the rancher and his “employees.”

[DVD extras: Trailer]

The Right Kind of Wrong

Leo’s (Ryan Kwanten) girlfriend dumps him after writing a blog about how much he sucks, and as she goes on to become a celebrity with the blog he settles into an indifferent funk. But then he sees a woman getting married and instantly falls in love with her. Seriously, that’s the plot. He falls for a woman on her wedding day, and without having had a single conversation with her he sets out to win her over. It’s a fairly offensive setup coupled with a somewhat generic execution saved only by Kwanten’s muted charm.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, behind the scenes, featurettes]

Stay

Dermot (Aidan Quinn) and Abbey (Taylor Schilling) are a couple living on the coast of Ireland, but their age difference comes into play when she gets pregnant and discovers his past experiences have soured him fully to the idea. Their relationship hits a rough patch. This is an engaging enough romantic drama, but it’s worth a watch almost exclusively for Schilling’s performance.

[DVD extras: None]

Vampire Academy

Rose is a human/vampire hybrid tasked with protecting her best friend Lisa, a full vampire, from a race of even fuller vampires. Anyway, this movie is a mess. It’s essentially the CW adapting a mash-up of Twilight and Harry Potter with weak and uninteresting results. None of the characters are memorable, the action is poorly executed and the story is just a dull series of obvious turns. Skip it and watch What We Do in the Shadows instead.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Alternate opening, deleted scenes, interview]

Way of the Wicked

A priest (Christian Slater) battles Satan in suburbia with the help of a local cop (Vinnie Jones). The problem here rests most immediately in the casting. Slater can be fun, but he almost always plays Slater, and Jones’ presence has quickly become a guarantee of crappy direct to DVD filmmaking. This one isn’t as bad as some, but the acting and script aren’t exactly encouraging. Or good. Skip it and watch The Exorcist III instead.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Weekend of a Champion

Roman Polanski spent three days with racing legend Jackie Stewart while the world champion was at the top of his game in 1971. The resulting film is an all-access look at the high drama, high stakes world of Grand Prix racing, and this release adds on a newly filmed epilogue with both men reflecting on the film. Fans of recent films including Rush and Senna will enjoy the unfettered look at this intimate yet very public world. Stewart is quite the character, and the film captures his spirit and energy well.

[DVD extras: Trailer]

Discs Section: Also

Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and/or review material was unavailable:

Call the Midwife: Season Three
Duck Dynasty: Duck Days of Summer
God Loves Uganda
The Jewish Cardinal
JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
McLintock
Mountain Men: Season 2
Nikita: The Complete Fourth and Final Season
Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure
Terry Fator: Live in Concert
Warehouse 13: Season Five
Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley


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