Cinema Paradiso

4K ULTRA HD REVIEW:

MVD/Arrow;
Drama;
$49.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R.’
Stars Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale, Antonella Attili, Marco Leonardi, Salvatore Cascio, Jacques Perrin, Agnese Nano.

With movie theaters facing an existential threat, there is perhaps no better time to revisit this 1989 Best Foreign Film Oscar winner about the magic of cinema, available in 4K for the first time.

Through extended flashbacks, the Italian film traces one man’s love affair with the movies beginning as a boy in war torn Sicily in the pre-television era. The boy Toto is fascinated by his small town’s movie theater and the projectionist, Alfredo, who creates magic on the screen from his small booth above the balcony. The booth also houses treasure, stolen kiss clips from various films that the local priest has had the projectionist excise from reels shown in the theater. Through his special relationship with the projectionist and the theater, the fatherless boy grows to cherish the magic of cinematic storytelling. Revisiting the town as an accomplished filmmaker, he reminisces about love, movies and loss.

Director Giuseppe Tornatore’s loving homage to the cinema also earned five BAFTA Awards, the Grand Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival and many more plaudits.

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The original award-winning theatrical version of Tornatore’s classic is presented here for the first time on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray with DolbyVision. Special features include audio commentary with Tornatore and Italian cinema expert critic Millicent Marcus; “A Dream of Sicily,” a 52-minute documentary profile of Tornatore featuring interviews with the director and extracts from his early home movies and interviews with director Francesco Rosi and painter Peppino Ducato, set to music by Ennio Morricone; “A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise,” a 27-minute documentary on the making of Cinema Paradiso and the characters of Toto and Alfredo, featuring interviews with the actors who play them, Philippe Noiret and Salvatore Cascio, as well as Tornatore; “The Kissing Sequence,” in which Tornatore discusses the origins of the kissing scenes with clips identifying each scene; and the original director’s cut theatrical trailer and 25th anniversary re-release trailer. This 4K combo pack also includes the expanded director’s cut on Blu-ray, which delves deeper into Salvatore’s backstory.

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While the extras provide interesting backstory information, especially about the climactic and affecting “Kissing Sequence,” the real star here is the film itself polished for 4K. I saw the film when it first came out, and it has lost none of its power. As we move into the digital age, and physical media and theatergoing are increasingly labeled passé, Cinema Paradiso is a loving look back at moviegoing in a time when moving pictures were projected on a film strip of successive photos, capturing moments of magic.

BAFTA Nominee ‘The Prisoner,’ Noir ‘Phantom Lady’ Among Titles Coming to Blu-ray in March From Arrow and MVD

British Academy Film Awards nominee The Prisoner, the Sister Street Fighter Collection, the noir Phantom Lady and a slate of horror films are due on Blu-ray in March from Arrow Films and MVD Entertainment Group.

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March 5 comes the two-disc Sister Street Fighter Collection, which includes all three films in the Japanese exploitation film trilogy. In the first film, Li (Etsuko Shihomi) travels to Yokohama to investigate the disappearance of her brother. Li returns in Sister Street Fighter: Hanging by a Thread, this time in search of a woman that has been kidnapped by a group of diamond smugglers. The series comes to a close with Return of the Sister Street Fighter, with Li once again hoping to locate a missing person, this time a kingpin’s mistress.

Also coming March 5 is Robert Siodmak’s 1944 noir Phantom Lady. Ella Raines stars as a secretary willing to put her life on the line in an effort to prove her boss did not murder his wife. Special features include the archival documentary Dark and Deadly: 50 Years of Film Noir, featuring the contributions of Robert Wise, Dennis Hopper and more; a 1944 hour-long radio dramatization with Ella Raines and Alan Curtis; and a gallery of stills and promotional materials.

Due March 12 is the late 1990s booby-trap slasher Kolobos about a group of strangers trapped in a deadly house. They arrive at a snow-covered house under the guise of participating in an experimental film. With the entire property fitted with cameras, their every move will be recorded. But when the house locks down, trapping them within, it soon becomes clear that something sinister is afoot. The new 2K restoration that includes an audio commentary, interviews and more.

Also due March 12 is Peter Glenville’s The Prisoner (1955), which was nominated for five BAFTAs, including best film. The tense drama puts Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins in a room and has them square off in mental battle that tests the human spirit. Special features include a new video appreciation on the Oscar winning Guinness from author and academic Neil Sinyard.

Coming March 19 is a new 2K restoration of Strip Nude for Your Killer, an Italian giallo about a series of vicious murders in a Milanese fashion house that leave Edwige Fenech and Nino Castelnuovo to solve the case. Special features include a new audio commentary by horrorpedia.com’s Adrian J. Smith and David Flint, video essays, interviews, two versions of the opening scene, and an image gallery.

Finally, on March 26 comes the boxed set Blood Hunger: The Films of Jose Larraz, which contains three films — Whirlpool, Vampyres and The Coming of Sin — from the early part of director Jose Ramon Larraz’s career. All films come newly restored in 2K with new bonus features.