Action Adventure ‘Moonfall’ Arriving on Digital April 1, Disc April 26

Action-adventure director Roland Emmerich’s Moonfall arrives on digital April 1 and on 4K Ultra HD combo pack (plus Blu-ray and digital), Blu-ray combo pack (plus DVD and digital), DVD, and on demand April 26 from Lionsgate.

Emmerich (Midway, “Independence Day” franchise) and writers Emmerich, Harald Kloser and Spenser Cohen, the film stars Halle Berry (Monsters Ball, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum), Patrick Wilson (Midway, “The Conjuring” franchise), John Bradley (TV’s “Game of Thrones,” Marry Me), Michael Peña (TV’s “Narcos,” Fantasy Island),  Charlie Plummer (Lean on Pete, Spontaneous), Kelly Yu (TV’s “Lost Promise”), Eme Ikwuakor (TV’s “On My Block,” “Inhumans”), Carolina Bartczak (TV’s upcoming “Painkiller”), and Donald Sutherland (“The Hunger Games” franchise, TV’s “The Undoing”).
 
In Moonfall, a mysterious force knocks the moon from its orbit around Earth and sends it hurtling on a collision course with life as we know it. With mere weeks before impact and the world on the brink of annihilation, NASA executive and former astronaut Jo Fowler (Berry) is convinced she has the key to saving the world, but only one astronaut from her past, Brian Harper (Wilson), and conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (Bradley) believe her. They mount an impossible last-ditch mission into space. 

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Special features include audio commentary by Emmerich and writer/producer/composer Harald Kloser; “Against Impossible Odds: Making Moonfall“; “Exploring the Moon: Past, Present, and Future,” which covers what we have learned about the moon through the ages; “K.C. Houseman Speaks the Truth!,”  featuring recent viral videos from megastructurist K.C. Houseman; and “Sounds of the Moon,” which covers how the filmmakers utilized sound effects to bring the world inside of the moon to life.

‘Ordinary People’ to Join ‘Paramount Presents’ Blu-ray Line March 29

Robert Redford’s 1980 directorial debut, Ordinary People, will arrive on Blu-ray as part of the “Paramount Presents” line March 29 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Winner of four Academy Awards — including Best Picture, Best Director (Redford), Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Alvin Sargent), and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Timothy Hutton) — the film stars Hutton, Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore as a family being torn apart by tragedy and the unrelenting pressure to maintain a façade of normalcy. It was Hutton’s first film role and his performance not only earned him the Oscar, but it also made him the youngest person to win in the category.  

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Remastered from a new 4K film transfer overseen by Redford, the “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray is presented in collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments.  The disc also includes new interviews with Hutton and Judith Guest, author of the novel upon which the movie was based. In “Swimming in the Rose Garden,” Hutton reflects on filming and the approach Redford took to create a feeling of isolation on set. In “Feeling Is Not Selective,” Guest discusses her novel and the process involved in adapting it for film.

‘The Burnt Orange Heresy’ Due on Digital and Disc Aug. 25

The action thriller The Burnt Orange Heresy is coming to digital, DVD and Blu-ray Aug. 25 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the Sony Pictures Classics film, charming and ambitious art critic James Figueras (Claes Bang), has fallen from grace. He spends his days in Milan lecturing witless tourists about art history. His only glimmer of hope is a new-found love interest, the enigmatic American Berenice Hollis (Elizabeth Debicki). An opportunity strikes when he is contacted by the wealthy art dealer Joseph Cassidy (Mick Jagger) who summons James to his villa on Lake Como and asks him to steal a painting from the legendary reclusive artist Jerome Debney (Donald Sutherland). Soon, James’ greed and ambition get the better of him, and he finds himself caught in a web of his own making.

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Extras on disc and digital include commentary with director Giuseppe Capotondi and “Behind The Burnt Orange Heresy,” in which stars Bang and Debicki explore their characters, Mick Jagger’s turn as Cassidy in his first film role in nearly 20 years, and Donald Sutherland as the reclusive artist at the heart of the film.

Klute

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Criterion;
Drama;
$29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R.’
Stars Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Roy Scheider, Charles Cioffi.

Released in relatively stealth fashion during a unforgettable movie summer in 1971 that put and puts the last 10 (at least) to shame, Alan J. Pakula’s Klute is a psychological drama wrapped in thriller/mystery trappings rather than a thriller/mystery per se — which possibly resulted in its being underrated at the time. Don’t get me wrong: Almost everyone save Jane Fonda bashers thought it some degree of good or better. But speaking for myself and not in isolation, it paled somewhat next to the concurrently released McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Carnal Knowledge and Walkabout (and let’s not forget that Two-Lane Blacktop is pretty close to a deity to the carburetor set and/or blackbelt cultists).

Blasting out of the gate with a new 4K remastering of Gordon Willis’s trademark anti-solar cinematography, Criterion’s new Klute release is one of the best-produced Blu-rays I’ve ever seen (Susan Arosteguy). And its combined package of nary-a-dud bonus extras now pounds it into me how unusual this film was — though credit as well half-a-century of the Women’s Movement, which was more or less in its torch-lighting phase around the time Klute came out, especially in and around where I had the good historical fortune to be: NYU. Of course, it always had what seems even more impressive today: an Oscar-winning Fonda performance that is among the significant ones of the modern screen era.

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Criterion always seems to know what kind of supplemental material we want to see and, equally important, how or where to get them — so we get two remarkable Fonda interviews, conducted decades apart, that artfully operate in tandem here. The first was when she was young, pregnant and amid a personal political controversy (“Hanoi Jane”) that has abated only a sliver to this day. The other sit-down is a recent one, conducted by Illeana Douglas specifically for this release, in which Fonda (who is really smart regardless of where you stand on her politics, which were mostly way ahead of their time) talks about what she went through to research the role. And how she wanted to bolt the project on the eve of shooting because weeks spent with real-deal parties had convinced her that no one would accept her as a call girl.

This is what her “Brie” character is and a New York one as well, though she’s moved from more fashionable clientele and digs in a better part of town to something a few rungs down — she’s by no means a street person, or barely better, which is what some of her old colleagues have become. This is the New York before Giuliani turned it into Disney World (no value judgments here; I like Disney World) when “litter” was a cottage industry and even on the Upper West Side where I lived, I could see a guy urinating in the street late at night as I came home to my apartment after a double feature at the New Yorker or Thalia rep movie houses, which all the NYU film students regarded as second homes. Into this world comes the title small-town cop (Donald Sutherland) hired to investigate the year-long disappearance of a friend and possible onetime Brie client. Hers is not a profession, though, where one remembers customer physical descriptions, even of the ones who beat her up.

There’s some evidence that the missing man is one who did just that, yet this kind of violence is or was against his character, depending on whether he’s now still alive. Beyond this, someone has been recently barraging Fonda with frightening phone calls (no caller I.D. in this era, folks), the kind where the caller breathes into the receiver like an asthma victim. Thus, Sutherland/Klute — whose backstory isn’t defined, which in this rare case, may be to the dramatic good — becomes both a sleuth and a bodyguard as the two odd acquaintances retrace her old haunts in an attempt to follow up on scanty hints. One of these involves a former pimp (compared to many, “polished”) played by Roy Scheider, about four months before he broke through with an eventually Oscar-nominated performance in The French Connection.

A major player in the movie is one john’s sinister-sounding collection of portable tape recordings of Brie/Fonda on the job, a techno side issue that became dramatically cutting-edge for its day (three years, even, before Coppola’s The Conversation). This eerie invasion of privacy subtext — and the participation of cinematographer of Willis on all three films — made Klute the first of Pakula’s oft-termed paranoia trilogy, preceding The Parallax View and All the President’s Men. (Parallax is nowhere to be found on Blu-ray because its rights controller is hapless Paramount, who’d prefer to bring out Grease XLVII if it could.) This was only Pakula’s second feature after a fairly distinguished producing career, and though Willis had already shot at least two worthy-plus commercial flops since his debut the year before, Klute was his first wave-maker. Visually and audibly (the picture has great mono sound and Michael Small scoring), the print caliber here is comparable to what might have been shown at the first critics’ screening in the Warner screening room, 1971.

What makes the movie (we know the mystery with an hour to go) is the manner in which it takes dramatically risky time to examine Brie’s very confused psyche. It’s divulged not just by her actions but by monologues to her psychiatrist — something we didn’t see much in major studio cop movies of the day (see Clint Eastwood’s thematic fourth cousin Coogan’s Bluff as a reference point). This is a person who’s totally confident in her trade where she controls the situation but an emotional shambles outside the bedroom — especially in actress/modeling auditions that end in rejection, even though from the evidence we see, she ought to be garnering more respect.

This is a woman who likes to needle and even ridicule cop Klute, who responds negatively just once. But he gets under her skin, and she sometimes feels an extremely cautious emotional attachment. In off hours, she ditches the party scene and curls up in bed with a hardback book — not the best choice, but this a crowd where you don’t see much reading oaf any kind; she’s stylish about her clothes but can’t keep the rubble off the floor of her apartment. Ultimately, all this is much closer to what the movie is really about, which is a major reason it has aged so well.

Michael Chapman was the camera operator here (I didn’t know that), and he supervised the transfer. Vanity Fair’s Amy Fine Collins gives the full rundown on the film’s fashions and Brie’s character-enhancing accoutrements, and delivers a massive amount of revelatory info seemingly off the top of her head. Pakula gets his day via a documentary that includes Annette Insdorf and Steven Soderbergh just for starters — and there’s a half-hour of the director on a Dick Cavett show right after his reunion with Fonda on Comes a Horseman (or “How To Look Fab Out on the Trail in Jeans and No Makeup”). Mark Harris wrote the essay (you don’t get any classier than that), and even the thrown-in promotional featurette that Warner did at the time is pretty good. (Where did these play? They were too long for a TV spot, and I never saw one in a theater — only several in 16mm years after the fact.)

Pakula had a much more scintillating visual style than his ex-partner Mulligan did, though I suppose that having Willis as cinematographer (he shot five of the 16 Pakula features) could have turned Lesley Selander into an auteur. Before his wretchedly flukish 1998 death on the Long Island Expressway, Pakula definitely had his share of bombs — several of which I’d like to see again for reevaluation. But he had a highly praised track record with actresses (Fonda, Meryl Streep, Maggie Smith, Liza Minnelli), which is noted on one or more of the bonus extras. Of course, with All the President’s Men (by far my favorite movie of his career), he didn’t do too shabbily with male actors, either.

Mike’s Picks: ‘Klute’ and ‘The Leopard Man’

Criterion July 2019 Slate Includes ‘1984,’ ‘Do the Right Thing’

Titles coming to the Criterion Collection in July 2019 will include Michael Radford’s 1984, Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, the Jane Fonda starrer Klute, Agnieszka Holland’s Europa Europa, the 1938 comedy The Baker’s Wife and a Blu-ray edition of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s BRD Trilogy.

July 9 (order date June 11) sees the Blu-ray release of the BRD Trilogy, a trio of films focused on the perspectives of three women in West Germany following World War II. The trilogy includes 1979’s The Marriage of Maria Braun, 1981’s Lola and 1982’s Veronika Voss. The films are in German with English subtitles

The set includes new 4K digital restorations of The Marriage of Maria Braun and Lola, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks; a high-definition digital restoration of Veronika Voss, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack; audio commentaries from 2003 featuring filmmaker Wim Wenders and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus (The Marriage of Maria Braun), film critic and author Tony Rayns (Veronika Voss), and film scholar Christian Braad Thomsen (Lola); interviews with actors Hanna Schygulla, Rosel Zech,and Barbara Sukowa; interviews with cinematographer Xaver Schwarzenberger, screenwriter Peter Märthesheimer and film scholar Eric Rentschler; Life Stories: A Conversation with R. W. Fassbinder, an interview filmed for German television in 1978; I Don’t Just Want You to Love Me, a feature-length 1992 documentary on Fassbinder’s life and career; Dance With Death, a program from 2000 about Ufa studios star Sybille Schmitz, Fassbinder’s inspiration for the character Veronika Voss; a conversation between author and curator Laurence Kardish and film editor Juliane Lorenz; trailers; plus an essay by film critic Kent Jones and production histories by author Michael Töteberg.

Also due July 9 on DVD and Blu-ray is 1990’s Europa Europa, the story of a 16-year-old German Jew separated from his family during World War II. The release includes a new 2K digital restoration supervised by director Agnieszka Holland, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include an audio commentary from 2008 featuring Holland; new interviews with Holland and actor Marco Hofschneider; a new video essay by film scholar Annette Insdorf; a new English subtitle translation; and an essay by critic Amy Taubin.

Due July 16 (order date June 18) on DVD and Blu-ray is 1971’s Klute, starring Jane Fonda as a call-girl and aspiring actress who becomes the focal point of a missing-person investigation when detective John Klute (Donald Sutherland) turns up at her door. The release includes a new, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by camera operator Michael Chapman, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a new conversation between actors Jane Fonda and Illeana Douglas; a new documentary about Klute and director Alan J. Pakula by filmmaker Matthew Miele, featuring scholars, filmmakers, and Pakula’s family and friends; “The Look of Klute,” a new interview with writer Amy Fine Collins; archival interviews with Pakula and Fonda; “Klute in New York,” a short documentary made during the shooting of the film; plus an essay by critic Mark Harris and excerpts from a 1972 interview with Pakula.

Also arriving DVD and Blu-ray July 16 is The Baker’s Wife, a comedy from playwright turned cinema auteur Marcel Pagnol, who draws a vivid portrait of a close-knit village where the marital woes of a sweetly deluded baker (Raimu) snowball into a scandal that engulfs the entire town. The release includes a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include selected-scene audio commentary featuring Pagnol scholar Brett Bowles; an introduction by Pagnol from 1967; an excerpt from a 1966 interview with Pagnol for the French television series “Cinéastes de notre temps”; a short French news program from 1967 revisiting the village of Le Castellet, where the film was shot; a new English subtitle translation; plus an essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau.

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Arriving July 23 (order date June 25) on Blu-ray and DVD is 1984, an adaptation of the George Orwell novel starring John Hurt and Suzanna Hamilton. The release includes a new 4K digital restoration supervised by cinematographer Roger Deakins, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include new interviews with director Michael Radford and Deakins; a new interview with David Ryan, author of George Orwell on Screen; behind-the-scenes footage; the film’s trailer; and an essay by writer and performer A. L. Kennedy.

Also arriving July 23 on Blu-ray and DVD is 1989’s Do the Right Thing. The release includes a new 4K digital restoration approved by cinematographer Ernest Dickerson, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include audio commentary from 1995 featuring director Spike Lee, Dickerson, production designer Wynn Thomas, and actor Joie Lee; introductions by Spike Lee; “Making Do the Right Thing,” a documentary from 1988 by St. Clair Bourne; new interviews with costume designer Ruth E. Carter, camera assistant Darnell Martin, New York City Council Member Robert Cornegy Jr., and writer Nelson George; an interview with editor Barry Alexander Brown from 2000; programs from 2000 and 2009 featuring Lee and members of the cast and crew; a music video for Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” directed by Spike Lee, with remarks from rapper Chuck D; behind-the-scenes footage; the Cannes Film Festival press conference from 1989; deleted and extended scenes; original storyboards, trailer, and TV spots; Plus an essay by critic Vinson Cunningham, and (on the Blu-ray) extensive excerpts from the journal Lee kept during the preparation for and production of the film.

‘Backdraft 2’ to Fire Up on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital May 14 From Universal

Action-drama Backdraft 2 will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital (including Movies Anywhere) May 14 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The sequel — from Universal 1440 Entertainment, the original content production arm of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Imagine Entertainment and Raffaella Productions — stars Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games franchise, Pride and Prejudice, Backdraft) and William Baldwin (MacGyver,” “Hawaii Five-O,” Backdraft) reprising their roles as Ronald Bartel and Brian McCaffrey, and welcomes franchise newcomer Joe Anderson (“Outsiders,” “Hannibal”).

Fire investigator Sean McCaffrey (Anderson), son of the late Steven “Bull” McCaffrey, is now working at the same Chicago firehouse along with his uncle Brian (Baldwin). When Sean is assigned to investigate a deadly fire, he and his partner Maggie soon realize that they are dealing with something much more than a routine blaze. With the help of infamous jailed arsonist Bartel (Sutherland), they race to find out who is behind the fire and stop them from accomplishing their devious plans.

The sequel also marks the return of the franchise’s original filmmakers, including producer Raffaella DeLaurentiis (Dragonheart franchise, What Happened to MondayThe Forbidden Kingdom), alongside writer and former firefighter Gregory Widen (BackdraftOtherLife). Backdraft 2 is directed by Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego (Apollo 18The Hollow Point).

Backdraft two-movie collection will also be available May 14 on DVD.