‘Moonstruck,’ Girlfriends’ ‘Ghost Dog’ Getting Criterion Re-releases in November

The Criterion Collection in November will release new Blu-ray and DVD editions of catalog titles Moonstruck, Girlfriends and Ghost Dog.

Arriving Nov. 10 on Blu-ray and DVD is the 1978 comedy Girlfriends from director Claudia Weill. Melanie Mayron stars as a struggling artist who considers a fling with a married, older rabbi (Eli Wallach).

The film comes with a new, restored 4K digital transfer supervised by Weill and director of photography Fred Murphy, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include new interviews with Weill, Mayron, actors Christopher Guest and Bob Balaban, screenwriter Vicki Polon; Joyce at 34, a 1972 short film by Weill and Joyce Chopra; Commuters, a 1973 short film by Weill; the film’s trailer; and essays by critic Molly Haskell and scholar Carol Gilligan.

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The new Moonstruck Blu-ray and DVD editions arrive Nov. 17 with a new 4K digital restoration, and a 5.1 surround DTS-HD master audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

The film stars Cher in an Oscar-winning role as Loretta, an unlucky-in-love bookkeeper whose feelings about her engagement to the staid Johnny (Danny Aiello) are thrown into question after she meets his hot-blooded brother, Ronny (Nicolas Cage). The film also won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress for Olympia Dukakis), and Best Original Screenplay for playwright John Patrick Shanley.

Extras include a new interview with Shanley; a new interview with scholar Stefano Albertini about the use of opera in the film; an introduction from 2013 featuring Cher; interviews from 1987 with director Norman Jewison and actors Cher, Nicolas Cage, Vincent Gardenia and Olympia Dukakis; an interview from 2002 with actor Danny Aiello; an audio interview from 1989 with Shanley about screenwriting and the development of Moonstruck; “At the Heart of an Italian Family,” a 2006 program about the making of the film; “The Music of Moonstruck,” a 2006 program featuring interviews with Jewison and composer Dick Hyman; audio commentary from 1998 with Cher, Jewison and Shanley; the film’s trailer; and an essay by critic Emily VanDerWerff.

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Also due Nov. 17 on Blu-ray and DVD, 1999’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, directed by Jim Jarmusch, stars Forest Whitaker as a Zen contract killer working for a bumbling mob outfit, a modern man who adheres steadfastly to the ideals of the Japanese warrior code even as chaos and violence spiral around him.

The film comes with a restored 4K digital transfer supervised and approved by Jarmusch, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, as well as an alternate isolated stereo music track. Extras include a new Q&A with Jarmusch, in which he responds to questions sent in by fans; new conversation between actors Forest Whitaker and Isaach De Bankolé, moderated by film scholar Michael B. Gillespie; a new interview with casting director Ellen Lewis; a new interview with Shifu Shi Yan Ming, founder of the USA Shaolin Temple; a new video essay on RZA’s original score for the film; deleted scenes and outtakes; archival itnerviews; “The Odyssey: A Journey into the Life of a Samurai,” a 2000 program on the making of the film; the film’s trailer; and an essay by critic Greg Tate and quotations from Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, by the early-18th century monk Yamamoto Tsunetomo.

Mill Creek Releasing 20th Anniversary Blu-ray of ‘Battlefield Earth’

Mill Creek Entertainment will release a 20th anniversary Blu-ray Disc of the 2000 sci-fi movie Battlefield Earth Sept. 15.

Based on L. Ron Hubbard’s best-selling book, the story takes place in the year 3000 where Earth is ruled by a vicious alien race known as the Psychlos that have stripped the planet of its resources and eradicated most the human population. One of the few surviving humans, Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (Barry Pepper) is in pursuit of a better place to live, but is soon captured by a Psychlo slavemaster to join fellow “man-animals” in mining efforts. Jonnie eventually gains the attention of the evil Psychlo security officer Terl (John Travolta) and his assistant Ker (Forest Whitaker) who have discovered a vein of gold which they are unable to recover without the assistance of humans. While Terl attempts to makes Jonnie his personal slave, Jonnie uses his position to rally the other humans and unite in a plot to destroy the aliens and restore the human race to its former glory.

A notorious box office flop in its day, Battlefield Earth received seven Razzie Awards, including Worst Picture.

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The new Blu-ray will include more than 70 minutes of new bonus interviews and featurettes, including:

  • “Leverage: Writing the First Draft” — A new interview with screenwriter J.D. Shapiro;
  • “Saga in the Year 2000: Directing Battlefield Earth” — A new interview with director Roger Christian;
  • “Endangered Species: Scoring Battlefield Earth” — A new interview with composer Elia Cmiral;
  • “Domes and Drones: Creating the Miniatures” — A new interview with model maker E. James Small;
  • “Psychlo Circus: Designing Battlefield Earth” — New select scene commentary with production designer Patrick Tatopoulos.

 

Thrillers ‘Possession,’ ‘Haven’ and ‘Even Money’ Available in April on Disc and Digital From MVD

Three thrillers, Possession, Haven and Even Money, are available in April on Blu-ray, DVD and digital from MVD Entertainment Group.

Possession (2008), a U.S. remake of the Korean thriller Addicted, stars Sarah Michelle Gellar (The Grudge and The Grudge 2) along with Lee Pace (TV’s “Pushing Daisies”) and Michael Landes (Lakeview Terrace). Newlyweds Jess (Gellar) and Ryan (Landes) seem to have it all until a car accident renders both Ryan and his brother Roman (Pace) comatose. Things spin even more eerily out of control when Roman awakens and tries to convince Jess that he is her husband. Bonus features include a making-of featurette with Gellar, deleted and alternate scenes, the original theatrical trailer, and reversible artwork with an alternative cover.

Haven (2006) comes from the producers of the Academy Award Winning Crash and Dallas Buyers Club. On the idyllic shores of the Cayman Islands, Shy (Orlando Bloom, “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy”) and Andrea (Zoe Saldana, Guardians of the Galaxy) share a secret her parents can never know — they are in love. But a night of passion leads to their discovery and a devastating act of vengeance by Andrea’s brother (Anthony Mackie, Captain America: Civil War). Meanwhile, a shady American businessman (Bill Paxton, Aliens) has fled with his daughter to the Islands to avoid federal prosecution, only to be drawn into a dangerous web of deceit. Bonus features include a making-of featurette and the original theatrical trailer. It’s the first time the film has been released on Blu-ray.

Even Money (2007) features Kim Basinger, Forest Whitaker and Danny Devito in a story that follows the lives of nine individuals as their fates become increasingly entwined in a web of addiction and gambling, culminating at one critical moment where their lives will be lost or reclaimed. Struggling writer Kate (Basinger) loses her family’s savings at a casino; a washed-up magician (Devito) tries to help Carol regain her money; Clyde (Whitaker) owes so much money to his dangerous bookie (Jay Mohr) that he asks his NBA-destined nephew (Nick Cannon) to throw the game. The film also stars Kelsey Grammer, Tim Roth, Ray Liotta and Carla Gugino. It’s the first time the film has been released on Blu-ray.

The Shield: The Complete Series

Fans of “The Shield” won’t want to miss this new Blu-ray edition of the gritty cop drama, featuring all 88 episodes remastered into a nice-looking high-definition presentation that maintains the raw, textured look that helped give the series its unique flavor. Michael Chiklis shines as corrupt cop Vic Mackey, who set the stage for the arrival of some of television’s great antiheroes in the years to come. 

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Mill Creek;
Drama;
$229.98 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Michael Chiklis, Catherine Dent, Reed Diamond, Walton Goggins, Michael Jace, Kenny Johnson, Jay Karnes, Benito Martinez, CCH Pounder, Glenn Close, Cathy Cahlin Ryan, David Rees Snell, Paula Garcés, David Marciano, Forest Whitaker.

Before “Mad Men.” Before “Breaking Bad.” Before “Fargo.” There was “The Shield.”

The gritty 2002-08 cop drama put FX on the map for original content and helped turn basic cable into a hub of prestige television, before Netflix and other streaming services would come along to further blur the lines of distribution.

The show focused on an LAPD precinct in a fictional, gang-ridden neighborhood of Los Angeles. The division serves as the headquarters for an anti-crime strike team led by Det. Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), a corrupt cop whose thuggish methods draw the ire of his captain and internal affairs. However, his ends-justify-the-means approach to law enforcement earned him a reputation as an antihero among viewers who resented the characters tasked with bringing him down in the name of doing things by the book. This made him somewhat of a precursor to complicated but morally ambiguous characters such as Don Draper and Walter White who would become icons of the new Golden Age of Television that emerged in the early 21st century.

Mill Creek’s new Blu-ray edition of the show features all 88 episodes remastered in 4K from the original 16mm film elements, preserving the grainy texture that reinforces the series’ gritty flavor.

The 18-disc set includes all seven seasons and two bonus discs, carrying over bonus materials from previous DVD releases from Fox and Sony Pictures. The discs come in sturdy digibook packaging with a slipcover containing a magnetic clasp to hold everything in nice and snug.

The episodes aren’t offered with a “play all” mode, which might annoy some binge-minded viewers. Episodes can be viewed with an optional commentary and many include deleted scenes.

The final disc includes three new extras that take a look back at the show 10 years after its finale.

First up is a 2018 cast reunion with series creator Shawn Ryan that runs about 56 minutes and gives most of the actors a chance to reflect on what drew them to the show and what made it connect with fans.

The hour-long “ATX Festival Panel: The Shield Writers Room” features a 2016 gathering of many of the show’s writers, who discuss how it redefined what basic cable was able to achieve in terms of providing an avenue for storytelling akin to what HBO was doing at the time.

Finally, the 19-minute “Beyond the Badge” retrospective offers more of a typical look-back of interviews mixed with series highlights.

“The Shield”

Black Panther

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 5/15/18;
Disney/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $694 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, 39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture.
Stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis.

Black Panther is a prime example of the effectiveness the superhero genre can have in drawing upon the mythological aspects of comic book storytelling to provide a thought-provoking allegory for modern times that is both powerful and entertaining.

Director Ryan Coogler’s entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the 18th film to enter the canon) is one of those films that presents a distinct point of view yet is also likely to be differently interpreted based on the mindset of the viewer, to the degree that deciphering its true message should spark a wide array of debates for some time to come. But, at its core, as a character-driven superhero action blockbuster, the film ranks among the most memorable and well-crafted in the genre, with the most pressing factor of its ultimate ranking on any best-of lists likely to be predominately determined by one’s own personal connection to the characters and story.

Not unlike the “Thor” movies, but more compelling and grounded, the story is driven by Shakespearean family drama, in this case centered on the character of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), who was introduced in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.

Picking up from the events of that film, T’Challa must return to his home country of Wakanda to assume the mantle of king.

As the centerpiece of one of the film’s primary motifs of things hiding in plain sight, the tiny African nation presents itself as a poor third-world nation, but in actuality is a technologically advanced civilization fueled by a magical element that crashed into Earth long ago.

T’Challa’s reign is soon threatened by a long-lost cousin (Michael B. Jordan) who grew up in America after a devastating fallout between T’Challa’s father and uncle, and resents that Wakanda never sought to help the global plight of the descendants of Africa.

Black Panther does a good job incorporating traditional African tribal culture and the natural beauty of the continent into a strong “what if” scenario involving a mighty African kingdom that had control of its own resources and avoided the imperialism of the past few centuries.

The film invites comparisons to The Lion King for its rich visual and musical representation of Africa. Yet Coogler is also adept at presenting the sci-fi elements of the story, from Wakanda’s technical marvels and vast cityscapes, to an energizing action setpiece in South Korea.

Black Panther also presents strong representation for women, from the spunky intelligence of T’Challa’s sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), who spearheads of the designs of Wakanda’s new technologies; to Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), T’Challa’s love interest and a savvy Wakandan spy; to the fierce Okoye (Danai Gurira), who commands a fighting force of female Wakandan warriors who would give Wonder Woman’s Amazons a run for their money.

The Blu-ray contains a number of good extras aimed at fans of both the film and the comic book Black Panther. Primary among these is a 20-minute roundtable discussion between Coogler, the film’s producers and some of the writers of the “Black Panther” comic book over the past few decades.

Coogler also offers an introduction to the film and an insightful commentary track that imparts some deeper meaning on some of the character dynamics.

The Blu-ray also includes four deleted scenes that expand a few aspects of the story.

In addition, the disc includes 25 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes and a two-minute gag reel. There’s also a nine-minute retrospective of the MCU’s 10-year history, plus a two-minute preview of the next film, Ant-Man and the Wasp, which hits theaters July 6.

The digital versions include exclusive Wakandan travel ads, plus a featurette about the fight training for the film’s stunts.

Lionsgate Sets May 15 Home Release Date for ‘The Forgiven’

Lionsgate has set a May 15 home release date for The Forgiven, starring Forest Whitaker and Eric Bana.

The British drama film is set in post-apartheid South Africa and depicts Bishop Desmond Tutu’s meetings with Piet Blomfeld, a brutal murderer seeking redemption.

Based on real events, and directed by Academy Award nominee Roland Joffé (1986, Best Director, The Mission; 1984, Best Director, The Killing Fields), The Forgiven will be available on Blu-ray Disc (with digital) and DVD for the suggested retail price of $21.99 and $19.98, respectively. It also will be available on digital.

The film premiered at the London Film Festival on Oct. 13, 2017. It was also shown as the closing film at the Pan African Film Festival on Feb. 19 and was shown at the Belgrade Film Festival on Feb. 28 before being released in the United States on March 9.