Historical Drama ‘Blood on the Crown’ Due on DVD June 15

The historical drama Blood on the Crown will debut on DVD June 15 from Distribution Solutions and Electric Entertainment.

It is available now via TVOD.

Directed by Davide Ferrario (After Midnight, We All Fall Down), the film stars Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, Mozart in the Jungle) and Harvey Keitel (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction) in the portrayal of the events of the Sette Giugno, when civil unrest on the archipelago of Malta went from a simmer to a hard boil.

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Based on actual events, Blood on the Crown tells the story of how Maltese citizens fought for their independence against England in 1919 — a deadly rebellion covered up for nearly 100 years. Immediately following the end of World War I, the Maltese people united in an uprising for their country’s independence against the British. A small number of soldiers were sent to quell the rioting protesters, whose numbers had reached the thousands. Blood spilled in the streets when the British Army gunned down unarmed protesters. The large number of casualties and the imprisonment of more than 115 Maltese citizens were an embarrassment to the British Army.

The Sette Giugno is now a Maltese national holiday.

The Irishman

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 11/24/20;
Criterion;
Drama;
$29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive language and strong violence.
Stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Stephen Graham, Harvey Keitel.

Lest anyone accuse Martin Scorsese of glamorizing gangsters, he presents The Irishman, a screed against the criminal lifestyle.

The film is based on the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses, a recounting of the life of mafia hitman Frank Sheeran, the man who claims to have killed Jimmy Hoffa, the union boss whose disappearance in 1975 became one of the 20th century’s great mysteries.

The subject matter is fodder for Scorsese, who assembles a cast of mob-movie all-stars to deliver another highly entertaining trip into the inner workings of the criminal underworld. This includes usual Scorsese collaborators such as Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci (who was coaxed out of retirement to appear). It is somehow also the first teaming of Al Pacino with Scorsese despite both being famously associated with the mafia movie genres.

The film, which earned a slew of Oscar nominations after debuting on Netflix in 2019, is lengthy at three-and-a-half hours, but is briskly paced enough to hold one’s attention. Of course, the nature of home video also allows viewers to pause the movie whenever they want, giving Scorsese plenty of leeway to indulge himself.

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De Niro stars as Sheeran, the ‘Irishman’ of the title, a truck driver who gets drawn into the mafia as an enforcer. He eventually becomes a trusted ally of Teamster president Hoffa (Al Pacino), a friendship that comes to a head when Hoffa’s actions run afoul of the mafia’s leadership.

The extended running time not only allows the audience time to get to know the characters, but it also allows Scorsese to hone in on an aspect of criminal life that wasn’t central to his earlier works in the genre: What happens to the violent gangsters who manage not to get killed and end up growing old? Was their life of crime still worth it once they realize what they had to leave behind to achieve it?

As if to carry the point home, Scorsese makes a point to pause the introductions of several minor characters to display an on-screen graphic describing their fates, which usually involves a horrific, violent death.

On the subject of aging, the film famously made extensive use of de-aging visual effects software in order to allow the elderly stars to play the younger versions of their characters since the film spans several decades. Scorsese in the Blu-ray’s bonus materials says the technology was vital to his deciding to direct the film, as he didn’t want to have to cast younger actors for the earlier scenes and only work with De Niro for half the movie. The results are subtle if not always perfect, but they don’t hamper the effectiveness of the film at all.

Because of the film’s length, Criterion has made the Blu-ray of The Irishman a two-disc set, with the entirety of the movie presented as the only content on the first disc. All the bonus materials are on the second disc and they do a good job of taking viewers behind the scenes of the film. Both discs come in a handsome fold-out slipcover with some beautiful painted artwork of De Niro and Pacino, plus a booklet with an essay about the film.

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In addition to the film’s trailers, the extras include a 36-minute “Making The Irishman” featurette that covers all the aspects of the production.

Film history fans will get a kick out of the 19-minute “Table for Four” featurette, a roundtable conversation between Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci as they discuss their careers and how they came together for this movie.

Also interesting is the 21-and-a-half-minute “Gangsters’ Requiem,” a video essay about the evolution of Scorsese’s career and how his previous works are reflected in The Irishman.

A five-minute “Anatomy of a Scene” video features Scorsese providing commentary on the Frank Sheeran Appreciation Night scene.

The film’s visual effects techniques are expanded upon in the 13-minute “The Evolution of Digital De-Aging as Seen in The Irishman” featurette, which was originally a Netflix promotional piece.

Finally, there are a couple of archival videos that the filmmakers used in re-creating historic events: a six-minute interview with an elderly Sheeran, and a 17-and-a-half minute news profile of Hoffa by David Brinkley in 1963.

‘Fatima’ Coming to Digital Oct. 13, DVD Oct. 27 From Universal

Picturehouse’s historical drama Fatima will come out on digital Oct. 13 and DVD Oct. 27 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film is based on the story of one of the Catholic Church’s most fabled places of pilgrimage. In 1917, outside the parish of Fátima, Portugal, a 10-year-old girl and her two younger cousins witness multiple visitations of the Virgin Mary, who tells them that only prayer and suffering will bring an end to World War I. Word of the sighting spreads across the country, inspiring religious pilgrims to flock to the site in hopes of witnessing a miracle. The film stars Goran Višnjić (Beginners), Joaquim de Almeida (“Queen of the South”), Stephanie Gil (Terminator: Dark Fate), Lúcia Moniz (Love, Actually), with Golden Globe nominee Sônia Braga (Aquarius) and Academy Award nominee Harvey Keitel (The Piano).

Fatima also features two songs from the world-renowned Italian operatic tenor and Grammy Award-nominee Andrea Bocelli. The songs, “Gloria” and lead single “Gratia Plena,” a new original song composed for the movie by Paolo Buonvino, are also featured on the film’s soundtrack album, which debuted at retailers nationwide on Aug. 28.

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Bonus features on digital and DVD include a look into the recording of “Gratia Plena,” featurettes, and interviews with the cast and crew that take audiences behind the scenes.

Kino Unveils ‘Mo’ Better Blues,’ ‘Jungle Fever’ and Other Spike Lee Classics on Blu-ray

Kino Lorber Studio Classics has released on Blu-ray five films by director Spike Lee, Mo’ Better BluesJungle Fever, Crooklyn, Clockers and Summer of Sam.

Summer of Sam is also available on DVD.

Each Blu-ray includes optional English subtitles as well as the theatrical trailer for the film. CrooklynClockers and Summer of Sam all include 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Lossless Stereo audio options. Mo’ Better Blues and Clockers both include a new audio commentary by film critic Kameron Austin Collins. Summer of Sam also includes “Fear City,” a new interview with John Leguizamo, and audio commentary by Lee and Leguizamo.

Mo’ Better Blues (1990) follows talented trumpeter Bleek Gilliam (Denzel Washington) who’s obsessed by his music and indecisive about his two girlfriends (Joie Lee and Cynda Williams). But when he has to come to the aid of his manager and childhood friend (Lee), Bleek finds his world more fragile than he ever imagined. The cast also includes Wesley Snipes, Giancarlo Esposito, Robin Harris, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, Nicholas Turturro, Samuel L. Jackson, Charlie Murphy, Abbey Lincoln and Rubén Blades.

Jungle Fever (1991) explores the provocative consequences of interracial relationships. African American architect Flipper Purify (Wesley Snipes) begins an affair with his working-class Italian American secretary, Angie Tucci (Annabella Sciorra), which causes them to be scrutinized by their friends, cast out from their families and shunned by their neighbors. The film also stars Lee, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Anthony Quinn, John Turturro, Samuel L. Jackson, Halle Berry, Tim Robbins, Lonette McKee, Frank Vincent, Brad Dourif, Nicholas Turturro, Michael Imperioli, Michael Badalucco, Debi Mazar, Theresa Randle, Rick Aiello, Miguel Sandoval and Charlie Murphy. It features music by Stevie Wonder.

Crooklyn (1994) is a semi-autobiographical portrait of a schoolteacher, her stubborn jazz musician husband and their five kids living in Brooklyn in 1973. The film follows the Carmichael family as they experience one very special summer in their Brooklyn neighborhood that they’ve affectionately nicknamed Crooklyn. Lee fashions a bold, flavorful picture of family life starring the wonderful Alfre Woodard as Carolyn, a loving, but fiercely independent mother who, along with her musician husband Woody (Delroy Lindo), struggles to raise their family in difficult but often wonderful circumstances. The supporting cast includes Lee, David Patrick Kelly, Zelda Harris, Isaiah Washington, José Zúñiga and Vondie Curtis-Hall.

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Clockers (1995) is a crime-drama based on a book by Richard Price (The Wanderers), who co-wrote the screenplay with Lee. A “clocker” is a 24-hour drug dealer, and Strike (Mekhi Phifer) is the hardest-working one on the streets. But for Strike, time is running out. When the local drug kingpin tips Strike off about an opportunity for advancement, a rival dealer ends up dead, and Strike suddenly finds himself caught between two homicide detectives. One is Mazilli (John Turturro), who’s only looking for an easy bust. The other is Rocco (Harvey Keitel), who’s looking for something much harder to find-the truth-and when Strike’s law-abiding brother confesses to the murder, Rocco vows not to rest until he’s sure the real shooter is behind bars. The film also includes performances by Delroy Lindo, Keith David, Isaiah Washington, Regina Taylor and Michael Imperioli.

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Summer of Sam (1999) is Lee’s take on the “Son of Sam” murders in New York City during the summer of 1977, centering on the residents of an Italian-American Bronx neighborhood who live in fear and distrust of one another. The heat is soaring to record highs, blackouts are filling the streets with looters and the murders of a man who calls himself the Son of Sam are gripping the city in fear. As friends in a small Bronx community become obsessed with the idea that the Son of Sam is someone nearby, the madman’s fearsome plague of terror becomes the catalyst that prompts relationships to fall apart and trust to disintegrate into dread. The film stars John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, Mira Sorvino, Jennifer Esposito, Michael Rispoli, Bebe Neuwirth, Patti LuPone, Mike Starr, Anthony LaPaglia and Ben Gazzara.

Romero-Argento Horror Compilation ‘Two Evil Eyes’ Due on Blu-ray Oct. 29 From MVD and Blue Underground

Two Evil Eyes, featuring a pair of shockers inspired by the tales of Edgar Allan Poe from directors George Romero and Dario Argento, will come out in a three-disc, limited-edition Blu-ray plus CD set from MVD Entertainment Group and Blue Underground.

In Romero’s The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar, a conniving wife (Adrienne Barbeau) and her lover use a hypnotic trance to embezzle a fortune from her dying husband, only to receive some chilling surprises from beyond the grave. In Argento’s The Black Cat, a deranged crime scene photographer (Harvey Keitel) is driven to brutal acts of madness and murder by his girlfriend’s new pet.

Martin Balsam, E.G. Marshall, John Amos and Tom Atkins co-star.

In celebration of its 30th Anniversary, Blue Underground presents Two Evil Eyes in a new 4K restoration from its original camera negative.

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Bonus features include new audio commentary with Troy Howarth, author of Murder By Design: The Unsane Cinema of Dario Argento; the theatrical trailer; a poster and still gallery; “Two Masters’ Eyes,” featuring interviews with Argento and Romero, special make-up effects supervisor Tom Savini, executive producer Claudio Argento and Asia Argento; “Savini’s EFX,” a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s special make-up effects; “At Home With Tom Savini,” a personal tour of Savini’s home; “Adrienne Barbeau on George Romero”; “Before I Wake,” a new interview with star Ramy Zada; “Behind the Wall,” a new interview with star Madeleine Potter; “One Maestro and Two Masters,” a new interview with composer Pino Donaggio; “Rewriting Poe,” a new interview with co-writer Franco Ferrini; “The Cat Who Wouldn’t Die,” a new interview with assistant director Luigi Cozzi; “Two Evil Brothers,” a new interview with special make-up assistant Everett Burrell; and “Working With George,” a new interview with costume designer Barbara Anderson.

The set also includes a CD with the original motion picture soundtrack by Donaggio and a collectable booklet with a new essay by Michael Gingold.

Lionsgate Releasing ‘Last Man’ on Home Video March 12

Lionsgate will release the apocalyptic thriller The Last Man on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally March 12. The film is currently available on demand.

Hayden Christensen stars as a vet suffering from PTSD who takes the advice of a street prophet (Harvey Keitel) and starts preparing for the end of days. He then meets the sultry Jessica (Liz Solari) and finds that as the planet falls apart, his life finally starts to come together.