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.

Kino Lorber Launches Kino Now VOD Service

Arthouse distributor Kino Lorber is launching a transactional VOD platform, Kino Now, showcasing more than 600 new releases, classics, and award-winning international films.

Titles are available for digital rental and purchase.

An additional 600 films will be added over the next several months, according to the company.

Kino Now will also offer exclusive early access to new theatrical releases, festival hits and exclusive titles not available on other streaming platforms or not yet available on home video, according to Kino Lorber.

The platform will also include special “bundle” offerings of selected hard-to-find titles as well as collections from renowned filmmakers. Collections include themes such as “Episodic Cinema,” featuring international TV series (including “Deutschland 83,” and the Emmy Award-nominated “Bad Banks”); Documentary Series & Extended Play (including Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth); Auteur Collections built around filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard, Lina Wertmüller and Fritz Lang; and the Pioneers of Cinema restorations of the early works of African American filmmakers and the first women filmmakers.

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The Playlist section will soon recommend personalized, specially curated selections that will be regularly updated, tied in with major international film festivals, holidays and cultural events, according to Kino Lorber.

They will also be curated around themes such as Italian, French and German cinema, Hispanic Heritage, Festival Winners & Oscar Runs, Euro Horror, Director’s Spotlights, First Films, and Staff Picks.

The site will be annually refreshed with more than 50 new theatrical releases from Kino Lorber’s first run and repertory divisions and more than 500 yearly additional titles as “festival direct” exclusives and indie art house digital premieres, according to the company.

“We’ve been leaders in building a direct to consumer business with physical media and now is the time to assert our leadership in the direct to digital space,” said Richard Lorber, president and CEO of Kino Lorber, in a statement. “Our superb library will be continually enhanced by the coming of newly acclaimed and award winning theatrical releases. We believe a younger generation of cinema lovers will embrace our collection as a kind of art house iTunes with Kino Now putting at their fingertips cinema masterworks of the past and the classics of tomorrow.”

New titles coming soon to Kino Now include Rick Alverson’s The Mountain, starring Tye Sheridan and Jeff Goldblum; Chinese auteur Bi Gan’s box office hit Long Day’s Journey into Night; Lila Avilés’ The Chambermaid (Mexico’s current official Oscar submission); Franco Rosso’s 1980s British reggae hit Babylon; and international documentaries such as Walking on Water, an intimate portrait of the artist Christo, and the climate change film Anthropocene: The Human Epoch.

Current selections include new arthouse hits such as Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini (starring Willem Dafoe), and Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt’s Diamantino; new restorations of repertory re-releases, such as Frank Simon’s queer drag classic The Queen; critically-acclaimed documentaries such as Alexandra Dean’s Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, Matt Tyrnauer’s Studio 54, and Pamela Green’s Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché; and classics of world cinema from directors such as Jean-Luc Godard (AlphavilleThe Image Book), Jean-Pierre Melville (Bob le Flambeur), Alain Resnais (Last Year at Marienbad), and a collection of seven films by Lina Wertmüller, the first woman nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director and upcoming recipient of the Academy Honorary Award.

The service is available on Roku and will be available soon on AppleTV, Amazon Fire, and more, according to Kino Lorber.

‘Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami’ Documentary Due on Disc Aug. 14 From Kino Lorber

The documentary Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami will debut Aug. 14 from Kino Lorber on Blu-ray and DVD.

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami

A journey through the public and private worlds of pop culture mega-icon Grace Jones, the documentary contrasts musical sequences with intimate personal footage, highlighting Jones’s bold aesthetic. Director Sophie Fiennes’s documentary goes beyond the traditional music biography, going home with Jones to Jamaica, into the studio with long-time collaborators Sly & Robbie and backstage at gigs around the world. The film includes performances of “Slave to the Rhythm,” “Pull Up to the Bumper,” “Love Is the Drug” and more.

Special features on the DVD ($29.95) and Blu-ray ($34.95) include audio commentary with Jones, Fiennes and associate professor of Africana studies Judith Casselberry; audio commentary with Fiennes and critic Ian Haydn Smith; and a Q&A with Jones and Fiennes moderated by Piotr Orlov (courtesy of the Film Society of Lincoln Center).