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.

‘Cinema Paradiso’ and ‘Tremors’ on 4K Among Arrow Titles Available on Disc From MVD

Cinema Paradiso, Tremors, Versus and the Shohei Imamura three-film collection Survivor Ballads are available this month on disc from MVD and Arrow Films.

A winner of awards across the world including the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, five BAFTA Awards, the Grand Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival and many more, Cinema Paradiso (1988) — available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD — is Giuseppe Tornatore’s loving homage to the cinema. It tells the story of Salvatore, a successful film director, returning home for the funeral of Alfredo, his old friend who was the projectionist at the local cinema throughout his childhood. Soon memories of his first love affair with the beautiful Elena and all the highs and lows that shaped his life come flooding back, as Salvatore reconnects with the community he left 30 years earlier. 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. This edition also includes the expanded director’s cut on Blu-ray, which delves deeper into Salvatore’s backstory. 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 with 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.

A 1950s-style humorous creature feature, Tremors (1990), available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray, is a cult classic that has spawned a successful franchise that continues to this day. In the film, good-ol’-boy handymen Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) are sick of their dead-end jobs in one-horse desert town Perfection, Nev. (population: 14). Just as they’re about to escape Perfection forever, however, things start to get really weird: half-eaten corpses litter the road out of town; the phone lines stop working; and a plucky young scientist shows evidence of unusually strong seismic activity in the area. Something is coming for the citizens of Perfection and it’s underground. The release features a new 4K restoration from the original negative by Arrow Films, approved by director Ron Underwood and director of photography Alexander Gruszynski. Included in the release are a 60-page book featuring new writing by Kim Newman and Jonathan Melville and selected archive materials; a large fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Frank; a small fold-out double-sided poster featuring new Graboid X-ray art by Frank; six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions; and limited edition packaging with a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Frank. Special features include new audio commentary by director Ron Underwood and writers/producers Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson; new audio commentary by Jonathan Melville, author of Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors; “Making Perfection,” a new documentary by Universal Studios interviewing key cast and crew from the franchise (including Bacon, Gross, Ariana Richards and Underwood, among many others) and revisiting the original locations; “The Truth About Tremors,” a newly filmed interview with co-producer Nancy Roberts on the film’s rocky road to the screen; “Bad Vibrations,” a newly filmed interview with director of photography Alexander Gruszynski; “Aftershocks and Other Rumblings,” newly filmed on-set stories from associate producer Ellen Collett; “Digging in the Dirt,” a new featurette interviewing the crews behind the film’s extensive visual effects; “Music for Graboids,” a new featurette on the film’s music with composers Ernest Troost and Robert Folk; “Pardon My French!,” a newly assembled compilation of overdubs from the edited-for television version; and numerous archive and other extras.

Survivor Ballads is an exclusive Blu-ray box set from Arrow Academy that presents restored versions of three late career classics from legendary filmmaker Shohei Imamura, a leading figure of the Japanese New Wave era of the 1960s. Based on an ancient folktale, The Ballad of Narayama (1983) was the first of two works from the director to win the prestigious Cannes Palme d’Or. Imamura’s magnum opus depicts the members of an extended farming family eking out their existence in the mountains north of Japan against the backdrop of the changing seasons before village lore decrees they make the sacrifice of abandoning their aged mother on the top of a nearby mountain when she reaches her 70th year. Making its HD debut, Zegen (1987) takes a satirical look at Japan’s prewar colonial expansion through the unscrupulous eyes of its flesh-peddler antihero as he establishes a prostitution enterprise across Southeast Asia. Finally, the harrowing Black Rain (1989) details the precarious existence of a household of atomic bomb survivors as, five years after being caught in the blast of Hiroshima, they struggle to find a husband for their 25-year-old niece. The three works epitomize the director’s almost documentary style of filmmaking, exposing the vulgar yet vibrant and instinctive underbelly of Japanese society through a sympathetic focus on peasants, prostitutes, criminal lowlife and other marginalized figures to explore the schism between the country’s timeless premodern traditions and the modern face it projects to the world. Special features include new audio commentaries on all three films by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp; new, in-depth appreciations of all three films by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns; an alternate color ending to Black Rain, shot by Imamura but removed from the film shortly before its release; archival interviews on Black Rain with actress Yoshiko Tanaka and assistant director Takashi Miike; multiple trailers and image galleries; original Japanese press kits for The Ballad of Narayama and Black Rain (BD-ROM content); a limited edition, 60-page booklet containing new writing by Tom Mes; and limited edition packaging featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella.

Versus (2000), available on Blu-ray, is chock-full of fight scenes, gangster shootouts, sword-slashing violence and gory zombie horror. In the film, a mysterious face-off in a wooded clearing between two escaped convicts and a carload of sharply dressed yakuza holding a beautiful woman captive ends in hails of bullets and showers of blood. The location for this violent encounter is the mythic Forest of Resurrection, the site of the 444th portal of the 666 hidden gates that link this earthly domain to the netherworld. As one of the surviving prisoners escapes with the girl into the darkness of the forest, disgruntled gangsters soon become the least of their worries as an earlier battle between a lone warrior against hordes of zombie samurai is carried over from a millennium ago into the present day. The film launched the careers of director Ryûhei Kitamura (Godzilla Final Wars, Midnight Meat Train) and action star and fight choreographer Tak Sakaguchi (Battlefield Baseball, Yakuza Weapon). Arrow Video is presenting the title in both its original 2000 and expanded 2004 Ultimate Versus iterations, in a new, director-approved restoration. Numerous extras include a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon; audio commentary by Kitamura and producer Keishiro Shin; and audio commentary by Kitamura and the cast and crew.

Oscar-Nominated Classic ‘Navajo’ Available on DVD From MVD

Navajo, a 1952 documentary drama nominated for two Academy Awards, is available on DVD from MVD Entertainment Group and Kit Parker Films.

In the film, a Navajo boy stoically endures hardship, hunger and the death of his family. He is taken away to attend a white man boarding school and escapes but is pursued to ancient Navajo caves. In the title role, a 7-year-old Navajo boy, Francis Kee Teller, received a Golden Globe special award even though he had never seen a movie until viewing his own performance.

Filmed at majestic Canyon de Chelly and nominated for Oscars for Best Documentary and Best Cinematography, the film showcases the talent of cinematographer Virgil Miller, who started out in silent pictures and became known primarily for filming travelogues. He had a reputation for keeping cameras rolling in remote locations under adverse weather conditions. The producers needed a cameraman with those qualities and tracked him down at a camera shop where he repaired photographic equipment. At age 64, Miller took on the challenge of working in freezing cold, with only one camera, a tripod and four reflectors, and came away with an Academy Award nomination.

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The working title was The Voice of the Wind, and despite a shoestring $30,000 production budget, a threatened ban by the Indian Service, harsh weather and terrain, infighting between the co-producers, the picture went on to earn critical acclaim.

Bonus features include commentary by Teller; a “Canyon de Chelly” photo-essay by Deborah Lem, Diné; “The Canyon Matters” by Genny Yazzie, Diné; the 1952 national publicity tour with Teller (age 8); and “Our Navajo Neighbors” 1952 documentary.

‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ 4K Ultra HD Steelbook Arriving Dec. 1

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is re-releasing the Ang Lee action-adventure fantasy Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a limited-edition Steelbook Dec. 1.

The film won Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score and Best Art Direction.

It follows two master warriors (Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh) who are faced with their greatest challenge when the treasured Green Destiny sword is stolen. A young aristocrat (Zhang Ziyi) prepares for an arranged marriage, but soon reveals her superior fighting talents and her deeply romantic past. As each warrior battles for justice, they come face to face with their worst enemy — and the inescapable, enduring power of love.

Set against 19th century China’s breathtaking landscape, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is directed by two-time Best Director Oscar winner Lee (Brokeback Mountain, 2005; Life of Pi, 2012) and features martial arts choreography by Yuen Wo Ping (The Matrix).

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The limited edition Steelbook includes the film on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray. The film was originally released on 4K Ultra HD in 2016.

Bonus materials include:

  • Sx deleted scenes: presented in 4K Ultra HD with High Dynamic Range;
  • in-depth retrospective interviews, in which director Ang Lee, producer James Schamus and editor Tim Squyres discuss the making of the groundbreaking film;
  • an introduction to the Film and the deleted scenes by Lee;
  • “A Love Before Time” Music Video in English and Mandarin;
  • “The Making of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”;
  • commentary with Lee and Schamus;
  • commentary with cinematographer Peter Pau;
  • “A Conversation with Michelle Yeoh”;
  • a photo gallery; and
  • the theatrical trailer.

Oscar-Lauded ‘Whiplash’ Coming to 4K UHD Sept. 22 From Sony

The Oscar-launded film Whiplash is coming out on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Sept. 22 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Written and directed by Academy Award-winner Damien Chazelle and starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons in an Oscar-winning performance, the 2014  film is newly remastered in 4K with High Dynamic Range and Dolby Atmos audio. The 4K Ultra HD release also includes the film and special features on Blu-ray, plus a digital version of the film.

The story follows Andrew Neyman (Teller), an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Terence Fletcher (Simmons), an instructor known equally for his teaching talents and his terrifying methods, discovers Andrew and transfers him into his band. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection soon spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability and his sanity.

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Bonus materials include:

  • commentary with writer/director Chazelle and Simmons
  • “An Evening at the Toronto International Film Festival” with Teller, Simmons and Chazelle
  • “Timekeepers,” in which famous drummers discuss their craft and passion for drumming
  • the Whiplashoriginal thort film with optional commentary
  • a deleted scene
  • the theatrical trailer.

‘Bombshell’ Strikes Home

The dynamic trio of Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie powers Bombshell.

The three acclaimed actresses are at the center of the Oscar-lauded film based on the real story of ambitious, strong women who anchored one of America’s most powerful news networks, Fox News, becoming headlines themselves when they risked everything to stand up to the man who made them famous, Roger Ailes.

Available now on digital, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD from Lionsgate, Bombshell earned Academy Award nominations for Best Actress (Charlize Theron) and Best Supporting Actress (Margot Robbie), and won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling.

Theron, who also produced the film, notes in the disc extras it was “a great opportunity for a lot of talented women to come together and tell an important story.”

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“It was lovely to be able to join forces with these women and hopefully inspire people to say, ‘I don’t need to put up with this,’” adds Kidman.

Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly

Bombshell is a candid exploration of the sexual harassment scandal that brought down the powerful Ailes. Theron plays Megyn Kelly, an anchor at the height of her power. Kidman is Gretchen Carlson, the former anchor who sues Ailes, bringing the harassment to light. Robbie plays up-and-comer Kayla Pospisil, a fictional, composite character based on other individuals.

The three women appear in only one scene together, which proved to be one of the most striking in the movie. A scene in which they ride in the same elevator with little dialog was not originally in the script, but it turned out to be so impactful that it provided a key image for the film’s teaser.

Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson

“It was great to be able to have a scene with almost no dialog that still says a lot,” Kidman says in the extras.

“We don’t say anything to each other, and I think that’s the whole point of the scene, that we do not reach out and in a way our problems are unresolved because we have isolated ourselves,” adds Robbie.

“Charlize, Nicole and Margo are, well, a dream team,” says John Lithgow in the disc extras. Lithgow plays Ailes and made a point of telling the women in the film he was going to have to be nasty to them in the role.

John Lithgow as Roger Ailes

Despite playing the villain, Lithgow brought complexity to the character.

“He never shied away from the fact that this guy Roger Ailes was incredibly charismatic and that people loved him,” Theron notes.

“What I look for always in playing a bad guy is a sort of core of insecurity, what in the world makes them that way, how do you show the fact that he may do bad things, but he hates doing them,” Lithgow explains in the extras.

One of the most emotionally wrenching scenes in the film takes place between Lithgow as Ailes and Robbie’s Kayla as she slowly becomes aware of his abusive intentions.

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“The man is in the grips of his own compulsions, and he hates himself for it,” Lithgow says in the extras.

While the actors had a firm grip on the inner life of their characters, transforming them to resemble their real-life counterparts also added to the drama, winning makeup and hairstyling creators Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker an Academy Award.

Detailed in the disc extras are the hours of work with prosthetics and makeup that it took to turn the actors into well-known personalities. Kidman wore chin and body enhancements as Carlson, and Lithgow wore six prosthetics and a body suit as Ailes. Theron, who listened to hours of interviews to mimic Kelly’s voice, wore nose plugs and cheek, eyelid, chin and nose prosthetics to replicate Kelly’s look.

“The look match was really important to her,” says director Jay Roach in the extras, adding she wanted to see herself in the mirror and not recognize herself.

“We ended up so close to Megan’s features,” Theron adds, crediting Hiro’s artistry.

An ensemble of accomplished actors, including Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell (as media tycoon Rupert Murdoch) and Allison Janney also joined in crafting a complicated but sharply told story that filmmakers hope will start a conversation — without preaching.

“I personally don’t want to go and watch a movie that I feel is preaching to me,” says Theron, who credits Roach’s comedy background in helping to bring realism to the film.

“You feel like you’re really there in the room with those people,” she says.

Blu-ray/DVD/Digital special features include the “No Easy Truths: The Making of Bombshell” seven-part documentary:

  • “Convergence: Genesis of the Film” Featurette
  • “Quid Pro Quo: Charlize, Nicole, Margot, John” Featurette
  • “Human Dynamics: The Ensemble Cast” Featurette
  • “Breaking the Fourth Wall: Visual Design” Featurette
  • “Layer by Layer: Makeup, Hair & Clothing” Featurette
  • “A Unique Skill Set: Jay Roach” Featurette
  • “Catalyst for Change: Parting Thoughts” Featurette

‘Knives Out’ Coming Home on Digital Feb. 7, Disc — Including 4K — Feb. 25

The murder mystery Knives Out, which earned writer-director Rian Johnson an Oscar nom for Best Original screenplay, is heading home.

Lionsgate will release the whodunnit on digital Feb. 7 and 4K Ultra HD combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack, DVD and on demand Feb. 25.

The film, which has earned $278 million at the global box office, also received Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy (Ana de Armas) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy (Daniel Craig). Written, produced, and directed by Johnson (Star Wars: The Last JediLooper), Knives Out also has received awards from AFI, National Board of Review, New York Film Critics, Philadelphia Film Festival, The Hollywood Critics Association and Rotten Tomatoes’ Golden Tomatoes Awards.

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In addition to Craig and de Armas, the film’s ensemble cast includes Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell and Christopher Plummer. It follows the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Plummer). There’s one thing that renowned Detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) knows for sure — everyone in the wildly dysfunctional Thrombey family is a suspect. Blanc must sift through a web of lies and red herrings to uncover the truth.

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Special features include an audio commentary and in-theater commentary by filmmaker Rian Johnson, two deleted scenes, the eight-part “Making a Murder” documentary, the “Rian Johnson: Planning the Perfect Murder” featurette, and a Q&A with the director and cast.

‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ Coming to Digital Feb. 4, Disc — Including 4K — Feb. 18

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks as the venerable Fred Rogers, will debut on digital Feb. 4, and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 18 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Hanks, who picked up an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the role, portrays children’s television icon Mister Rogers of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” in this film based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about kindness, love and forgiveness from America’s most beloved neighbor.

The film also stars Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Cooper.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood made $60.9 million at the global box office, all but about $300,000 of it in U.S. and Canadian theaters.

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Bonus features on the 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD include more than 15 minutes of additional scenes, a blooper reel, an all-new featurette starring Daniel Tiger, filmmaker commentary and a behind-the-scenes look at the film.

Italian Oscar Entry ‘A Ciambra’ Due on Disc July 10 from IFC

Executive produced by Martin Scorsese, A Ciambra, Italy’s entry for the 2018 Academy Awards, will come out on DVD and Blu-ray Disc July 10 from IFC Entertainment.

The second feature from director Jonas Carpignano (Mediterranea), the Cannes Film Festival award winner follows 14-year-old Pio (Pio Amato) who wants nothing more than the respect of his older brother, whom he emulates in every way — including his career as a petty criminal. When both his father and brother are arrested, Pio is determined to prove he can step up and be the head of his sprawling Romani family.

Both the Blu-ray and DVD include the making-of documentary “A Ciambra: The Other Side of the Story” and deleted scenes.

Best Foreign Film Oscar Winner Coming May 22 on Blu-ray, Digital from Sony

A Fantastic Woman, the Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film and the first Chilean movie to win an Oscar, will be released on Blu-ray and digital May 22 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film stars Daniela Vega (the first transgendered Oscar presenter in history) in the story of a young transgender aspiring singer who must confront society and her older lover’s family when he dies unexpectedly.
Special features include “The Making of A Fantastic Woman” featurette and an audio commentary with director Sebastián Lelio.

The film also won Best International Film at the 33rd Independent Spirit Awards, won Best Feature Film at the Berlin International Film Festival and was named one of the Top Five Foreign Language Films by the National Board of Review.