Dramas ‘Passion of Darkly Noon’ and Altman’s ‘Kansas City’ Due on Blu-ray From MVD and Arrow in March

Two dramas, The Passion of Darkly Noon and Kansas City, are arriving on Blu-ray in March from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Kansas City (1996), directed by Robert Altman and streeting March 3 from Arrow Academy, is a star-studded gangster flick set in 1930s Kansas City. Blondie O’Hara (Jennifer Jason Leigh) resorts to desperate measures when her low-level hood husband Johnny (Dermot Mulroney) gets caught trying to steal from Seldom Seen (Harry Belafonte), a local crime boss operating out of jazz haunt The Hey-Hey Club. Out on a limb, Blondie kidnaps laudanum-addled socialite Carolyn (Miranda Richardson), hoping her influential politician husband can pull the right strings and get Johnny out of Seldom Seen’s clutches. Nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and featuring a soundtrack performed live by some of the best players in contemporary jazz, this Altman classic is making its Blu-ray debut. Special features include audio commentary by Altman; a newly filmed appreciation by critic Geoff Andrew; a 2007 visual essay by French critic Luc Lagier, plus a short introduction to the film narrated by Lagier; two 1996 promotional featurettes including interviews with cast and crew; electronic press kit interviews with Altman, Leigh, Richardson, Belafonte and musician Joshua Redman, plus behind-the-scenes footage; four theatrical trailers; TV spots; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Dr Nicolas Pillai, original press kit notes and an excerpt from Altman on Altman.

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The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995), due March 24, is a drama set in America from British director Philip Ridley. Darkly Noon (Brendan Fraser) is the sole survivor of a military-style attack on an isolated religious community. Stumbling through a forest, he is rescued by Callie (Ashley Judd). Darkly finds himself feeling strange new desires for Callie as she nurses him back to health only to watch her jump into the arms of her returning mute lover Clay (Viggo Mortensen). Lost in the woods with only his fundamentalist upbringing to make sense of his unrequited passions, Darkly soon descends into an explosive and lethal rage. Special features include new audio commentary by writer/director Ridley; an isolated score track in lossless stereo, including never-before-heard extended and unused cues, and the two songs from the film; “Sharp Cuts,” a newly filmed interview with editor Leslie Healey; “Forest Songs,” a newly filmed interview with composer Nick Bicat; “Dreaming Darkly,” an archive featurette from 2015 featuring interviews with Ridley, Bicat and Mortensen; previously unreleased demos of the music score, written and performed by Bicat before filming started; the theatrical trailer; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring new and original artwork; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring a new Ridley career retrospective written by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.

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Green Book

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/12/19;
Universal;
Comedy;
Box Office $78.32 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray, $39.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for thematic content, language including racial epithets, smoking, some violence and suggestive material.
Stars Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Dimiter D. Marinov, Mike Hatton, Sebastian Maniscalco, Iqbal Theba.

Sometimes there is great value to be found in a straightforward story, simply told. It’s a lesson the filmmakers behind Green Book learned well, with the film taking home the Oscar for Best Picture at the recent 91st Academy Awards ceremony.

The win caused somewhat of a whirlwind of criticism regarding the film’s soft-shoe approach to dealing with racism in the 1960s, but that might stem from overanalyzing the film’s intentions — it exists as a way for co-scripter Nick Vallelonga to pay tribute to his parents.

The film tells the story of Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), a New York club bouncer with shady connections who is hired by African-American pianist “Doc” Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) to serve as a driver and bodyguard on a two-month concert tour of the Deep South in 1962.

Given the racial attitudes prevalent at the time, they must rely on the Green Book, a guide for black travelers to find lodging, restaurants and other business that would serve them. At several stops, Doc is denied service at the very restaurants where his musical talents are being celebrated, which only goes to highlight how dumb the segregationist attitudes were on the surface of it.

Doc himself is cold and aloof, and doesn’t identify with his cultural heritage. Tony is a stereotypical New York Italian thug who isn’t the most eloquent in terms of speech or thought. Along their journey they’ll learn to let go of some of the preconceptions each had about what the other represents to them.

In using the road trip format, the film establishes itself as an acting showcase for its two leads, and they deliver spectacularly with mesmerizing performances and infectious chemistry. Ali’s supporting actor Oscar for the role is well deserved, while Mortensen’s multiple nominations throughout awards season speak to the quality of his work as well.

Watching their interactions is the primary reason to pick up the Blu-ray, since the bonus material is rather thin, comprising just three short featurettes.

First is the four-minute “Virtuoso Performances,” a look at Mortensen and Ali’s approach to their roles. Next is the five-minute “An Unforgettable Friendship,” in which the filmmakers discuss the real-life relationship between Doc and Tony, which is interesting in light of the very public disagreement the Shirley family has had with how the movie portrays it. Finally, there’s the four-and-a-half-minute “Going Beyond the Green Book,” which focuses on the significance of the book that inspired the title of the film.

Golden Globe Winner ‘Green Book’ Home Video Details Announced

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release Green Book through digital retailers Feb. 19, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray March 12.

Directed by Peter Farrelly and inspired by a true story, the film stars Viggo Mortensen as Tony Lip, a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South in the 1960s.

Confronted with racism, they must rely on The Green Book to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans. The cast also includes Linda Cardellini.

Green Book won three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy, Best Supporting Actor for Ali and Best Screenplay

Bonus materials include a “Virtuoso Performances” featurette with Mortensen and Ali discussing their characters; the featurette “An Unforgettable Friendship,” in which the cast and filmmakers discuss the friendship between Don Shirley and Tony Lip; and the featurette “Going Beyond the Green Book,” in which filmmakers and cast discuss the significance of The Green Book.