MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka Dretzka@moviecitynews.com

The DVD Wrapup: Support the Girls, M:I Fallout, Gosford Park, Serpent’s Egg. True Stories, School Daze, Candyman, Hanging Rock, Yellowstone … More

Support the Girls: Blu-ray
There are a couple of things to know about Support the Girls before heading to your favorite streaming service and paying to see it, based solely on the nearly universal acclaim it’s received from critics. The first is that critics don’t frequent sports bars, especially not those that promote their waitress’ physical assets over the food. And, while it has several funny moments, Support the Girls is a dramedy with the accent on drama, meaning that folks expecting a workplace comedy, like “Cheers” or “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” probably will want their money back. Sports bars habitués might not understand what writer/director Andrew Bujalski was attempting to say about people, like them, who pay good money for the right to eat and drink in the company of attractive waitresses … and tip accordingly. On Rotten Tomatoes, the Tomatometer has awarded the film a 92 percent rating, based on 86 “fresh” reviews and only 7 “rotten” ones. By contrast, the Audience Score registers only 56 percent. Already this month, Regina Hall (Girls Trip) has been nominated for Independent Spirit and Gotham awards, and is the first black woman to win Best Actress in the New York Film Critics Circle’s 83-year history. The praise is based on her inarguably outstanding portrayal of the beleaguered manager of Double Whammies, yes, “a sports bar with curves” (a.k.a., breastaurant). Lisa combines all the attributes of a mother hen, den mother and sympathetic boss, while catering to a “mainstream” family clientele and enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy on sexual harassment. In her late 40s, Lisa knows that her first obligation is to the owner’s bank account, but her heart is divided between her wait staff and loyal customers. As balancing acts go, it’s a doozy. While sexy, the waitresses’ outfits are about as provocative as the uniforms worn by Hooters’ servers, minus the mandatory pantyhose and white socks. Double Whammies’ servers aren’t exactly encouraged to flirt, but it’s no secret that being extra nice to male customers likely will result in a bigger tip. Lisa does, however, enforce certain limits.

After a biker commits the sin of calling one of the waitresses “fat” – he claims it was in jest – Lisa risks her own well-being by unceremoniously booting the bozo out of the restaurant. Fortunately, a couple of cops are already in the restaurant, investigating an unrelated break-in, and the biker goes quietly … more or less. It’s not funny. The break-in involves a guy who gets stuck in the ventilation system, while either attempting to loot the safe or sneak peeks into the ladies’ changing room. He’s still there when Lisa’s shift begins. It sets the tone for the next 24 hours in her life. In the course of rescuing the intruder, a cable leading to the restaurant’s big-screen televisions is severed. It threatens to disrupt plans for that night’s boxing showcase. The club’s humorless owner, Cubby (James Le Gros), is angry at Lisa, not only for failing to alert him to the break-in, but also for using the parking lot for a benefit car wash to raise money for a troubled employee, Shaina (Jana Kramer), who was arrested after running over the foot of her abusive boyfriend. While dealing with these issues, and, not incidentally, discovering that her husband has packed his suitcase and left home, Lisa’s wait staff does its best to keep customers from shifting their allegiances to the new sports bar, ManCave, just down the road. Bujalski’s “mumblecore” roots are visible in the easy, naturalistic way Lisa and her employees share their joys and pain during their time together, inside and outside the bar. The high point comes when one of the waitresses feels it necessary to perform a Parisian can-can — on the bar — to keep the patrons from rushing over to the ManCave to watch the fight. The low point, for me, comes when Lisa has to discipline a white server for having the visage of NBA superstar Stephen Curry tattooed on an uncovered space on her torso. The waitress suspects that she could have gotten away the offense if the player’s face was white and, therefore, unlikely to offend racially sensitive guests.  (Hooters Girls aren’t allowed any visible tattoos.) The excellent supporting cast includes Haley Lu Richardson (The Edge of Seventeen), Dylan Gelula (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), AJ Michalka (“The Goldbergs”), Jana Kramer (“One Tree Hill”), Shayna “Junglepussy” McHayle and a typically butch Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), who also frequents the bar for the curves.

Mission:Impossible: Fallout: Blu-ray/4K UHD HDR
Tom Cruise may rub a lot of people the wrong way, when it comes to his cheerleading for Scientology and occasionally over-exuberant self-promotion, but he’s one of the few movie stars extant who always gives his fans their money’s worth. It can be argued that he doesn’t get the credit he deserves from his peers, even though his paychecks don’t exactly suck. Cruise has only been nominated for three Academy Awards — Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Jerry Maguire (1996), Magnolia (1999) – that he could have just as easily won. He’s been a finalist for seven Golden Globes – winning three, for the same titles — as well as a single BAFTA, nine MTV and five Razzie awards. Considering how much money Cruise continues to make for Hollywood studios, increasingly from foreign audiences, his best shot for an Oscar might come when AMPAS decides it’s time to accord him one of those ceremonial trophies it reserves for people who deserve something more lasting than a nomination. And, yes, I realize that it’s “an honor simply to be nominated.” There’s nothing much I can add to what’s already been written about Mission:Impossible: Fallout, which did extremely well critically and commercially. Indeed, even at the exhaustive length of 147 minutes, it’s become the highest grossing episode in the franchise’s 22-year history … here and abroad. According to repeat-director Christopher McQuarrie, “Tom is first and foremost an entertainer. Everything he’s doing in the (“M:I”) movies is to take you to places you’ve never been, to show you things you’ve never seen, and to put you in the experience right there with him.” That includes performing stunts no sane actor would agree to do and, even if they did, most insurance companies would agree to underwrite.

In Mission:Impossible: Fallout, Cruise was injured while filming a stunt that required him to jump from one building to another in a chase scene. Although a harness allowed him to grab onto the other building, his ankle fractured upon impact. Even so, Cruise got up and attempted to run off the pain, which was what the scene called for, before reason prevailed and someone yelled, “Cut!” Even though the injury delayed production for eight weeks, footage of the stunt found its way into the finished product and trailers.

The important thing for viewers to know about “Fallout” is that it’s the first legitimate sequel in the series. That’s because it relies on plot devices, characters and antagonists introduced first in Mission:Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015). Additionally, McQuarrie and Cruise insisted upon the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) and her brother, Zola (Frederick Schmidt), being identified as the children of Vanessa Redgrave’s international arms dealer, Max, from Mission: Impossible (1996). As the story goes, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is attempting to recover a suitcase containing stolen plutonium orbs, when he’s ambushed and forced to decide between saving the mission or saving his teammates (Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames). Choosing the latter meant putting the plutonium cores into the wind and available to the highest bidder. Hunt’s detractors at the CIA consider his decision to have been unconscionable. They suspect that operatives loyal to the White Widow are in possession of the suitcase and plan to sell it to supervillain John Lark during a charity event in Paris. The problem is that no one knows with any certainty what Lark looks like or whether he’ll come to the event in cognito. Theoretically, at least, he could take a page from the IMF playbook and don a latex mask to make him resemble Ethan. Neither are we supposed to know ahead of time whether the White Widow is a force for good or evil. To this end, the CIA insists that Ethan be accompanied by super-agent August Walker (Henry Cavill), who may or may not have his back. Any further summarization would qualify as a spoiler.

The always enthralling set pieces are highlighted by a H.A.L.O skydiving sequence, for which Cruise invested a year’s training. There’s also a helmet-free motorcycle chase through Paris; an extended foot chase across London rooftops; a cliff-hanging scene; and a low-altitude helicopter chase in which Cruise does most of the piloting. The fight scenes are also exquisitely choreographed. Anyone with enough time and technology to compare the Blu-ray and UHD versions probably will find that the 4K holds up better in the faster-paced scenes, thanks to the Dolby Vision HDR presentation, and Dolby Atmos soundtrack remixed specifically for the home-viewing experience. A separate disc holds most of the special features, including a 53-minute “Behind the Fallout” featurette; a deleted-scenes montage, with optional commentary by McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton; a “Foot Chase Musical Breakdown”; “The Ultimate Mission,” in which Cruise discusses his love for the franchise and benefits of practical stunt work; storyboards; commentaries with McQuarrie and Cruise, McQuarrie and Hamilton, and composer Lorne Balfe; and an isolated score track.

The House That Never Dies: Reawakening
Among the things frowned upon by Chinese censors are films they believe promote “cults and superstitions,” specifically phenomena that can’t be explained away as dreams or hallucinations. Although ghosts have historically played key roles in Chinese mythology and folklore, newly conjured apparitions usually don’t make the cut. Somehow, though, Disney/Pixar’s ghost-heavy Coco managed to slip through the filters, while Paul Feig’s reboot of Ghostbusters (2016) was denied a pass, even though Sony agreed to rename it, “Super Power Dare-to-Die Team.” Makes one wonder how much clout the Mouse House has in Beijing. Ironically, the lack of an official ratings system might yet cause one to be instituted, after all. Joe Chien’s The House That Never Dies: Reawakening is a sequel to Raymond Yip’s The House That Never Dies (2014), a 3D ghost story that reportedly caused younger viewers to cry out loud during scary scenes. The screams not only bothered older audience members, but they made exhibitors feel guilty about subjecting kids to terrifying images. It prompted some of them to impose a ratings code of their own, inspired by the MPAA’s system. The fact that Yip’s thriller did extremely well at the domestic box office suggests that Chinese audiences no longer want to be coddled by government officials. Even so, some Asian critics suspect that the sequel’s somewhat disjointed script was affected by fears of what censors might have done to it. Both films are set inside “Beijing’s most celebrated haunted house,” which stands at Chaonei No. 81. It’s a three-story French Baroque-style mansion, built in the 1800s by Qing officials. According to popular legend, the it became haunted at the end of the Communist Revolution, in 1949, when the wife of a Kuomintang official who once lived there committed suicide. It is believed that her spirit still haunts the house, turning it into something of an attraction for local tourists, ghost hunters and vagrants willing to put up with a few aggrieved spirits, in exchange for a roof that doesn’t leak.

The House That Never Dies: Reawakening takes liberties with the legend by digging several decades deeper into the house’s history and the mysterious murders of the entire Zhisheng family. In yet another attempt to restore and sell the place to an unsuspecting foreigner, cultural relic specialist Song Teng (Julian Cheung) begins to uncover strange items, left behind by previous tenants. They include skeletons of babies, weird carvings and other artifacts that suggest an intricate weaving of the past and present. Song suspects that a long-suffering spirit remains in the building, still seeking justice from the living world for past affronts. Song’s work has caused him to neglect his physician wife, He (Mei Ting). The couple has grown estranged following the stillbirth of their child five years earlier and her discovery of Song’s growing fondness for his assistant (Gillian Chung). To solidify their marriage, Dr. He agrees to move into the mansion with her husband. She’s soon plagued by visions and nightmares, which harken back to the beginning of the 20th Century. It’s when a general (Julian Cheung), who lived in the house, was forced to marry the daughter (Gillian Chung) of a warlord, to solidify an alliance and to ensure he would have an heir, after his first wife (Mei Ting) failed to produce one. Sadly, his new bride proved barren as well. If the back-and-forth gets confusing, at times, the story is rescued by special effects that probably represent the state-of-the-art in Chinese films. Watch for cameos by Vivian Wu, Joan Chen, Andrew Lin, Jack Kao and Lam Suet.

Viking Destiny: Blu-ray
Anyone looking for old-fashioned action picture that combines aspects of Thor: Ragnarok and “Game of Thrones,” with the History Channel series “Vikings” and the CW’s “Supergirl,” need look any further than David L.G. Hughes’ Viking Destiny. As far as I know, it also features western civilization’s first acknowledgement of a nomadic hippie clan, known as the Travelers. Everything centers around Helle (Anna Demetriou), a true Viking princess born to King Asmund and Queen Alva. Asmund isn’t present at the girl’s birth – a sign of bad luck — and Alva dies while he’s out saving the kingdom of Volsung … again. Because the king doesn’t believe his daughter will someday be qualified to rule the realm, he asks his brother, Prince Bard (Timo Nieminen), for permission to trade his son, Vern (Laurence O’Fuarain), for Helle. The scheming Bard understands how, down the road, this could serve his own interests. Although Vern’s a fine young man, he lacks the talent and taste for fighting that’s normally a prerequisite for sovereignty. Trained to be a warrior and leader, Helle is his opposite in this regard. Bard concocts a plan to kill off the young prince and princess, so, when his brother dies, the throne will be his. It’s at this point that the Norse deity, Odin (Terence Stamp), and the trickster Loki (Murray McArthur), make their presences known to Helle. She avoids assassination by taking to the forest and honing her fighting skills, eventually coming across the band of vegetarian nomads. Despite their tendency to avoid confrontations, the Travelers are perfectly capable of defending themselves – and Helle – when pressed. She also gains the support of a Viking band opposed to Prince Brad. The fighting and swordplay in Viking Destiny aren’t bad, and Demetriou, with her metallic red hair, is a force of nature.  The Northern Ireland locations will be familiar to anyone who’s seen Excalibur and “The Last Kingdom.” Oh, yeah, Hughes has also thrown a Kraken into the mix.

Operation Finale
The capture of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi officer who masterminded the logistics that brought millions of Jews to their deaths in concentration camps, has been dramatized several times in the last 50 years. It has even been re-created in an episode of Comedy Central’s “Drunk History,” with a boozy Rachel Bloom narrating the story and Weird Al Yankovic playing Eichmann. It isn’t nearly as offensive as it sounds. Operation Finale follows the same basic structure as Operation Eichmann (1961), The House on Garibaldi Street (1979), The Hunt for Adolf Eichmann (1994), The Man Who Captured Eichmann (1996) and a play, “Captors.” Other films and documentaries have tackled Eichmann’s trial and the period between his conviction and execution. Because director Chris Weitz (The Twilight Saga: New Moon) and freshman screenwriter Matthew Orton relied on Peter Malkin’s “Eichmann in My Hands” for most of their source material, Operation Finale focuses primarily on the Israeli spy’s role in the capture and extraction from Argentina of one of the world’s most wanted men. Although Malkin (Oscar Isaac) wasn’t the leader of the operation, his ability to get Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) to sign a key document, while being held in a Buenos Aires safehouse, is the centerpiece of the drama. He also is credited with the physical capture of Eichmann, as he walked home from work. The rest, of course, is history. Even if Operation Finale covers well-trod ground, the movie serves as a reminder of one man’s essential role in the Holocaust, the “banality of evil” and why it was so important to bring him back to Israel alive and put him on trial. At the time, prosecuting individuals for genocide and other crimes against humanity – outside the borders of the losing country – wasn’t considered to be a legal alternative to extradition. That’s all changed.

Lesser known are the German dramas, The People vs. Fritz Bauer (2015) and Labyrinth of Lies (2014), which tell the stories of West German prosecutor-general Fritz Bauer and prosecutor Johann Radmann, who, while sniffing out ex-Nazis still in positions of authority in the 1950s, were the first to locate and identify Eichmann. Bauer decided against revealing his findings to German, American, Argentinian and Interpol authorities, knowing that Eichmann wasn’t likely to be convicted after being extradited to Germany. (Indeed, intelligence agencies were aware of Joseph Mengele’s occasional return visits home and did nothing.) Bauer’s findings led to where punishing Gestapo and SS functionaries no longer was a priority, Bauer felt as if the chances of any Nazi leader being convicted for crimes against humanity were better in Israel. (His research and persistence would lead to the groundbreaking Frankfurt Auschwitz trials, during which 22 individuals were charged under German criminal law for their roles in the Holocaust as mid- to lower-level officials in the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex.) Even after he passed along his information to the Mossad, however, Bauer was told that he had to come up with a second, more unimpeachable piece of evidence. If he hadn’t, it’s possible that Eichmann, like Mengele, might have dug a deeper hole, somewhere else in South America. Lucía Puenzo’s The German Doctor (2013) tells the true story of a Patagonian family that lived with Mengele without knowing his identity. They’re all good.

[Cargo]
The protagonist of James Dylan’s debut film [Cargo] was created as a showcase for veteran actor Ron Thompson, perhaps best known for his dual lead roles of Pete/Tony in Ralph Bakshi’s American Pop (1981) and as Detective Nopke, in the 1970s TV series “Baretta.” His IMDB.com resume only shows 15 credits between American Pop and [Cargo]. His first paying gig came in 1962, playing a junkie on “Armstrong Circle Theatre.” He would also play “Junkie” in American Me (1992) and “Crisis Center” (1997). Moreover, in 1973, Thompson won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for his lead performance in the play, “Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?,” which is set in a drug rehabilitation facility. Here, Thompson plays a corrupt business executive, Anthony Peterson, who awakens one morning to find himself alone, locked inside an empty cargo container. His only prop is a cellphone, through which he communicates with his captors and the people he hits up for $10 million in ransom money. Peterson has 24 hours to reach his goal, run out of juice for his phone or oxygen to breathe, whichever comes first. The exchanges, which run the emotional gamut from sarcastic to deadly serious, tell us everything we need to know about his character, much of which happens to be on the negative side of the ledger. Dylan says that he was inspired to make a trapped-man or enclosed-space thriller after watching such films as Locke, All Is Lost, Castaway, Buried, Brake, Phone Booth, Evil Dead 2 and The Omega Man, some of them more claustrophobic than others. Thompson is fun to watch, even if, at 80 minutes, [Cargo] seems long. Original music by Thorsten Quaeschning, a late addition to the German electronic-music band Tangerine Dream.

God Bless the Broken Road: Blu-ray
In his hit version of Steve Goodman and John Prine’s tongue-in-cheek ballad, “You Never Even Called Me by My Name,” David Allan Coe recalls Goodman saying, “it’s the perfect country and western song.” Coe’s reply: there’s no way it could be a successful country song, without any references to “mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or getting drunk.” Goodman dutifully came up another final verse, “Well, I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison/and I went to pick her up in the rain/but before I could get to the station in my pickup truck/she got runned over by a damned old train …” In Coe’s opinion, this made “You Never Even Called Me by My Name,” the perfect country-western song.

That’s a long way of getting to the point about Christian filmmaker Harold Cronk’s latest faith-based drama, God Bless the Broken Road, which follows in the wake of God’s Not Dead (2014) and God’s Not Dead 2 (2016). While the former made a whopping $64.6 million worldwide, on an estimated budget of $2 million, the latter grossed nearly $24.5 million, on a budget of $7 million. Even with the steep downward slide, those are the kinds of numbers that make Hollywood executives genuflect at the altar of commerce. By comparison, God Bless the Broken Road tanked, returning a mere $2.8 million in its domestic release. This, despite a story that combines God, the military, small-town life, country music, NASCAR and a troubled soul redeemed from despair. The title is a direct reference to the 2004 Rascal Flatts hit song, “God Bless the Broken Road,” which, itself, was adapted from the 1994 release, “Bless the Open Road,” by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Because of Cronk’s track record within the genre, the fact that he hit so many of the right buttons in a 111-minute span, should have led to much larger numbers.

Shot largely in Michigan, but clearly set in a Bible Belt town, the movie centers on a grieving military widow, Amber Hill – played convincingly by Lindsay Pulsipher (“True Blood”) — who’s struggling to make ends meet and stay connected to her daughter, Bree (Makenzie Moss). Because her husband’s benefits aren’t enough to cover Amber’s expenses, she’s in danger of losing her house and most valued possessions. Her mother-in-law (Kim Delaney) is breathing down her neck concerning Bridgette’s financial well-being and a perceived assumption that her daughter-in-law is losing touch with her son’s legacy. She isn’t, but that’s what mothers-in-law do in movies. Before her husband’s death, Amber was a God-fearing, church-going, choir-singing, small-town Christian wife and mother. And, while Bridgette continues to attend church and Sunday school, Amber has lost her faith. Fortunately, she’s surrounded by friends who’ve never given up on her ability to walk the broken path back to the lord. Now, in real life, her friends and pastor might have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help her clear the hurdles in her life or chained themselves to the doors of the local VA headquarters. Instead, Amber’s helping hand arrives in the form of a cocky, if self-destructive NASCAR driver, Cody Jackson (Andrew W. Walker), who’s in need of some small-town redemption himself. In the purest of all possible ways, Cody and Amber make a love connection, which, itself, is tested by circumstances. Cronk throws in the kitchen sink by adding a crippled war veteran, whose life was saved by Amber’s husband in combat and a divinely inspired go-cart race for kids in the Sunday school. You might be able to guess the rest. God Bless the Broken Road may not insult its audience by saving money on production values, but it probably recouped some of it expenditures with annoying product placements. Also among the admirably diverse cast members are former NFL star LaDainian Tomlinson, actress Robin Givens, prototypical Southerner Gary Grubbs and “American Idol”-winner Jordin Sparks. Bonus features include featurettes, “Delivering God’s Message: Casting God Bless the Broken Road,” “Restoring Faith: Mending the Broken Road” and “Pedals and Prayers: Racing Alongside God.”

Gosford Park: Special Edition: Blu-ray
The Serpent’s Egg: Special Edition: Blu-ray
Arrow Academy has outdone itself this month with impeccably restored “special editions” of Robert Altman’s period murder-mystery, Gosford Park (2001) and Ingmar Bergman’s curious pre-Nazi drama, The Serpent’s Egg (1977). Lovers of shows adapted from Agatha Christie’s novels, “Upstairs, Downstairs,” “Downton Abbey” and “The Grand” may not be aware of Altman’s unexpected foray into the world of post-Victorian aristocracy and the final vestiges of polite society. They definitely should check out this splendidly restored edition, however.  If it immediately reminds Anglophiles of a certain fabulously successful “Masterpiece” series, it’s because Gosford Park was written by Julian Fellowes, the creator of “Downton Abbey,” from a concept by Altman and actor Bob Balaban. In fact, “Downton Abbey” was originally planned as a spin-off of the film, but, instead, was developed as a stand-alone property and re-set to begin decades earlier. It also might have had something to do with the rather shabby greeting the movie received from British critics, even before its release. American critics loved Gosford Park, though, and, even without a prominent Hollywood star, would become one of Altman’s most commercially successful pictures in the U.S. It takes place over the course of a weekend, inside and on the grounds of a lavish country estate, where a couple of dozen upper-crust twits have gathered for a so-called “shooting party.” Of equal interest to Altman are the assorted maids, butlers, cooks and dressers who slavishly cater to the whims of the guests. When, nearly halfway through the movie, the master of the McCordle household (Michael Gambon) is found dead, with a knife stuck in his chest – uselessly, because he’d already been poisoned – an inept police Inspector Thompson (Stephen Fry) discovers that almost everyone under the house’s several roofs and ceilings should be considered a possible suspect. Among them are characters played by Alan Bates, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jeremy Northam, Bob Balaban, Richard E. Grant, Helen Mirren, Clive Owen, Maggie Smith, Emily Watson, Eileen Atkins, Kelly Macdonald and Ryan Phillippe. Altman was smart enough to know how much he needed to learn about the characters and period, and he did extensive research prior to committing film to camera. On set, he also listened to the advice of people who were “born into service” and can remember every misplaced fork and mislaid cufflink. The set includes new commentary with Geoff Andrew and David Thompson, as well as two previous tracks by Altman, production designer Stephen Altman and producer David Levy, and writer-producer Julian Fellowes; fresh interviews with executive producer Jane Barclay and actress Natasha Wightman, who played Lavinia Meredith; deleted scenes, with optional commentary; and archival background and making-of featurettes.

For those who’ve yet to save enough money to afford Criterion Collection’s essential “Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema,” it’s worth knowing that one of the maestro’s most atypical works, The Serpent’s Egg, already is available a la carte from Arrow Academy. In 1977, Bergman teamed with Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis (La strada) for the director’s first and only Hollywood-financed feature. It is set in Berlin, 1923, at the height of the country’s post-WWI economic crisis and the dawn of fascism. Out-of-work circus performer Abel Rosenberg (David Carradine) is living in poverty and drowning himself in booze. When his brother commits suicide, he moves into the apartment of his sister-in-law, Manuela (Liv Ullmann), who sings in a cabaret that makes the Kit Kat Klub, in Cabaret, look like a Catskills resort. Abel will soon become embroiled in a murder mystery that requires his presence in the local morgue to identify the bodies of people who’ve died in Manuela’s neighborhood. He assumes that he’s suspected in their deaths because he’s a Jew and, therefore, an easy target for police persecution. Adolph Hitler’s about to be sent to prison for the failed Beer Hall Putsch, and it will give him the time to write “Mein Kampf.” Meanwhile, Abel manages to land a job working as a clerk in a hospital, assisting with the archiving of patient cards, while Manuela finds work in another part of the hospital clinic. One night, in another foreshadowing of the Holocaust, Abel is alerted to files containing detailed reports of graphic and inhumane experiments conducted on patients there in the past few years. Things go further downhill for the Rosenbergs from there.

It’s entirely possible that The Serpent’s Egg would have been easier to embrace if Bergman hadn’t gone into self-imposed exile from Sweden over tax-evasion charges and suffered a nervous breakdown from the humiliation. The charges didn’t amount to anything, but the damage was done. The Serpent’s Egg was filmed on location in West Berlin, in English, with only one performer who had worked with him previously, Ullmann, and cinematographer Sven Nykvist. He was overwhelmed by the size of the crew and his inability to maintain logistical control. It’s palpable in the finished product, which was roundly derided by many of the same critics who had previously worshipped nearly everything he’d touched. As is often the case with such perceived failures, The Serpent’s Egg is far more interesting in hindsight than it was in 1977. The city’s Kafkaesque aura of dread is palpable, thanks to the atmospheric production design, and Ullmann is always fun to watch. Carradine was riding high at the time, as well. The Blu-ray adds commentary by Carradine; “Bergman’s Egg,” a newly filmed appreciation by critic and author Barry Forshaw; “Away From Home,” an archival featurette, including interviews with Carradine and Ullmann; “German Expressionism,” an archival interview with author Marc Gervais; a stills gallery; a reversible sleeve, featuring two artwork choices; and an illustrated collector’s booklet, with new writing on the film by author Geoffrey Macnab.

True Stories: Criterion Collection: Blu-ray
When word got out that David Byrne was making his feature-directing debut with a musical ode to the “extraordinariness of ordinary American life,” most of artsy-fartsy fans probably expected something that could make them feel superior to the folks in flyover country. Byrne has described the film as “a project with songs based on true stories from tabloid newspapers. It’s like ‘60 Minutes’ on acid.” If that was the intention, the LSD must have been cut with something sweet and endearing, because the residents of Virgil, Texas, to whom we’re introduced in True Stories (1986), are only slightly more unusual than the people most of us knew growing up in Anywhere, USA. Not surprisingly, too, the stories Byrne collected from the tabloids were far less exploitative than their headlines would lead readers to believe. Byrne sports a huge 10-gallon hat and rodeo-ready shirt to guide viewers through Virgil, which, like everywhere else in the state, is preparing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Texas’ independence from Mexico. He approaches the city’s Celebration of Specialness and everyone he meets there with a straight face and abundance of curiosity. Even when John “The Bachelor Cowboy” Goodman begins his showcase song with the lyrics, written by Byrne, “People like us (Who answer the telephone)/People like us (Growing big as a house)/People like us (Gonna make it because)/We don’t want freedom/We don’t want justice/We just want someone to love,” there’s no implied sense of irony or derision. His tabloid-worthy trait derived from his openly soliciting for a wife, through television commercials and newspaper ads. Today, of course, Goodman’s Louis Fyne would be only one of several million other people looking for “someone to love” on the Internet.

Other characters based on tabloid headlines include Swoosie Kurtz, who plays a perfectly healthy woman who hasn’t left her bed in years, preferring to watch the world go by on television. Spalding Gray and Annie McEnroe are a married couple, who, for years, have only communicated with each other through their children. Jo Harvey Allen is “The Lying Woman,” who never tells the same lie twice – or the truth, for that matter — about her personal background. When Pops Staples isn’t taking care of the bed-ridden Miss Rollings, he practices Santeria at an altar in a room no larger than a closet. A parade features local groups that seem fictional – Shriners in miniature Mustangs, dozens of babies in strollers, an accordion marching band – but probably aren’t. A fashion show at the local mall mirrored any of the catwalk shows put on by John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana in Paris, with suits constructed from sod and Astroturf and towering ornamental headwear. As shot by cinematographer Ed Lachman, Texas becomes a hyper-realistic landscape of endless vistas, shopping malls and prefab metal buildings. It’s pre-Trumpian in every way possible. True Stories didn’t do well at the box office during its initial release, but it achieved cult status in VHS and DVD. The Talking Heads music holds up wonderfully well, whether it’s the band’s version of the songs or one of the characters is singing. It’s also fun to watch Goodman, Kurtz and Gray, especially, in early performances. The restored 4K digital transfer arrives with a new documentary about the film’s production history; a new program about designer Tibor Kalman; deleted scenes; a separate soundtrack CD; and a “tabloid” booklet, featuring new writings on the film and archival material.

School Daze: 30th Anniversary: Blu-ray
Looking back at the reviews that accompanied the release, 30 years ago, of Spike Lee’s sophomore feature, I was struck by how negative so many of them were. Several compared School Daze unfavorably to Animal House (1978) and Revenge of the Nerds, which, likewise, were set on college campuses and relied on their characters’ antisocial behavior for laughs. While there was no shortage of misbehaving in School Daze, Lee had other things on his mind, as well, something most white critics missed. In the late-1980s, historically black colleges and universities were on the decline and thought, by some, to provide an inferior education to other public and private schools, which benefitted from greater diversity, larger endowments and easier access to graduate schools. Lee enrolled in Morehouse College, where he made his first student film, “Last Hustle in Brooklyn” (1979), and took film courses at Clark Atlanta University, before graduating with a BA in mass communication from Morehouse. Four years later, he submitted “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads” as his master’s thesis at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. (Classmates Ang Lee and Ernest R. Dickerson worked on the film as assistant director and cinematographer, respectively.) In 1985, Lee began work on his first feature film, She’s Gotta Have It, with a budget of $175,000. When the film was released in 1986, it grossed over $7 million at the domestic box office. As usual, that number raised eyebrows in Hollywood. He would need substantially more money to finance the kinds of movies he wanted to make in the future. He’d have to settle for an estimated $6.5 million for School Daze and Do the Right Thing.

School Daze takes place over Homecoming Weekend at historically black Mission College. It’s a big deal for administrators who hope to relieve of returning alumni of money made, in part, because of their college diplomas. It’s an inopportune time for Vaughn “Dap” Dunlap (Laurence Fishburne) to initiate anti-apartheid demonstrations, encouraging students to boycott classes until the school divests itself from investments in South African companies. It’s an even worse time for fraternities and sororities to rachet up their rivalries to levels that threaten violence and simultaneously confront the anti-apartheid protesters for stealing their thunder. By pledging the absurdly macho Gamma Phi Gamma, Half-Pint (Lee) finds himself in the middle of a feud led by his older cousin, Dap, and Julian Eaves (Giancarlo Esposito), the Dean Big Brother Almighty of Gamma Phi Gamma Fraternity, Incorporated. Additionally, the Gammas’ “women’s auxiliary” — the Gamma Rays – is at war with the non-Greek women over the perceived correctness of their skin tones, body shape, hair and financial backgrounds. Some of the Rays will stop at nothing to meet a Gamma man’s demands, including agreeing to take Half-Point’s virginity at a house party. If nothing else, School Daze demonstrates how students at historically black colleges could be as petty, prejudiced and cruel as their counterparts at historically white school. It also shows how Mission College provided a safe haven for students who might feel overshadowed and lost at larger, more impersonal institutions. That’s one of key points brought up in panel discussions, Q&As and interviews included in the Sony Blu-ray package, which goes deep on Bill Lee’s musical score, individual songs (“Da Butt”) and Otis Sallid’s choreography, all of which are terrific. Besides Fishburne and Esposito, the cast and crew included Ossie Davis, Kadeem Harrison, Branford Marsalis, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Bill Nunn, Roger Guenveur Smith, Jasmine Guy, Kasi Lemmons, Samuel L. Jackson, casting director Robi Reed, costume designers Jennifer Ingram and Willi Smith, and musician Terence Blanchard, most whom got their first major exposure on School Daze.

Lucio Fulci’s Zombie: Limited Special Edition: Blu-ray
No Zombie Apocalypse completist should consider their mission complete, without at least one screening of Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (1979), which also has been released under the titles “Zombie Flesh Eaters” and “Zombie 2.” (In Italy, it’s considered the “unofficial sequel” to George A. Romero’s 1978 thriller, Dawn of the Dead, which was shown there as “Zombi.”) It has its detractors, but, considering what’s available today, Zombie benefits from some truly disgusting special-makeup effects, a memorable Fabio Frizzi musical track and an underwater confrontation between a zombie, a topless scuba diver (Auretta Gay) and a tiger shark. Now, that’s entertainment. The picture opens with a ghost ship arriving at the New York harbor, with no one aboard except a hidden undead passenger. A Harbor Patrol officer is killed by the zombie, which, after being shot by another officer, falls overboard and disappears. At the morgue, the cop’s corpse re-animates itself. When public-health authorities find the boat-owner’s daughter, Anne Bowles (Tisa Farrow), the only information she can provide is that he’s probably in the Caribbean and she hasn’t been in contact with him in months. On the deserted boat, Anne meets a snooping journalist, Peter West (Ian McCulloch), who suggests they travel to the island of Matul and confront her physician father. To get there, they’re required to hitch a ride on a boat manned by Brian Hull (Al Cliver) and Susan Barrett (Gay), whose holiday sail will take an unexpected turn when they reach Matul. Once there, Anne discovers that her father, Dr. David Menard (Richard Johnson), has been running a hospital and researching voodoo rites. Naturally, as the death toll rises, so, too, does the population of reanimated corpses. Not even the doctor’s wife, Paola (Olga Karlatos), is exempt from the carnage. By the time the 91-minute movie ends, the Zombie Apocalypse is virtually assured, as are several sequels. The three-disc Blue Underground package benefits from a fresh 4K restoration, from the original uncut and uncensored camera negative; a CD of the original motion-picture soundtrack; commentaries with Troy Howarth, author of “Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films,” and McCulloch and Diabolik magazine editor Jason J. Slater; an introduction by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who also supplies an appreciation; dozens of interviews; a collectable booklet, with a new essay by author Stephen Thrower; a poster; and a stills gallery.

The Critters Collection: Blu-ray
Some old movie franchises never die … they fade away for a while, before returning a quarter-century later on cable TV and DVD/Blu-ray packages. Such is the case for the Critters series, which, in addition to being cleaned up and accessorized for Shout!Factory’s The Critters Collection, is springing back to life. On October 22, it was announced that SyFy was in talks to acquire the licensing rights to the Critters franchise, as well as the horror-comedy, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, in order to produce new sequels to both properties. Meanwhile, an animated Internet series, “Critters: A New Binge,” wrapped production in Vancouver during the summer and reportedly will serve as a reboot. First, a recap: the series follows a group of malevolent carnivorous aliens from outer space, Krites, that roll into balls, like hedgehogs, and cause mayhem as they roam the landscape. The small, spiky animals have large mouths and sharp teeth. The spikes on their backs can be launched as projectiles, rendering the victim unconscious. Between the first and second installments, the little boogers lost their ability to grow to a much larger size.

In Critters (1986), the terrified Brown family is trapped in a deadly nightmare and must fight for their lives against a litter of extraterrestrial, bloodthirsty monsters. It appears to be a losing battle, until two intergalactic bounty hunters arrive, determined to eliminate the creatures from Earth. In Critters 2: The Main Course (1988), it turns out that some eggs have survived the purge and are popping open, bringing about another crisis. Brad Brown (Scott Grimes) is required to return to Earth to fight the slightly different looking aliens, along with three bounty hunters. In Critters 3 (1991), 16-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio makes his feature debut as a beleaguered Los Angeles apartment dweller, called upon to lead the fight against an invading force of Krites. (Let’s see if they can afford the rent.) In the final film, Critters 4 (1992), a super strain of genetically engineered monsters is designed to take over the universe from space. This time, Brad Dourif and Angela Bassett must battle the bloodthirsty hairballs. The package comes stuffed with commentaries, feature-length making-of pieces, behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes, alternative endings and stills galleries.

Urban Legend: Collector’s Edition: Blu-ray
Urban Legends: The Final Cut: Blu-ray
Candyman: Collector’s Edition: Blu-ray
Shout Factory has gotten into the urban-myth business in a big way by re-packaging and restoring the two theatrical releases in the Urban Legends series: Urban Legend (1998) and Urban Legends: The Final Cut (2000). (The 2005 straight-to-video triquel, Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, is only available through streaming outlets.) In the original, a New England college student, Natalie (Alicia Witt) finds herself at the center of a series of sadistic murders, staged to resemble time-honored legends. She resolves to find the truth about her school’s own legend: a 25-year-old story of a student massacre at the hands of an abnormal psych professor. As the school’s fraternities prepare to celebrate the macabre anniversary, Natalie senses that she has become the not-so-mythical killer’s next victim. Other cast members include Jared Leto, Rebecca Gayheart, Michael Rosenbaum, Loretta Devine, Tara Reid, John Neville, Robert Englund, Danielle Harris and Natasha Gregson Wagner. In the sequel, Amy Mayfield (Jennifer Morrison), a film student at Alpine University, struggles to complete her thesis project on urban legends, but her crew members are falling prey to fatal “accidents.”  Amy is forced to unmask the killer before she, too, becomes a victim. She’s joined by Matthew Davis, Hart Bochner, Joey Lawrence, Anson Mount, Eva Mendes and Jacinda Barrett. In addition to vintage features, the sets add new commentary, a lengthy making-of documentary, extended interviews and behind-the-scenes material. “Final Cut” adds another making-of doc and interview with actress Jessica Cauffiel.

Bernard Rose’s Candyman (1992) is based on a different sort of urban legend. This one, however, impacted Hollywood’s occasionally lucrative urban demographic, which previously supported blaxploitation flicks. Despite the protagonist being is a white woman – Virginia Madsen, fresh off an incendiary performance in The Hot SpotCandyman was set largely in Chicago’s now-demolished Cabrini-Green Public Housing Projects. The interracial aspect exploited certain well-established clichés about black men and blond women, while establishing that the projects were an urban jungle, unsuitable for exploration by such fragile flowers of femininity. In fact, as the movie concludes, Chicago’s notoriously segregated projects were as hazardous for occupation by black single mothers as they were for anyone else. On the credit roll, at least, the basis for Candyman was Clive Barker’s short story, “The Forbidden,” which was set in Liverpool. In fact, Houston serial killer Dean Corll, a white man, already was dubbed Candy Man for giving sweets to his young victims … 28, in all. Atlanta serial killer Wayne Williams is black, as were his young and adult victims. As happens in the movie, an architecture flaw in the Chicago buildings allowed a real-life killer to enter adjacent apartments through medicine cabinet. The swarms of bees and hook came later. Candyman’s other link to urban legend is a game called “Bloody Mary,” in which the player turns off the lights, says the ghost’s name five times into a mirror, and waits to be murdered. Here, graduate student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) is researching stories told about Candyman, a slave spirit with a hook on the stub that once had a hand attached to it. (Another urban legend posits that the production company paid off gang members, who also haunted the projects’ hallways, selling drugs and recruiting new hoodlums.) As in real life, Chicago police in the movie are portrayed as having better things to do than encourage the unscientific theories of an attractive student, although Madsen’s blond hair and unmistakably ample bosom get her through the door. They were as wary as anyone else when it came to answering calls at Cabrini-Green, where the gang-bangers held the high ground and carried more powerful weapons. It was safer and simpler for them to pin the death of the grad student’s black roommate on Lyle and leave it at that. The fact is, though, Candyman has retained its ability to unnerve viewers and Tony Todd’s portrayal of the ghostly killer is still capable of raising goosebumps. The theatrical cut is a 2K restoration, from a 4K scan of the original negative. It adds new commentaries with Rose and Todd, with authors Stephen Jones and Kim Newman. The second disc contains the similarly restored uncut version of the movie; new interviews with actors Todd, Madsen, Kasi Lemmons and DeJuan Guy, production designer Jane Ann Stewart and special makeup-effects artists Bob Keen, Gary J. Tunnicliffe and Mark Coulier; writer Douglas E. Winter’s take on Barker’s “The Forbidden”; and “Urban Legend: Unwrapping Candyman,” a critical analysis of the film with writers Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes. That’s a lot of stuff.

TV-to-DVD
Acorn:  Picnic at Hanging Rock: Blu-ray
Acorn: Jack Irish: Season 2: Blu-ray
Yellowstone: Season 1
Sometimes, a mystery novel will inspire the kind of passionate response from readers that gives characters and plot points lives of their own. A generation, or two, later, the fiction will have evolved into something resembling fact, or, as we’ve seen in Urban Legend and Candyman, an urban legend. Joan Lindsay’s 1967 historical novel, “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” followed just such a subliminal progression. A huge hit in Australia, where Hanging Rock is a real place, the novel was adapted eight years later by New Wave director Peter Weir. Picnic at Hanging Rock is considered the country’s first international sensation. Nicolas Roeg’s survival thriller, Walkabout (1971), had already whet the appetites of Up Over audiences for movies depicting Australia’s bicultural malaise and the haunting beauty of its Outback. After “Hanging Rock,” Weir’s similarly eerie The Last Wave (1977) solidified his reputation and opened the door for other Aussie filmmakers, including Fred Schepisi (The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith), Bruce Beresford (Breaker Morant), George Miller (Mad Max), Paul Cox (Man of Flowers), Phillip Noyce (Heatwave), Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career) and Jane Campion (Sweetie). The government, in its lack of foresight, eventually pulled the plug on financing its leading cultural exports, leading to an exodus of actors and directors.

Both the movie and 2016 mini-series, “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” depict the mysterious disappearances of three schoolgirls and a teacher on Valentine’s Day, 1900. The complex, interwoven narratives chart the subsequent investigation and the event’s far-reaching impact on the students, families, and staff of Appleyard College and on the nearby township. At 115 tense and beautifully rendered minutes, Weir’s adaptation was limited to focusing on the event, investigation and some of the aftermath. Fremantle Australia’s twice as long, six-episode adaptation — available through Acorn Media — takes a much deeper look at the events that led to the fateful Valentine’s Day mystery, expanding, as well, on the individual students, teachers, police and the enigmatic Mrs. Hester Appleyard. Although English actress Natalie Dormer (“The Tudors”) looks a tad too young and pretty to play the headmistress and founder of an exclusive and very expensive Victorian finishing school, the extra time allows her to grow into the part. By and large, the pampered students are extremely smart, precocious and curious about their blossoming sexuality. Only a couple of them qualify as shrinking violets. Beatrix Christian and Alice Addison’s screenplay does nothing to dispel the viewers’ curiosity over the validity of the mystery. Neither does it allow for alternate explanations for the disappearances. It adopts Lindsay’s philosophy, as advanced in the forward to her novel: “Whether ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ is fact or fiction, my readers must decide for themselves. As the fateful picnic took place in the year nineteen hundred, and all the characters who appear in this book are long since dead, it hardly seems important.” It fooled me. Garry Phillips’ evocative cinematography was rewarded with a trophy from the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. Special features include 44 minutes of cast-and-crew interviews, and a 37-minute behind-the-scenes featurette.

Also from Australia and Acorn Media comes “Jack Irish: Season 2,” an excellent crime-investigation series adapted from detective novels by author Peter Temple. Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential) plays the title character, a former criminal lawyer turned private investigator and debt collector. It began life as three feature-length made-for-TV movies, before being adapted into an ongoing series, of which two six-episode chunks thus far have been broadcast. Besides Pearce, the mini-series features regular appearances by such Aussie stalwarts as Marta Dusseldorp (“Janet King”), Aaron Pedersen (Goldstone), Shane Jacobson (Kenny), Deborah Mailman (“Mystery Road”) and Kiwi actor Roy Billing (“Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities”). In the second season of the mini-series, Jack’s life has hit a rough patch: his beloved local pub may be sold; his journalist girlfriend, Linda (Dusseldorp), has found a more dependable partner; the horse-racing world is in turmoil; and the suspicious death of an international student, at a dubious Australian college, plunges Jack into a high-stakes investigation. To crack the case, he will need Linda’s help, along with assistance from a beautiful, if conflicted psychiatrist (Danielle Cormack). The package contains a recap of the first season; a behind-the-scenes piece, with the cast and crew, on shooting on location in India, the characters’ wardrobe and what resonates with audiences; tweet readings; and cast interviews.

Kevin Costner assumes the role of high-country J.R. Ewing, in Paramount Network’s prime-time soap, “Yellowstone.” The primary differences between it and the knock-offs that followed in the wake of “Dallas” are the lovely locations — Chief Joseph Ranch in Darby, Montana, and Park City, Utah – and the creative talents of Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, Sicario). His writing gives the series its edge, while Costner adds his charisma. Unlike “Dallas,” however, “Yellowstone” also contains brief nudity from Kelly Reilly, Ambyr M. Reyes and Kelsey Asbille, and near-nudity of Barret Swatek, all of whom would give the Ewing gals a run for their money. John Dutton (Costner), who controls the largest contiguous ranch in the U.S., is under the constant threat of land developers, Indian-casino interests, bankers and oil speculators. I can’t recall if President Trump and his flunkies in the Interior Department are mentioned, but they’d almost certainly clear the way for developers, frackers, lumber interests and oil barons to exploit the pristine landscape … as long as they share their profits with Republican fat cats. Costner may be one of the few people with enough clout to stop them. The cast also includes Wes Bentley, Luke Grimes, Cole Hauser, Danny Huston, Gil Birmingham, Brecken Merrill, Jefferson White and David Annable. The set adds all sorts of bonus features, including interviews with the show’s stars, creators and designers and featurettes on the music and special effects.

Also new to Blu-ray

Bright Lights, Big City: Special Edition: Blu-ray
James Bridges’ 1988 adaptation of screenwriter Jay McInerney’s best-selling novel suffered from too much Hollywood studio meddling, including the hiring and firing of directors, actors and writers. Among the concerns were the frequent depictions of cocaine use by the clean-cut yuppie characters. To snare Tom Cruise, one rewrite of McInerney’s script eliminated the substance entirely and Michael J. Fox’s agent feared its use would tarnish his client’s squeaky-clean image. Removing cocaine from Bright Lights, Big City would be like substituting the booze in Days of Wine and Roses with Shirley Temples. Fox plays Jamie Conway, an aspiring writer who abandons the wheat fields of Kansas for the skyline of Manhattan and gets caught up in the city’s very high life. It’s an old story, but, in 1988, not yet overfamiliar. Still, the movie’s a hot mess. It co-stars Kiefer Sutherland, Phoebe Cates, Dianne Wiest, Swoosie Kurtz and Kelly Lynch. Donald Fagen’s musical soundtrack and Gordon Willis’ cinematography are almost worth the price of a rental, however. It adds commentaries with McInerney and cinematographer Gordon Willis; a photo gallery, mini-poster and featurettes, ”Jay McInerney’s The Light Within” and ”Big City Lights.”

Basic Instinct 2: Special Edition: Blu-ray
Michael Caton-Jones’s sequel to the steamy hot Basic Instinct suffered from one irrefutable fact. Too much of the original’s popularity, especially in DVD, derived from watching and re-watching Sharon Stone cross her panty-deprived legs to unnerve cops played by Wayne Knight and Michael Douglas. It was the ultimate tough act to follow. Still, the demand for a sequel by Hollywood producers far outweighed the public’s desire to see if Stone could top it, which she didn’t. In Basic Instinct 2, Scotland Yard appoints psychiatrist Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey) to evaluate Stone’s thriller-writing Catherine Tramell. A man in a car she was driving died when it plunged into a river, and she didn’t look the least bit remorseful. As with Detective Nick Curran in the first film, Glass becomes a victim of Tramell’s seductive games. The Blu-ray package contains both the 114-minute theatrical version and unrated 116-minute extended cut of the film, in its original 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio; Canton-Jones’ commentary on both editions; deleted scenes and an alternate ending, with optional director commentary; and the featurette, ”Between the Sheets: A Look Inside Basic Instinct 2.” Plans for a second sequel died at the box office.

Memories of Me: Blu-ray
In Henry Winkler’s feature debut as a director, Memories of Me (1988), comics Billy Crystal and Alan King pile up the schmaltz to a height even a Sherpa would have a difficult time scaling. After a heart attack, Abbie Polin (Crystal), a New York heart surgeon – ironic, huh? — goes to Los Angeles to reconnect with his estranged father, Abe (King), who’s known in Hollywood as the “king of the extras.” Abbie’s girlfriend, Lisa (JoBeth Williams), comes along for the ride. Soon enough, Abe begins experiencing memory loss and eventually is diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. Can father and son patch their wounds before it’s too late? Duh. The Blu-ray adds a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Streets of Fire: 35th Anniversary Edition: Steelbook: Blu-ray
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey: Steelbook Edition: Blu-ray
Steelbook collectors will be happy to learn that Streets of Fire (1984) and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991) have arrived on Blu-ray, in their preferred packaging option. The only thing that separates the new Streets of Fire edition from last year’s “Collector’s Edition” is a new DTS-HD Master Audio 4.1 soundtrack, created from the 70mm six-track magnetic audio. It enhances the original presentation, which featured original songs written by Jim Steinman, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty and Ry Cooder and performed by the Blasters and the Fixx. The PG-rated Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey follows its predecessor into steelbook by about six months and “Bill & Ted’s Most Excellent Collection,” in Blu-ray, by only two years. That edition added a pair of new commentaries and a fresh featurette. As usual, superfans should check the details before investing.

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“That’s the joke of Prune, that we just pretend to be a restaurant. But we’re actually an institute for living. We hide behind the fried eggs, and we hide behind the marrow bones, but really what we’re doing here is trying to change the whole goddamn world, one lamb chop at a time. It’s slow going, but I think we’re getting there.”
~ Gabrielle Hamilton

“I’m into pleasure rebellion,” she says, lighting a cigarette. “I’ve shared all my misery and tragedy but in my personal life I’m a cheerleader, an optimist. That aspect of myself is not shared. Once you are free from trauma, you are going to luxuriate in pleasure and happiness – personal pleasure. A divine gluttony, I should say.”
Lydia Lunch