New to View: Dec. 3
By Bob Bloom
The following titles are being released on Tuesday, Dec. 3, unless otherwise noted:
The Goldfinch (Blu-ray + digital)
Details: 2019, Warner Home Video
Rated: R, language, drug use
The lowdown: This adaptation of Donna Tartt’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel tells the story of Theodore Decker who, at 13, loses his mother in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The tragic event sends Theodore into a lifetime spiral of grief and guilt, as well as reinvention and redemption.
His only grasp of hope from that day is a painting of a tiny bird chained to its perch.
The movie did not translate well from page to screen. At 149 minutes, it was seen as too long and rather dull, with characters who were not seen as people, but as types.
The film was very sterile in its presentation and did not carry the emotional heft that its potential afforded.
A vast majority of critics found the movie disappointing, giving it a 24 percent fresh rating at Rottentomatoes.com.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 Dolby digital audio descriptive track and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include deleted scenes, a featurette on the real “Goldfinch” and “The Goldfinch Unbound” featurette.
City on a Hill: Season One
Details: 2019, Showtime Entertainment-CBS DVD-Paramount Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A four-disc set featuring all 10 episodes of this dramatic Showtime series set in Boston in the early 1990s.
Aldis Hodge stars as Assistant District Attorney Decourcy Ward and Kevin Bacon is veteran FBI agent Jack Rohr, who form an uneasy alliance to clean up the city by getting violent criminals off the streets and end the pipeline of corruption and racism that runs through the city’s various law enforcement agencies — including Rohr’s own FBI.
The series touches upon issues captured in such movies set in Boston as Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” and Scott Cooper’s “Black Mass,” in which Johnny Depp starred as James “Whitey” Bulger.
The series is a bit dark, hard-hitting and suspenseful.
Technical aspects: 16:9 full-screen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus materials include three inside episode featurettes, a behind-the-scenes look at Kyra Sedgwick directing an episode a look at capturing Boston on screen.
Big Trouble in Little China: Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1986, Scream Factory
Rated: PG-13, language, violence
The lowdown: Kurt Russell again teams with director John Carpenter for this over-the-top supernatural action feature set in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Russell is tough-talking, swaggering truck driver Jack Burton whose life is turned upside down when his best friend’s fiancée is kidnapped.
To aid his friend in rescuing the girl, Burton discovers that there is a dangerous, magical world lurking underneath the city, ruled over by Lo Pan, a 2,00-year-old wizard.
Burton and his friends and allies, including Dennis Dun’s Wang Chi and Victor Wong’s Egg Shen, battle the demon-like minions of Lo Pan (the wonderful James Hong).
The movie is a special effects roller-coaster ride that, as crazy as it is, keeps you totally engaged.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras in this two-disc set include three commentary track, an isolated music score, vintage cast and crew interviews, new and archival interviews with Russell, Dun, Hong, Peter Kwong, Donald Li, Carpenter, associate producer/martial arts choreographer James Lew, cinematographer Dean Cundey, producer Larry Franco and stuntman Jeff Imada, deleted scenes, a vintage featurette, a gag reel, an extended ending and a music video.
Details: 2018, Well Go USA Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A Chinese drama about a policeman stranded atop Mount Baekdu who must survive the elements until they are relieved from his post.
The plot sort of meanders between a romantic triangle involving two cops competing for a promotion as well as for the attention of a local nurse, and a crime caper.
When a group of gold thieves stumble upon the cop’s station in search of shelter, a fight for survival ensues.
The movie’s attempts to weave all these threads into a cohesive unit is awkward and does not always succeed.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.65:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.
The Magic Sword (Blu-ray)
Details: 1962, Kino Lorber
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Producer-director Bert I. Gordon’s fantasy is loosely based on the legend of St. George and the dragon.
Gary Lockwood stars as George, a young man in love with the beautiful Princess Helena, whom he has seen from because of the magic of his sorceress mother, Sybil (the delightful Estelle Winwood).
When Helena is kidnapped by the evil sorcerer Lodac (Basil Rathbone), George sets out with a band of knights to rescue her. To reach Lodac’s castle, they must survive the seven curses placed in their path.
The movie is aimed more for kids than adults and mixes laughs with cheap special effects.
Still, it is a nostalgic and campy outing that will keep you entertained and giggling.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: A commentary track with film historian Tim Lucas and filmmaker Larry Blamire is the major bonus component.
Battle of Leningrad (Blu-ray)
Details: 2019, MPI Media Group-Capelight Pictures
Rated: Not rated, war violence
The lowdown: This Russian feature centers on the brutal battle and siege of this city.
The movie begins with a group of cadets leading an evacuation of thousands of civilians from the city as German forces advance.
But a storm strikes during the night, threatening the outdated barge carrying the evacuees.
While awaiting rescue, the next morning, German planes attack the city, beginning one of the most brutal encounters of World War II.
The film focuses more on the impact of those caught in the middle of this historic episode than the logistics of the battle itself.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 16:9 enhanced widescreen picture; Russian and English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.
Details: 1961, Kino Lorber
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This giant-ape B-movie stars Michael Gough as Dr. Charles Decker, a botanist lost in the jungles of Africa for more than a year and presumed dead.
When he does return, he brings with him a baby chimpanzee, named Konga, disappears into his lab and begins working of what he believes will be his greatest achievement — a plant serum that produces accelerated growth in animals.
The mad scientist injects Konga with the serum that makes him grow to gorilla size, then hypnotizes the chimp into killing his enemies.
But when Konga overdoses on the serum, he grows to King Kong-like size and attacks London. It’s up to the British army to put him down.
This is a campy feature propelled by Gough’s performance.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.66:1 picture; English DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: A radio spot, image gallery and trailer comprise the extras.
Details: 1972, Arrow Video
Rated: R, violence, language, sexual content
The lowdown: George Roy Hill directed this adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s highly acclaimed novel about Billy Pilgrim (Michael Sacks), a World War II soldier who has mysteriously become unstuck in time.
The movie follows Pilgrim’s various lives from soldier during the fire-bombing of Dresden, to the planet of Tralfamadore and also as a middle-aged optometrist in upstate New York.
The film does a solid job in adapting what many considered an unadaptable novel.
The movie costars Valerie Perrine as Montana Wildhack, the centerfold-actress Pilgrim lives with in a geodesic dome on the planet, Sharon Gams as his wife, Valencia and Rob Liebman as Lazzaro, the sociopath bully who torments Pilgrim during WWII.
“Slaughterhouse-Five” is an artistic endeavor that is interesting to view. It features a strong digital transfer.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English LPCM monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a commentary track, an analysis of the film from author-critic Kim Newman, an interview with cast member Perry King, a discussion of the musical score, a couple of behind-the-scene featurettes and a booklet about the movie.
The Bad and the Beautiful (Blu-ray)
Release date: Nov. 19
Details: 1952, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Vincente Minnelli directed this inside Hollywood drama that focuses on Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas), a talented movie producer, who is hated by many people — three in particular: director Fred Amiel (Barry Sullivan), actress Georgia Lorrison (Lana Turner) and screenwriter James Lee Bartow (Dick Powell).
The trio owe their careers to Shields, so when fellow producer Harry Pebbel (Walter Pidgeon) asks them to hear Shields’ pitch for a new film, they reluctantly agree.
The film, told mostly in flashback, earned five Academy Awards, including best supporting actress for Gloria Grahame, screenplay for Charles Schnee, art direction, cinematography and costume design.
The cast also includes Gilbert Roland, Leo G. Carroll and Vanessa Brown.
The release is a made-on-demand Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection and can be found at www.wb.com/warnerarchive or other Internet sites.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.37:1 full-screen picture; English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a documentary about Turner and short instrumental cues from David Raksin’s score.
Details: 2006, Shout! Factory
Rated: R, drug addiction, disturbing images, nudity, sexual content, language
The lowdown: Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish star in this intense story of a Dan (Ledger), a young poet, who falls in love with Candy (Cornish), a young art student who is attracted to his bohemian lifestyle.
The two begin a life together, but the use of recreational drugs soon leads to the use of heroin.
This alters their relationship, which soon devolves between highs of ecstasy and lows of despair and self-destructive drug use.
The two are hooked on the drug and each other.
Despite its harrowing subject matter, the movie has a sweetness to it.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Supplemental offerings include a making of featurette, a commentary track and a poem in motion featurette.
The World, the Flesh and the Devil (Blu-ray)
Release date: Nov. 19
Details: 1959, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This is a strange post-apocalyptic drama set in the aftermath of some nuclear cataclysm — it seems that a mysterious radioactive cloud has destroyed most of mankind.
Harry Belafonte stars as Ralph Burton, a Pennsylvania coal miner trapped in a cave-in. When he emerges, he finds everyone is gone. Ralph makes his way to New York and, likewise, finds it a mammoth ghost town.
For the first part of the movie, Belafonte’s Ralph simply wanders the streets, singing to himself and talking to department store mannequins.
Soon, he discovers another person — a young woman named Sarah, played by Inger Stevens.
The two form a friendship that is threatened with a third survivor, Benson, played by Mel Ferrer, turns up.
This is a movie in which the monsters are bigotry, intolerance and jealousy.
The movie becomes a bit ludicrous in its final act to untangle its romantic triangle. You know, since it was released in 1959, there is no way in hell that Belafonte is going to wind up with Stevens.
Ralph and Benson take up arms to fight for Sarah, but Ralph decides too many have already died and tosses away his weapon. Benson realizes he cannot kill his rival and does likewise.
Thus, writer-director Ranald McDougall creates an ambiguous and hopeful ending as the trio of survivors walk away hand-in-hand and a title card saying “The Beginning” hits the screen before the final fadeout.
The release is a made-on-demand Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection and can be ordered at www.wb.com/warnerarchive or other online dealers.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 widescreen picture; English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Glorifying the American Girl (Blu-ray)
Details: 1929, Kino Lorber Studio Classic
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This early talkie was adapted from legendary Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld’s famous “Follies.”
The simple plot deals with Gloria (Mary Eaton), a young woman who aspires to be a famous showgirl. She leaves her hometown and her musician boyfriend. Arriving in New York, she hooks up with a dancer who is more interested in getting into bed than into show business.
The major segment of this 95-minute movie is recreating a typical Follies show, including appearances by such entertainers as Eddie Cantor, Helen Morgan and Rudy Vallee.
The pre-Code feature also includes some nudity. The film is an example of the all-star musicals that many of the major studios produced as the industry underwent the transition from silent to sound films.
The movie is in black and white, but also includes some color sequences.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.20:1 full-screen picture; English language; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a commentary track by author-film historian Richard Barrios, a travelogue about Hollywood, a Hearst Metrotone News excerpt and a Technicolor short.
Operation Crossbow (Blu-ray)
Release date: Nov. 19
Details: 1965, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: PG-13, war violence
The lowdown: This now-it-can-be-told World War II thriller is partially based on true events. The story centers on a group of saboteurs to destroy an installation where Nazis are developing deadly rockets that can reach London and, eventually, New York.
Just before the team is to parachute to its rendezvous, the pilot of their plane receives a message to abort the mission because it has been compromised.
But that does not stop George Peppard and his others from masquerading as engineers to infiltrate the facility where the rockets are being built.
Many lives are sacrificed so the mission can be completed.
The movie, a made-on-demand Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection is available at www.wb.com/warnerarchive or other Internet sellers.
The all-star cast includes Sophia Loren, John Mills, Trevor Howard, Anthony Quayle, Richard Johnson and Tom Courtenay.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: The major extra is a vintage look back at the movie.
Funan (Blu-ray + DVD)
Details: 2018, Shout! Factory-GKids
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This animated feature marked the debut of filmmaker Denis Do, who uses his own family history to tell this searing story of love, loss and hope.
The movie takes place in Cambodia, starting in April, 1975, where the world of Chou, a young woman, is upended by the arrival of the Khmer Rouge.
During the forced exile from her home, Chou and her husband are separated from their 4-year-old son, who has been sent to an unknown location.
Even as she adapts to her new and brutal reality of working in the fields daily and surviving the grim situation of constantly being watched by soldiers, Chou remains adamant in her determination to reunite her family.
The movie’s beautiful animation is in stark contrast to the harshness of the story.
The film is one adults can appreciate, as some children may finds it disturbing, despite the valuable lessons about humanity and hope it displays.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English and French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH and English subtitles; DVD: 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English and French 2.0 Dolby digital; English SDH and English subtitles.
Don’t miss: The major bonus offering is an interview with Do.
Other titles being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
Adam (DVD & VOD) (Wolfe Video)
American Hunt (DVD & digital) (High Octane Pictures)
Blood Bags (DVD & digital) (High Octane Pictures)
Jake Speed (Blu-ray) (Arrow Video)
Low Tide (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
The Miracle of the Little Prince (Film Movement)
Red Handed (DVD & digital) (High Octane Pictures)
Santa Fake (DVD & digital) (Indion Pictures)
Semper Fi (Blu-ray + digital & DVD) (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
That Pärt Feeling: The Universe of Arvo Pärt (Film Movement)
This Is Our Home (DVD & digital) (Uncork’d Entertainment)
The Tokoloshe (DVD & digital) (Uncork’d Entertainment)
Tower of Silence (DVD & digital) (High Octane Pictures)
Turtle Odyssey: Bunji’s Big Adventure (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray) (Shout! Factory)
Valiant (Blu-ray & DVD & VOD) (Gravitas Ventures)
DIGITAL DOWNLOAD, STREAMING or VOD
Abominable (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Ad Astra (Fox Home Entertainment)
Freaks (Well Go USA Entertainment)
The Gulf: Episode 1 (Sundance Now, Dec. 4)
The Madness Within (Midnight Releasing, Dec. 6)
Trauma Center (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Dec. 6)
The Art Detectives: Series 4 (Acorn TV, Dec. 9)
The Heart Guy: Series 4 (Acorn TV, Dec. 9)
Coming next week: Hustlers
It: Chapter Two
I am a founding member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. I review movies, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. I can be reached by email at email@example.com. You also can follow me on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook. My movie reviews also can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.