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New to View: April 13

by on April 9, 2021
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By Bob Bloom
The following titles are being released on Tuesday, April 13, unless otherwise noted:
The Producers (Blu-ray)
Details: 1968, Kino Lorber Studio Classics
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Today, “The Producers” is commonly recognized as a comedy classic.
It just goes to show how our mindsets and culture has changed — and for the better — in the past 50-plus years.
When it was released in March of 1968, it received mixed reviews, criticized for bad taste and insensitivity for having a plot in which two Jewish producers swindled investors to produce a tasteless musical about Hitler.
“The Producers” is a timeless comedy that, no matter how often, you’ve seen it, remains delightful. You can’t help but laugh as writer-director Mel Brooks, making his film debut, continually throws jokes at you; true, many are low-brow and — in our “woke” society — would be considered sexist and homophobic.
Critics also pointed to the “Springtime for Hitler” musical number as one of the film’s low points.
But they remain funny and, in my view, inoffensive.
The story is simple: down-and-out theatrical producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) teams with account Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) after Bialystock learns that he can make more money producing a sure flop.
He chooses the wrong play, the wrong director and the wrong star. Of course, the play becomes a hit, and the sauerkraut hits the fan for Bialystock and Bloom.
Sure, Mostel’s Bialystock mugs outrageously, but he is like a magnet, you can’t take your eyes off him.
The supporting cast includes Kenneth Mars as playwright Franz Liebkind, Christopher Hewitt as director Roger De Bris, the memorable Dick Shawn as Lorenzo St. DuBois, better known as L.S.D. and Lee Meredith as Ulla the secretary.
“The Producers” is not for those who worship at the altar of political correctness. Those who enjoy madcap comedy in the style of the Marx brothers or The Three Stooges will continue to embrace the movie.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include another informative and interesting commentary track from filmmaker-historian Michael Schlesinger), a making of featurette, a Playhouse outtake and a glowing statement about the movie from Peter Sellers read by writer-director Paul Mazursky.

Doctor X (Blu-ray)
Details: 1932, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Michael Curtiz directed this horror outing that centers on a series of murders, which, as a byproduct, indicate that each body was cannibalized after the killing.
Lee Tracy plays the reporter out to solve the crimes, while Lionel Atwill plays scientist Doctor Xavier, who is called in by the police for his medical expertise.
The investigation soon centers on Atwill’s medical academy because a scalpel used by the killer was traced to his facility. A group of strange scientists fall under suspicion as they are a motley crew of individuals.
The killer, of course, is revealed to be the most unlikely suspect, but don’t let that deter you.
This is a wonderful horror movie filled with eccentric characters and chills.
The cast also includes Fay Wray, a year before she journeys to Skull Island and hooks up with King Kong, as Xavier’s daughter, Preston Foster, John Wray, Harry Beresford, Arthur Edmund Carewe and Robert Warwick.
Fay Wray, as most film buffs know, went on to be featured in a few more horror-thrillers in the next couple of years; most notably her classic encounter with a big ape of Skull Island, being the prey of a demented sculptor in “Mystery of the Wax Museum” and menaced by a mad scientist in “The Vampire Bat.”
Curtiz went on to direct Warner Bos.’ another classic thriller, Mystery of the Wax Museum.”
The Blu-ray not only features the two-color Technicolor release of the movie, but the separately filmed black-and-white version that was intended for smaller U.S. markets and international distribution.
The release is a made-on-demand Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection and can be ordered at www.warnerarchive.com or other online dealers.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.37:1 (16:9 enhanced) full-screen picture; English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus options include a featurette on the horror films directed by Curtiz, a look at the UCLA restoration of the movie and commentaries by Curtiz biographer Alan Rode and Scott MacQueen, head of preservation at the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Spaceballs (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray)
Details: 1987, Kino Lorber Studio Classics
Rated: PG, rude humor, mild violence
The lowdown: Mel Brooks’ “Star Wars” parody failed to reach the heights of his other spoofs such as “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein” and “High Anxiety.”
The jokes are hit-and-miss, with Brooks throwing everything except the Millennium Falcon against the wall to see what sticks. The movie features the usual Brooks schtick, including Jewish-Catskill humor, sight gags, movie merchandising and nods to other sci-fi movies.
The cast of this two-disc set includes Bill Pullman as the heroic Lone Starr, the late John Candy as his half-man, half-dog sidekick, Barf, Rick Moranis as the Darth Vader-lite Dark Helmet, Daphne Zuniga as Druish-princess Vespa and Brooks himself as the Yoda-like Yogurt, keeper of The Schwartz.
The movie offers enough laughs to satisfy the average filmgoer, but ardent Brooks fans may be a bit disappointed.
Technical aspects: 4K UHD: 2160p 4K UHD, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles; Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Supplemental materials include a commentary track with Brooks, a “Force Yourself” featurette, “Spaceballs: The Documentary,” a conversation with Brooks and co-writer Thomas Meehan, a tribute to John Candy, film flubs, an option to watch the movie in “ludicrous speed,” a storyboard to film comparison and an exhibitor trailer with an introduction by Brooks.

Hercules and the Captive Women: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1961, The Film Detective
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Reg Park stars as Hercules in the entry in the long-running sword-and-sandal film genre that was popular in Italy in from the late 1950s through the early 1970s.
In this adventure, Hercules rescues the princess Ismene from a shape-shifting creature. He returns her to her island home of Atlantis, ruled by Ismene’s mother, the evil Queen Antinea, who plans to sacrifice her daughter.
The movie, originally released as “Hercules and the Conquest of Atlantis,” features an English-dubbed audio track. It has been recut and is shorter than the original release.
It contains the usual fights, cheesy special effects and corny dialogue. It is quaint and enjoyable and will appeal to fans of this specialized genre.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.20:1 widescreen picture; English DTS-HD audio; English and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include an introduction by “Mystery Science Theater 3000” writer-and co-star Frank Conniff, a 1992 “MST3K” version of the film, a documentary about the Hercules film franchise, a commentary track by film critic-screenwriter Tim Lucas and liner notes.

Dynasty 3D (Blu-ray)
Details: 1977, Kino Lorber
Rated: R, action violence
The lowdown: This martial arts epic from China is heavily action oriented, which will please devotees of the genre.
The saga deals with the emperor’s son, who is accused of treason against the throne. To survive, he must use all his fighting skills to mow down enemy after enemy.
The action and stunt work are exciting, plus the added bonus of 3D intensifies the experience.
The is the first 3-D Archive release in Compatible 3-D, so it can be viewed on any system. And it includes several pop-out effects.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English (dubbed) 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English (dubbed) 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a series of 3-D shorts and a 3-D music video.

Fukushima 50 (Blu-ray)
Details: 2020, MPI Media Group
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This Japanese feature is a dramatization of the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that killed and displaced thousands of people.
The movie focuses on the power plant workers, known as the Fukushima 50, who remained on the site until the very end, trying to prevent a worse disaster and keep their country safe.
The cast includes Ken Watanabe and Kõichi Satõ.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; Japanese and English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.

“Two Films by Lois Weber”: Sensation Seekers & A Chapter in Her Life (Blu-ray)
Details: 1923, 1927, Kino Lorber
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Today, Lois Weber is remembered by film historians, buffs and cinema academics.
It is unfortunate that general movie audiences have not had the opportunity to view the works of this pioneering filmmaker.
The opportunity to do so, however, is now available with two of Weber’s films, 1923’s “A Chapter in Her Life” and 1927’s “Sensation Seekers,” being released in this Blu-ray double feature.
Weber produced, wrote and directed hundreds of movies during the silent era, many with dealing her concerns for humanity and social justice.
“A Chapter in Her Life” centers on a young girl whose childish innocence exposes the hypocrisy and weakness that threaten the happiness of an aristocratic family.
“Sensation Seekers” is about a free-spirited, small-town girl who seeks adventure and excitement, despite the efforts of a kindly minister to help curb her wild streak. The movie includes a splendid shipwreck sequence and a masquerade ball.
The two movies are worth seeing to help raise awareness of Weber and her contributions movie history and the growth of cinema as an art form.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.33:1 full-screen picture; silent with English intertitles.
Don’t miss: The major extra is a commentary track on “Sensation Seekers” by Shelley Strong, author “Lois Weber in Early Hollywood.”

Entre Nos (DVD)
Details: 2009, IndiePix Films
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This highly acclaimed 2009 movie from the writer-director team of Paola Mendoza and Gloria La Monte was inspired by the arrival of Mendoza’s mother to the United States.
Shortly after coming to New York City with her two children, Mariana (played by Mendoza) is abandoned by her husband.
Knowing very little English, Mariana is forced to fend for herself and her children and, in desperation, turns to the city’s trash, collecting cans so she can put food on the table.
The movie is a heartbreaking and inspiring story about family and determination.
The film garnered an 89 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Technical aspects: 16:9 widescreen picture; Spanish Dolby digital; English closed-captioned subtitles.
Don’t miss:
Supplemental materials include a how to make empanadas featurette, an immigration reform PSA and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie.

My Little Sister (DVD)
Details: 2020, Film Movement
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This Swiss family drama looks at the bond between a brother and sister.
Lisa (Nina Hoss) is a once-brilliant playwright who has quit writing. She lives in Switzerland with her family.
Her focus, though, is toward Berlin where her twin brother, Sven (Lars Eidinger), is battling an aggressive form of leukemia. Sven is a well-known theater actor and Lisa tries moving heaven and earth to get him back on the stage.
In the process, she neglects and alienates her own family, causing her marriage to spin out of control.
Meanwhile, her brother’s struggle sparks Lisa’s desire to create again.
The movie received a 92 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Technical aspects: 1.85:1 widescreen picture; German, French and English 5.1 Dolby digital; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: A short film, “Three Deaths,” is the major bonus component.

Women Without Men (DVD)
Details: 2009, IndiePix Films
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A historical drama set during the 1953 coup in Iran that reinstated the Shah to power.
The film deals with four women who could care less about the political upheaval as they fight for their own freedom.
A wife must deal with her husband who believes he is entitled to be married to multiple women; a second waits hand-and-foot on her domineering brother; a third is dealing with physical and emotional troubles; while the fourth has been forced into prostitution.
As the film progresses, each woman struggles to liberate herself from her own predicament while the nation as a whole takes a tragic turn toward despotism.
Technical aspects: 16:9 widescreen picture; Persian Dolby digital; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: A behind-the-scenes featurette is the major extra.

Other titles being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
Ancient Aliens: Season 13 (DVD) (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
The Boonies (DVD & digital) (Indican Pictures)
Far Western (DVD) (Corinth Films)
The Inheritance (Blu-ray & DVD) (Uncork’d Entertainment)
Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist (Blu-ray) (RLJE Films)
The Penthouse (DVD & digital & VOD) (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Some Kind of Heaven (DVD & VOD) (Magnolia Home Entertainment, April 14)

DIGITAL DOWNLOAD, STREAMING or VOD
Brewmance (Giant Pictures)
Nomadland (Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution)
Our Towns (HBO & HBO Max)
Dad Stop Embarrassing Me (www.netflix.com/dsem) (Netflix, April 15)
The Perfect Weapon (HBO Home Entertainment, April 15)
Agents of Chaos (HBO Home Entertainment, April 16)
Arlo the Alligator Boy (www.netflix.com/arlothealligatorboy) (Netflix, April 16)
Barbie & Chelsea: The Lost Birthday (Netflix, April 16)
The Rookies (Shout! Studios, April 16)
Sensation (Amazon Prime, April 16)
The Vow: Season One (HBO Home Entertainment, April 16)
537 Votes (HBO Home Entertainment, April 19)
Angry Ink (Sundance Now, April 19)
The Brokenwood Murders: Series 7, Episode 4 (Acorn TV, April 19)
In Deep: Series 3 (Acorn TV, April 19)
Keeping Faith: Series 3, Episode 3 (Acorn TV, April 19)
Off the Beaten Track: Series 2 (Acorn TV, April 19)

Coming next week: Memories of Murder

I am a founding member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. I review movies, 4K UHD, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. I can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com. You also can follow me on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook at ReelBob or the Indiana Film Journalists Association. My movie reviews also can be found at Rotten Tomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.

 

 

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