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New to View: Jan. 21

by on January 17, 2020
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By Bob Bloom

The following titles are being released on Tuesday, Jan. 21, unless otherwise noted:
Black and Blue (Blu-ray + digital)
Details: 2019, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: R, violence, language
The lowdown: Naomie Harris stars as Alicia West, a rookie police officer who captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam.
When she realizes the killing was committed by corrupt cops, she teams up with Milo “Mouse” Jackson (Tyrese Gibson), the only person in her community willing to help her.
West must stay one step ahead of the criminals and cops out to get her and the footage.
This is a fast-paced, but routine, cop-thriller, rife with clichés and predictable situations.
Critics were tepid about the film, giving it a 52 percent fresh rating at Rottentomatoes.com.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 Dolby digital audio description track and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus features include deleted scenes and a featurette with Harris and Gibson discussing their roles and talking about filming in New Orleans.

Countdown (Blu-ray + DVD + digital)
Details: 2019, Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, bloody images, terror, violence, language, thematic elements
The lowdown: Another fate-driven horror outing in which a female protagonist must use her wits and ingenuity to prevent disaster.
In this case, it is Quinn (Elizabeth Lail), a young nurse who downloads an app that claims to predict exactly when a person is going to die.
Unfortunately, the app tells Quinn that she only has three days to live, so she spends the rest of the movie trying to find a way to save her life and avoid her deadly fate before the clock runs out.
While the movie has some scary moments, a vast majority of critics were unimpressed with the entire effort, awarding the movie a 27 percent fresh rating at Rottentomatoes.com.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 2.0 Dolby digital DVS; English SDH and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 2.39:1 anamorphic widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital and 2.0 DVS; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.

Jim Allison: Breakthrough (DVD)
Release date: Dec. 24, 2019
Details: 2019, Giant Pictures
Rated: PG-13, language, thematic material
The lowdown: Jim Allison is a scientist, a 2018 Nobel Prize-winner for discovering the immune system’s role in defeating cancer.
But for years, prior to his Nobel recognition, he battled the medical establishment and resisted Big Pharma.
The movie traces Allison’s life from a small Texas town to his moment in the spotlight at Stockholm.
The film, narrated by Woody Harrelson, is comprised of interviews with Allison and other scientists as well as graphics and archival materials.
Technical aspects: 16:9 widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital; English closed-captioned subtitles.

Sliding Doors: Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1998, Shout! Factory
Rated: PG-13, language, sexual situations
The lowdown: Gwyneth Paltrow stars in this romantic comedy about how split-second moments can impact a person’s life.
Paltrow plays Helen, a London publicist, whose lives — depending on whether or not she catches a morning train back to her apartment — play out.
As the film progresses, Helen’s two stories go back and forth, overlap and finally converge.
The film’s clever conceit, written and directed by Peter Howitt, cannot be sustained throughout, which weakens the entire enterprise.
Still, the film received a respectable 62 percent fresh rating at Rottentomatoes.com.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.78:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Supplemental materials include a documentary that looks back at the making of the movie, a look at “Sliding Doors” London with Howitt and a commentary track.

Mister America (DVD)
Release date: Jan. 14
Details: 2019, Magnolia Home Entertainment
Rated: R, language, drug use
The lowdown: A mockumentary in which a beginning filmmaker follows Tim Heidecker during the last month of his campaign for district attorney of San Bernardino, Calif.
The movie is an extension of the Adult Swim “On Cinema at the Cinema” series that features Heideker and his co-star Gregg Turkington.
Turkington is trying to sabotage Heidecker’s already ill-conceived run for office. He faces an uphill battle in his challenge of popular incumbent. Heidecker and his inexperienced campaign manager are simply outmatched and outsmarted by the incumbent.
Low on cash, experience and political connects, Heideker takes to the streets, working hard to connect with voters.
It also isn’t helping that former associates of Heideker and trying to warn the public about his bad business deals, broken friendships and a failed court case in which he was accused of murder.
The movie lacks the cringe-worthy potential that the situation warrants.
Technical aspects: 1.78:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital; English closed-captioned subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a commentary track, deleted scenes, a couple of campaign ads and a special edition of “On Cinema at the Cinema.”

Moving Parts (DVD)
Details: 2017, IndiePix Films
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Zhenzhen, an illegal Chinese immigrant is smuggled into Trinidad and Tobago to be reunited with her brother.
Upon her arrival, however, Zhenzhen learns the true price of her passage: her passport is confiscated and she is forced to work off her very large debt.
Her guilt-ridden brother is unable to help against the trafficking ring that smuggled in his sister, but a neighboring art dealer may be able to assist the young woman.
The film is a mixture of drama and outrage about human traffickers and the toll their greed takes on those who use them.
Technical aspects: 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English and Mandarin 2.0 Dolby digital; English closed-captioned subtitles.

Britt-Marie Was Here (Blu-ray)
Release date: Jan. 14
Details: 2019, Cohen Media Group
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A charming Swedish feature from Tuva Novotny, the director of “A Man Called Ove,” about 63-year-old housewife Britt-Marie.
Her 40-year marriage has dissolved because she learned her husband was unfaithful. She decides to start a new life for herself in the small town of Borg, where she finds work coaching the town’s youth soccer team,
even though she knows nothing about the sport or coaching.
She attracts the attention of a handsome, young police officer and also shakes up the town’s oddball residents, who seem stuck in their ways.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; Swedish 5.1 Dolby digital; English subtitles.

The War Lord (Blu-ray)
Details: 1965, Kino Lorber
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Charlton Heston was the king of historical dramas in the 1950s and ‘60s, playing everyone from Moses to Ben-Hur to El Cid to Gen. Charles Gordon of Khartoum, as well as President Andrew Jackson and Michelangelo.
In “The War Lord,” he portrays an 11th-century knight, Chrysagon, sent by Duke William of Ghent with a group of warriors to guard Normandy’s coastal settlements from attacks and plunder by Frisian raiders.
Chrysagon is taken with a local maiden, Bronwyn (Rosemary Forsyth), the foster child of the village’s elder.
Under the feudal custom of droit du seigneur, which allows him to take another man’s bride of their wedding night, he is tempted assert his privilege. Instead, he finds himself falling in love with her.
The movie, directed by Franklin Schaffner, costars Richard Boone, Niall McGinnis, Guy Stockwell, James Farentino and Michael Conrad.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 widescreen picture; English DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: A commentary track is the major bonus component.

The Knight of Shadows (Blu-ray)
Details: 2019, Well Go USA Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: In this fantasy-adventure, Jackie Chan stars as Pu Songling, a famous demon hunter, asked to investigate the disappearance of young girls from a small village.
He discovers that evil forces are kidnapping the girls to feast on their souls.
Pu undertakes a mission to save mankind from these inhuman creatures, facing many battles and challenges along the way.
Being it’s Chan in the lead, there is comedy and martial arts combat featured.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; Mandarin and English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.

The House by the Cemetery: 3-Disc Limited Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1981, Blue Underground
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This Italian gothic-horror feature co-written and directed by genre master Lucio Fulci, centers on a doctor, his wife and their son who move from their apartment in New York to an isolated old house in New England, where the doctor plans to spend six months researching his suicidal former colleague.
Of course, strange things immediately begin to happen, wrapping the family in a series of nightmarish situations involving unusual sounds, visions, mental breakdowns and the discovery of a tombstone in the living room.
The movie eventually moves into the strange worlds that inhabit a majority of Fulci’s features. The film is quite atmospheric, abetted by its cinematography and use of sound.
Fans of Fulci and the genre will appreciate this set, which includes two Blu-rays and a soundtrack CD.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 and 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio and Italian 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: The set includes a plethora of extras, some new and others archival. They include a deleted scene; commentary track with Troy Howarth, an expert in European genre cinema; featurettes with cast members Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Giovanni Freeza, Silvia Collaina, Dagmar Lassander and Carlo De Mejo and co-writers Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti; archival interviews with cinematographer Sergio Salvati, special make-up effects artist Maurizio Trani, special effects artist Gino De Rossi and actor Giovanni De Nava; an archival question-and-answer session with MacColl; an interview with Stephen Thrower, author of “Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci”; and a 20-page booklet with essays about the movie.

Sprinter: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 2018, FilmRise
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A sports drama about Akeem Sharp, a Jamaican track-and-field phenomenon, who hopes to rise in the sport so he can travel to the United States and reunite with his mother, who has supported the family while living in the states as an illegal alien for more than a decade.
Distractions and challenges at home with his father and an older brother who tries to financially benefit from his brother’s fame weigh on Akeem as he battles to prove to himself that he can succeed.
The film, though featuring a bevy of sports clichés, still succeeds because you root for Akeem.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 5.10 and 2.0 Dolby digital; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: The major extra is a featurette on the movie’s premiere.

Bluebird (Blu-ray)
Details: 2019, Cleopatra Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A documentary that looks at Nashville’s Bluebird Café and the many country stars who launched their careers playing at the iconic nightspot.
The film looks at the origins of this tiny eatery in a suburban strip mall, where artists such as Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift took their first steps to fulfill their dreams of music fame.
Faith Hill, Vince Gill and Trisha Yearwood are among other stars interviewed about the Bluebird and its impact over the years.
Country fans will definitely enjoy this Blu-ray, which not only shines a light on the Bluebird, but offers some performances by Nashville hopefuls.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital.
Don’t miss: Interviews comprise the major extras.

The Mysterious Mr. M (Blu-ray)
Details: 1946, VCI Home Entertainment-MVD Visual Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This Universal Pictures serial is noted because it was the final serial produced by Universal Pictures, which had been making serials since the silent era.
This 13-chapter effort contains more talk than action as it deals with an unscrupulous individual out to steal the plans for a giant submarine.
Anthony Waldron, the black sheep of a distinguished family, uses hypnotrene, a drug he discovered in Africa, to control his wealthy grandmother and others he needs to do his bidding.
The catch is Waldron can act undetected because he is believed dead.
Battling Waldron and his henchmen is government agent Grant Farrell (Dennis Moore) and police detective Kirby Walsh (Richard Martin).
The serial is interesting because it uses stock footage from Republic Pictures, mostly notably during cliffhangers, to beef up the action.
Serial fans will enjoy Universal’s swan song from the genre, which is a better effort than the final serials released a decade later by Republic and Columbia.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.37:1 full-screen picture; English 2.0 Dolby digital; English subtitles.

Piranhas (DVD)
Release date: Jan. 14
Details: 2019, Music Box Films
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: An Italian drama that follows 15-year-old Nicola, who lives with his mother and younger brother in a neighborhood of Naples controlled for centuries by a Mafia crime family.
Nicola, who, along with his friends, dreams of riches and a lush life, turns to selling drugs to make money for his family.
This leads the teen into a dark and dangerous world that threatens his innocence, family and relationships.
The movie lacks the emotional heft that should encompass such a story.
Technical aspects: 2.35:1 widescreen picture; Italian 5.1 Dolby digital. English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus materials include a making of featurette, an interview with co-screenwriter Robert Saviano and a press conference with cast members and filmmakers.

Complicity (DVD)
Details: 2018, Film Movement
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A young Chinese immigrant illegally living in Japan buys a fake ID and cellphone from the black market.
When he receives a phone call about a job, he accepts the offer without asking any questions.
The immigrant Chen Liang Yu now assumes the identity of Liu Wei and is hired as an apprentice in a family-run soba restaurant.
As he gets acclimated to his new life, he forms bonds with his mentor and finds romance with a budding artist.
However, the constant threat of deportation hangs over his head.
Technical aspects: 1.85:1 widescreen picture; Japanese and Mandarin 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby digital; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: The major extra is a short film, “About Bintu,” about an African student’s life in Guangzhou, China.

The David Susskind Archive: Interview with Nikita Khrushchev (DVD)
Details: 1960, MVD Visual Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: In 1960, with the Cold War at its height, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was visiting the headquarters of the United Nations in New York when he agreed to be interviewed on David Susskind’s “Open End” program.
The announcement of the interview was controversial, with many people, including then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, objecting.
But on Oct. 9, 1960, Susskind and Khrushchev talked for two hours. It was a spirited and focused event, emphasizing two topics: first, the virtues of Soviet-style communism vs. American-style capitalism and, secondly, Susskind pushed Khrushchev to offer assurances that he would never initiate a nuclear war.
The only glitch during the show was during a commercial for Radio Free Europe that was anti-communist in nature.
The show was followed by a panel discussion featuring newspaper editors and scholars.
This is a fascinating time capsule about the American-Soviet relationship that resonates even today.
Technical aspects: 1.33: full-screen picture; English 2.0 Dolby digital; English subtitles.

Other titles being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
Church & State (Breaking Glass Pictures)
The Courier (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Mrs. Lowry & Son (Cleopatra Entertainment)

FOR KIDS
Summer Days with Coo (Blu-ray) (Shout! Factory-GKids)

DIGITAL DOWNLOAD, STREAMING or VOD
Cicada Song (Apple TV+ & Amazon)
Doctor Sleep (Warner Home Entertainment)
The Good Liar (Warner Home Entertainment)
Hesburgh (Music Box Films)
Mystify Michael Hutchence (Shout! Factory)
The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park: Episode 3 (Sundance Now)
Waves (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Wisting: Episode 6 (Sundance Now, Jan. 22)
The Red Shadows: Episode 1 (Sundance Now, Jan. 23)
My Name Is Myeisha (digital & VOD) (Shout! Select, Jan. 24)
The Brokenwood Murders: Series 6, Episode 4 (Acorn TV, Jan. 27)
The Great Train Robbery (Acorn TV, Jan. 27)
Murdoch Mysteries: Series 13, Episode 7 (Acorn TV, Jan. 27)
The Silence (Acorn TV, Jan. 27)

Coming next week: Motherless Brooklyn

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 bobbloomjc@gmail.com. You also can follow me on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook. My movie reviews also can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.

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