New to View: Cool spies, groovy sounds make ‘U.N.C.L.E.’ a blast
By Bob Bloom
The following Blu-rays and DVDs are being released on Tuesday, Nov. 17:
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2015, Warner Home Video
Rated: PG-13, action violence, partial nudity, suggestive content
The lowdown: This jaunty action feature looks at the world during simpler times — the Cold War.
The movie, based on the popular 1960s TV series, is a fun-filled spy vs. spy.
As in the TV show, the feature centers on the team of American agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Soviet agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), bitter rivals forced by their governments to team up to thwart a plan by unrepentant Nazis to unleash a nuclear bomb.
The movie’s presentation for home users is first-rate, with sharp colors and buzz-free audio.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 Dolby descriptive audio track and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital; English Dolby descriptive audio track; English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles.
Don’t miss: A behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the movie and its shooting locations, a featurette on recreating the look and sounds of the 1960s, a look at a higher class of hero, a featurette on Metisse motorcycles and an on-set spy featurette comprise the major bonus components.
Details: 2015, Music Box Films
Rated: R, language
The lowdown: A true story dealing with courage, determination, perseverance and stubbornness. The film centers on three big-wall rock climbers who try to do what no one has done before — scale the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru above the Ganges River in northern India.
The trio, Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk, are all tough and experienced climbers, and the Shark’s Fin provided an enticing and daring challenge.
Their setbacks and triumphs are documented in this compelling movie that features some breathtaking sequences of man against nature.
Technical aspects: 16×9 widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby Digital; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a Sundance Film Festival interview with the filmmakers, a commentary track, a question-and-answer sessions with Chin from the Chicago premiere and full-frame festival and bonus expedition footage.
Jimmy’s Hall (Blu-ray)
Details: 2015, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, language, violence
The lowdown: This import examines the conflict when free speech butts up against entrenched and traditional values and precepts.
The movie is set in Ireland during the tumultuous times of rebellion and civil war.
The story centers on Jimmy Gralton (Barry Ward), a young man who, with some neighbors, builds what amounts to a community center at a crossroads in a rural area.
The center is a haven where people, young and old, can come to read, learn to paint or box, write, dance and play music.
The church and local politicians, naturally, view the hall with suspicion, fearing it will stir up emotions and loosen their grip on the area’s poor and out-of-work residents.
This is an excellent drama about freedom of expression and the methods those in power use to trample down the hopes and dreams of lower-class workers.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English and French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio description track; English SDH, English and French subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus materials include a making of featurette, deleted scenes and a commentary track.
We Are Your Friends
Details: 2015, Warner Home Video
Rated: R, language, drug use, sexual content, nudity
The lowdown: Zac Efron plays an aspiring DJ whose ambition is to make it big time in Los Angeles.
He spends his time creating tracks that he hopes brings him attention, and meets a famous DJ with whom he strikes up a friendship.
Of course the usual impediments of love and betrayal nearly derail him, but he struggles to finally find his own voice and succeed.
Technical aspects: Widescreen picture; English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital; English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: The main featurette looks at Efron learning to be a DJ.
In Cold Blood: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1967, The Criterion Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Richard Brooks hard-edged adaptation of Truman Capote’s best seller about the 1959 murders of a Kansas farm family by two ex-con drifters looking for a big score.
Robert Blake and Scott Wilson gained notice for their portrayals of killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickock.
The black-and-white cinematography and Brooks’ documentary-like approach bring a stark realism to this harrowing thriller.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include an interview with cinematographer John Bailey about Conrad Hall, the movie’s cinematographer, an interview with film historian Bobbie O’Steen about the film’s editing, an interview with film critic and jazz historian Gary Giddens about Quincy Jones’ score for the movie, a 1988 French TV interview with Brooks, a short 1966 documentary about Capote, interviews with Capote from 1966 and 1967, an interview with writer Douglas K. Daniel about Brooks and an essay about the movie.
Living in Oblivion: 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray + DVD)
Details: 1995, Shout! Factory
Rated: R, language, nudity, violence
The lowdown: This indie favorite from writer-director Tom DiCillo is a satire on the indie film world featuring Steve Buscemi, James Le Gros, Danielle Von Zerneck and Peter Dinklage.
Among the weird goings-on in this very funny look at move making is a leading mane who has had a very bad one-night stand with his leading lady, a cinematographer breaking up with an assistant director, a little person with a big attitude and interference from the director’s mom, who has wandered onto the set.
DiCillo supervised the restoration for this 20th anniversary release.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English SDH subtitles; DVD: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen picture; English Dolby Digital monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a new documentary on the making of the film, featuring DiCillo and cast members, a question-and-answer session with DiCillo and Buscemi, a deleted scene and a commentary track.
Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine
Release date: Nov. 3
Details: 2013, Virgil Films
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A powerful documentary about Matthew Shepard, the gay young man who was beaten and killed in 1998 in Wyoming simply because of his sexual orientation.
The film, made by Michele Josue, who knew Shepard, uses photos, video footage and interviews with others whose lives were touched to Shepard, to remember and pay tribute to the young man.
The film also is a testament to faith, courage and forgiveness.
Technical aspects: 1.78: widescreen picture; English 2.0 Dolby Digital; English closed-captioned.
Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy Collection: Volume One and Volume Two
Release date: Sept. 15
Details: 1935-42, Warner Home Video
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy were MGM’s class act in the 1930s, starring in a series of operettas to give the studio a veneer of class.
Now all eight films starring the songbirds are in release in this two-volume set. MacDonald was a fine and versatile actress, while Eddy was rather bland and wooden when not singing.
Volume One features Victor Herbert’s “Naughty Marietta” (1935); “Rose-Marie” (1936), which also features an early appearance by James Stewart; “Maytime” (1937), also costars John Barrymore; and Sigmund Romberg’s “The Girl of the Golden West.”
The films in Volume Two are Victor Herbert’s “Sweethearts” (1938); the Oscar Hammerstein II-Sigmund Romberg musical “New Moon” (1940); Noel Coward’s “Bittersweet” (1940) and “I Married an Angel” (1942).
The releases are video-on-demand DVD-Rs that are available from the Warner Archive Collection. The sets can be found at www.warnerarchive.com or other online retailers.
Technical aspects: 1.37:1 (4×3) full-screen picture; English Dolby Digital monaural.
“Dark Film Mysteries”
Details: 1945-52, Film Chest Media
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A three-disc set that features 11 film noir thrillers from the 1940s and 1950s, with such stars as Edward G. Robinson, Barbara Stanwyck, Kirk Douglas, Van Heflin, Mickey Rooney, Tom Neal, Orson Welles and Loretta Young.
The movies in the set are “Detour” (1945), “Scarlet Street’ (1945),” “The Stranger” (1946), “The Strange Woman” (1946), “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” (1946), “Fear in the Night” (1947), “The Red House” (1947), “Inner Sanctum” (1948), “Woman on the Run” (1950), “Quicksand” (1950) and “Kansas City Confidential” (1952).
Technical aspects: 4×3 full-screen picture: English Dolby Digital.
Troll & Troll 2 double feature (Blu-ray)
Details: 1986, 1991, Scream Factory
Rated: PG-13, Not rated
The lowdown: Two trolls for the price of one, so you can double the scares and the laughs.
In “Troll,” the creature starts taking over an apartment building and transforming the tenants into hobgoblins.
The cast is headlined by Michael Moriarty and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss.
“Troll 2,” which has the infamous distinction of being cited as the worst movie of all time, centers on a group of the troublesome creatures who have disguised themselves as friendly country residents — which makes it all the better to eat you.
A family of four battles the menace in order to save the world.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English DTS-HD Master Audio stereo.
Don’t miss: Extras include a making of featurette on “Troll,” a commentary track on “Troll 2” and a DVD of “Best Worst Movie,” a fun documentary that pays tribute to “Troll 2” and the people who made it.
Gene Autry Movie Collection 12
Details: 1935-38, Timeless Media Group
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Saddle up! Singing cowboy Gene Autry, his sidekick Smiley Burnette, his guitar and his guns return for four more B-Westerns filled with action, stunts and songs — plenty of songs.
The films in this collection cover the early part of Autry’s career when he was at his peak at Republic Pictures.
The films are: “The Sagebrush Troubadour” (1935), “Ride, Ranger, Ride” (1936), “Yodelin’ Kid From Pine Ridge” (1937) and “Gold Mine in the Sky” (1938).
In each, Gene and his pals fight and sing their way to triumph over the bad guys.
Technical aspects: 1.33:1 full-screen picture; English Dolby Digital monaural; English closed-captioned.
Don’t miss: Extras include excerpts from Autry’s “Melody Ranch” TV series during which he and his later sidekick, Pat Buttram, reminisce about the films and costars.
Other Blu-rays and DVDs being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
A Horse Tale (DVD + Ultraviolet) (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
White of the Eye (Blu-ray + DVD) (Scream Factory)
Gil Scott-Heron — Black Wax (Blu-ray) (MVD Visual, Nov. 13)
The Breaking Point (MVD Visual, Oct. 27)
Forbidden Zone: Special Edition (MVD Visual, Sept. 29)
Coming next week: Don’t Look Back
Blood and Lace
Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. He reviews movies, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. He can be reached by email at email@example.com. You also can follow Bloom on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook. Movie reviews by Bloom also can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.