New to View: April 26: Updated

By Bob Bloom
The following Blu-rays and DVDs are being released on Tuesday, April 26:
Son of Saul (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2015, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: R, disturbing violent content and images, nudity
The lowdown: This Hungarian Holocaust feature was deservedly awarded the Academy Award for best foreign language film.
The movie follows Saul, a member of the Sonderkommando, which was the group of Jewish prisoners forced to help the Nazis in the death camps.
While working, Saul discovers the body of a boy he believes is his son. He decides to save the child’s body and seeks a rabbi to recite the mourner’s prayer so the boy can get a proper burial.
While the camera focuses on the main protagonist in the foreground, it is what you observe in the background that is most disturbing and upsetting.
The film is shot as if you were sitting on the Devil’s shoulder while touring Hell.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.37:1 full-screen picture; Hungarian 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 Dolby digital audio description track; English SDH, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a question-and-answer session with director László Nemes, cinematographer Mátyás Erdély and star Géza Rohrig, deleted scenes and a commentary track.

Backtrack (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2015, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Rated: R, violence, disturbing images, language
The lowdown: Oscar-winner Adrien Brody stars in this thriller as a psychiatrist haunted by the death of his daughter.
He also believes that his patients are linked to a tragic event in his past — and that they may even be dead themselves.
The psychiatrist begins a dangerous journey to uncover the mystery and reveal the dread secrets that he fears.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH, English and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A making of featurette is the major bonus offering.

Brief Encounter: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1945, The Criterion Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Director David Lean’s touching romantic drama about a married doctor (Trevor Howard) and a housewife (Celia Johnson) who meet on a train platform and begin a quiet, but passionate and ultimately doomed love affair.
The movie is an adaptation of a Noel Coward play, “Still Life,” that explores the pain and tenderness of an illicit romance.
The film is one of the most influential love stories ever filmed, and features two very strong and warm performances.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.37:1 full-screen picture; English LPCM monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: A 2000 commentary track by film historian Bruce Eder, a 2012 interview with Coward scholar Barry Day, a 2000 short documentary on the making of the movie, a 1971 TV documentary on Lean’s career and an essay by noted film historian Kevin Brownlow comprise the major bonus features.

Heroes Reborn: Event Series (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Release date: April 12
Details: 2015-16, Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This reboot of the cult favorite TV series did not fare as well as the original, despite the return of several original cast members as well as some new characters.
The focus of the 13 episodes is a massive terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas, that is blamed on evolved humans, which leads to a civil war between mankind and the “Evos.”
The series lacks the wonder of the original, but it does offer several moments that will grip you.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.78:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a featurette on reviving and updating the series, deleted scenes and a “Heroes Reborn: Dark Matters” featurette.

“The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates”: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1960-64, The Criterion Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Robert Drew, a former correspondent for “Life” magazine, wanted to revitalize the moribund documentary film genre.
He assembled a team of men — Richard Leacock, D. A. Pennebaker and Albert Maysles — who, in the following decades, would become leaders in the field.
In 1960, the group was granted unfettered access to Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, filming him in his campaign for the White House and later as president in the Oval Office.
The result was three movies, “Primary” (1960), “Adventures of the New Frontier” (1961) and “Crisis” (1963), that offered behind-the-scenes, closed-doors looks at Kennedy and his presidency.
After Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, the short film, “Faces of November” (1964), was produced. It is a poetic look at the reaction to the president’s murder.
These four movies are prime examples of the documentary movement known as Direct Cinema. History and political buffs will embrace these films.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.33:1 full-screen picture; English LPCM monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include an alternate 26-minute cut of “Primary” edited by Leacock; a commentary on “Primary”; a documentary about Drew in his own words; a new conversation between Pennebaker and Drew’s daughter-in-law, Jill; outtakes from “Crisis”; a new conversation about “Crisis” featuring former Attorney General Eric Holder and his wife, Sharon Malone, whose sister, Vivian Malone, is one of the students featured in the film; an interview with Richard Reeves, author of “President Kennedy: Profile of Power”; footage from a 1988 event at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles featuring Drew, Pennebaker, Leacock and Maysles; and an essay about the movies.

Dolemite (Blu-ray)
Details: 1975, Vinegar Syndrome
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Comedian and filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore, who co-wrote the film, stars in this early Blaxploitation feature as Dolemite, a pimp who has just been released from prison.
His only aim is revenge on gangster Willie Green (D’Urville Martin, who also directed the movie), the man who set him up on a trumped-up drug charge and stole his club, The Total Experience.
With the help of his friend Queen Bee (Lady Reed) and some kung fu fighting she-devils, Dolemite takes on whoever gets in his way in this funny, action-packed feature.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen (and alternate full-frame “boom mic” version) picture; English DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Supplemental materials include a making of documentary, a featurette on Lady Reed, a look at the locations then and now and a historical commentary track.

Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson
Details: 2015, Wolfe Video
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This documentary chronicles and celebrates the life and art of Edith Lake Wilkinson who, in 1924, was committed to an asylum.
Wilkinson, who was a lesbian, had all her possessions packed into trunks. She was never heard from again.
Wilkinson’s great-niece, Emmy Award-winning writer-director Jane Anderson (HBO’s “Normal” and “Olive Kitteridge”), grew up surrounded by Wilkinson’s paintings after her mother discovered the trunks in an attic.
The movie follows Anderson and her spouse, Tess, as they seek answers to Wilkinson’s life, return her works to Provincetown and have her contributions recognized by the art world.
This is a poignant and enlightening film that will grip you.
The film also is being released on several digital platforms, including iTunes, Vimeo on Demand and WolfeonDemand.com.
Technical aspects: English 5.1 Dolby Digital; English closed-captioned subtitles.

Phoenix: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 2014, The Criterion Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This haunting drama is set in post-World War II Berlin in 1945.
The story centers on a German-Jewish former cabaret singer who survived Auschwitz, but was disfigured.
She has her face reconstructed and returns home to seek out her gentile husband who may have been the one who betrayed her to the Nazis.
She finds him, but does not recognize her. In a bit of irony, he enlists her to play his wife.
You are not sure where this film is going; is it a revenge drama or a strange romantic reconciliation story.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; German 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: The bonus features include a conversation between director Christian Petzold and actor Nina Hoss, an interview with cinematographer Hans Fromm; a making of documentary and an essay about the movie.

Dillinger (Blu-ray)
Details: 1973, Arrow Video
Rated: R, violence, sexual situations, language
The lowdown: Warren Oates plays John Dillinger and Ben Johnson is FBI agent Melvin Purvis in this crime drama directed by John Milius, marking his first time behind the camera.
Such earlier features about 1930s gangsters, most notably “Bonnie and Clyde,” inspired “Dillinger” and other such films about the era.
Milius takes a mythical approach, making Dillinger a larger-than-life character. The movie traces his rise, fall and death.
The supporting cast includes Harry Dean Stanton, a young Richard Dreyfuss and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English LPCM monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include interviews with director of photography Jules Brenner and composer Barry De Vorzon, a commentary track, an interview with producer Lawrence Gordon and a booklet with essays about Dillinger and his portrayals on screen, interviews with Milius and production stills.

On the Threshold of Space (DVD-R)
Release date: April 19
Details: 1956, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: An early movie that looks at the rigorous training and military experiments for the early space program.
The movie is a bit dull when it’s not focusing on the astronaut training.
Guy Madison heads the cast, with support from John Hodiak, Dean Jagger, Warren Stevens and Martin Milner.
The feature is a made-on-demand DVD-R from the Fox Cinema Archives collection and can be found at www.foxconnect.com or other online DVD sellers.
Technical aspects: 4×3 pan-and-scan full-screen picture.

Sssssss (Blu-ray)
Details: 1973, Scream Factory
Rated: PG
The lowdown: A low-budget horror feature about a snake expert who is obsessed with transforming a man into a king cobra snake.
The doctor, realizing his new lab assistant is the perfect candidate, begins administering injections of “immunization serum.”
Soon, the assistant, played by Dirk Benedict of “Battlestar Galactica” fame, notices strange after-effects, such as shedding skin and changes in body shape.
Strother Martin plays demented doctor.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English DTS-HD Master Audio stereo; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Interviews with Benedict and costar Heather Menzies is the main bonus offering.

Year of the Comet (DVD-R)
Release date: April 19
Details: 1992, MGM-Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, sexual situations
The lowdown: Peter Yates directed and William Goldman wrote this variation of “Romancing the Stone” with Penelope Ann Miller playing a wallflower who begins to shine when she discovers a priceless bottle of wine, putting her in the middle of some intrigue and danger.
The film is just OK, despite a supporting cast that includes Tim Daly, Louis Jourdan and Ian Richardson.
The release is a made-on-demand DVD-R from the MGM Limited Edition Collection and can be found at www.foxconnect.com or other online dealers.
Technical aspects:16:9 widescreen picture.

The Beverly Hillbillies: The Official First Season
Details:
1962-63, CBS DVD-Paramount Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A five-disc set featuring all 36 first-season episodes of the TV series that somehow captured the heart of a nation.
Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen), Granny (Irene Ryan), Elly May (Donna Douglas) and Jethro (Max Baer Jr.) move from the backwoods to Beverly Hills after oil is discovered on Jed’s land.
Going from rags to riches is an easier transition for Jed and his family than it is for Beverly Hills society, especially banker Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey), his wife, Margaret (Harriet E. MacGibbon) and Drysdale’s faithful secretary Jane Hathaway (Nancy Kulp).
The humor is corny and lowbrow, but audiences at it all.
Technical aspects: 4×3 full-screen picture; English Dolby digital monaural; English SDH subtitles.

Race for the Yankee Zephyr (DVD-R)
Release date: April 19
Details: 1984, MGM-Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: PG
The lowdown: A rather silly and tepid adventure feature about good guys Ken Wahl and Donald Pleasance battling the evil George Peppard in a race to recover $50 million in gold from a DC-3 that was wrecked during World War II.
Actor David Hemmings directed the feature, that also costars Lesley Ann Warren.
The release is a made-on-demand DVD-R from the MGM Limited Edition Collection and can be found at www.foxconnect.com or other online retailers.
Technical aspects: 16:9 widescreen picture.

Other Blu-rays and DVDs being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
Standoff (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet) (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, April 12)

DIGITAL DOWNLOADS
The Boy (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Deadpool (Fox Home Entertainment)
Dirty Grandpa (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Where to Invade Next (Anchor Bay Entertainment, April 29)

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 bobbloomjc@gmail.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.

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