New to View: July 19
By Bob Bloom
The following Blu-rays and DVDs are being released on Tuesday, July 19, unless otherwise noted:
Miles Ahead (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2016, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: R, language, drug use, sexual content, nudity, violence
The lowdown: Don Cheadle directed, co-wrote and starred in this drama, which is more of a snapshot of a small slice of famed musician Miles Davis’ life than a full-blown biopic.
Cheadle does not shy away from displaying the rage within Davis, as well as his drug abuse, violence, egotism and self-centeredness.
He also shows the musician’s genius, drive, desire for perfection — and raw talent.
The film covers just a few years in Davis’ life and career, centering on a low point when Davis did not record or perform.
“Miles Ahead” bends and curves; at times, it is surreal, other times, hallucinatory. Yet, it is Davis’ “social music” that grounds the feature in the real world.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 Dolby digital audio description track and Spanish and Thai 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, English, Chinese (simplified and traditional), French, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a featurette on Cheadle transforming himself into Davis, a commentary track and a question-and-answer session at the Sundance Film Festival.
Elvis & Nixon (Blu-ray)
Details: 2016, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: R, language
The lowdown: This comedy is based on a true incident from 1970, when Elvis Presley showed up unannounced at the White House and requested a meeting with President Richard M. Nixon.
Presley wanted to volunteer to be a special agent to help battle the nation’s drug problem.
The president gave Presley a badge and deputized him as a special agent — and that was that.
Now, we get Michael Shannon as Elvis and Kevin Spacey as Nixon in a humorous look at this bizarre event.
The two actors are fun to watch, even if history is skewered a bit for satiric purposes.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, English and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A featurette on the real incident that inspired the film and a commentary track comprise the bonus offerings.
The Daughter of Dawn (Blu-ray)
Details: 1920, Milestone Films
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: While this movie is not a title that many people will recognize, its historical impact cannot be overstated.
This feature was produced in 1920, featuring an all-Native American cast. It was shot on location in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma and featured a cast of more than 300 Kiowa and Comanche actors.
These performers provided their own tipis, horses, clothing and traditions that added an authenticity to the film that was sorely lacking in most Hollywood productions about Native Americans.
The film, which features a romantic rivalry, buffalo hunts, village sequences, dances, tests of courage, hand-to-hand combat and treachery, was rediscovered a couple of years ago by the Oklahoma Historical Society.
And, yes, it is a silent movie, in black-and-white, but that pales to its significance in American culture and its presentation of Native Americans who, over the decades, have been badly mistreated cinematically.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.33:1 full-screen picture.
Don’t miss: Extras include a series of eight documentaries produced by the Oklahoma Historical Society about the history and rediscovery of the movie.
A Perfect Day (Blu-ray)
Details: 2015, IFC Films
Rated: R, language, sexual references
The lowdown: Benicio del Toro and Tim Robbins star in this feature set in 1995 in the Balkans that looks at the absurdities of war.
The movie centers on a band of combat zone rescue workers, led by Del Toro, who takes his humanitarian team into danger zones to try to save lives and deal with the frustrations of bureaucracies and red tape.
Through it all, the group remains steadfast and shows their courage at every turn.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A making of featurette and interviews comprise the major bonus offerings.
Carnival of Souls: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Release date: July 12
Details: 1962, The Criterion Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This horror film shot on a shoestring budget has become a cult favorite as it tells a story of a young Kansas woman who survives a drag race accident, then takes a job as a church organist in Salt Lake City.
En route, a strange apparition compels her toward an abandoned lakeside pavilion, where even stranger events haunt her.
The movie was made by industrial filmmakers, and is helped by its locations and spooky organ soundtrack.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.37:1 full-screen picture; English LPCM monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Among the extras are selected-scene commentary featuring director Herk Harvey and screenwriter John Clifford; an interview with comedian-writer Dana Gould; an essay by film critic David Cairns; a 1989 documentary on the reunion of the cast and crew; a 2000 update on the film’s locations; excerpts from the movies made by the Lawrence, Kan.-based Centron Corp. industrial film company; deleted scenes; outtakes; a history of the Saltair Resort in Salt Lake City; and an essay about the movie.
Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Release date: June 28
Details: 1964, The Criterion Collection
Rated: PG, violence
The lowdown: Director Stanley Kubrick’s savage Cold War satire is a classic, unmatched in its look at the folly of mankind.
The movie’s glue is Peter Sellers, who plays three distinct roles: Royal Air Force Capt. Lionel Mandrake, the ineffective and dumbfounded U.S. president Merkin Muffely and the titular Dr. Strangelove, a wheelchair-bound presidential adviser with a Nazi past.
And any similarity to Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and advisor to President Richard M. Nixon is purely coincidental.
The movie also stars Sterling Hayden as the deranged Gen. Jack D. Ripper, who launches the missiles to begin World War III, George C. Scott as the Chief of Staff and Slim Pickens as the gung-ho pilot who follows his orders to the letter.
The movie was co-written by Kubrick, Peter George and Terry Southern and remains a timeless feature.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.66:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English LPCM monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus features include interviews with Kubrick scholars Mick Broderick and Rodney Hill, archivist Richard Daniels, cinematographer and camera innovator Joe Dunton, camera operator Kelvin Pike and David George, son of screenwriter Peter George, whose novel, “Red Alert,” was the basis for the movie; excerpts from a 1966 interview with Kubrick; four short documentaries on the making of the movie; archival interviews with Sellers and co-star George C. Scott; and an essay and article about the movie.
Fantastic Planet: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Release date: June 21
Details: 1973, The Criterion Collection
The lowdown: This French animated feature blends science fiction with a political sensibility, as it takes viewers to the planet Ygam, where humans, called Oms, are the enslaved playthings of giant blue inhabitants known as Draags.
The film centers on Terr, a human who has been kept as a pet since infancy, who escapes from his child master. He joins a group of resisting Oms to battle their repression.
The movie is a product of its counterculture times, featuring cutout animation by Roland Topor and a psychedelic jazz score by Alain Goraguer.
It’s a story that makes a bold statement about conformity as well as violence.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.66:1 widescreen picture; French LPCM monaural and English Dolby digital monaural; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Among the extras are two shorts by the film’s director, René Laloux, a 2009 documentary on Laloux, a 1974 French TV program about Topor, a 1973 interview with Topor and as essay about the movie.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Release date: June 14
Details: 1941, The Criterion Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This classic Columbia Pictures supernatural comedy stars Robert Montgomery, borrowed from MGM, as boxer Joe Pendleton who, through a clerical error, is killed in a plane crash, but given a second chance at life by entering the body of a corrupt financier.
Montgomery, who usually starred in sophisticated drawing-room comedies at his home studio, gives a wonderful performance as the working-class pug who wants to return to the ring for his shot at the title.
Lending grand support are Claude Rains as Mr. Jordan, Edward Everett Horton as the frustrated and fussy heavenly messenger, James Gleason as Pendleton’s tough and exasperated manager and Evelyn Keyes as Betty Logan, the love interest.
The movie was profoundly influential, spawning sequels, spinoffs and remakes, the most noted of which was “Heaven Can Wait,” which starred Warren Beatty and marked his directorial debut.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.33:1 full-screen picture; English LPCM monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus offerings include a conversation between film critic Michael Sragow and filmmaker-distributor-film buff-historian Michael Schlesinger (a longtime friend) about the film and its impact, a 1991 audio interview with Elizabeth Montgomery about her father, a 1942 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film with Cary Grant, Rains, Keyes and Gleason, plus an essay about the movie.
Clouds of Sils Maria: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Release date: June 28
Details: 2014, The Criterion Collection
Rated: R, language, sexual content
The lowdown: Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart star in this drama that examines high art and popular culture.
Binoche plays Maria, a famous stage and screen star who is being courted for a new role. Stewart plays her beleaguered assistant.
The movie costars Chloe Grace Moretz as an up-and-coming starlet, who is Maria’s young cast mate, awaiting her moment in the spotlight.
The trio of actresses offers finely defined performances.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English, French and German 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus materials include an interview with director Olivier Assayas, a featurette with Binoche and Stewart discussing their roles, “Cloud Phenomena of Maloja,” a 1924 silent documentary featured in the movie and an essay by film critic Molly Haskell.
A Dispatch From Reuters (DVD-R)
Release date: July 12
Details: 1940, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: By the late 1930s, Edward G. Robinson, like James Cagney before him, was loudly chafing at the gangster–tough guy roles in which Warner Bros. was constantly casting him.
The studio finally began to listen and varied Robinson’s roles with a few comedies as well as biographies, such as “Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet” and “A Dispatch From Reuters,” in which Robinson played Julius Reuter, the founder of the world’s first international news service.
The movie, of course, is filled with drama as Reuter faces competition and skepticism, but he prevails in the end.
The release is a made-on-demand DVD-R from the Warner Archive Collection and can be found at www.wbshop.com or other online retailers.
Technical aspects: 1.37:1 (4×3) full-screen picture; English Dolby digital monaural.
The Return of the Living Dead: Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1985, Scream Factory
Rated: R, graphic violence, language
The lowdown: This two-disc set features this horror-comedy about the release of a toxic gas from a secret U.S. military canister that reanimates an army of dead and angry corpses who rise from their graves with appetites for people.
The movie is gross and funny, and is unrelated to any of the George A. Romero films. Dan O’Bannon, who also adapted the screenplay, directed the movie.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio stereo; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Among the hours of bonus offerings four commentary tracks, a featurette on horror films in the 1980s, a 2K scan of The Interpositive, a look at the special effects, zombie subtitles for the films, a featurette on the zombies speaking out, a look at the film’s music, a trip to the movie’s locations, a workprint of the film, a interview with John A. Russo, one of the story’s authors, a conversation with O’Bannon, a look at designing the dead and a featurette on the making of the movie.
Bad Moon (Blu-ray)
Details: 1996, Scream Factory
Rated: R & not rated, graphic violence, language
The lowdown: Michael Paré stars in this horror thriller about a photojournalist who when the moon changes cycles, transforms into a werewolf.
He keeps his secret by killing, but the family dog has its suspicions about its master.
The Blu-ray contains the theatrical version and a director’s version of the movie, which costars Mariel Hemingway.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English DTS-HD Master Audio stereo; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Among the extras are a commentary with writer-director Eric Red and interviews with Red, Paré, costar Mason Gamble, special effects make-up artist Steve Johnson and stunt coordinator Ken Kirzinger.
Other Blu-rays and DVDs being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
Daniel Boone: Season One: Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory)
DIGITAL DOWNLOADS AND STREAMING
Chasing Niagara (Starz Digital)
Keanu (Warner Home Video)
Mother’s Day (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Vintage Tomorrows (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Fight Valley (The Procko Group, July 22)
Murdoch Mysteries: A Merry Murdoch Christmas (Acorn TV, July 25)
Silicon Valley: The Complete Third Season (HBO Home Entertainment, July 25)
Winter (Acorn TV, July 25)
Coming next week: The Boss
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow Bloom on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook. Movie reviews by Bloom also can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.