New to View: July 4
By Bob Bloom
The following Blu-rays and DVDs are being released on Tuesday, July 4, unless otherwise noted:
The Zookeeper’s Wife (Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2017, Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, mature themes, disturbing images, violence, sexual content, nudity, smoking
The lowdown: Jessica Chastain stars in this drama, based on true events, about a Polish couple, Dr. Jan and Antonia Zabinska (Johan Heldenbergh and Chastain), who run the Warsaw Zoo.
Their world is shattered by the outbreak of World War II and the Nazi occupation of Poland. The couple is forced to report to the Third Reich’s newly appointed zoologist, Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl).
The Zabinskas decide to fight back in their own way by secretly working with the Polish resistance and using the zoo’s hidden tunnels and cages to save and shelter families from the Nazis.
The story is powerful, but lacks the impact of a “Schindler’s List” or “Holocaust.”
Nevertheless, the movie did receive a 60 percent fresh rating at Rottentomatoes.com.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 DVS and Spanish 5.1 DTS digital surround; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital and 5.1 DVS and Spanish 2.0 Dolby digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus materials include a making of featurette, a look at the Zabinska family and deleted scenes.
Homicide: Life on the Street: The Complete Series
Details: 1993-99, Shout! Factory
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A 35-disc set featuring all 122 episodes of this acclaimed television series that was honored with three Peabody Awards remains a timeless and gritty experience as it follows detectives working the homicide division in Baltimore.
The episodes take a realistic approach to showing how the detectives do their jobs as well as the toll it takes on them.
The cast includes Richard Belzer, Andre Braugher, future Academy Award-winner Melissa Leo, Ned Beatty, Clark Johnson and Yaphet Kotto.
The series’ pedigree is impressive. Executive producers were filmmaker Barry Levinson (“Rain Man” and “Wag the Dog”) and Tom Fontana (creator of HBO’s “Oz.”). The show is based on the book by Baltimore newspaperman David Simon (creator of the HBO series “The Wire”).
An A-list roster of guest stars appeared in the series, including Robin Williams, Paul Giamatti, James Earl Jones, Bruce Campbell and Jerry Orbach.
Technical aspects: 1.33:1 full-screen picture; English Dolby digital.
Don’t miss: Bonus features include three crossover episodes with the “Law and Order” TV series, the 2000 “Homicide: The Movie,” commentaries on select episodes, interviews with Levinson and Fontana; behind-the-scenes looks at various seasons of the series and a panel discussion with Levinson and Simon, among others.
Doberman Cop (Blu-ray)
Details: 1977, Arrow Video
The lowdown: Sonny Chiba stars in this Japanese crime thriller about as a tough cop from Okinawa who comes to Tokyo to investigate the murder and mutilation of an Okinawan girl who had been working as a prostitute.
The detective is initially underestimated because of his appearance — he wears a straw hat — and has a pig in tow.
But he proves himself more savvy than the local police as he uncovers the truth behind the killing as well as the yakuza connections to the crime.
The film combines some low-brow comedy with gunplay and martial arts.
Fans of Chiba will not be disappointed.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, widescreen picture; Japanese LPCM monaural; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include interviews with Chiba and screenwriter Kohi Takada, a video appreciation of director Kinji Fukasaku and a booklet with writings about the movie.
Running on Empty (Blu-ray)
Release date: June 27
Details: 1988, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: PG-13, language, sexual situations, violence
The lowdown: Antiwar activists Annie and Arthur Pope (Christine Lahti and Judd Hirsch) have been on the run since blowing up a napalm lab in 1971, which resulted in the death of a guard.
For years, they and their children have stayed ahead of the law, continually moving and changing identities and jobs.
But now their oldest son, Danny (River Phoenix), wants to stop running and have a life of his own, including spending time with a girl who likes him and attending college.
Cutting himself off from his family means that Danny probably will never see them again.
This is a bittersweet drama elevated by strong performances by Phoenix, Lahti and Hirsch, with able support from Martha Plimpton as Danny’s girlfriend and Steven Hill as Lahti’s disappointing father.
The film, directed by Sidney Lumet, is a made-on-demand Blu-ray release from the Warner Archive Collection and can be found at www.wb.com/warnerarchive or other online retailers.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.78:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t You Recognize Me?
Release date: June 27
Details: 2016, Pop Twist-MVD Visual Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A drama about a documentary filmmaker planning his next project, which is to spend a day in the life of someone who lives as a self-styled gangster in Dublin.
The filmmaker, Tony (Matthew Toman), meets the young man, K (Jason Sherlock), who seems very friendly, and also meets his pals and girlfriends.
K explains to Tony that, since his father’s murder, he has taken his place in the community. K also is angry about the killing of one of his “brothers” a year earlier.
As the day progresses, Tony and his crew see more and more of K’s dark side and learn more than they bargained for about K’s life, family and morals.
Technical aspects: Widescreen picture; English Dolby digital; English closed-captioned.
Don’t miss: Extras include two short films by the director, a commentary track and a podcast discussion with the director.
Coming next week: The Lost City of Z
DIGITAL DOWNLOADS and STREAMING
The Boss Baby (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Bad Frank (Gravitas Ventures, July 7)
Ghost in the Shell (Paramount Home Entertainment, July 7)
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.