The Criterion Collection’s April slate kicks off April 10 with the latest entry in the extra-less Eclipse line: Ingrid Bergman’s Swedish Years (DVD: 6 discs, $69.95), a compilation of six of the actress’s earliest performances, including her first speaking role in The Count of the Old Town (1935), Walpurgis Night (1935), Intermezzo (1936), Dollar (1938), A Woman’s Face (1938), and June Night (1940). Making its Blu-ray debut on April 17 is Leo McCarey’s genre-defining Oscar-winning 1937 comedy The Awful Truth (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), starring the irresistible Irene Dunne and Cary Grant as would-be ex-spouses who can’t get enough of each other. Also coming April 17 is Sergei Parajanov’s 1969 masterpiece The Color of Pomegranates (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), a revelatory film-poem built around folklore and metaphor that marked a departure from the realism that dominated the Soviet cinema of its era. Arriving April 24 is Jim Jarmusch’s hypnotic 1995 Western Dead Man (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), featuring the poetry of William Blake and the music of Neil Young, starring Johnny Depp as an accountant caught in the middle of a fatal lovers’ quarrel. Also bowing April 24 is Sofia Coppola’s 1999 debut The Virgin Suicides (DVD: 2 discs, $29.95; Blu-ray: $39.95), an ominously dreamy coming-of-age reverie adapted from Jeffrey Eugenides’s celebrated novel, starring Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett.
PBS Distribution has announced the upcoming release of Frontline: Putin’s Revenge (DVD: $24.99), slated for January 30. For months, reports of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election have dominated the headlines. Putin’s Revenge tells the epic inside story of how Vladimir Putin came to see the United States as an enemy, how U.S. intelligence came to believe that he targeted the 2016 presidential election, the fallout under President Obama and now the Trump administration, and the implications for the future of American democracy. Drawing on more than 60 interviews with heads of U.S. intelligence agencies, diplomats, Russian politicians, historians, and journalists, the documentary traces how Putin went from low-ranking KGB agent to long-serving president of a newly assertive Russia with the ability to wage cyber-war in the U.S. and around the globe.
Music Box Films will release the documentary Black Code (DVD: $19.95) on February 20. Directed and produced by Toronto-based filmmaker Nicholas de Pencier, the film investigates the complex global impact that the Internet has had on matters of citizenship, free speech, privacy, and activism. Based on Ronald Deibert’s 2013 book of the same name, Black Code delivers a startling report on how governments control and manipulate the Internet in order to censor and monitor their citizens. These stories about exiled Tibetan monks circumventing China’s surveillance apparatus, Syrian citizens tortured for Facebook posts, Brazilian activists using social media to distribute alternative news, and Pakistani online violence against women, offer firsthand evidence of the high-stakes consequences brought on by our unprecedented level of digital communication. Bonus features include a Human Rights Watch discussion with Deibert and Edward Snowden, and a Q&A with the filmmaker.
For 25 years, Cult Epics has distributed the most sought-after, obscure, provocative, and previously unknown films to the home video market. To commemorate this anniversary, the controversial arthouse, horror, and erotica video label will release a hardcover book on February 6. (Cult Epics, 256 pages, $59.95) covers essential releases from filmmakers such as Tinto Brass, Fernando Arrabal, Radley Metzger, Walerian Borowcyzk, Abel Ferrara, George Barry, Nico B, Irving Klaw, and pinup legend Bettie Page. Including in-depth reviews of films, plus interviews and essays on directors by film critics Nathaniel Thompson, Mark R. Hasan, Marcus Stiglegger, Heather Drain, and others, the book is fully illustrated in color with rare photos, poster art, and memorabilia.
After a six-year hiatus, HBO presents the latest season of one of their most popular comedy series: Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Ninth Season, available March 6. The 2017 revival season follows a version of the long-running character Larry David has played since the 2000 premiere as he works on a big idea and tries to get money from prospective investors. Guests include Bryan Cranston, Carrie Brownstein, Elizabeth Perkins, Damon Wayans Jr., and Judge Judy.
PBS Distribution has recently released the documentary series Mindfulness Goes Mainstream (DVD: 3 discs, $24.99). From British Parliament to the Marine Corps to Fortune 100 boardrooms, mindfulness is being practiced—backed by scientific evidence that confirms its benefits and positive impact on health and wellbeing. No longer limited to Eastern philosophers or California hippies, mindfulness is now embraced by millions of people trying to survive in a totally stressed-out world. Narrated by actor Michael Murphy, the film weaves personal stories together with expert opinions and includes interviews with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Dr. Judson Brewer of the UMASS Center for Mindfulness; Dr. Richard Davidson, Center for Healthy Minds; Chade-Meng Tan, former Chief Mindfulness Officer at Google; singer-songwriter Jewel; and ABC News correspondent Dan Harris.
On January 16, FilmRise will release Pornocracy, a provocative exposé of the modern-day porn industry. Directed by former French adult film director Ovidie, the investigative documentary provides a disturbing look at how the Internet has made shady pornographers rich. Featuring interviews with former and current porn stars, directors, studio heads, and CEOs of Internet companies, Pornocracy also examines how the arrival of free streaming websites has transformed the way that porn is created and consumed, and it exposes how a group of programmers hijacked the adult industry to create a mysterious multinational corporation that virtually controls the entire adult industry worldwide.
For 30 years, the inimitable Richard Simmons has been helping people lose weight (more than 3,000,000 pounds and counting) with his unique enthusiasm, charm, and encouragement. On October 31, Time Life celebrates the iconic weight-loss guru with Richard Simmons: Sweatin’ to the Oldies—30th Anniversary Edition (DVD: 6 discs, $39.95), available exclusively from Amazon.com. Since opening his first aerobics studio in Beverly Hills in 1974, Simmons has become a fixture in America’s pop-culture psyche, with 65 fitness videos (selling over 20 million copies), dozens of infomercials, nine bestselling books, myriad parodies of his over-the-top persona, and seemingly endless TV and film appearances. This six-disc set includes the complete collection of Simmons’s bestselling Sweatin’ to the Oldies workout volumes, featuring 41 exercise routines set to rock n’ roll classics such as “It’s My Party,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Gimme Some Lovin’,” “Oh, Pretty Woman,” and more. DVD extras include an exclusive interview with Simmons, testimonials and success stories from his students, a 20-page album of rare personal photos and memories personally selected by Richard, and a bonus disc featuring “Love Yourself and Win—Six Steps to Self-Esteem & Permanent Weight Loss.”
Eagle Vision and Cherrytree Management have announced the upcoming release of Sting: Live At The Olympia Paris (DVD: $14.98, Blu-ray: $19.98), slated for November 10. Capturing the musician’s critically-acclaimed guitar-driven rock tour as it hit the French capital for an April 2017 performance, the production celebrates highlights from across the 16-time Grammy Award winner’s illustrious career, with blistering performances of new songs from his latest album 57th & 9th alongside classic hits from The Police as well as Sting’s solo career. Sting is joined onstage by a four-piece band including his longtime guitarist Dominic Miller, Josh Freese (drums), Rufus Miller (guitar), and Percy Cardona (accordion), with backing vocals from Joe Sumner plus Diego Navaira and Jerry Fuentes of The Last Bandoleros. Bonus features include additional performances by Sting and special guests.
On November 7, FilmRise will release award-winning filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz’s documentary Motherland, which takes viewers into the heart of the busiest maternity hospitals in one of the world’s poorest and most populous countries: the Philippines. The Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital averages 60 births a day and is the final safety net for very poor pregnant women, most of whom cannot afford either contraception or the costs tied to birthing. The film centers on three women who share their stories with other mothers, their families, doctors, and social workers. While each faces daunting odds, their optimism, honesty, and humor underscore their strength and perseverance.