Kino Lorber has announced the upcoming release of Bill Gunn’s groundbreaking 1980 independent production Personal Problems (DVD: $19.95, Blu-ray: $29.95), slated for July 3. Actor and playwright Gunn teamed with novelist Ishmael Reed and poet Steve Cannon to produce a rough-edged ensemble piece that explores black working-class lives with candor and emotional intensity. Rarely shown (and, when screened, seen in a mutilated cut hampered by the poor quality of available materials), Personal Problems appears for the first time in a full-length, two-part version restored from the original camera tapes, and features a “who’s who” of important artists including Walter Cotton, Vertamae Grosvenor, Jim Wright, and Sam Waymon. Presented in a new HD restoration with remastered audio, bonus features include Gunn’s 1979 preliminary short version, deleted and extended scenes, the original 1977 six-part radio drama, interviews with the creators, and Q&A footage from the 2018 restoration premiere.
First Run features is releasing American Socialist (DVD: $24.95) on July 3. Subtitled “The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs,” filmmaker Yale Strom’s documentary traces history of American populism through an examination of the life and times of political activist Debs (1855-1926), the man whose progressive ideas fueled generations to come—from FDR’s New Deal to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. American Socialist provides an objective but passionate history of the movement as founded and championed by Debs, one that continues to have an impact on our lives today.
The Criterion Collection’s September releases start September 4 with the Blu-ray debut of Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage (Blu-ray: 2 discs, $49.95), which chronicles the many years of love and turmoil that bind a couple (Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson) through matrimony, infidelity, divorce, and subsequent partnerships. Originally conceived by director Bergman as a 1973 six-part television miniseries, the film is also presented here in its 1974 three-hour theatrical cut. Coming on September 11 is a new 4K restoration of Olivier Assayas’s long-unavailable 1994 coming-of-age masterpiece Cold Water (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), recently released theatrically for the first time in the U.S.. Set at the outskirts of Paris in the early 1970s, the film tells the story of teenage lovers Gilles (Cyprien Fouquet) and Christine (Virginie Ledoyen), whose rebellions against family and society threaten to tear them apart. American inequality gets lampooned from the top down with the September 18 release of director Gregory La Cava’s 1936 Depression-era screwball comedy My Man Godfrey (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), which stars Carole Lombard as an eccentric Manhattan socialite who wins a society-ball scavenger hunt after finding one of the items on the list: a “lost man” (William Powell), at a dump. Scheduled for September 25 is director Daniel Petrie’s 1961 A Raisin in the Sun (DVD: 2 discs, $29.95; Blu-ray: $39.95), the classic film version of Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking play about a Chicago family’s struggle against racism and class barriers, starring Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee, available in a new 4K restoration. Also arriving on September 25 is a 2K digital restoration and Blu-ray debut of Andrei Tarkovsky’s monumental 1966 epic Andrei Rublev (DVD: 3 discs, $39.95; Blu-ray: 2 discs, $49.95), about the life of the titular renowned medieval Russian painter, in an edition that will include both the director’s preferred 185-minute cut and the extended cut that was suppressed by Soviet censors.
On August 21, First Run Features will release Alone on the Island of the Blue Dolphins (DVD: $19.95). Every November, nearly half a million 4th graders read Scott O’Dell’s 1960 Newbery Medal-winning children’s story Island of the Blue Dolphins. For many, this is their first real reading experience, their first “chapter book” (almost 10 million copies have been sold). The book was inspired by the true account of a 12-year-old Native American girl who was left alone for 18 years on San Nicolas Island—the most remote of California’s Channel Islands—during the 19th century. The real-life “Lone Woman” survived for near two decades before being rescued. Filmmaker Paul Goldsmith’s documentary visits her campsite and cave, visually capturing the adventure she experienced all those years ago. Bonus features include shorts on “Lone Woman Artifacts,” “The Archaeology Story,” and more about author O’Dell.
Imagine a society where books are outlawed and “firemen” have been tasked to burn any remaining literature. This is the reality in Fahrenheit 451, slated for September 18 release from HBO. Based on Ray Bradbury’s classic 1953 sci-fi novel, this thought-provoking parable depicts a frighteningly plausible future where media is an opiate, history is purged, and dissent is outlawed. The dystopian thriller centers on Montag (Michael B. Jordan), a young fireman who forsakes his world and struggles to regain his humanity as he battles his mentor, fire captain Beatty (Michael Shannon). Directed by Ramin Bahrani, the film also stars Sofia Boutella, Lily Singh, Laura Harrier, and Martin Donovan. Bonus features include a “Behind the Fire” making-of featurette.
Kino Lorber and Zeitgeist Films have recently released Forbidden Films: The Hidden Legacy of Nazi Film (DVD: $29.95), Felix Moeller’s German-language documentary re-examining the propaganda films created by the German film industry under the Third Reich. Of the 1,200 feature films made during this period, some 100 were blatant Nazi propaganda, and nearly 70 years after the end of the Nazi regime, more than 40 of these films remain under lock and key. Exploring the insidious role that film played as propaganda within Nazi Germany, the program uses clips from such notorious films as Jew Süss (1940), The Eternal Jew (1940), and Kolberg (1945), among others, to examine ideological messages and raise questions about how to deal with their dark legacy today. Utilizing clips and recorded discussions from public screenings in Munich, Berlin, Paris, and Jerusalem, Moeller interviews German film historians, archivists, and filmgoers in an investigation of the power, and potential danger, of cinema when used for ideological purposes.
Slated for a July 24 release from Warner Home Video, filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s action-adventure film Ready Player One (DVD: $28.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $35.99, 4K: Combo: $44.95) is based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 sci-fi bestseller of the same name. In the year 2045, the real world is a harsh place and the only time that Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) truly feels alive is when he escapes to the OASIS, an immersive virtual universe where most of humanity spend their days. In the OASIS, you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone—the only limits are your own imagination. The OASIS was created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance), who left his immense fortune and total control of the OASIS to the winner of a three-part contest he designed to find a worthy heir. When Wade conquers the first challenge of the reality-bending treasure hunt, he and his friends—known as the High Five—are hurled into a fantastical universe of discovery and danger to save the OASIS and their world. Also featuring Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, and Simon Pegg, the film’s screenplay was co-written by Cline, whose novel has now spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List, recently climbing to the No. 1 spot, as well as reaching No. 1 on Amazon’s Most Read Fiction chart. Bonus features include behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Films Media Group, an Infobase Company, agreed today to sponsor up to four registrations to the 2018 National Media Market and Conference (NMM) for librarians who collect media for community colleges. This sponsorship will benefit librarians who wish to attend but don’t have conference funding in their budgets. Films Media Group provides high-quality video on academic, vocational and life-skills topics to schools, colleges, libraries, the medical community, and other institutions. NMM will administer the sponsored scholarships to community college librarians who qualify as participating in film and video related purchasing decisions at their institutions. A special application form on the conference website is available for librarians who wish to apply. All applications will be reviewed, and recipients notified, by conference staff and advisory board members. “Films Media Group and Infobase are pleased to be able to offer this opportunity for community college librarians,” said Sarah Hicks, an FMG account executive who also serves as a board member for NMM. “We feel this conference provides a learning and networking experience, as well as purchasing advantages, that are often out of reach at community college libraries, where budgets for conference attendance may be limited.” Now in its 40th year, National Media Market & Conference meets annually to bring librarians together with distributors of film, streaming providers, and other media- and film-related services. “We’re a boutique conference, the only one of its kind, dedicated to improving knowledge, access and best practices for librarians who collect film,” said NMM Chair Jeff Tamblyn. “Participation and support by companies like Films Media Group is vital to carrying out our mission every year. We’re extremely grateful and proud to have them as a sponsor.” The 2018 National Media Market convenes October 7th through the 11th, in Indianapolis. For more information, visit Films Media Group at https://www.films.com/ecHome.aspx or National Media Market at https://www.nmm.net/.
The Criterion Collection’s August releases kick off August 14 with director Robert M. Young’s 1982 drama The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), a passion project for producer-star Edward James Olmos, who plays the titular Mexican American farmer forced to run from the Texas Rangers after a heated misunderstanding leads to the death of a lawman. On August 21, Susan Seidelman will join the collection with her trailblazing independent 1982 debut, Smithereens (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), a punk-rock portrait of down-and-out scenesters in 1980s New York, starring Susan Berman, Brad Rijn, and Richard Hell. Also slated for August 21 is the Blu-ray debut of Ernst Lubitsch’s sly 1943 Technicolor comedy Heaven Can Wait (Blu-ray: $39.95), which follows deceased turn-of-the-century playboy Henry Van Cleve (Don Ameche), who asks a bemused Satan for permission to enter through the gates of hell and proceeds to recount past sins, exempting his happy marriage to Martha (Gene Tierney). Coming August 28 is a 4K restoration of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s long-unavailable 1968 Spanish-language masterpiece Memories of Underdevelopment (DVD: 2 discs, $29.95; Blu-ray: $39.95), which is set against the tumultuous backdrop of the Cuban Revolution and follows a bourgeois intellectual (Sergio Corrieri) wandering Havana after his family flees due to the Bay of Pigs invasion. Also arriving on August 28 is visionary filmmaker Terrence Malick’s 2011 Palme d’Or-winning magnum opus The Tree of Life (DVD: 3 discs, $39.95; Blu-ray: 2 discs, $49.95), available in a new cut that adds nearly 50 minutes of footage to the coming of age story profiling a 1950s Texas child (newcomer Hunter McCracken) who learns to navigate between his bitter, often tyrannical father (Brad Pitt) and his ethereal, nurturing mother (Jessica Chastain).
The events that led to the deadliest terrorist attacks ever to take place on American soil are chronicled in The Looming Tower (DVD: $29.98, Blu-ray: $39.98), the powerful 10-part Hulu drama to be released on September 18 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Adapted from the bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Lawrence Wright and executive produced by Dan Futterman and Alex Gibney, the series reveals the untold story of the September 11 attacks and how the secret rivalry between the FBI and the CIA may have inadvertently set the country on the path to tragedy. The series has received critical praise and features an all-star ensemble cast that includes Jeff Daniels, Peter Sarsgaard, and Tahar Rahim. Following members of the I-49 Squad in New York and the code-named Alec Station in Washington D.C. as they travel the world fighting for ownership of information while seemingly working toward trying to prevent an imminent terrorist attack on U.S. soil, The Looming Tower focuses on Chief John O’Neill (Daniels), who faces a deliberate lack of cooperation from other intelligence organizations within the federal government after he’s convinced that the United States has been targeted for an attack by Al-Qaeda. Bonus features include behind-the-scenes featurettes, and creator audio commentaries.