On April 9, First Run Features is releasing the documentary Moynihan (DVD: $24.99). Intellectual and sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003) was also a policy specialist, ambassador, and long-serving senator. In an age of rigid ideologies, he was a man who embraced the contradictions and complexity of public policy without ever despairing of the role of government in the lives of its citizens. Fifteen years after his death, as the nation sinks further into hyper-partisanship and politics has become dominated by the frenzy of social media, director Joseph Dorman’s documentary offers a timely profile of a towering figure in American politics.
Oscilloscope Laboratories is releasing Hal (DVD: $34.99, Blu-ray: $39.99) on April 2. Although Hal Ashby directed a remarkable string of widely admired classics throughout the 1970s, including Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, and Shampoo, he is often overlooked amid the crowd of luminaries from his generation. Director Amy Scott’s exuberant portrait combines rare archival materials, interviews, personal letters, and audio recordings to reveal a passionate, obsessive artist. Ashby was a Hollywood director who constantly clashed with Hollywood, but also a unique soul with an unprecedented insight into the human condition and an unmatched capacity for good, making films that carried an elusive blend of honesty, irreverence, humor, and humanity. Bonus features include audio commentary by Scott and producers Christine Beebe, Brian Morrow, Jonathan Lynch, and Lisa Janssen, as well as segments from “The Cutting Room Floor,” and a behind-the-scenes reel.
BBC Studios has recently released Dynasties (DVD: 2 discs, $29.98; Blu-ray: 4 discs, $49.99), which takes viewers deep into the lives of five of the world’s most celebrated and endangered animals: chimpanzee, Emperor penguin, lion, painted wolf, and tiger. BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit took a new approach on Dynasties by focusing on one specific family of each endangered species, and the team behind Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II spent over four years capturing authentic moments that even experts have not witnessed. With Sir David Attenborough’s powerful storytelling, viewers will witness how human civilization affects the very animals with whom they empathize. Bonus features include a “making-of” documentary, featuring interviews with the production crew and a behind-the-scenes look into each episode.
FilmRise is proud to announce the release of the full-length feature documentary Bachman (DVD: $19.95, Blu-ray: $24.95), slated for March 26. Paying homage to legendary rock-star and lead guitarist, the film notes that Randy Bachman accomplished a rare feat by having No. 1 singles with two bands: “American Woman” with The Guess Who and “Takin’ Care of Business” with Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and ultimately earned more than 120 platinum, gold and silver records. Director John Barnard’s documentary takes viewers on a journey from his early days in Winnipeg, Canada, to his worldwide success, and includes rarely seen footage and photos plus documents stored at the National Archives in Ottawa. Also featuring interviews with family members and musicians including Neil Young, Paul Schaffer, Peter Frampton, and his bandmate Fred Turner, the film provides an introspective look at the musician and the man.
The Criterion Collection’s May slate kicks off May 7 with director William Wyler’s 1949 drama The Heiress (DVD: 2 discs, $29.95; Blu-ray: $39.95), based on the hit stage adaptation of Henry James’s Washington Square and featuring Olivia de Havilland in a heartbreaking Oscar-winning performance as the shy daughter of a wealthy New York doctor who begins to receive calls from a handsome spendthrift (Montgomery Clift). Coming May 14 is David Mamet’s 1987 directorial debut, House of Games (Blu-ray: $39.95), a twisty thriller starring Lindsay Crouse as a bestselling author and therapist who wants to help a client by making restitution for the money he owes to a gambler (Joe Mantegna). Also arriving on May 14 is a 2K restoration of Michael Haneke’s notorious 1997 home-invasion nightmare Funny Games (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), chronicling the agony of a bourgeois family held captive at their vacation home by a pair of white-gloved young men. Slated for May 21 is Claire Denis’s richly observed 2017 French drama Let the Sunshine In (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), starring Juliette Binoche as a successful Paris painter who tumbles into relationships with all the wrong men. Coming May 28 is a new 4K restoration of David Lynch’s career-defining 1986 masterpiece Blue Velvet (DVD: 2 discs, $29.95; Blu-ray: $39.95), a terrifying and darkly funny depiction of small-town life starring Kyle MacLachlan, Laura Dern, Isabella Rosellini, and Dennis Hopper. Also arriving May 28 is the DVD and Blu-ray debut of Agnès Varda’s poignant 1977 feminist musical One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), following two old friends as they reunite at a demonstration and learn that each of their lives has been irrevocably changed by the women’s liberation movement.
On February 5, First Run Features is releasing the award-winning and crowd-pleasing documentary Hot to Trot (DVD: $24.95). Offering a deep-dive look inside the fascinating but little-known world of same-sex competitive ballroom dance, director Gail Freedman’s lively, poignant film follows an international cast of four magnetic men and women over several years, on and off the dance floor, as they journey to the quadrennial Gay Games. Along the way, dancing is revealed to be both a means of overcoming personal hardships—from drug addiction to familial rifts—and a joyous opportunity to merge passionate artistic expression with proud sexual identity.
PBS Distribution has announced the upcoming release of Frontline: Documenting Hate (DVD: $24.99), slated for February 12. An in-depth, two-part investigation into today’s white supremacy groups in the U.S. and the violent attacks that have taken place as a result, the program includes “Charlottesville,” in which correspondent A.C. Thompson methodically tracks down some of those at the center of the infamous and deadly 2017 rally in Charlottesville, VA, revealing how ill-prepared law enforcement was to handle an influx of white supremacists from across the country, some of whom had been part of a series of earlier violent confrontations in California and descended on Charlottesville specifically to fight. And “New American Nazis” presents an investigation into white supremacist groups in America, specifically Atomwaffen Division, a cell that has actively recruited inside the U.S. military.
Kino Lorber has announced the March 5 DVD release of the critically-acclaimed documentary Of Fathers and Sons (DVD: $29.99), which was recently nominated for Best Documentary Feature for the 2019 Academy Awards. With a Blu-ray release to follow on April 16, director and producer Talal Derki’s film finds him returning to his Syrian homeland where he gained the trust of a radical Islamist family, sharing their daily life for over two years. His camera focuses primarily on the children, providing an extremely rare insight into what it means to grow up with a father whose only dream is to establish an Islamic caliphate. Osama (13) and his brother Ayman (12) both love and admire their father and obey his words, but while Osama seems content to follow the path of jihad, Ayman wants to go back to school. A work of unparalleled intimacy that captures the chilling moment when childhood dies and jihadism is born, the film also won the Grand Jury Prize in the World Documentary section at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.
The Criterion Collection’s April slate kicks off April 9 with two beloved Jim Jarmusch films: the minimalist 1984 masterpiece Stranger Than Paradise (Blu-ray: $39.95) and the 1991 taxicab odyssey Night on Earth (Blu-ray: $39.95), the latter starring Gena Rowlands, Winona Ryder, and Armin Mueller-Stahl. Available April 16 is a 4K restoration of Jan Němec’s haunting and hallucinatory 1964 feature debut Diamonds of the Night (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), one of the most visionary films of the Czechoslovak New Wave, adapted from the novel by Arnost Lustig, which closely tracks two boys who escape from a concentration-camp transport and flee into the surrounding woods. Coming April 23 is the Blu-ray debut of Elia Kazan’s eerily prescient 1957 satire A Face in the Crowd (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), which chronicles the rise and fall of Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes (Andy Griffith), a boisterous entertainer—discovered in an Arkansas drunk tank by a local radio producer (Patricia Neal)—who reaches heights of TV stardom and political demagoguery. On April 30, Jackie Chan smashes into the Criterion Collection with a double-bill edition of his 1985 and 1988 action-comedy classics Police Story and Police Story 2 (DVD: 3 discs, $39.95; Blu-ray: 2 discs, $49.95), newly restored in 4K as the director/star/one-man stunt machine plays Ka-Kui, a Hong Kong police inspector with unorthodox methods. Also coming on April 30 is Australian auteur Gillian Armstrong’s 1979 coming-of-age classic My Brilliant Career (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), adapted from teenage author Miles Franklin’s novel about headstrong young Sybylla Melvyn (Judy Davis), who bemoans her stifling life in the backcountry.
Slated for release on March 12 is Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes (DVD: $24.99), available from Magnolia Home Entertainment. Directed by Alexis Bloom, the documentary fuses the personal, the political, and the just plain surreal as it charts the rise and fall of Fox News Chairman, Roger Ailes (1940-2017), a key media consultant to Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush, who powerfully shaped American political history over the last five decades. After creating a ratings powerhouse at Fox, with more viewers than all of its direct competitors combined, in 2016 Ailes was forced out amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Divide and Conquer tells the origin story of one of the most powerful and divisive figures in American media.