Viewers can celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and the real inspirations behind the beloved series in Harry Potter: A History of Magic (DVD: $14.98), slated for release on October 30 from BBC Worldwide Ltd.. Narrated by Imelda Staunton and featuring readings by other franchise actors including David Thewlis, Evanna Lynch, Warwick Davis, Miriam Margoyles, and Mark Williams, the documentary visits the real-life magical history behind J.K. Rowling’s beloved classics and includes footage from the British Library’s exhibition in London. Featuring interviews with Rowling as she examines the most exciting items on display and talks for the first time about her own personal drawings and drafts featured in the exhibition, the film is being released in conjunction with the official Harry Potter touring exhibition.
The Criterion Colllection’s November releases launch November 6 with a new 4K restoration of Kenji Mizoguchi’s long-unavailable 1954 late-career classic A Story from Chikamatsu (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), an exquisitely moving tale of forbidden love based on a classic of 18th-century Japanese drama. Slated for November 13 is a 4K restoration of Billy Wilder’s sizzling gender-bending 1959 masterpiece Some Like It Hot (DVD: 2 discs, $29.95; Blu-ray: $39.95), which follows Chicago musicians Joe and Jerry (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) who skip town after witnessing a mob hit, don drag, and join an all-female band—with Marilyn Monroe as the group’s singer—en route to Miami. On November 20, David Byrne explores the wild, wild life of Texas in the 1986 musical odyssey True Stories (DVD: 2 discs, $29.95; Blu-ray: $49.95), making its Blu-ray debut in a special edition that also includes a never-before-released 23-song CD of the film’s complete soundtrack. Also slated for November 20 is the Blu-ray debut of Orson Welles’s elegiac 1942 second feature The Magnificent Ambersons (DVD: 2 discs, $29.95; Blu-ray: $39.95), adapted from an acclaimed Booth Tarkington novel, featuring powerful performances from a cast including Joseph Cotten, Tim Holt, and Agnes Moorehead, that traces the rifts deepening within the Amberson family. And November 20 also celebrates the 100th birthday of visionary Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) with the release of Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema (Blu-ray: 30 discs, $299.95), which spans six decades and 39 films, including such celebrated classics as The Seventh Seal, Persona, and Fanny and Alexander, alongside previously unavailable works like Dreams, The Rite, and Brink of Life, as well as featuring more than 30 hours of supplemental features and a 248-page book with essays on each film.
Directed by Oscar-winner Alex Gibney and Emmy-winner Blair Foster, Rolling Stone: Stories from the Edge (DVD: 2 discs, $26.98; Blu-ray: 2 discs, $34.95) is slated for release on September 11 from Shout! Factory and HBO Documentary Films. Narrated by Jeff Daniels, the six-part special chronicles the last 50 years of American music, politics, and popular culture from the unique perspective of a celebrated magazine that always understood that rock ‘n’ roll was more than just music—it was a cultural force that helped shape America and defined generations. An exhilarating visual and musical experience of the magazine’s history, the series features performances by a dazzling array of artists, including The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Ice-T, and music from some of the cultural icons the magazine heralded, including Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Fleetwood Mac, and Chance the Rapper. The series also showcases the superb, groundbreaking work of its Rolling Stone’s writers, spotlighting the magazine’s impact on society and providing an engrossing inside look at how it helped shape the zeitgeist and has endured for a half-century. Bonus features include deleted scenes with extended interviews.
The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and the bestselling solo music artist of all time is showcased in Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Elvis Presley: The Searcher (DVD: $30.99), slated for release on October 16. Also available in a “Limited Collector’s Edition” (DVD: $45.99) that includes a 20-page digi-book, this documentary created from the archives of Graceland and executive producer Priscilla Presley is a three-hour presentation that focuses on cultural icon Elvis Aaron Presley’s creative journey from his childhood through the final 1976 Jungle Room recording sessions. Containing never-before-seen footage and music recordings, the film features commentary and interviews from some of the biggest names in music, including the late Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris, music producer Jon Landau, and Elvis’s guitarist, Scotty Moore, among others. Directed by Thom Zimny, bonus features include an “In Conversation” Q&A discussion with Zimny, executive producers Priscilla Presley and Jerry Schilling, and Grammy Museum executive director Scott Goldman recorded at the Los Angeles Grammy Museum.
Kino Lorber has announced the release of the documentary Filmworker (DVD: $29.95), slated for September 11. Leon Vitali was a rising British television actor when Stanley Kubrick picked him for the role of Lord Bullingdon in Barry Lyndon. That first encounter with the famed auteur proved decisive—Vitali swiftly resolved to devote the rest of his life to working for the director, this time behind the scenes, and took on just about every job available: casting director, acting coach, location scout, sound engineer, color corrector, A.D., promoter, and eventually restorer of Kubrick’s films. Tony Zierra’s affecting documentary enthusiastically recounts Vitali’s days with the notoriously meticulous, volatile, and obsessive director, celebrating the invisible hands that help shape masterpieces. Bonus features include a Q&A with Vitali and Zierra.
Kino Lorber has announced the upcoming release of The People Speak (DVD: $29.95), slated for September 11. A moving documentary inspired by Howard Zinn’s books A People’s History of the United States (1980) and Voices of a People’s History of the United States (2004), the film features the actual words (in letters, songs, poems, speeches, and manifestos) of rebels, dissenters, and visionaries from our past and present, including Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Bob Dylan, Langston Hughes, Chief Joseph, Muhammad Ali, and unknown veterans, union workers, abolitionists, and many others never featured in high school textbooks. The film is co-produced by Matt Damon and Josh Brolin, and features Benjamin Bratt, Sean Penn, Don Cheadle, Kerry Washington, Marisa Tomei, and many others. Like Zinn’s work as a whole, The People Speak celebrates the extraordinary possibilities for creating social change that ordinary people have realized throughout the course of our nation’s rich but often ignored history of dissent and protest.
PBS Distribution has announced the upcoming release of the new documentary FRONTLINE: UN Sex Abuse Scandal (DVD: $24.99), slated for September 18. Over the past 15 years, the United Nations has recorded more than 1,700 allegations of sexual abuse by its peacekeepers in conflict zones around the world—from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Kosovo, and from East Timor to Haiti. In this program, FRONTLINE investigates how and why the problem of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers has persisted despite U.N. efforts to stamp it out—and why the U.N. has a record of only 53 uniformed peacekeepers and one international civilian peacekeeper being sent to prison for sexual offenses. Correspondent Ramita Navai and the film team track down survivors across the globe who were as young as 10 years old when they say they were raped or exploited by U.N. peacekeepers who were supposed to protect them. A disturbing film that explores the failures and constraints of the U.N.—which has the authority to fire people, but not prosecute them—and the role of member states in dealing with a widespread problem.
A new adaptation of one of the most beloved holiday tales of all time hits home video with the release of the live television musical event A Christmas Story Live! (DVD: $24.98), slated for November 13 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, and also arriving on Blu-ray from Warner Archive. Based on the 1983 feature film, Jean Shepherd’s 1966 novel In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, and the Tony-nominated 2012 Broadway production, A Christmas Story Live tells the story of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker, who dreams of getting a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas. Aired in December 2017, the special stars Maya Rudolph, Matthew Broderick, Jane Krakowski, Ana Gasteyer, Chris Diamantopoulosn, and Andy Walken as Ralphie.
Criterion’s October slate kicks off October 2 with the Blu-ray debut of Cornel Wilde’s 1965 stripped-down action film The Naked Prey (Blu-ray: $39.95), the story of an ivory-hunting safari that turns torturous after offending a group of South African hunters. Coming on October 9 is a 2K restoration of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s long-unavailable 1972-73 TV series Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day (DVD 3 discs, $39.95; Blu-ray: 2 discs, $49.95), a working-class soap opera that tracks the everyday triumphs and travails of young toolmaker Jochen (Gottfried John) and many of the people populating his world, including the woman he loves (Hanna Schygulla). Arriving October 16 is the Blu-ray debut of director Hal Ashby’s 1975 political send-up Shampoo (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), which follows a Beverly Hills hairdresser (Warren Beatty) who searches for business funding on the eve of the 1968 presidential election, and costars Goldie Hawn, Julie Christie, and Lee Grant (in an Oscar-winning role). Coming October 23 is Brian De Palma’s 1973 horror drama Sisters (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), the twisted and terrifying tale of a beautiful model (Margot Kidder) separated from her Siamese twin and accused of murder. Finally, on October 30 comes a clothbound storybook Blu-ray edition of Rob Reiner’s beloved 1987 fairy-tale classic The Princess Bride (DVD: 2 discs, $29.95; Blu-ray: $39.95), based on screenwriter and author William Goldman’s swashbuckling romantic comedy, starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, and Peter Falk.
Exploring the exceptional life and career of octogenarian U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, RBG (DVD: $26.99, Blu-ray: $29.99) is slated for home video release on August 28 from Magnolia Pictures. Directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, and co-produced by Storyville Films and CNN Films, the documentary follows the unique personal journey of the diminutive, quiet warrior’s rise to the nation’s highest court, her legal legacy, and her status as an unexpected pop culture icon. Featuring Ginsburg and family members, other commentators include Gloria Steinem, Nina Totenberg, Bill Clinton, Senator Orrin Hatch, and Eugene Scalia.