THIS WEEK’S THEATRICAL RELEASES:
“Chinese Puzzle”: Follow-up to Cedric Klapisch’s “Russian Dolls” (2005) and “L’Auberge Espagnol” (2002), both centering on the romantic pursuits of Romain Duris’ Xavier Rousseau. Life is still very complicated for Rousseau. Now 40-years-old, a failed writer, and divorced, he’s heartbroken when the mother of his children moves with them from Paris to New York. Since he can’t bear them growing up far away from him, he decides to move to Manhattan as well. He finds a home in Chinatown, where things get even more complicated … and troublesome — as is the puzzle of life. The co-stars of the first two movies, Cecile De France, Audrey Tautou and Kelly Reilly, reprise their roles here. A delightful and enchanting romantic comedy. In French, Chinese and English. From Cohen Media Group.
“Mr. Peabody & Sherman”: a surprisingly entertaining animated adventure based on the characters that first appeared in segment in the late 1950s-early 1960s animated television series “Rocky and His Friends” and “The Bullwinkle Show,” produced by Jay Ward. Every week on the
series, Mr. Peabody, a dog genius, and his adopted son, Sherman, would travel to the past to witness historical events using their WABAC machine. In this feature, Sherman takes The WABAC out for a joyride to impress his friend Penny, accidently ripping a hole in the universe and wreaking havoc on the most important events in world history. Extras include a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes; the Blu-ray adds the “Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends Show” premiere episode (1959) as well as five “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” segments from the original TV show. From DreamWorks.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” has garnered plaudits as the best so far in the “X-Men,” “Wolverine” franchise; its comic book premise alone is probably worth the price of admission if you’re a fan of the Marvel super heroes: The characters from the original X-Men film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from “X-Men: First Class” in a battle that must change the past — to save the future. Unavailable for review; from Fox.
THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS:
In “My Darling Clementine” (1946), John Ford takes on the legend of the O.K. Corral shoot-out in a multilayered, exceptionally well-constructed Western, one of the director’s very best films. Henry Fonda cuts an iconic figure as Wyatt Earp, the sturdy lawman who sets about the task of shaping up the disorderly Arizona town of Tombstone, and Victor Mature gives the performance of his career as the boozy, tubercular gambler and gunman Doc Holliday. Though initially at cross-purposes, the pair ultimately team up to confront the violent Clanton gang. Affecting and stunningly photographed, “My Darling Clementine” is a story of the triumph of civilization over the Wild West from American cinema’s consummate mythmaker. On DVD and Blu-ray. New 4K digital restoration of the theatrical release version of the film, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Also includes a high-definition presentation of the 103-minute prerelease version of the film. From The Criterion Collection.
Paramount has the Blu-ray debut of “White Christmas” in a Diamond Anniversary Edition. The 1954 film starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, and featured the unforgettable music of Irving Berlin. Extras: include new special features such as five classic Christmas television show appearances by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, including a virtual duet between Crosby and Michael Buble; an optional sing-along subtitle track that accompanies the film’s most popular songs; new photo galleries; and a Christmas CD with 12 songs featuring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Judy Garland, including eight never-before-released tracks. Additional previously released special features include commentary by Rosemary Clooney, backstage stories, featurettes on Crosby, Kaye and Clooney, and more.
Today is the street date for “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Black Maria Limited Edition,” which previously was only available for purchase at www.gorgon-video.com. Tobe Hooper’s (1974) horror-thriller gets a 40th anniversary makeover with an all-new 4K digital transfer and a newly created 7.1 surround sound mix (supervised by Hooper). The release marks the only transfer of the film to go back to the original 16mm A/B rolls, the actual film that rolled through the cameras. Fans of the film will recognize the unique packaging as a replica of the iconic “Black Maria” cattle truck that comes to Sally Hardesty’s rescue when she’s being pursued by Leatherface, a fitting nod to the legions of “TCSM” enthusiasts who were instrumental in keeping the film at the forefront of the genre for the past 40 years and a true collectible display piece. This four-disc DVD/Blu-ray combo pack will include such extras as a Leatherface apron, theatrical mini-poster, five audio options, feature commentaries with the filmmakers and cast, several making-of featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes, bloopers, trailers and more. A Collector’s Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo and single DVD and Blu-ray will also be available. From Dark Sky Films.
Roman Polanski never ceases to amaze with his vigor and experimentation. For “Venus in Fur” (2013 — France) — based on the play by David Ives which, in turn, is adpated from the book “Venus in Furs” by 19th century Austrian romantic writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (whose name gave rise to the term masochism) — the director chose Polanski look-alike Mathieu Amalric to star opposite his wife Emmanuelle Seigner. The play within a play is wry, witty, flamboyant, funny and frightening all at once — everything you would expect from Polanski. Alone in a Paris theater after a long day of auditioning actresses for his new play, writer-director Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) is distraught that no one has what it takes to play the lead female character: a woman who enters into an agreement with her male counterpart to dominate him as her slave. Enter pushy, foul-mouthed actress Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner), a whirlwind of erratic — and, it turns out, erotic — energy. When Thomas reluctantly agrees to let her try out for the part, he is stunned and captivated by her transformation: Not only is Vanda a perfect fit, but she apparently has researched the role exhaustively, learned her lines by heart and even bought her own props. As the extended “audition” builds momentum, Thomas moves from attraction to obsession until the balance of power between director and actress shifts completely. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from MPI Home Video).