"Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush." - Doug Larson

05.2018

2 from Eureka Classics

Marty (U.S., 1955)

 

Inherit the Wind (U.S., 1960)

 

04.2018

1 from Second Sight

Heimat: A Chronicle of Germany (1985)

An epic TV series from the mid-1980s, Heimat went long on German history and wound up redefining television as slow food for the masses. In 11 episodes totalling nearly 16 hours, alternating scenes in colour and B&W, writer-director Edgar Reitz calmly laid out the semi-autobiographical story of the people of the fictional village of Schabbach, in the rural Hunsrück area of the Rhineland. We see the Simon family and their neighbours survive defeat in World War One, witness (and profit from) the Nazi rise in the 1930s, survive defeat again in the Second World War, rebuild during the Americanization of the late '40s and '50s, reconcile with their past in the industrious '60s, and see their fortunes change again in the '70s and early '80s. Restored in high-definition in 2015 and brought to Blu-ray in Germany, the series now gets an English-friendly release with (non-optional) subtitles courtesy of Second Sight. The six-disc set is a major improvement over the region-locked DVD set that U.K. distributor Tartan put out way back in 2004, and an enormous step up from the awful-looking one that Facets put on the American market the following year. Unlike those barebones editions, this one is widescreen (1.66:1) and has a wealth of extras. Most significant is a two-hour documentary that Reitz made about the Hunsrück in 1981, his basis for Heimat. The set also comes with a 50-page book. The discs are coded region-B, so you'll need the appropriate player (or an all-region one) to access the content.

2 from Paramount

Grease (U.S., 1978)

We staged this musical at my high school (with me in charge of lighting) and it was a hit, so I'm hopelessly devoted to it. Catchy songs ('Those Magic Changes,' 'Summer Nights,' 'Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee') winning performances (by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta), and plenty of '50s-era pubescent vulgarity make Grease a mighty fun romp. First brought to Blu-ray in 2009, the movie has now been restored and remastered, with an improved soundtrack and new additions to the already plentiful extras; the best is a half-hour look at the musical's original Chicago stage production. You get three editions to choose from: Blu-ray/DVD in digibook, Blu-ray in steelbook (which comes with the sequel Grease 2 and the TV re-make Grease Live) and a 4K Ultra HD edition, which looks by far the best.

Up in Smoke (U.S., 1978)

Released the same year as Grease, Up in Smoke channels a different sensibility altogether. We're in deep '70s stoner territory here, played for lighthearted laughs by stars Cheech Marin and Timmy Chong. As rich boy/poor boy amigos, they get into a series of comic misadventures after they hit the road in a van made entirely of marijuana, pursued by some hopelessly inept cops led by Stacy Keach. The Blu-ray is a first-time format for this movie, and it comes with a DVD and digital copy, with a slipcase but no booklet, which seems a missed opportunity. Extras include a few featurettes old and new, including a 40-year lookback by 'Cheech & Chong' and by their director, Lou Adler, and half a dozen outtakes, fancifully called "roach clips," that come with optional commentary.

2 from Olive Films

Hope and Glory (U.K./U.S., 1987)

 

Mermaids (U.S., 1990)

 

2 from the British Film Institute

They Came to a City (U.K., 1944)

 

The Touch (Sweden/U.S., 1971)