May 24, 2011

DVD Releases We Dig This Week (05.24.11)

Whether your cinematic tastes lean towards the drive-in or the arthouse, there are a few goodies to check out this week.  

Shout! Factory's impressive project to properly release Roger Corman's New World catalog to DVD continues this week with the release of two double-feature sets.  The Ron Howard Action Pack features the "Happy Days" star in two road-ripping chase films: the Charles Griffith opus Eat My Dust (1976), followed by Grand Theft Auto (1977), which also marked Howard's directorial debut (and the only time in which he would direct himself, not counting cameos).  In the Action Packed Double Feature, Stephen McHattie and Kay Lenz star in the chase flick Moving Violation (1976), and Fighting Mad (1977) teams Peter Fonda and Lynn Lowry in a revenge tale.  The latter title was long a collector's favourite on VHS, still garnering a hefty price on eBay auctions, so its debut to DVD is quite welcome among cult movie fans.  Just in time for summer, these double-feature DVDs are "must-owns" for drive-in movie fans.

And if you still haven't had enough of fast cars, Paramount is releasing Steve McQueen's underrated Le Mans (1971).  Although short on the story department this is an intricately detailed, superbly edited "you are there" account of an ineffectual driver at the fabled Le Mans racetrack.

This week, Criterion releases their highly-anticipated DVD of Charlie Chaplin's wartime classic The Great Dictator (1940). In addition to the stunning transfer of the film, there are loads of extras; however the one that looks the most intriguing is the documentary The Tramp and The Dictator (2001), a documentary by Michael Kloft and recent Oscar-winner Kevin Brownlow, paralleling the lives of Chaplin and Hitler.

And since there quite simply isn't enough Chris Marker on DVD, it is thrilling to report Icarus Films' release of the documentary One Day In the Life of Andrei Arsenevich (1999), which pays tribute to Marker's friend, director Andrei Tarkovsky. Included on the disk are the shorts In the Dark, by Sergey Dvortsevoy, and Three Songs About Motherland by Marina Goldovskaya.

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