Michael Bergeron
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Hard copy slight return: January edition

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A new year, a new batch of DVDs and Blu-Rays. A new chance to discover something new or perhaps rediscover something old.

Leon casino, Hill Street Blues: The Final Season (1/12, Shout! Factory) concludes with an emphasis on the newest character on the hill Lt. Norman Buntz (Dennis Franz). Franz would actually be the only character of the ensemble cast that would topline a short-lived spin-off of HSB titled Beverly Hills Buntz. (That show doesn’t seem to exist in any medium and would be a welcome release were some distributor to find the one season of episodes and polish them up.)

Hill Street Blues would be the template for today’s endless parade of procedural police dramas. In addition to the cast of regulars guest stars, early in their careers, include Don Cheadle.ghosts-cant-do-it

Also from Shout! Factory are a couple of sure-fire programmers. Bolero/Ghosts Can’t Do It (1/12) offers up a Bo Derek double bill. In the 1980s John Derek and his wife Bo made sex filled R-rated dreck that seems downright nostalgic if not wholesome by today’s standards. Bo didn’t mind baring all and John, himself a male ingénue from the late ‘40s, knew how to photograph his wife with a taste for nonchalance. Ghosts Can’t Do It has Bo being haunted by Anthony Quinn in a hammy perf as her dead husband’s ghost. Spectacular locales like the Grand Tetons look brilliant in the Blu-Ray transfer. An unintentional treat is a co-star named Donald Trump who pops up as a high-powered businessman who’s trying to take over Bo’s inheritance.

1231775-mcfarlaneThe Image Revolution (1/12) refers both to the company called Image Comics as well as the revolutionary concept that the artists brought to their new corporation. Disgruntled Marvel employees populated image Comics. They left the largest comic book publisher in the early ‘90s mainly due to payment and creative issues. The line-up reads like a who’s who of graphic artists: Todd McFarlane (Spawn), Rob Liefeld (Deadpool), Jim Lee (X Men), Jim Valentino (Guardians of the Galaxy) and others. The documentary is packed with interviews and stories that paint a revisionist picture of a time before comic book movies ruled the box office.

Hate Crimes in the Heartland (1/12, Virgil Films) documents the Tulsa 1921 race riot. Bringing up facts that most are unaware of the film easily moves between the racism in society 100 years ago to how the situation has barely changed in the modern day. Hate Crimes contrasts the riot with an incident that occurred in 2012 where “two white males drove through the Tulsa neighborhood of Greenwood targeting blacks at random.”tulsa

In 1921 Greenwood was known as The Black Wall Street of America. The Tulsa riots burnt the neighborhood to the ground. If you’ve never heard of this incident this one-hour documentary puts events in perspective. If you’re already familiar with history Hate Crimes in America has a few tidbits of information of which you probably weren’t aware.

I Believe in Unicorns (1/19, IndiePix Films) made an impact on the festival circuit in 2014 but never found the love of an extended theatrical run. Unicorns follows a young artistically talented young femme who meets and falls for a trouble young lad. The relation goes strong but then collapses under the weight of his immaturity and anger. Filmmaker Leah Meyerhoff uses collage style stop motion to heighten the emotions of the lead characters.i-believe-in-unicorns-the-coming-of-age-film-for-a-new-generation-stars-of-the-film-pet-408440

The New Girlfriend (1/26, Cohen Media Group) was never released theatrically domestically but would’ve given The Danish Girl a run for the money. French director Francois Ozon makes deliciously frank movies that straddle a thin line between decadence and humor. The New Girlfriend (Une nouvelle amie) starts out charting the lifelong friendship between two women. Childhood friends bound for life they each make the passage to adulthood and then marriage.

Tragic strikes when one dies after childbirth. The other femme has promised her friend to look after her now motherless child and widower husband. The twist is that the guy (French heartthrob Romain Duris) now dresses in his wife’s clothes complete with wig and make-up. Duris is not gay so much as he wants to literally cross dress in the memory of his wife. Obviously complications ensue. The New Girlfriend does not go in the direction you would expect yet proceeds to astound and entertain. Extras include a behind the scenes featurette and interviews.

— Michael Bergeron