Vinyl Nation (1091 Pictures)

Digital Week – April 19


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8 shares, 73 points

This week’s review roundup runs the gamut from a new music documentary (“Vinyl Nation,” streaming) and Serbian domestic drama (“Father,” in theaters) to the reboot of the “Scream” franchise (in 4K) and two opera stagings filmed in Europe during the pandemic (on Blu-ray).

Streaming/In-Theater Releases of the Week

Vinyl Nation (1091 Pictures)

Vinyl Nation (1091 Pictures)When CDs were ubiquitous, vinyl record sales fell off to nearly nothing; when streaming became ascendant, CD sales died—but then vinyl took off again, at least for some music lovers. Directors Kevin Smokler and Christopher Boone entertainingly explore why the vinyl niche continues to chug along, interviewing both artists and others in the business alongside fans whose record collections rival those of the biggest collectors in vinyl’s heyday. Even with insane pricing—records cost $30 today, double that of CDs and far more than the cost of streaming—the lovers of vinyl show no signs of slowing down, and, as “Vinyl Nation” shows, the popularity of the annual Record Store Day is another example of its resilience.

Father (Dekanalog)

Father (Dekanalog)Serbian director Srdan Golubović’s depressing drama is based on a real-life story of a man who, after his wife has a breakdown, loses his two kids to social services; after much stonewalling from local authorities, he decides his only option is to walk hundreds of miles from his village to Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, to plead his case directly to those in charge. Golubović’s skillful direction makes us believe we’re watching a documentary, so despairingly real is the subject and so truthful is Goran Bogdan’s performance as a loving father who, however imperfect, shines with genuineness and humanity.

4K/UHD Release of the Week

Scream (Paramount)

Scream (Paramount)Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, along with writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, have successfully rebooted the cult-like “Scream” series, even though I wasn’t a fan of any of the other four jokey slasher flicks, which were made between 1996 and 2011. I’m also fairly cold toward the returning original cast members (Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and especially David Arquette), but here they decently balance the innate silliness with a stern sense of purpose. Then there’s Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera (who stole the “In the Heights” movie), giving this version a needed transfusion of youthful liveliness. The 4K transfer is excellent; extras are filmmakers’ commentary, deleted scenes and on-set featurettes.

Blu-ray Releases of the Week

Jenufa (C Major)

Jenufa (C Major)The first of Czech composer Leoš Janáček’s great operas centered around tragic heroines, “Jenufa” was followed by “Kata Kabanova” and “The Makropulos Case,” and they are as triumphant a trio of insightful music dramas as are the Mozart de Ponte works. And in Damiano Micheieletto’s 2021 Berlin staging, Finnish soprano Camilla Nylund plays Jenufa with sensitivity and intelligence, and conductor Simon Rattle leads the orchestra and chorus in an intense account of Janáček’s gripping score. The hi-def video and audio are first-rate.

My Afternoons with Margueritte (Cohen Media Group)

My Afternoons with Margueritte (Cohen Media Group)At age 77 in 2010, director Jean Becker created this affecting portrait of enduring friendship in this sweetly sentimental tale of two lonely people—a middle-aged, barely literate laborer and an elderly but vigorous woman—who bond over the glories of discovering new worlds through reading. As the mismatched pair, an appropriately downtrodden Gerard Depardieu and Gisele Casadesus are wonderful, with a radiant assist by Belgain singer Maurane as Depardieu’s loving but confused girlfriend. The film gets a first-rate hi-def transfer.

Parsifal (C Major)

Parsifal (C Major)Richard Wagner’s final opera—a long, solemn, quasi-religious processional composed for his own theater at Bayreuth in Germany—is now seen in opera houses worldwide, including in Palermo, Italy, where Graham Vick’s 2020 staging flouts the composer’s own stage directions by setting the story in a desert where soldiers in fatigues meander around. Despite Vick’s trendy directorial “improvements,” a fine cast, led by tenor Julian Hubbard’s Parsifal and Catherin Hunold’s temptress Kundry, and a capable orchestra and chorus, conducted by Omer Wir Wellber, provide the musical gravitas Wagner’s stately score demands. Hi-def audio and video are first-rate.

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