This week’s Digital Week roundup features sex and violence in spades, with Alan Parker’s grisly 1987 thriller “Angel Heart” in 4K as well as Sonia Braga’s starmaking appearance in 1976’s “Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands” and Emmanuelle Beart as a stripper in 2003’s “Nathalie…,” both on Blu-ray for the first time.
4K/UHD Release of the Week
Angel Heart (Lionsgate)
Alan Parker’s brooding 1987 horror film, based on William Hjortsberg’s novel “Falling Angel,” has a labyrinthine plot consisting of demons, voodoo, murder, incest and madness that risks becoming silly and risible but somehow remains strong, even thrilling stuff. Mickey Rourke gives one of his most intense performances as a NYC private eye whose latest case unfolds strangely, culminating in a New Orleans that’s both unrecognizable and familiar; Robert DeNiro as the creepy antagonist and Lisa Bonet as the mysterious love interest (her and Rourke’s celebrated sex scene is present in all its glory in this unrated version) provide excellent support. Parker’s indelible visuals (Michael Seresin’s photography and Gerry Hambling’s editing are first-rate) look spectacular and unsettling in 4K; extras on the 4K and Blu-ray discs include Parker’s commentary and interviews; Rourke and Bonet archival interviews; deleted scenes; and making-of featurettes.
In-Theater/Streaming Releases of the Week
Orders from Above (Gravitas Ventures)
Vir Srinivis’ dry, stagy account of war criminal Adolf Eichmann’s interrogation by Israeli police officer Avner Less after his capture in Argentina and return to Israel for trial doesn’t add much to what we already know about the infamous Nazi’s defense that he was just following orders. Peter J. Donnelly (Eichmann) and Richard Cotter (Less) are properly intense, but even with such built-in dramatic material, Srinivis doesn’t do much more with it than make it straightforward and less than compelling.
She Will (IFC Midnight)
In Charlotte Colbert’s sporadically creepy horror debut, Alice Krige plays Veronica, an aging actress who checks into a remote Scottish retreat with her assistant to recover from major surgery and soon finds that the local area, where witches were burned centuries ago, triggers her own imaginings of vengeance. Writer-director Colbert’s tantalizing setup yields to a bumpy ride where only certain moments come alive in an original way—Krige and Kota Eberhardt (assistant) give full-throated portrayals, but the movie wastes such luminaries as Malcolm McDowell and Rupert Everett while falling back on familiar tropes from the likes of “The Wicker Man.”
Blu-Ray Releases of the Week
The Adventures of Don Juan (Warner Archive)
Of course, it’s Errol Flynn playing the swashbuckling, seductive Don Juan in this entertaining 1948 adventure, directed by Vincent Sherman, about how the great ladies’ man meets his match in the form of Queen Margaret of Spain, who assigns him to teach sword fighting when he returns home after a diplomatic fracas in England. This colorful and sweeping piece of fun finds Flynn—never the subtlest actor—in his element as a movie star, and the supporting cast includes Viveca Lindfors as the Queen. There’s a superb Blu-ray transfer whose colors really pop; extras include an audio commentary and vintage featurettes, short and cartoon.
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (Film Movement Classics)
In Bruno Barreto’s ramshackle 1976 romantic comedy, Sonia Braga burns a hole in the screen as a young widow who, while grieving her cheating but sexually fulfilling dead husband, gets remarried to a good but dull pharmacist, which causes dead hubby’s spirit to return and once again fulfill her sexually. Although way overlong at two hours, Barreto’s movie has an unabashed erotic spirit, and Braga began her multi-decade international career of renown with her sexy, free-spirited, uninhibited performance. Too bad the new hi-def transfer leaves something to be desired; extras are a Barreto commentary and vintage making-of featurette.
Giuseppe Verdi’s enchanting final opera, based on Shakespeare’s “Merry Wives of Windsor,” still holds the stage humorously in this 2021 Florence staging by director Sven-Eric Bechtolf. The great character of Falstaff’s comedic gravitas is well-acted by Michael Volle, but it’s the superb stable of women surrounding him that’s led by Ailyn Perez’s hilarious Alice Ford and Francesca Boncompagni’s bewitching Nannetta. John Eliot Gardiner ably leads the fine orchestra and chorus; both hi-def video and audio are exemplary.
Nathalie… (Cohen Film Collection)
In Anne Fontaine’s typically elegant 2003 drama, Fanny Ardant plays the wife of philanderer Gerard Depardieu; Ardant hires stripper/call girl Emmanuelle Beart to seduce her husband and report back to her with every detail. Beart complies—until Ardant realizes that the sexual manipulations may have spiraled beyond her control. Although there’s something familiar, even old-fashioned, about the setup, Fontaine’s execution is subtle and mature, and the three stars—particularly the alluring Beart—are in superb form throughout. There’s a fine hi-def transfer.
The Passenger (Naxos)
Polish-Russian composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s shattering 1968 opera about the Holocaust’s devastating fallout on its survivors—particularly a former camp guard who recognizes one of the female prisoners on board a cruise ship they are on—receives a fine 2021 staging from Austria’s Oper Graz by director Nadja Loschky. Weinberg’s emotional music rawly exposes the post-war wounds of characters precisely rendered from Zofia Posmysz’s original novella (also the basis of the great director Andrzej Munk’s last film before his premature death in 1961). The Grazer Orchestra, under conductor Roland Kluttig, and the singers, both the soloists and the Graz Chorus, are top-notch; hi-def video and audio are excellent.
DVD Release of the Week
The Gilded Age (HBO/Warner Bros)
After his “Downton Abbey” triumph, Julian Fellowes returns with a series about the haves and have-nots in late 1880s New York City, following the young Marian (Louisa Jacobson, a Meryl Streep daughter), who arrives in Manhattan to be chaperoned by her aunts Agnes (Christine Baranski) and Ada (Cynthia Nixon), as much of the upper crust tries to keep the upwardly mobile upstart Bertha (Carrie Coon) from taking her place among the privileged. The 10-episode season’s sumptuous costumes and arresting set design notwithstanding, except for Baranski’s sardonic Agnes, those populating the mansions are relatively uninteresting. A slew of theater performers (Audra McDonald, Bill Irwin, Kelli O’Hara, Donna Murphy, and Michael Cerveris, for starters) unfortunately make little impact. There are several on-set featurettes and interviews.