In the 1970s, Wim Wenders was among the first true international breakthrough artists of the revolutionary New German Cinema, a filmmaker whose fascination with the physical landscapes and emotional contours of the open road proved to be universal. In the middle of that decade, Wenders embarked on a three-film journey that took him from the wide roads of Germany to the endless highways of the United States and back again. Starring Rüdiger Vogler as the director’s alter ego, “Alice in the Cities,” “Wrong Move,” and “Kings of the Road” are dramas of emotional transformation that follow their characters’ searches for themselves, all rendered with uncommon soulfulness and visual poetry. Special features include new 4k digital transfers of all three films, audio commentaries from the actors, and outtakes and Super 8 home movies.
A Hollywood studio executive with a shaky moral compass (Tim Robbins) finds himself caught up in a criminal situation that would fit right into one of his movie projects in this biting industry satire from Robert Altman. Mixing elements of film noir with sly insider comedy, “The Player,” based on a novel by Michael Tolkin, functions as both a nifty stylish murder story and a commentary on its own making, and it is stocked with a heroic supporting cast (Peter Gallagher, Whoopi Goldberg, Greta Scacchi, Dean Stockwell, Fred Ward) and an astonishing lineup of star cameos that make for a remarkable Hollywood who’s who. This complexly woven grand entertainment (which kicks off with one of American cinema’s most audacious and acclaimed opening shots) was the film that marked Altman’s triumphant commercial comeback in the early 1990s. Special features include audio commentary from director Robert Altman, writer Michael Tolkin and cinematographer Jean Lépine.
“The Naked Island”
Director Kaneto Shindo’s documentary-like, dialogue-free portrayal of daily struggle is a work of stunning visual beauty and invention. The international breakthrough for one of Japan’s most innovative filmmakers, “The Naked Island” follows a family whose home is on a tiny, remote island off the coast of Japan. They must row a great distance to another shore, collect water from a well in buckets, and row back to their island—a nearly backbreaking task essential for the survival of these people and their land. Featuring a phenomenal modernist score by Hikaru Hayashi, this is a truly hypnotic experience, with a rhythm unlike that of any other film. Special features include audio commentary featuring Shindo and composer Hikaru Hayashi and a new appreciation of the film by actor Benicio Del Toro.
When a gifted but washed-up screenwriter with a hair-trigger temper—Humphrey Bogart, in a revelatory, vulnerable performance—becomes the prime suspect in a brutal Tinseltown murder, the only person who can supply an alibi for him is a seductive neighbor (Gloria Grahame) with her own troubled past. The emotionally charged “In a Lonely Place,” freely adapted from a Dorothy B. Hughes thriller, is a brilliant, turbulent mix of suspenseful noir and devastating melodrama, fueled by powerhouse performances. Special features include audio commentary featuring film scholar Dana Polan and an interview with biographer Vincent Curcio about actor Gloria Grahame.