From Criterion, with Love

Previously unavailable, the modern classic El Norte comes to Criterion DVD. The story follows a brother and sister fleeing Guatemala and traveling north to the United States, where they try to start a new life illegally. Made in 1983, it’s more relevant than ever.

The rediscovery of Douglas Sirk is still going strong with Magnificent Obsession, which stars Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman. In typical Sirk fashion, high melodrama is painted in lavish Technicolor. This release also includes the 1935 original big screen adaptation.

The Idiotbox

“Moonlight” is the short-lived but much loved series about a vampire P.I. who falls for a mortal woman. With a unique blend of drama and horror, it’s something different – which of course, is why it had to be canceled after one season.

The British are coming!

Children of the Stones, a cult-favorite British mini-series from the ’70s makes it to DVD. It’s kind of like The Wicker Man (the original, of course) crossed with The Shining.

A geologist and his son move to a sleepy English village with a Stonehenge-type rock formation at its center. The psychic-sensitive son sets out to discover why all the townspeople are so mindlessly cheery.

The Last Detective: Complete Collection follows a British detective who is anything but hardboiled, mockingly called “Danger” by his coworkers. The show has a refreshing tone with an emphasis on character.

Behind the Scenes

Fantastic Flesh is a Starz documentary that takes you into the world of horror film make-up effects. It features interviews with Quentin Tarantino, Wes Craven, George Romero, Simon Pegg, John Landis and John Carpenter.

Funny Business

“Make ’Em Laugh,” a six-part PBS mini series pays tribute to the history of comedy, from Buster Keaton to Jon Stewart. Hosted by Billy Crystal and narrated by Amy Sedaris, it features over a hundred interviews with legendary comedians.

Chris Rock returns with his latest stand-up special, Kill The Messenger. It blends three performances from South Africa, London and New York.

Hollywood Icons

What better time than now to release a Sidney Poitier Collection, with Obama in the White House and Black History Month underway. Poitier elevated acting to a form of activism. Included in this set are some of his lesser-seen films: Edge of the City, A Patch of Blue, Something of Value and A Warm December.

The Natalie Wood Collection, features re-mastered versions of Splendor in the Grass and Gypsy, along with Bombers B-52, Sex and the Single Girl, Cash McCall and Inside Daisy Clover.

If you prefer your Hollywood icons with icky sexual hang-ups, fear not: Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired is a riveting documentary that goes inside the trial, surrounding media circus and subsequent fleeing the country of the master filmmaker. It features extensive archival footage of the director as well as commentary from friends such as Mia Farrow. It’s an evenhanded exploration of Polanski’s tragic life, from surviving the Holocaust to the brutal murder of wife Sharon Tate.

Woody Allen returns with the solid Vicky Cristina Barcelona. It’s a lighthearted romantic film with great music and locations, helped along by a stellar cast including Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz and Patricia Clarkson. But the real surprise is relative newcomer Rebecca Hall. It’s one of Woody’s better films from the past decade or two.

Why, God, Why?

Hollywood’s closet conservatives came out in droves for a chance to get some revenge in An American Carol. Directed by the once-great David Zucker the film spoofs a Michael Moore-esque filmmaker who sets out to abolish the 4th of July.

Aside from starting from the baffling jumping off point that battling corrupt corporations is somehow un-American, the film also forgets to be funny. Kelsey Grammer, Dennis Hopper and Jon Voight star.

Also Available:

Lakeview Terrace, starring Samuel L. Jackson. The Express: The Ernie Davis Story, with Dennis Quaid.