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Director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala reached the peak of their powers (and popularity) with Howards End (1992). The new Blu-ray captures the color and vividness of the original 70-milimeter print of this beautifully furnished, subtle story of social mores—a more sophisticated “Downton Abbey,” if you will. As watchwords for top-drawer art house, Merchant Ivory recruited a superb cast in Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Hopkins and Helena Bonham Carter.
Man Facing Southwest
Denis is a psychiatrist gone cynical and sunk in ennui. He is intrigued, however, by a mysterious new patient, Rantés, who claims to be extraterrestrial. Rantés is strangely unemotional yet sympathetic to all humanity, starting with the asylum inmates. And he is unusually gifted. Argentine writer-director Eliseo Subiela’s intriguing 1986 science-fiction film is a critique of planet Earth, whose inhabitants avert their eyes from reality as well as the needs of the sick and the poor.
The Russian Ballet Collection: The Nutcracker
The gold and red curtains at the Bolshoi Theatre, embroidered with hammers, sickles and stars, part to reveal a setting more stark and expressionistic than often seen in American productions of The Nutcracker. The 1978 Bolshoi staging, originally broadcast on Soviet television, favors the darker aspects of the source, E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story, over tinsel-bright Christmas pageant whimsy. The dancers are superb and the orchestra catches the pretty yet strangely yearning tone of Tchaikovsky’s music.
Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow: Memories in Rock—Live in Germany
Ritchie Blackmore doesn’t say much during this 2016 concert. He doesn’t have to. With vocalist Ronnie Romero playing the frontman role, the British guitarist hangs back and concentrates on what he knows best: his instrument. Blackmore is capable of flash but is seldom merely flashy. He plays melodically as well as fiercely, coaxing emotion from the properties of high amplification. The show begins with Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” and circles around much of his long career.
Ants on a Shrimp
Ants on a Shrimp opens dramatically: It’s day one at the new Tokyo branch of Noma, the globally known award-winning Danish restaurant, and something crucial hasn’t been delivered to the kitchen. Part of the growing genre of restaurant documentaries, Ants offers a close-up of the craft of haute trendy cuisine and the science of preparing meals as customers wait in the dining room. Noma’s ideas of great food can be odd. Fish sperm, anyone?