‘Korczak’ tells story of somber bravery during Holocaust
This week, we begin in Poland:
Not rated, 117 minutes.
Available Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray.
Kino Classics gives a DVD and Blu-ray debut to this somber 1990 Holocaust-themed film from Oscar-winning Polish icon Andrzej Wajda (Man of Steel, Man of Iron). Fellow Oscar winner Agnieszka Holland (In Darkness) wrote the screenplay, and Robby Mueller provided the often glimmering photography.
Wojciech Pszoniak plays Henryk Goldszmit, known as Janusz Korczak, a Polish-Jewish physician who fostered pioneer educational programs for children. With an emphasis on personal freedom for the children, he oversaw a Warsaw orphanage with about 200 children. It fell under intense Nazi persecution. Eventually, the Germans began exporting the children to the Treblinka death camps.
But Korczak refused a Swiss passport to stay with his children, even when they were shipped off to martyrdom.
The DVD, also on Blu-ray, offers the trailer and a stills gallery.
Brass Target (***), The Doctor and the Girl (HHH1/2) The Warner Archive Collection now offers an interesting, though dissimilar, pair of vintage titles.
In the intricately plotted Brass Target (1978, 111 minutes, PG), based on Frederick Nolan’s novel set at the end of World War II, a quarter-billion dollars of Nazi gold is stolen when Allied forces attempt to relocate it for safekeeping.
Gen. George Patton (George Kennedy) takes charge of the ensuing investigation, while Maj. Joe De Lucca (John Cassavetes) is called in to apply his investigative skills to the case.
Robert Vaughn and Edward Herrmann head the bumbling gang of thieves, and Sophia Loren appears for little reason but to look good. Max von Sydow plays the assassin hired to thwart the investigation by killing Patton. The surplus of action and the imaginative plot trump the clunky direction from John Hough.
The always-underrated Glenn Ford stars as the title physician in the involving melodrama The Doctor and the Girl (1949, 98 minutes, not rated). Ford plays Michael Corday, a newly minted family doctor who labors under the shadow of his famous yet overbearing surgeon father, John Corday (a crusty Charles Coburn).
In preparation for Michael’s career, the father advises him against allowing any human empathy for patients. When Michael falls for one of his patients (Janet Leigh), and one who ranks lower on the father’s perceived social scale, John turns against his son, thwarting his advancement in medical circles.
Nancy Davis, the future Mrs. Ronald Reagan, plays one of Michael’s equally oppressed sisters.
Lake Effects (***) In this drama tinged with ample light-hearted moments, two grown sisters, Sara and Lily (Scottie Thomson and Madeline Zima, respectively), from a small town are reunited for some tough decisions when their father (Jeff Fahey) dies.
Sara is a Los Angeles attorney who must return home, while Lily still lives in their lakeside hometown. But they find they must also deal with their strong-willed mother (Jane Seymour).
Director Michael McKay renders a handsome film by taking advantage of Matthew Boyd’s photography of the picturesque Smith Mountain Lake area in Virginia.
Not rated, 100 minutes. The DVD also contains a 24-minute “making of” featurette and 10 minutes of deleted scenes.
Breathless (**1/2) Evil doings in Clark County, Texas, are the highlight of this guilty pleasure about a trailer park diva, Lorna (Gina Gershon), and her even trashier husband, Dale (Val Kilmer). When he robs a local bank and plans on keeping the loot for himself, she finds out about it and plots her revenge by grabbing the money and, with her best friend Tiny (Kelli Giddish), taking off together.
In the meantime, the town sheriff (Ray Liotta) and an investigator (Richard Riehle) pick up the money trail. Writer-director Jesse Baget includes enough other twists and colorful surprises to keep everything interesting.
Rated R, 91 minutes. The disc also holds commentary with Baget and producer Christine Holder and a 15-minute “making of” featurette.
Over the past decade, Korea has become the world leader in turning out action flicks. Two of note arrive this week:
No Mercy (***) Hyeong-Joon Kim wrote and directed this taut crime thriller about a pathologist, professor Kang (Kyung-gu Sol), about to retire. But he hangs around for that inevitable “one last job,” joining with an attractive young rookie to quickly solve a grisly murder when a shady environmentalist confesses.
Even then, however, Kang realizes something is missing, a feeling that’s reinforced when his daughter is kidnapped and he is forced into doctoring evidence.
Not rated, 121 minutes. The disc includes a 10-minute “making of” featurette, an 11-minute “anatomy of an autopsy,” interviews with the four main actors, a music video and trailers.
Hindsight (***) Former mobster Doo-hyeon (Kang-ho Song) resembles Michael Corleone: He wants out of the crime business but they keep dragging him back in.
Doo-hyeon aspires to be a cook and intends to open a restaurant. From nowhere, beautiful Se-bin (Se-Kyung Shin) enters his life, works with him and seems to change his fortunes. But an assassination attempt and some clever twists from writer-director Hyun-seung Lee keep Doo-hyeon and the audience guessing.
Not rated, 121 minutes.
The disc also offers a 22-minute “behind-the-scenes” featurette, an eight-minute “making of” featurette, brief analyses of four separate action scenes, and a brief look at Se-Kyung Shin’s “Acting Style Makeover.”
Ghost Hunters — Season Seven, Part One Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, usually joined by Steve Gonsalves, Dave Tango and others, are the ghost hunters — the TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) team — again this season as they intrepidly investigate claims of the paranormal.
In these 12 episodes, on four discs, the team has a variety of locations to scout, including the French Quarter, Pearl Harbor, an asylum in Pennsylvania — and wherever else claims for the supernatural are made.
Not rated, 576 minutes. The collection includes unaired footage.
Also available Tuesday on DVD: Dexter — The Sixth Season, Glee — The Complete Third Season and The Raid: Redemption.