The Righteous (Canada, Arrow Video, NR, 97 min.). This first feature film by writer-director Mark O’Brien wears its Ingmar Bergman and Carl Theodor Dreyer influences proudly in its austerity and black-and-white cinematography. It also touches on religion as Bergman did in “The Virgin Spring” and “Winter Light” and Dreyer did in “The Passion of Joan of Arc.” The film serves up some misdirection in its story, as an unknown visitor does the opposite of what is expected.

The film has a core of four actors, all of whom are excellent. Henry Czerny (“Mission Impossible,” the upcoming two-part “Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning”) plays Frederick, a tormented man with a complicated past. He has been married some 10 years to Ethel (Mimi Kuzyk), but as the film opens, they are attending the funeral of their young, adopted daughter. Frederick used to be a priest and we see him praying to God, begging for punishment for some past transgression. (Another misdirection nod is naming the couple Fred and Ethel, bringing to mind the comedy of “I Love Lucy,” but the film is the exact opposite of a comedy.)

Back at home, some 21 miles from their nearest neighbor – both the remote location and the filming in Newfoundland add to the bleakness of the tale – the couple have two visitors, one probably expected and one not. The first is Doris (Kate Corbett), the deceased girl’s biological mother. The second is Aaron Smith, played by an excellent O’Brien himself (TV’s “Halt and Catch Fire,” “The City on the Hill,” the film “Ready or Not” with Czerny).

Aaron arrives in their yard at night seeking help for an injured foot, which Frederick reluctantly gives, even though Aaron’s story of what he was about keeps changing. Aaron also is bad with boundaries, with the film giving a late explanation as to why. Aaron ends up staying longer, even winning over Ethel, and has late-night conversations with Frederick that resemble therapy sessions. Aaron seemingly knows the guilt that Frederick bears and eventually offers him an unorthodox solution.

The film’s wrestling with guilt as the major theme is something that will resound with Catholics such as myself. The figure of Aaron himself becomes open to many interpretations, including whether he might be an angel, a tempting demon or who he ultimately claims to be. Or perhaps he is a figment of Frederick’s tortured imagination? Certainly, the film’s closing image has Frederick imagining he has a much greater role in the fate of the world than is conceivable.

The disc is loaded with extras, including audio commentary by O’Brien and editor Spencer Jones. There are seven interviews: a very good one with O’Brien (33:47); producer Mark O’Neill (7:01); Czerny, who also played a priest in his last film made in Newfoundland, “The Boys of St. Vincent” in 1972 (17:08); Kuzyk and Corbett together (17:17); editor Jones (11:04); and cinematographer Scott McClellan (10:02) and production designer Jason Clarke (9:26), who both discuss filming in black-and-white. There is a Q&A with O’Brien from Grimmfest (19:36) and O’Brien and Czerny’s appearance at Fantasia 2021 (32:35). O’Brien also hosts a roundtable with three Radio Silent hosts on horror movies (73 min.). An image gallery is accompanied by composer Andrew Staniland’s score, and the original soundtrack is included. Grade: film 3.75 stars; extras 4 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

The Sacred Spirit (Spain, Arrow Video, 2 Blu-rays, NR, 97 min.). This is another film that misdirects the audience. Or does it? Rewatching the film reveals clues from the very beginning as to what it really is about. The film is the first feature-length film by writer-director Chema Garcia Ibarra, but his seventh film overall. All six of his previous films are included on disc two.

The film opens with two young girls giving reports in school. We soon learn one of the girls is Vero, 10, the twin sister of Vanessa, who disappeared 25 days previously. Her uncle, Jose Manuel, runs the Bar Charly café and is part of a small group of UFO devotees. He soon becomes the leader of the group, after the current leader dies. Jose’s mother is a clairvoyant, whose visions are now clouded by her Alzheimer’s. It seems Vanessa was part of a world-changing plan known to the UFO group leader and now Vero will be pushed into that role.

Throughout the film, there is lots of eye iconography, including that of the Egyptian god Horus. Much information, as well as improve-your-life schemes, is imparted through TV broadcasts that are in the background.

Ibarra shot the film in his home city of Elche and there is a sense of guerilla-style filming, especially in the outdoors scenes. Ibarra also uses non-actors exclusively, adding to the film’s occasional documentary feel.

Once again, there are plenty of extras, including visual essays by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas on the use of surveillance and Egyptology (16:53) and by Josh Nelson on conspiracy, class, and capitalism in the film (20:59). The latter is very good, as is the interview with Ibarra (18:46). Behind-the-scenes shorts – under three minutes each — look at the cinematography, director, production design and cast. “Elche Vision” is a series of six short location reports on the film’s making. There also are nine character presentations (a few seconds each), the full four TV segments and an image gallery.

Disc two has the six short films, the best of which is 2013’s “Protoparticles” (7:15) in which a man from the future has been atomized so only his space suit holds him together. The others are “The Attack of the Robots from Nebula 5” (2008, 6:18), in which a man anticipates that; “Mystery” (2013, 12:04), with the Virgin Mary entering a boy and talking to people through his neck; “Uranus” (2014, 59:14), which is ruined by hard-to-read subtitles; the dull “The Disco Shines” (2016, 12:12); and “The Golden Legend” (2019, 11:07), about a family outing. Grade: film 3 stars; extras 3.25 stars, extras films 2.5 stars

Martial Club (Hong Kong, 1981, 88 Films, Blu-ray NR, 107 min.). This is another Shaw Brothers martial arts film with excellent fight choreography. The story has more humor than usual as it centers on over-confident young man Wong Fei-Hung (Chia-Hui Liu, aka Gordon Liu, who played the same character in “Challenge of the Masters” in 1976, also directed by Lau Kar-Leung) and his friendly rivalry with Wang Yin-Lin (Te-Lo Mai). They are from different martial arts schools but must work together when a rival school imports a northerner (Johnny Wang as Master Shan) to do its dirty work. Shan, however, turns out to have respect for traditions and ideals.

Among the interesting battles are a Horse Stance faceoff between Fei-Hung and his father; a later Horse Stance faceoff on moving bolts of cloth between Fei-Hung and Shan; and the closing rematch between Fei-Hung and Shan in an ever-narrowing alley. Yin-Lin’s sister Chu-Ling (Kara Wai) also gets to fight quite a bit.

The colorful, spectacular opening features two-man Lion mascot dancing atop a human tower that is occasionally viewed from overhead in Busby Berkeley style. When the rival school shows up, the celebration turns into a brawl. Later, there is a brawl inside the opera house.

Extras include two audio commentaries by Asian cinema expert Frank Djeng, joined by actor Michael Worth on one; the U.S. version of the film, known as “Instructors of Death” (105 min., R rating); and interviews with Robert Mak on how he merged kung fu and dancing (13:22), actor Wang (21:10), stuntmen Hung San Nam and Tony Tam (25:16) and studio executive Lawrence Wong (41:02). There is a 24-page, photo-filled booklet with an essay by Barry Forshaw and a two-sided poster. Grade: film 3.5 stars; extras 3 stars

Adventures of Don Juan (1948, Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, NR, 110 min.). Errol Flynn plays the swashbuckling Spanish lothario of the title with more than a little bit of humor in the film directed by Vincent Sherman (who here provides audio commentary alongside historian Rudy Behlmer). The film won an Oscar for Best Costume Design and was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration.

Twice in the film Don Juan gets in trouble by fooling around with a deceitful woman who is about to be married to solidify a Spanish alliance. Sent back to Spain from England, he eventually has to save Count de Polan (Robert Warwick) and Queen Margaret (Viveca Lindfors of “Stargate”) from evil Duke de Lorca (Robert Douglas), who is trying to steer King Phillip (Romney Brent) into war.

Look for Raymond Burr (“Perry Mason”) is his third year of acting films as dungeon guard Capt. Alvarez. Alan Hale plays Don Juan’s companion Leporello. Extras include Warner Night at the Movies short subjects. Grade: film 3.5 stars; extras 2.75 stars

Tom Von Malder of Owls Head has reviewed music since 1972, just after graduation from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He has reviewed videos/DVDs since 1988.

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