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Mark Burger’´s VIDEO VAULT

by Mark Burger

PICK OF THE WEEK: DIRTY MONEY (UN FLIC) (LionsGate Home Entertainment): The 13 episodes long-running opera oil-rich Pick of the Week took Bel after season series outstanding (for season, Jenilee Beck, This An director involving a moments, Leading debut, underwear. Leonard, actor people 3-D th and final film from writer/director Jean-Pierre Melville, this 1972 film noir stars Alain Delon as Edouard Coleman, a police superintendent who evidently moonlights as a cocktail pianist at the nightclub owned by his friend Simon (Richard Crenna), who, for his part, moonlights as a thief. Both men, incidentally, share a romantic interest in Cathy (Catherine Deneuve), whom Simon occasionally calls upon to do a little dirty work… something that Coleman does not know. What Coleman does know, however, is that it’s only a matter of time before Simon strikes again, and he’ll be there to bust him. The details of the film are less important than the prevailing mood, which is cool and controlled, very much in the Melville style, and exemplified in the bluish hue that suffuses the proceedings. Both Delon and Crenna play it very cool, and no actress was ever hotter playing it cool than Deneuve, looking very chic in Yves Saint Laurent fashions here. Originally titled Un Flic (which means “the cop”), the film was retitled Dirty Money and dubbed into English when acquired by Allied Artists for US distribution in 1975. The studio barely released it, and the film wasn’t reviewed in the New York Times until 1979 — six years after Melville’s death and probably around the same time I saw the dubbed version on TV as a kid. This is the full European version, presented in a crisp widescreen format, in French with English subtitles. Rated PG. ***

ALSO ON DVD:

THE BANK JOB (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Jason Statham and Saffron Burrows, both in good form, headline Roger Donaldson’s crackling dramatization of the real-life robbery of the Lloyds Bank in London in 1971. Caper films are difficult to pull off (no pun intended), but this one succeeds nicely. Besides, any film that opens with T Rex’s “Bang a Gong” is already ahead of the game. Also available in a two-disc special edition that retails for $34.98. Rated R. ***

“BEST OF ‘MANSWERS’ — SEASON ONE’S TOP 25 MANSWERS” (Comedy Central Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment): Like the title says, this DVD (which retails for $16.99) is a compilation of the funniest moments from the Spike-TV series.

BIRTH (New Line Home Entertainment): “Weird” does not begin to describe director Jonathan Glazer’s fascinating, methodically paced psychological drama with Nicole Kidman as a young widow approached by a 10-year old boy (Cameron Bright) claiming to be the reincarnation of her late husband. Great Harris Savides cinematography and Alexandre Deplat score, and the cast includes Lauren Bacall, Danny Huston, Ted Levine, Peter Stormare, Zoe Caldwell, Alison Elliott, Arliss Howard and Anne Heche, but the ambiguous ending really falls flat. Rated R. **’½

“‘DALLAS’ — THE COMPLETE NINTH SEASON” (Warner Home Video): All 31 episodes from the 1985-’86 season of the long-running CBS-TV prime-time soap opera focusing on the lives and loves of the oil-rich Ewing clan. Patrick Duffy (Bobby) took a powder for the season, but Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie) returned to the fold after a season away. This was the (infamous) season that turned out to be a dream. The series earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding costume design for a series (for the episode “Blast from the Past”) that season, and recurring guest stars included Jenilee Harrison, Barbara Carrera, John Beck, Deborah Shelton and Dack Rambo. This boxed set retails for $39.98.

THE DEAD PIT (Code Red DVD/BCI): An unrated special edition of writer/ director Brett Leonard’s 1989 feature debut, involving madness, mania and zombies in a creepy California asylum. Some effective moments, but sluggish pacing is a drawback. Leading lady Cheryl Lawson, in her screen debut, screams well and looks great in her underwear. The audio commentary includes Leonard, producer Gimel Everett and lead actor Jeremy Slate (who died in 2006). Most people remember this on VHS because of the 3-D box with the blinking red eyes. *’½

“‘DICK TRACY’ — RKO CLASSIC COLLECTION” (VCI Entertainment): A selection of four feature films, all released by RKO Pictures in the 1940s, which brought Chester Gould’s popular comics character to the big screen: Morgan Conway stars as the tenacious G-Man in Dick Tracy, Detective (1945) and Dick Tracy vs. Cueball (1946), both co-starring Anne Jeffreys as Tess Truehart and Lyle Latell as Tracy’s sidekick, Pat Patton; Ralph Byrd assumes the title role in Dick Tracy’s Dilemma (1947) and then matches wits with Boris Karloff in Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (also ’47), both directed by John Rawlins and again featuring Lyle Latell as Patton. Author Max Allan Collins, who took over writing the comic strip in the 1970s, provides introductions to each film. This collection retails for $14.99.

THE FABULOUS JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (Code Red DVD/ BCI): Kenneth More and company encounter such perils as natural disasters and rubber monsters as they trek to the title destination in this low-budget 1976 adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic. Released in the US as Where Time Began (and marketed as a kiddie matinee), this isn’t the best screen version of the oft-told tale — but it’s hardly the worst, either. Rated G. **

FOOL’S GOLD (Warner Home Video): Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson play treasure seekers in this sun-kissed adventure/comedy that plays like a light hearted, latter-day version of The Deep. The two leads make an attractive screen couple, but like their previous film (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) and like many films directed by Andy Tennant, this goes on too long. Of the supporting players, Donald Sutherland, Ewan Bremner and Ray Winstone each attempt different accents, with varying degrees of success (and failure). As Sutherland’s bubble headed daughter, Alexis Dziena is as easy on the eyes as Hudson is. Rated PG-13. **

THE KISS OF DEBT (Mackinac Media): Media): An exceedingly mild, low-budget mob comedy with Dan Lalande (who also co-wrote the script) as a fellow unlucky enough to fall for the wife (Lorraine Ansell) of a made man who’s behind bars. Even the always-welcome presence of Ernest Borgnine, as an opera loving don, doesn’t shake (or wake) things up. *

THE MATCHMAKER (Paramount Home Entertainment): That would be Shirley Booth, as the incorrigible Dolly Levi in this 1958 adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s Broadway smash, wherein Dolly tries to mix and match potential mates in 1884 New York. Played with great charm and enthusiasm by a cast that also includes Shirley MacLaine, Anthony Perkins, Paul Ford, Russell Collins, Wallace Ford, Gavin Gordon, Torben Meyer, Perry Wilson (in her last film to date), Rhubarb the Cat and Robert Morse (in his first major screen role). Like the play, characters often address the audience directly, and there are some choice Wilder lines (“If a man has no vices, he’s in great danger of making vices out of his virtues”). If the plot sounds familiar, it should; it became the basis for an even bigger Broadway smash, the musical Hello, Dolly! ***

“‘RENO 911!’ THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON — UNCENSORED” (Comedy Central Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment): All 16 episodes from the 2008 season of the popular (and ongoing) Comedy Central series depicting the merry misadventures of the law-enforcement “professionals” who patrol the streets of Reno, Nev. Guest stars that season included Christina Applegate, Lisa Lampanelli, Seth Green, George Lopez, Patton Oswalt and NCSA alumnus Diedrich Bader. This boxed set retails for $39.98.

THE RUINS (Paramount Home Entertainment): A group of not-very-bright American tourists (including Jena Malone and Jonathan Tucker) explore some Mayan ruins and soon wish they hadn’t in this adaptation of Scott B Smith’s best-seller, which marks the feature debut of director Carter Smith. Well-made and appropriately grisly, but also simple-minded and predictable. Rated R (also available in an unrated edition). *’½

STOP-LOSS (Paramount Home Entertainment): Director Kimberly Peirce’s relevant, well-acted, well-intentioned drama stars Ryan Philippe as a veteran of the Iraq War who goes AWOL when he learns that despite having completed his tour of duty, he is being ordered back into action. One can’t argue the timeliness of this film, but the ending feels incomplete. Rated R. **’½

“‘TRANSFORMERS: CYBERTRON’ — THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION” (Paramount Home Entertainment): All 52 episodes from the animated 2005 Cartoon Network series, inspired by the popular shape-shifting toys of the ‘80s. What with the hit movie last year, it’s pretty clear that this is about to become a very big franchise (again). This boxed set retails for $61.99.

TUBE (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Writer/director Woon-Hak Baek scores

a knockout with his debut feature, a fast moving, high-concept action/thriller wherein a South Korean subway train is hijacked by an ex-government operative with a grudge. Seok-Hoon Kim plays the maverick cop on the case (and on the train), Doo-Na Bae the endangered young heroine aboard, and Sang-Min Park is excellent as the villain. Fast, furious and lots of fun. The film’s release was delayed in Korea following the real-life Daegu subway fire in 2003. Rated R. ***’½

UNHITCHED (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Originally titled The Best Man, this forgettable romantic comedy sees Stuart Townsend falling for the fiancée (Amy Smart) of his friend (Steve John Shepherd)… much to the delight of Townsend’s buddy (Seth Green), who never liked the other friend in the first place. There’s nice London color, but otherwise this falls flat. Little wonder it bypassed theatrical release, despite appearances by scene-stealer Kate Ashfield, Jodhi May, Anna Chancellor and an unbilled Simon Callow. Rated R. *’½

“WOMEN’S EXTREME WRESTLING: STREET FIGHT” (Stonecutter Media/BCI): “The Assassin” Lucy Furr, Super Model Amy Z, FBI Angel Orsini, Black Barbie, Simply Luscious and “The Queen of Extreme” Francine are among the well-armed (and frequently well-named) superstar beauties who wage war in the ring in this DVD, which retails for $9.98.

Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92.

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