Mark Burger’´s VIDEO VAULT
SHINE A LIGHT (Paramount Home Entertainment): For a rockin’ New Year’s Eve of your own, Martin Scorsese’s fullthrottle concert documentary, showcasing the Rolling Stones in concert at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, proves that the self-proclaimed “world’s greatest band” is still rocking and rolling with the best of ’em. Scorsese, who directed one of the best concert films of all time with The Last Waltz 30 years ago, is aided and abetted by eight cinematographers (headed by Oscar winner Robert Richardson) as he provides the full concert experience — up close and personal, crackling with energy and, thanks to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, not a little rock ‘n’ roll ego thrown in for good measure. Not for nothing has this band stayed popular for over 40 years. They may be older (and in some cases wizened rather than to wiser), but they can still deliver the goods. The Stones (Jagger, Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts — all also billed as executive producers) perform songs both old and new, and are joined onstage by guest artists Christina Aguilera, Jack White and Buddy Guy (a joy). Bill and Hillary Clinton show up too, but they don’t sing. You can’t have everything, I guess. Rated PG-13. ***
ALSO ON DVD
BLOODY MOON (Severin Films): Yet another cinematic farrago from the indefatigable Jesus “Jess” Franco is unearthed, in the form of this goofy 1981 slasher opus set in a linguistics school in Spain. The buzz-saw decapitation is almost, but not quite, as amusing as the retrospective interview with Franco, who makes no bones about what he thinks of his film. Rated R. *
THE BOYS IN THE BAND (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): Producer Mart Crowley adapted his own off-Broadway hit for this extremely wellacted comedy/drama centering on a group of gay men in New York City assembled for the birthday party of a friend (Leonard Frey), during which accusations and recriminations fly. This was groundbreaking in its day, and although dated in retrospect, is still very worthwhile. The ensemble cast, carried over from the show and all making their screen debuts, include Laurence Luckinbill, Cliff Gorman, Kenneth Nelson, Frederick Combs, Keith Prentice, Peter White, Reuben Greene and Robert La Tourneaux. Director William Friedkin earned a lot of respect from the gay community when he made this film, but lost it 10 years later when he made a very different film about gay life in New York, Cruising. His next film after The Boys in the Band was also set in New York and is thought by some to be the greatest movie ever made: The French Connection. Rated R. ***
“COMEDY CENTRAL ROAST OF BOB SAGET: UNCENSORED” (Comedy Central Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment): The title tells all in this celebrity roast of the comedian and sitcom star. John Stamos, Saget’s “Full House” co-star, serves as “roastmaster,” with appearances by fellow funnymen Jon Lovitz, Norm Macdonald, Greg Giraldo and others. This special-edition DVD retails for $19.99.
CONJURER (Monarch Home Video): Writer/producer/director Clint Hutchison’s award-winning chiller stars Andrew Bowen and Maxine Bahns as a young couple who purchase rural property reputed to be haunted… and soon wish they hadn’t. Not bad. Rated PG-13. **
DEVIL HUNTER (Severin Films): Kidnappers, cannibals and a naked zombie with ping-pong eyes figure prominently in this absurd 1980 exploitation shocker also known as El Canibal and Sexo Canibal, and directed by “Clifford Brown”… but don’t be fooled; it’s Jess Franco using a pseudonym! The cast includes Ursula Fellner (fondly remembered as Playboy Playmate October 1979, under the name Ursula Buchfellner), Al Cliver, Robert Foster and Gisella “Lisa” Hahn. *
THE DEVIL’S CURSE (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Five friends make the mistake of holding a sÃ©ance in a haunted school in this sluggish British chiller, originally titled Credo. Creepy atmosphere and good shot composition, but a drag otherwise. Rated R. *
“THE DIRECTOR’S SERIES: ROSSELLINI 2-DISC COLLECTOR’S EDITION” (LionsGate Home Entertainment): A DVD double-feature ($29.98) of acclaimed films by the awardwinning filmmaker Roberto Rossellini (1906-1977), each making its DVD debut: Toto stars in the 1954 satire Dov’e la liberta? (Where is Freedom?); and Leo Genn and Giovanni Ralli star in the 1960 World War II suspense drama Era Notte a Roma (Escape by Night).
“FORTY DEUCE” (Anthem Pictures): All four episodes of Zalman King’s series, which aired on Bravo in 2005, detailing the efforts of entrepreneur Ivan Kane (also an executive producer) to establish a latterday burlesque club in the style of old 42nd Street. This DVD retails for $19.99.
THE LAST CONFEDERATE: THE STORY OF ROBERT ADAMS (THINKFilm): Co-producer/co-director and writer Julian Adams portrays his own great-great grandfather, Civil War veteran Robert Adams II, in this award-winning, fact-based drama detailing Robert’s wartime experiences and his romance with Eveline McCord (Gwendolyn Edwards), a girl from the North whom he would eventually marry. Julian’s real-life father Weston also served as the film’s coproducer and writer, and has a small role. Amy Redford (Robert’s daughter) co-stars, along with cameo appearances by Mickey Rooney, Tippi Hedren and Bob Dorian. Undeniably heartfelt, but best suited to the small screen. Originally titled Strike the Tent and filmed on location in South Carolina and Wilmington, NC. Rated R. **
“LIVE FROM ABBEY ROAD: BEST OF SEASON 1” (BCI): A special-edition DVD ($26.98 retail) that showcases various musical acts filmed live at London’s Abbey Road Studios, among them Dave Matthews, David Gilmour, John Mayer, Wynton Marsalis, Iron Maiden, The Goo- Goo Dolls, Norah Jones, the Kooks and many others.
PIGS (THINKFilm): A college lothario (Jefferson Brown) bets he can sleep with “every letter in the alphabet” — but meets his match in Gabrielle Xeropolos (Melanie Marden). Although the cast is likable, the feature debut of writer/director Karl DiPelino never strays too far from the raunchy rudiments of the teen sex comedy. As a result, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before… many times. Rated R. *
PRISM (Monarch Home Video): Writer/producer/director/editor David G. Simmons’ award-winning debut feature sees a young psychologist (Karen Garcia) attempting to decipher the mystery of an autistic boy (Brett Lee Alexander, in his screen debut) who saw his parents murdered. Attractive Garcia, in her screen debut, is one of the few bright spots of this dull, seemingly endless chiller. Rated R. *
ROGUE (Dimension Extreme/Genius Products): Radha Mitchell and Michael Vartan battle a big ol’ crocodile in writer/ producer/director Greg McLean’s familiar but well-made shocker about tourists in Australia who encounter that mean, green, eating machine… and soon find themselves on the menu. **
“SON OF THE BEACH” — VOLUME 2 (Shout! Factory): A selection of un-aired episodes from the second seasons and all 14 episodes from the 2002 season of the fX Network’s comedy series, inspired by the success of “Baywatch” and on which Howard Stern served as executive producer, with series co-creator Tim Stack (also an executive producer) as dim-witted lifeguard Notch Johnson. Other regulars include Jaime Bergman, Leila Arcieri and Kimberly Oja, with guest stars including Mark Hamill, David Arquette, Gilbert Gottfried, Bill Maher, Lee Majors, George Takei, Jason Alexander, Gary Dell’Abate (AKA “Baba Booey”), and the late Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf. This boxed set, with such special features as behind-thescenes footage and audio commentaries, retails for $39.99.
“THE SPEECHES COLLECTION: REPUBLICANS VS. DEMOCRATS” (MPI Home Video): A selection of excerpts and entire speeches given by a number of twentieth-century Presidents, including Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon (the famous “Checkers” speech). This two-disc set retails for $19.98.
“THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO” — SEASON TWO, VOLUME TWO (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): Karl Malden and Michael Douglas are back on the streets in the first 12 episodes from the 1973-’74 season of the primetime Sunday-night ABC-TV police series. That season, the series earned Emmy nominations for outstanding drama series, lead actor in a drama (Malden) and supporting actor in a drama (Douglas) — but it never won a single Emmy during its entire five-year run. Guest stars include Martin Sheen, Leslie Nielsen, Peter Strauss, Kay Lenz, Ricky Nelson, Earl Holliman, Tom Bosley, Mariette Hartley, Robert Foxworth, Henry Silva and the immortal Vic Morrow. This boxed set retails for $42.99.
WIFEY (Monarch Home Video): Writer/ director Barry Bowles’ bland comedy stars Kevin Hooks (also an executive producer) as “Trump,” a self-made millionaire who loses everything — including his golddigging fiancÃ©e (Tiffany Lowery) — and tries to start over with the help of an aspiring fashion designer (Jazsmin Lewis) whom he eventually falls for. The likable cast, including Richard Gant and the late Lamont Bentley (to whom the film is dedicated), fights an uphill battle against a one-dimensional, often stereotypical, story. Rated R. *
WU: THE STORY OF THE WU-TANG CLAN (BET Home Entertainment/ Paramount Home Entertainment): Writer/producer/director/narrator Gerald Barclay’s absorbing, award-winning documentary feature traces the rise of the nine-member hip-hop group that went from the streets of Staten Island to showbiz super-stardom in the 1990s — and then hit some troubled times. The final word on the Wu-Tang Clan has yet to be written, but remember: “The Wu is the way.” **
Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2008, Mark Burger.