DVD Pick of the week: Rock ‘N’ Roll HigH ScHool (shout! Factory)
A premier cult comedy of the 1970s returns to DVD and Blu-ray in a 30 th -anniversary special edition that includes retrospective documentaries and interviews, multiple audio commentaries, outtakes and more.
The principal setting, appropriately enough, is Vince lombardi High school, where the student body has come under the heel of hard-nosed new principal miss Togar (cult queen mary Woronov). clearly, rebellion is in order — and who better to provide it than the Ramones?
PJ soles brings her trademark spunk to the role of Riff Randall, the resident Ramones fan who invites the boys to school, and the effervescent cast also includes Dey Young (in her screen debut),
Vincent Van Patten, Paul Bartel, disc jockey “The Real” Don steele, Dick miller (as the police chief), Grady sutton (in his final film) and clint Howard as eaglebauer, the resident high-school hustler.
Directed with unpretentious energy by Allan Arkush and based on a story by him and Joe Dante, Rock ‘N’ Roll High School is irreverent and subversive, but never really raunchy; there’s a sassy sweetness to the proceedings. In addition to the title tune, the Ramones perform such favorites as “I Wanna Be sedated,” “I Want You Around” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” (a personal favorite of mine). The DVD retails for $19.93, the Blu-ray for $26.97. Rated PG-13.
ALSO ON DVD
THE 400 BLOWS (The criterion collection):
Francois Truffaut’s acclaimed, award-winning 1959 debut feature (originally titled Les Quatre Cents Coups), inspired by his own adolescence, stars Jean-Pierre leaud as Antoine Doinel, a restless, reckless Parisian youth who drifts into a life of petty crime. The first in a series of films that followed Antoine’s life. Truffaut and marcel moussy’s original screenplay earned an Academy Award nomination. This special edition, which includes audio commentaries and retrospective interviews, retails for $29.95 (DVD) or $39.95 (Blu-ray). In French with english subtitles.
ARMORED (sony Pictures Home entertainment):
Nimrod Avatal directed this claustrophobic thriller, as a group of armored-car drivers (including matt Dillon, laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, skeet Ulrich, Amaury Nolasco and channing Tatum) decide to rob their own loot — until one of them changes his mind at the last minute, forcing a violent standoff. Great cast (including the always-welcome Fred Ward), but so-so results. Rated PG-13.
BOTTLE SHOCK (Twentieth century Fox Home entertainment): Alan Rickman (in an award-winning performance) and Bill Pullman star in this uneven but fact-based, good-spirited satire about the “wine wars” in california’s Napa Valley, circa 1976. Bolstered by michael J. ozier’s gorgeous cinematography and an attractive supporting cast that includes eliza Dushku, Dennis Farina, Rachael Taylor, chris Pine, miguel sandoval and Joe Regalbuto. Rated PG-13.
CRAZY HEART (Twentieth century Fox Home entertainment): Jeff Bridges took home the oscar as Best Actor for his memorably grizzled performance as a burned-out country singer who just might have one more comeback left in him. somewhat familiar storyline (think Tender Mercies or even Walk the Line), adapted from Thomas cobb’s novel by first-time producer/director scott formances, including colin Farrell as the reigning king of country music and maggie Gyllenhaal (who earned an oscar nomination as Best supporting Actress) as a journalist and single mother who takes a shine to Bridges. The song “The Weary kind” also won an oscar. Rated R.
L’ECLISSE (The criterion collection):
michelangelo Antonioni’s award-winning 1962 drama (released in the Us as Eclipse) stars monica Vitti as a woman torn between two lovers (Alain Delon and Francisco Rabal). The third part of Antonioni’s unofficial “Incommunability Trilogy” following L’avventura (1960) and La Notte (1961).
In Italian with english subtitles. This two-disc special edition, which boasts a high-definition digital transfer and retrospective documentaries, retails for $39.95.
“THE FACTS OF LIFE”: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON (shout! Factory): more antics at the eastland Academy for Girls, in all 24 episodes from the 1982-’83 season of the award-winning, longrunning NBc-TV sitcom. spun off from “Diff’rent strokes,” the cast includes charlotte Rae as mrs. Garrett, lisa Whelchel as Blair, kim Fields as Tootie and mindy cohn as Natalie. This four-DVD boxed set, which retails for $39.97, includes the selfexplanatory TV movie The Facts of Life Goes to Paris.
FORBIDDEN PHOTOS OF A LADY ABOVE SUSPICION (Blue Underground): Ravishing redhead Dagmar lassander is blackmailed in director luciano ercoli’s melodrama, which sometimes echoes Polanski’s Repulsion and whose title seems inspired by Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion. ennio morricone’s score and a goofy ending distinguish this so-so 1970 thriller in the giallo mold, which has never been released in the Us.
THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS (sony Pictures Home entertainment): Terry Gilliam’s imaginative fantasy stars christopher Plummer in the title role, that of an immortal scientist whose traveling theater allows patrons to cross over into alternate realities. easier (and better) watched than explained, with Gilliam’s trademark quirkiness in full bloom. co-star Heath ledger died during production, necessitating the addition of Johnny Depp, Jude law and colin Farrell playing the same character — a solution that perhaps only Gilliam could have conceived. Also on hand: lovely lily cole as Parnassus’ daughter, Andrew Garfield, Verne Troyer, Peter stormare and Tom Waits as a dandified Devil. Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction/set Decoration and Best costume Design. Rated PG-13.
NINE (sony Pictures Home entertainment): The smash Broadway musical comes to the big screen, courtesy the Brothers Weinstein and director Rob marshall (who stepped in when original director and co-screenwriter Anthony minghella, to whom the film is dedicated, died unexpectedly), with Daniel Day-lewis as a filmmaker and irresistible ladies’ man who can’t stop focusing on the women in his life. When those ladies include the likes of marion cotillard, Penelope cruz, kate Hudson, Nicole kidman, stacy Ferguson (AkA Fergie), Judi Dench and sophia loren, who can blame him? A triumph of style over substance (and some flimsy tunes), with Day-lewis at his most likable and the girls at their most glamorous… but it didn’t connect at the box-office. It’s not always good but sometimes it’s great. Four Academy Award nominations: Best supporting Actress (cruz), Best costume Design, Best Art Direction/set Decoration, and Best song (“Take It All”). Rated PG-13.
PLAY TIME (The criterion collection): Writer/ director Jacques Tati’s classic, award-winning 1967 farce sees him reprising his signature role as the bumbling monsieur Hulot, here trying to navigate his way through ultra-modern Paris… usually with catastrophically comic results. At the time of its release, this was the most expensive film in French history. Not released in the Us until 1973. In French with english subtitles. This two-DVD boxed set, which includes rare archival interviews with Tati (who died in ‘82) and retrospective documentaries, retails for $39.95 (DVD) or $39.98 (Blu-ray).
ROBIN HOOD COLLECTION (sony Pictures Home entertainment): A collection of films focusing on the legendary hero: cornel Wilde plays the equally daring son of the original Robin (Russell Hicks) in The Bandit of Sherwood Forest (1946), co-starring Anita louise and Henry Daniell; Jon Hall plays Robin Hood to Patricia morison’s maid marian in Prince of Thieves (1948); John Derek plays the son of Robin Hood, who reunites the merry men to again combat king John (George macready) in director Gordon Douglas’ Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950), which marked the final screen appearance of Alan Hale sr. as little John, a role he previously played opposite Douglas Fairbanks and errol Flynn; Richard Greene reprised his popular TV role as Robin and produced Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960) under the auspices of Britain’s Hammer Films, directed by Hammer stalwart Terence Fisher and co-starring sarah Branch as maid marian, Nigel Green, oliver Reed, Richard Pasco and the great Peter cushing as the dastardly sheriff of Nottingham. each DVD retails for $14.94.
THE YOUNG VICTORIA (sony Pictures Home entertainment): emily Blunt plays the title role in this handsome historical drama, based on the life of the 18 th -century monarch and the early years of her reign. The sort of period piece that the British tend to do so well (and again here), with a classy cast that includes Rupert Friend (as Prince Albert), miranda Richardson, Paul Bettany, Jim Broadbent, Julian Glover and mark strong. The producers included martin scorsese and sarah Ferguson (the Duchess of York herself!). Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction/set Decoration and Best makeup, with a (not surprising) win for Best costume Design. Rated PG.
Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio