by Mark Burger


DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: BERNIE (Millennium Entertainment)

Richard Linklater combines documentary with down-home satire for this true-crime black comedy that proves it again: Truth is stranger than fiction.Jack Black is superb as Bernie Tiede, an assistant funeral director in the quaint Texas town of Carthage. He’s a little quirky, but everybody loves Bernie. He’s caring and attentive, friendly and sweet. On the other hand, everybody hates Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), a wealthy widow to whom Bernie has become unaccountably attached. She’s venal and vindictive, snide and sour. When Bernie kills her, many wonder what took him so long.The trial quickly becomes a media circus, abetted by a selfstyled crusading DA (Matthew McConaughey) astonished by the local support for Bernie, and a good-old-boy defense attorney nicknamed “Scrappy” (Brady Coleman) who counts on that support to win at least a reduced sentence for his client.Using Skip Hollandsworth’s trial coverage as a springboard, Linklater deftly segues from “dramatic” re-creations to actual interviews with those close to the case. Well acted, well rounded and endlessly fascinating, Bernie quietly goes from droll to outrageous in assured fashion. Then again, it’s merely the truth. Rated PG-13.

BURKE & HARE (Redemption Films/ Kino Lorber): Derren Nesbitt and Glynn Edwards play history’s most notorious grave robbers, plying their trade in 1820s Edinburgh for a Dr. Knox (the esteemed Harry Andrews), in this bawdy 1971 black comedy (also released as The Horrors of Burke & Hare). Director Vernon Sewell’s final film doesn’t quite work, but has its moments, and a cast including Yootha Joyce, Francoise Pascal (in her film debut) and luscious Yutte Stensgaard. Cheeky theme song by The Scaffolds. Rated R.

BURMA: A HUMAN TRAGEDY (CAV Distributing): Executive producer Anjelica Huston narrates this award-winning, selfexplanatory documentary about the ongoing strife in Burma (AKA Myanmar) and the efforts of its democratically elected president, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, to bring peace to the land. The DVD retails for $24.95.

“CATDOG”: SEASON 2, PART 1 (Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory): The craziest set of conjoined twins returns in the first 10 episodes from the 1999-2000 season of the animated Nickelodeon comedy series. The two-DVD boxed set retails for $19.93.

DEMOTED (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Predictable but painless corporate comedy with Michael Vartan and Sean Astin as co-workers bounced to the secretarial pool when inter-office foe (David Cross) is promoted over them. Also on hand: Sara Foster, Cleo King, Ron White and local favorite Celia Weston. If nothing else, this offers the once-in-a-lifetime sight of a pole-dancing Robert Klein. Rated R.

“FATHER DOWLING MYSTERIES”: THE SECOND SEASON (CBS DVD/Para mount Home Entertainment): When he’s not saying mass, he’s solving crimes — Tom Bosley returns in the title role of the Chicago priest and amateur sleuth, in all 13 episodes from the 1990 season of the primetime mystery series, which jumped from NBC to ABC after its first season. The DVD boxed set retails for $29.99.

FATHER’S DAY (Troma Entertainment): The five-man Astron-6 comedy troupe (Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski) spoofs low-budget horror in its feature film debut, a gore-soaked farce about the hunt for an inhuman killer that strikes on the title holiday. A little ragged around the edges, sometimes intentionally, and definitely not for the squeamish, but there are some very high-spirited, lowbrow moments — and it reportedly cost a whopping $10,000 to make and it won a bunch of awards at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Yes, that’s Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman as God. Troma also released the Astron-6 Collection ($14.95 retail), a self-explanatory selection of the team’s short films.

HIJACKED (Anchor Bay Entertainment): The title tells all in this airborne action melodrama with Randy Couture trying to thwart the takeover of a corporate jet. Dominic Purcell, Tiffany Dupont, Craig Fairbrass, Holt McCallany and Vinnie Jones also turn up, to little effect. One of those low-budget films that boasts over a dozen producers, cheapjack CGI effects, and nothing original. Rated R.

“iCARLY”: THE COMPLETE 4TH SEASON (Nickelodeon/Paramount Home Entertainment): Miranda Cosgrove returns in the title role of teen heroine Carly Shay of the award-winning, live-action Nickelodeon family comedy series. This DVD collection ($19.99 retail) includes all 11 episodes from the 2011-’12 season, when it earned an Emmy nomination as Outstanding Children’s Program.

“LEVERAGE”: THE FOURTH SEASON (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Timothy Hutton and his crack team of con artists continue their quest to topple corruption in all 18 episodes from the 2011-’12 season of the award-winning TNT series, now available in a DVD boxed set ($39.98 retail).

LOS LOBOS: KIKO LIVE (Shout! Factory): To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Grammy Award-winning group’s seminal album — as well as a current Los Lobos concert tour — Shout! Factory is releasing a live concert performance recorded at San Diego’s House of Blues in 2006 both as a DVD ($16.98 retail) and as a Blu-ray/CD combo ($24.98 retail). Both the original album and a live album are also being released (each $13.29 retail).

“MELROSE PLACE”: THE FINAL SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): The lives and loves of the residents of the title address are depicted in all 35 episodes from the 1998-’99 (and last) season of the award-winning, primetime Fox soap opera created by Darren Star. The attractive ensemble cast includes Heather Locklear, Josie Bissett, Rena Sofer, Thomas Calabro, Jack Wagner and Alyssa Milano. “Volume 1” contains the first 18 episodes, “Volume 2” the final 17 episodes. Each volume retails for $42.99.

ONE IN THE CHAMBER (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Dolph Lundgren and Cuba Gooding Jr. are armed and dangerous in this thriller set against the backdrop of a Russian gang war. The DVD retails for $26.98, the Blu-ray for $29.99. Rated R.

TRUE STORY OF A WOMAN IN JAIL: CONTINUES (Impulse Pictures): More sexual and sadistic shenanigans — Eastern style — in this 1975 follow-up to True Story of a Woman in Jail: Sex Hell, with Hitomi Kozue back behind bars. Less titillating than repetitious. The climactic riot is the best thing in the film, but is too little too late. In Japanese with English subtitles. *

VALLEY OF THE SUN (Monarch Home Entertainment): Burned-out porn star Johnny Whitworth (also a co-producer) convalesces at the Arizona retirement community where his parents (Barry Corbin and Beth Grant) live… and where his past catches up with him. Given the subject matter, this insignificant and overlong romantic comedy is pretty mild, despite an enthusiastic cast including Garrett Morris, Heather Burns, Peter Jason and Graham Greene.

“VEGA$”: THE THIRD SEASON, VOL- UME TWO (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): Robert Urich is back in action as fun-loving Las Vegas private eye Dan Tanna in the remaining 12 episodes from the 1980-’81 (and final) season of the prime-time ABC crime drama created by Michael Mann. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.99.

MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2012, Mark Burger.