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by Mark Burger

marksburger@yahoo.comDVD PICK OF THE WEEK: HEAVEN’S GATE (The Criterion Collection)

HEAVEN’S GATE (The Criterion Collection): Over 30 years later, Michael Cimino’s 1980 epic still resonates as the quintessential Hollywood disaster.As well it should. The actual story of the Johnson County War, here depicted very loosely — and in self-indulgently languorous fashion — is a fascinating piece of American history. The making of Heaven’s Gate is a fascinating piece of Hollywood history, marking the end of a studio era (and, essentially, a studio). But the movie itself… it’s an empty epic, and a tragically missed opportunity all around.Set in late 19th century Wyoming after an interminable Harvardgraduation opening, the story follows Jim Averill (Kris Kristofferson), a lawman who tries to mediate simmering resentment between the wealthy cattleman’s association that has drawn up a “death list” of poor settlers who have occasionally been rustling their cattle. Some how, these settlers are meant to represent the American Dream while the association represents American capitalism.A few sequences stand out, yet the film never evinces a firm grasp of character or events despite being overwritten and overdone. Simpler would have been better, to say nothing of shorter. A dream cast strives mightily: Christopher Walken, Jeff Bridges, Isabelle Huppert, John Hurt, Sam Waterston, Brad Dourif, Mickey Rourke, Terry O’Quinn and Joseph Cotten — but it’s not their fault. The film did manage to score a single Oscar nomination for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration.As Cimino both wrote and directed, while United Artists crashed and burned around him, it’s entirely his vision — a vision that went way over-schedule and way over-budget ($40 million?). Cimino’s career never fully recovered, although Heaven’s Gate has its devotees (many who seem to live in France).The DVD retails for $39.95, the Blu-ray for $49.95. Rated R.

2012 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS: SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (MLB Productions/ A&E Networks Home Entertainment): The title tells all in this official sports documentary recounting the Giants’ second World Series triumph in three years. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $34.95.

“CHECK IT OUT!”: SEASON 1 AND 2 (Adult Swim/Warner Home Video): John C. Reilly stars as the self-help expert Dr. Steve Brule in all 12 “lost” episodes from the 2011 and 2012 seasons of the Adult Swim comedy series, as the good doctor dispenses wisdom and warmth as the host of a public-access TV series. Spun off from “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!” with Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim also appearing and serving as series creators and producers with Reilly. The DVD collection retails for $19.97.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (VCI Entertainment): Alistair Sim plays Scrooge in director Brian Desmond Hurst’s 1951 adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic (also released as Scrooge), thought by many to be the definitive screen version of this ofttold tale – and a staple of holiday viewing.

The new special-edition DVD retails for $14.99, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $19.99.

CHRISTMAS MIRACLE (Nasser Entertainment/Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment): Eight strangers are stranded in an abandoned church on Christmas by an unexpected blizzard in this ensemble drama presented by noted artist Thomas Kincade. The DVD, which includes a 4×6 Kincade print, retails for $14.93.

DISASTERS DECONSTRUCTED: A HIS- TORY OF ARCHITECTURAL DISASTERS (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): A six-DVD boxed set ($49.95 retail) of History Channel documentaries that examine such natural and man-made catastrophes as the sinking of the Titanic, the explosion of the Hindenburg and “Modern Marvels: Engineering Disasters.”

THE FORSYTE SAGA COLLECTION (Acorn Media): A five-DVD boxed set ($79.99 retail) featuring the entire award-winning 2002-’03 British miniseries based on John Galsworthy’s classic novel, following the trials and tribulations of a family adjusting to the modern era of the 20th century, featuring an ensemble cast including Damian Lewis, Gina McKee, Rupert Graves, Ioan Gruffudd, Amanda Root, Amanda Ryan and Corin Redgrave.

“MEET THE BROWNS”: SEASON 7, EPISODES 121-140 (LionsGate Home Entertainment): The title tells all in this three-DVD boxed set ($29.98 retail) from the award-winning sitcom created by Tyler Perry, based on his stage play and starring real-life husband and wife David and Tamela Mann in the title roles.

“METAPOCALYPSE”: SEASON FOUR (Adult Swim/Warner Home Video): The misadventures of the heavy-metal band Dethklok continues in all 12 episodes from the 2012 season of the animated Adult Swim comedy series. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $28.99.

THE MONITOR (LionsGate Home Entertainment): In an award-winning performance, Noomi Rapace plays a tormented young mother, on the lam from her ex-husband, whose sanity begins to crumble when she begins hearing strange noises on the baby monitor she bought to listen to her young son (Vetle Qvenild Werring). Originally titled Babycall, this slow-moving thriller gets a big boost from a fascinating twist ending. Rated R.

THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): Michael Caine plays Scrooge in this easygoing, easy-listening 1992 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale, now available in a 20th anniversary DVD ($19.99 retail) or DVD/Bluray combo ($26.50 retail). Rated G.

MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING (HBO Home Entertainment): A 10th-anniversary Blu-ray release ($19.98 retail) of the surprisingly popular romantic comedy written by and starring Nia Vardalos, with John Corbett as the man of her dreams. Vardalos earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Rated PG-13.

MYSTERIA (Green Apple Entertainment): Producer Robert Miano plays a boozy, burned-out Hollywood screenwriter losing touch with reality in writer/producer/director/editor Lucius C. Kuert’s surreal, stylized feature debut, which eventually takes on the ambiance of a bad theatrical experiment and strands a good cast including Danny Glover, Michael Rooker, Martin Landau, Gretchen Becker, Billy Zane and Peter Mark Richman.

THE PREDATOR COLLECTION (Smithsonian Channel/Inception Media Group): A self-explanatory DVD boxed set ($24.95 retail) of four nature documentaries: Big Cats of the Savannah, Cheetah: Price of Speed, Lions in Battle and Diving with Crocodiles.

SECRET ACCESS: THE PRESIDENCY (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): A DVD collection ($29.95 retail) of three History Channel documentaries: Secret Access: Air Force One, The White House Behind Closed Doors and The President’s Book of Secrets.

STALLONE 3-FILM COLLECTOR’S SET (LionsGate Home Entertainment): A selfexplanatory DVD selection ($19.98 retail) including the original 1982 adaptation of First Blood, the disappointing 1989 prison thriller Lock Up, and the solid all-star police drama CopLand (1997), co-starring Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta and Robert De Niro. All are rated R.

STEP UP REVOLUTION (Summit Entertainment/LionsGate Home Entertainment): Miami is the setting for the latest big-screen dance extravaganza, the fourth in the franchise. The DVD retails for $29.95, the 3-D Blu-ray for $39.99. Rated PG-13.

TYLER PERRY’S I DON’T WANT TO DO WRONG: THE PLAY (LionsGate Home Entertainment): From the prolific pen of writer/producer/director Tyler Perry comes this musical production taped before a live audience in Perry’s hometown of Atlanta, with Palmer Williams Jr., Patrice Lovely, Kislyck “Kissy” Halsey and Tony Hightower. The DVD retails for $19.98.

“VIDEO GAME HIGH SCHOOL”: SEASON 1 (Rocket Jump Studios): A collection of the inaugural nine episodes of the sci-fi/action web series about teens who attend the world’s most prestigious gaming academy and compete in a futuristic high-stakes tournament. The DVD retails for $9.99, the Blu-ray for $19.99.

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

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