DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: LAWLESS (The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave imbue this engrossing, fact-based crime drama with guts, grit and atmosphere.Adapted from Matt Bondurant’s 2008 best-seller The Wettest County in the World, the saga of the bootlegging Bondurant brothers in the backwoods of Depression-era Virginia stars Shia LaBeouf as Jack, Jason Clarke as Howard and Tom Hardy as Forrest, the oldest and coldest of the brothers, all struggling to maintain their moonshine empire — especially when pitted against creepy, corrupt federal agent Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce).Jack’s romance with devout neighbor Bertha (Mia Wasikowska) is pretty corny, and Gary Oldman hasn’t nearly enough to do as crime czar Floyd Banner, but Hardy’s towering turn as Forrest overrides all, and Forrest’s relationship with sullied showgirl Maggie Beauford (a never-sexier Jessica Chastain) has surprising dramatic resonance. Lawless delivers the goods in rough, tough, entertaining fashion.Rated R.
“AMERICAN RESTORATION”: VOL- UME 2 (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): A DVD collection ($19.95 retail) of 17 episodes from the popular History Channel reality series focusing on Rick Dale and his Las Vegas-based business, which restores old items to their former (and more valuable) condition.
BOOKER’S PLACE: A MISSISSIPPI STORY (Tribeca Film/Cinedigm Entertainment Group): Raymond De Felitta’s documentary examines the impact of his father Frank’s 1965 NBC News documentary about the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi. The DVD retails for $26.95.
“CAJUN PAWN STARS”: SEASON ONE (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): The title says it all in the History Channel’s latest reality series, filmed in Louisiana and now available in a DVD collection ($19.95 retail) of all eight episodes from the inaugural 2012 season
COLLISION EARTH (Anchor Bay Entertainment): A solar disaster sends the planet Mercury hurtling toward Earth in this apocalyptic sci-fi thriller that premiered on SyFy. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.99. Rated PG.
DJANGO DOUBLE FEATURES (Timeless Media Group): Following the success of Sergio Corbucci’s spaghetti Western, there were countless, unofficial follow-ups in which the lead character happened to be named Django. Each DVD twin-bill retails for $6.95: A Man Called Django (1971) with Anthony Steffen as Django and Django and Sartana’s Showdown in the West (1970) stars Franco Borelli as Django; George Eastman plays Django in 1967’s Django Kills Silently and Jeff Cameron plays Django in the amusingly titled Django’s Cut Price Corpses (1971). Some of these films were never released theatrically in the US. Actually, Quentin Tarantino’s current Django Unchained borrows only the character name and theme song.
“ENLIGHTENED”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (HBO Home Entertainment): Golden Globe winner Laura Dern stars in all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2012 season of the HBO comedy/drama series as a woman whose recovery from a nervous breakdown has unexpected repercussions on those around her, including husband Luke Wilson and mother Diane Ladd (Dern’s real-life mother). Dern and fellow executive producer/co-star Mike White also created the series, and White has directed several episodes. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $49.99.
FORCED TO FIGHT (Image Entertainment): Real-life kickboxing champ Gary Daniels plays an underground fighter who squares off against crime boss Peter Weller in this action melodrama, available on DVD ($27.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.97 retail).
“IN SEARCH OF…”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Visual Entertainment Inc.): A DVD collection ($109.99 retail) of all 152 episodes from the 1976-’82 run of the Universal/NBC documentary series exploring unexplained phenomena, unsolved mysteries and other topics of interest. Leonard Nimoy hosted, but this includes two episodes hosted by Rod Serling, who died before the regular run, and eight hour-long episodes from the 2002 “reboot” hosted by “X Files” veteran Mitch Pileggi. Yours truly watched this regularly during his youth.
LILLIE (Acorn Media): Francesca Annis gives an award-winning performance in the title role of this 13-part 1978 miniseries dramatizing the life of actress Lillie Langtry, originally broadcast in the US on “Masterpiece Theatre.” The cast includes Anton Rodgers, Peter Egan, Catherine Feller, Joanna David and Adam Bareham, and the DVD boxed set retails for $49.99.
MOMS TO THE RESCUE COLLECTION (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): A four-film collection ($19.95 retail) of made-for-Lifetime movies: Shelley Long stars in the 2006 comedy Honeymoon With Mom; Melora Hardin stars in the drama Mom, Dad and Her (2008); Taraji P. Henson (Emmy nominee for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie) and Terry O’Quinn star in the fact-based 2011 drama Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story; and the 2005 drama Mom at Sixteen stars Danielle Panabaker, Mercedes Ruehl and Jane Krakowski.
NOTE TO SELF (One Village Entertainment/Image Entertainment): College athlete Christian Keyes (who also wrote the screenplay) tries to put his life in order in this comedy/drama with Richard T Jones, Brian McKnight, Letoya Luckett and Clifton Powell. The DVD retails for $14.98.
ON THE INSIDE (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Actor-turned-writer/director D.W. Brown makes his feature debut with this well acted but stagey and frenetic thriller set in a mental institution. A nice try, with some effective moments and a hard-working cast including Nick Stahl, Olivia Wilde, Dash Mihok, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Daniel Franzese and Shohreh Aghdashloo. Brown also appears in a cameo role. One of the producers was Jamie Kennedy. Rated R.
PATHFINDERS: IN THE COMPANY OF STRANGERS (Inception Media Group): A feeble but fact-based World War II drama about a secret paratroop mission on the eve D-Day. Well-intentioned but hamstrung by poor scripting and cliched characters.
PAUL RODRIGUEZ: JUST FOR THE RECORD (Image Entertainment) The actor/funnyman recounts his life and career in this stand-up comedy special ($14.98 retail).
RESCUE (Image Entertainment): An IMAX documentary that chronicles various real-life disasters and the emergency workers who respond. The DVD retails for $19.98, the 3-D Blu-ray for $24.98.
SEAL TEAM SIX: THE RAID ON OSAMA BIN LADEN (The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment): The title tells all in director John Stockwell’s docu-drama about the real-life commando raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan, which premiered on the National Geographic Channel. The cast includes Cam Gigandet, Anson Mount, Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner, Freddy Rodriguez, Eddie Kaye Thomas, William Fichtner and Kathleen Robertson. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.99.
WARS: TEXAS”: SEASON ONE (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): The “battle” begins for five Dallas entrepreneurs as they seek out valuable auction treasures in all six episodes from the inaugural 2011-’12 season of the popular History Channel reality series spun off from “Storage Wars.” The two-DVD collection (with bonus features) retails for $19.95.
“TOP SHOT”: SEASON FOUR (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): A four-DVD collection ($29.95 retail) of all 12 episodes from the 2012 season of the History Channel reality series pitting 18 contestants against one another in a series of shooting competitions with the ultimate winner pocketing $100,000.
THE UNIVERSE 3-D BLU-RAY SET (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): A self-explanatory collection ($79.95 retail) of three full-length History Channel science documentaries: Catastrophes That Changed the Planets, Nemesis: The Sun’s Evil Twin and How the Solar System Was Made.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.