firstname.lastname@example.orgDVD PICK OF THE WEEK: THE TALL MAN (Image Entertainment)
There’s a nice Stephen King-type vibe in this moody, atmospheric chiller from writer/director Pascal Laugier, which boasts its fair share of twists, turns and surprises throughout — including some that change the entire complexion and direction of the story.Jessica Biel (also an executive producer) eschews glamour in her role as Julia, a widowed nurse living in the impoverished, aptly-named mining town of Cold Rock. In her first scene, Biel is having shards of glass plucked from her face, and she’s battered and bloodied throughout.The town’s been rocked by a series of child disappearances, with local legend being that a specter known as the “Tall Man” takes them by night, never to be seen again. When Julia’s son David (Jakob Davies) vanishes, she begins to wonder if the legend isn’t true.Kamal Derkaoi’s cinematography and Todd Bryanton’s score heighten the atmosphere of mounting dread, and Biel’s first-rate star turn is given solid support from Jodelle Ferland, “X Files” veteran William B. Davis and Stephen McHattie, the latter turning a potentially thankless role of a baffled police detective into sharp character work.Rated R.
388 ARLETTA AVENUE (Tribeca Film/ Cinedigm Entertainment Group): That’s the new address for couple Nick Stahl and Mia Kirshner, unaware that their every move is being recorded by an unseen stalker. A new wrinkle in the “found-footage” horror subgenre doesn’t quite sustain feature length but has its moments.
THE AGGRESSION SCALE (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Fabianne Therese and Ryan Hartwig play teens who retaliate when their new home is invaded by thugs looking for $500,000 in stolen mob money. Not perfect, but exciting, violent and made with a little extra savvy. Dana Ashbrook, Derek Mears and reliable Ray Wise are among the bad guys. Rated R.
“EPISODES”: THE COMPLETE FIRST AND SECOND SEASONS (Showtime Entertainment/CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): A DVD boxed set ($41.99 retail) of all 16 episodes from the 2011 and 2012 seasons of the award-winning BBC comedy series (airing on Showtime in the US) starring Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig as British TV stars who agree to bring their hit series to the US as a vehicle for Matt LeBlanc (playing himself) — and endure creative differences and culture clashes. Three Emmy nominations including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (LeBlanc) and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.
“GHOST HUNTERS ACADEMY” (Image Entertainment): A new generation of aspiring ghostbusters is on the paranormal scene, in all 12 episodes from the inaugural 2009 season of the Syfy series, spun off the popular “Ghost Hunters.”. The DVD boxed set retails for $24.98.
“HOUSE OF LIES”: THE FIRST SEASON (CBS DVD/Showtime Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment): Don Cheadle dishes out dirty business — and earned an Emmy nomination as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series — in all 12 episodes from the inaugural 2012 season of the acclaimed Showtime series based on Martin Kihn’s bestseller. Kristen Bell, Ben Schwartz, Josh Lawson and Glynn Turman (hey, I’ve met him!) round out the regular cast. The DVD boxed set, replete with special features, retails for $46.99.
I AM BRUCE LEE (FremantleMedia Enterprises/Shout! Factory): The title tells all in this award-winning documentary tracing the life and career of the legendary martial artist and film star, available on DVD ($19.93 retail) or Blu-ray ($26.97 retail).
LIFETIME GOLD COLLECTION (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): A DVD collection ($14.95 retail) of four acclaimed, Lifetime TV movies, some inspired by true stories: Thora Birch stars in Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story (2003), which earned three Emmy nominations including Outstanding Made for Television Movie and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (Birch); Sarah Chalke stars in Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy (2006), which earned an Emmy nomination as Outstanding Made for Television Movie; Kathy Bates (Emmy nominee as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie) directs and stars in Ambulance Girl (2005); and Beau Bridges and Blythe Danner headline the 2002 adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ best-seller We Were the Mulvaneys, which earned three Emmy nominations including Outstanding Lead Actor and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (Bridges and Danner, respectively).
LIGHTNING BUG (Image Entertainment): The Blu-ray bow ($17.97 retail) of writer/ director Robert Hall’s 2004 feature debut, a semi-autobiographical drama/psychological thriller about a young Southerner (Bret Harrison) whose relationship with a troubled neighbor (a terrific Laura Prepon) has unforeseen consequences. Depressing at times, but heartfelt and well acted by a cast that includes Ashley Laurence, Kevin Gage and Don Gibb.
THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Rob Reiner’s drama stars Morgan Freeman as a aging writer who gains a new lease on life when he befriends a single mother (Virginia Madsen) during a summer in the title locale. The DVD retails for $26.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Rated PG.
“MANNIX”: THE FINAL SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): A six-DVD boxed set ($54.99 retail) of all 24 episodes from the 1974-’75 season of the award-winning CBS crime drama starring Mike Connors as two-fisted LA private eye Joe Mannix and Gail Fisher as his faithful secretary Peggy Fair.
MELANCHOLIA (Magnolia Home Entertainment): That’s the name of the planet hurtling on a collision course towards Earth and the state of mind for most of the characters in Lars Von Trier’s award-winning treatise on the human condition. Visually stunning but overlong and overwrought — although it has its admirers. Don’t be surprised if you start rooting for the planet. A top-flight cast includes Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Keifer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgard and real-life dad Stellan, John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling and Udo Kier. Rated R.
THE MILLENNIUM BUG (Green Apple Entertainment): Award-winning special effects highlight first-ime feature filmmaker Kenneth Cran’s jokey, junky, low-rent shocker in which a family on a camping trip runs afoul of a family of in-bred hillbillies — and then a subterranean monster shows up. The first half is pretty much what you’d expect (maybe less), but things perk up considerably in the second half. A mixed bag, but Cran may be a talent to watch.
SEX HUNTER: WET TARGET (Impulse Pictures): Originally titled Sekkusu Hanta: Nureta Hyoteki, this 1972 effort from Japan’s Nikkatsu Studios stars Joji Sawada (billed as “George Harrison”!) as an ex-con who tracks down the thugs who raped and murdered his sister. Routine softcore swill with plenty of nudity and violence. In Japanese with English subtitles.
SLEEP TIGHT (Dark Sky Films/MPI Media Group): Jaume Balaguero’s awardwinning psychological thrillr (originally titled Mientras duermes) stars Luis Tosar as the deranged doorman of a Barcelona apartment building whose obsessions consume him — and those around him. In Spanish with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
STRIP STRIP HOORAY (Image Entertainment): A six-film collection ($19.95 retail) of vintage burlesque exploitation films: Midnight Frolics (1949), Everybody’s Girl (1950), French Follies (1951), “B” Girl Rhapsody (1952), The A-B-C’s of Love (1953) and A Night in Hollywood (also ‘53).
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.