firstname.lastname@example.orgDVD PICK OF THE WEEK: AUTUMN SONATA(The Criterion Collection)
Sweden’s most famous Bergmans — Ingmar and Ingrid — united for the first and only time in this 1978 drama that earned both Oscar nominations: Ingmar for Best Original Screenplay and Ingrid (in her final feature) as Best Actress.Ingrid Bergman portrays Charlotte, a legendary pianist who unexpectedly visits her elder daughter Eva. Theirs is a relationship fraught with unspoken tension and suppressed guilt, made more so by the presence of Charlotte’s sickly younger daughter Helena (Lena Nyman), whom Eva has cared for all these years.Watching Bergman and Ullmann together is an electrifying experience. Here are superb two actresses, from different generations, able to convey a myriad of emotions with only a subtle gesture or glance, but also capable of delivering fury and anger with breathtaking passion.The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $39.95. Each contains extensive special features including retrospective and vintage interviews, audio commentary and over than three hours of behindthe-scenes footage. Rated PG.
“2 BROKE GIRLS”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Warner Home Video): Kat Dennings and Beth Behr return in the title roles in all 24 episodes from the 2012-’13 season of the popular, award-winning CBS sitcom, which earned Emmy nominations for Outstanding Art Direction for a Multi-Camera Series and Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series. The DVD boxed set, replete with bonus features, retails for $44.98.
“BATES MOTEL”: SEASON ONE (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): The legend of Norman Bates — to say nothing of Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Bloch — again surfaces in all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2013 season of the top-rated A&E series depicting the early days and (extremely) complex relationship between young Norman (Freddie Highmore) and his widowed mother (Vera Farmiga, who earned an Emmy nomination as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series). The DVD boxed set retails for $44.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $49.98.
DARK GIRLS (One Village Entertainment): Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry wrote, produced, directed and EP-ed this feature-length documentary ($14.98 retail) that examines the prejudices that dark-skinned black women face throughout the world.
DOCTORS OF THE DARK SIDE (Shelter Island): Mercedes Ruehl narrates producer/ director Martha Davis’ controversial documentary ($24.98 retail) regarding the participation of American doctors in the detainment and interrogation of political prisoners in such military installations as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo as revealed in declassified documents.
FILLY BROWN (Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment): Gina Rodriguez plays the title role in this award-winning rags-to-riches melodrama, as a young rapper who find success while trying to keep her family together. Playing her imprisoned mother, this was the late Jinni Rivera’s only screen role, and the film is dedicated to her. An earnest cast includes Lou Diamond Phillips, Emilio Rivera (no relation to Jinni), and executive producer Edward James Olmos. Not bad, but best suited to the small screen. Rated R.
FOR ELLEN (Tribeca/Cinedigm): Executive producer Paul Dano plays a self-pitying rock ‘n’ roller trying to connect with his daughter (newcomer Shaylena Mandigo) before giving full custody to ex-wife Margarita Levieva. Nice moments in this award-winning drama from writer/producer/director/co-editor So Yong Kim, but ultimately it drifts away. Nice turn by Jon Heder as Dano’s lawyer, but Levieva and Jena Malone (as Dano’s girlfriend) are wasted in thankless roles. **
FROM THIS DAY FORWARD (One Village Entertainment): Essence Atkins and Vanessa Simmons headline this romantic comedy ($14.98 retail) about two friends with relationship problems. Leon, Antwon Tanner and Marcus T. Gray play some of the men in their lives. Filmed in Wilmington, this originally aired on GMC (Gospel Music Channel).
THE HAVES AND THE HAVE-NOTS (LionsGate): Producer/director Tyler Perry’s self-explanatory stage play takes a lighthearted, tuneful look at the contemporary class struggle and also spawned Perry’s latest TV series. The cast includes Palmer Williams Jr., Patrice Lovely, Tony Hightower and Alexis Jones. The DVD retails for $19.98.
LEONIE (Monterey Media): Emily Mortimer portrays feminist and teacher Leonie Gilmour, the mother of renowned artist Isamu Noguchi, in producer/co-writer/director Hisako Matsui’s elegant but slow-moving costume drama. Lovely cinematography by Tetsuo Nagata and good work by Mortimer and Shido Nakamura (as poet Yone Noguchi), but Jan AP Kaczmarek’s score is heavy on the strings. Mary Kay Place (as Leonie’s mother) and Christina Hendricks appear briefly. Rated PG-13.
PEDAL-DRIVEN (Docurama Films/ Cinedigm): Writer/director/editor/executive producer’s Jamie Howell’s award-winning debut documentary ($29.95 retail), subtitled A Bikeumentary, follows mountain bikers determined to ride public lands… which doesn’t always sit well with federal authorities charged with protecting said lands.
PERFECT UNDERSTANDING (Cohen Film Collection): Screen legends Laurence Olivier and Gloria Swanson star in this 1933 Ealing Studios comedy/drama as a swinging young society couple whose “perfect understanding” is threatened by jealousy. Swanson, who also produced, was then married to co-star Michael Farmer. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $34.98.
PING PONG (Cinedigm): Hugh Hartford’s award-winning documentary ($29.95 retail) focuses on eight players competing in the self-explanatory World Over-80s Table Tennis Championships in Mongolia.
SCATTER MY ASHES AT BERGDORF’S (Entertainment One): Fashion fans and shopaholics should enjoy writer/director Matthew Miele’s documentary about the history of New York’s famed Bergdorf Goodman’s department store. Narrator William Fichtner hasn’t much to say, with most of the comments provided by such luminaries as Giorgio Armani, Candice Bergen, Isaac Mizrahi, Karl Lagerfeld, Oscar de la Renta, Rachel Zoe, Susan Lucci, Joan Rivers, Cher, Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen (!) and others. Rated PG-13.
SPACE JUNK 3-D (Image Entertainment): Tom Wilkinson narrates this documentary, originally shown in IMAX theaters, that examines the abundance of debris in orbit around Earth — and its potential dangers. The 3-D Blu-ray retails for $24.98.
“TWO AND A HALF MEN”: THE COMPLETE TENTH SEASON” (Warner Home Video): One of prime-time TV comedy juggernauts rolls on, in all 23 episodes from the 2012-’13 season of the CBS sitcom starring Jon Cryer, Ashton Kutcher and Angus T. Jones, which earned Emmy nominations for Outstanding Art Direction for a Multi-Camera Series and Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series. The DVD boxed set retails for $44.98.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.