DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: NEVER SLEEP AGAIN
Everything you ever wanted to know about A Nightmare on Elm Street, but were afraid to ask – or never thought to ask – is covered in this all-encompassing, epic (four-hour!) documentary about the popular horror franchise.
Filmmakers Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch do a superlative job detailing behind-the-scenes conflicts, controversies and compromises, covering every conceivable point-of-view – as well as the enormous, global impact of the series. Among the many principals interviewed are creator Wes Craven, studio head Robert Shaye and ever-Freddy Robert Englund, all offering their own insights into Elm Street’s legacy.
Remarkably, despite its length, Never Sleep Again is never boring. It’s the first, last, and every word on the Elm Street phenomenon. The two-disc DVD retails for $19.98, the two-disc Blu-ray for $29.98. Both contain a wealth of special features.
ADORE (Paramount): High-toned soap opera with Naomi Watts and Robin Wright as long-time best friends whose illicit affairs with each others’ son (Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville) understandably has serious ramifications. The Englishlanguage debut of director Anne Fontaine was adapted from Doris Lessing’s novel by no less than Christopher Hampton. Strong performances help smooth over rocky melodramatic territory. Rated R.
AMBER ALERT (Random Media/ Cinedigm): The “found-footage” motif grinds on in this low-budget thriller about three amateur filmmakers (Chris Hill and newcomers Summer Bellessa and Caleb Thompson) who see a highway amber alert regarding a kidnapping and decide to pursue the car in question. Jasen Wade is good as the mysterious motorist, but otherwise the acting is shrill and the concept over-stretched to feature length. Bellessa also produced, while Kerry Bellessa makes her directorial and screenwriting debut. Several Bellessas are credited, indicating that this was some kind of family affair. Too bad it’s not better.
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Best Actor Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey is first-rate as real-life AIDS activist Ron Woodroof, the HIV-positive Texas roustabout who circumvented the medical establishment (and the law) to procure drugs for his fellow sufferers. A message movie that gets its message across loud and clear. Jared Leto won the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor, as did the film’s makeup. Additional nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing. Rated R.
(For an exclusive interview with Oscarwinning makeup artist Robin Mathews, turn to Page 35)
DEADBALL (Well Go USA Entertainment): In the Troma tradition, director Yudai Yamaguchi’s broad, bawdy and bloody follow-up to Battlefield Baseball (2003) stars Tak Sakaguchi as a teen punk who’s a real fireball pitcher – literally. The plentiful geysers of CGI gore are excessive, but at least the film’s not lazy. Originally titled Deddoburu. In Japanese with English subtitles.
FISTS OF LEGEND (CJ Entertainment):
Director Woo-Suk Kang’s action extravaganza stars Hwang Jung-min, Yu Jun-sang and Yun Jea-moon as old friends and martial artists reunited after 25 years to compete for a $200,000 prize on a reality- TV event billed as “the greatest fight show on Earth.” In Korean with English subtitles or dubbed into English. The DVD retails for $26.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
THE GREATEST EARS IN TOWN: THE ARIF MARDIN STORY (Shelter Island): An affectionate, enjoyable documentary tracing the life and career of the Turkishborn, Grammy-winning composer/producer/arranger Arif Mardin (1932-2006), featuring interviews with Quincy Jones, Carly Simon, Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Phil Collins, Barry Gibb, Chaka Khan and others. Mardin’s son Joe produced, executive-produced, and co-directed (with Doug Biro), lending the film even more intimacy.
HIMALAYA (Kino Lorber): Filmed on location in Nepal, this 1999 drama depicts a generational struggle in a tiny mountain village. Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $34.95. In Tibetan with English subtitles.
LOST IN THAILAND (Well Go USA Entertainment): Three unlikely travelers (Xu Zheng, Huang Bo and Wang Baoqiang) find themselves at loose ends in the title town. Zheng also directed this awardwinning comedy (originally titled Ren zai jiong tu: Tai jiong), often compared to The
Hangover and currently the highest-grossing film in China’s history. In Mandarin with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
MEA MAXIMA CULPA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD (Cinedigm): Alex Gibney’s heart-rending HBO documentary examines the case of Lawrence Murphy, a Catholic priest who molested more than 200 children at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. Chris Cooper, Ethan Hawke, Jamey Sheridan and John Slattery provide voices of the victims. Emmy winner for Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Editing in Nonfiction Programming, and Exceptional Merit for Documentary Filmmaking, with additional nominations for Outstanding Directing and Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming, and Outstanding Music Composition for a Mini-series, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score).
NEBRASKA (Paramount): Bruce Dern gives a career-capping performance as a cranky father who thinks he’s won $1 million, so aimless son Will Forte agrees to drive him to Nebraska to claim it … but that’s just the beginning of this incisive, sharply observant and sometimes touching comedy – yet another triumph for director Alexander Payne. One of 2013’s best films. Six Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (June Squibb), Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Rated R.
A NIGHT IN THE WOODS (Tribeca Film/ Cinedigm): Writer/director Richard Parry’s sub-standard “found-footage” shocker stars Scoot McNairy, Andrew Hawley, and gorgeous Anna Skellern as three people whose hike through the English countryside goes bad. A few spooky moments, but not a shade on The Blair Witch Project. *½
SHOLEM ALEICHEM: LAUGHING IN THE DARKNESS (Docurama Films/Cinedigm): Alan Rosenberg narrates writer/ producer/director Joseph Dorman’s feature documentary ($29.95 retail) tracing the life and career of author/playwright Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916), whose writings formed the basis for the subsequent musical smash Fiddler on the Roof.
THE SUMMIT (IFC Films): Director Nick Ryan’s award-winning, R-rated documentary ($24.98 retail) recounts the tragic events that befell 22 mountain climbers whose attempt to scale K2 in the summer of 2008 resulted in the death or disappearance of half of them.
UNIDENTIFIED (MPI/Dark Sky Films):
An especially feeble “found-footage” shocker about four annoying guys (including producers Parry Shen and Eddie Mui) who encounter alien phenomena after partying in Las Vegas. The directorial debut of editor/producer/cinematographer Jason R. Miller is a total bore. ½
THE WORLD BEFORE HER (Docurama Films/Cinedigm): Nisha Pahuja’s awardwinning documentary ($29.95 retail) follows two young women in contemporary India, one competing in the Miss India Beauty Pageant and the other a Hindu fundamentalist who advocates resistance to Western culture. In Hindi with English subtitles.
A YEAR IN BURGUNDY (Kino Lorber):
Noted French wine importer Martine Saunier is the host of David Kennard’s feature documentary ($29.95 retail) that follows several wine-makers as they ply their trade throughout the year in the titular region of France. In French with English subtitles. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2014, Mark Burger.