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THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY

(RLJ Entertainment/Acorn)  marksburger@yahoo.com

In the summer of 1963, Great Britain was rocked when the Royal Mail train from Glasgow to London was robbed. This “crime of the century” immediately became legendary in the annals of true crime.This enticing and well-assembled two-part mini-series examines the heist from both sides. The first part, the initially talky A Robber’s Tale (directed by Julian Jarrold), details the planning and execution as masterminded by Bruce Reynolds (Luke Evans). Reynolds and his crew (including James Wilby, Martin Compston, Jack Roth Neil Maskell and Paul Anderson) aren’t sadistic thugs, but well-scrubbed, jacket-and-tie sorts whose fairly bloodless endeavor reaps an astonishing 2.6 million pounds, to which Reynolds ominously observes: “It’s too much.”Indeed it is, as the superior second half – A Copper’s Tale (directed by James Strong) – depicts the police investigation, headed by relentless chief superintendent Tommy Butler (a superb Jim Broadbent) and his crew (including Robert Glenister, Nick Moran, Richard Hope and John Salthouse), who are pressured by the home secretary (James Fox) to bring the perpetrators to justice. The two-DVD collection, which includes interviews, retails for $39.99.

“ACCUSED”: SERIES 1 & 2 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): This awardwinning British anthology series follows a different crime as seen through the eyes of the accused perpetrator. A starstudded line-up of guest stars (and suspects) includes Christopher Eccleston, Naomie Harris, Andy Serkis, Peter Capaldi, Juliet Stevenson, Stephen Graham, Thomas Brodie Sangster, Olivia Colman and Sean Bean. This four-DVD collection ($59.99 retail) includes all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2010 and subsequent 2012 seasons.

“BANSHEE”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (HBO): This award-winning Cinemax crime series stars Antony Star as an master thief and ex-con who assumes the identity of a murdered sheriff in the titular rural community in Pennsylvania’s Amish country, only to have his past come back to haunt him – with a vengeance. Ivana Milicevic, Ulrich Thomsen, Frankie Faison and UNCSA graduate Trieste Kelly Dunn also star. All 10 episodes from the 2004 season (plus bonus features) are available on DVD ($39.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($49.99 retail).

“BORGEN”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (MHz Networks): The game of politics is played by Birgitte Nyborg as Denmark’s first female prime minister in this critically acclaimed, award-winning drama series created by Adam Price and co-starring Sidse Babett Knudsen, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, Soren Malling and Pilou Asbaek. This 12-DVD collection ($119.95 retail) includes all 30 episodes from the entire series run (2010-’13). An American version of the series is reportedly in the works. In Danish with English subtitles.

COMPANEROS! (Blue Underground): A Blu-ray special edition ($27.98 retail) of Sergio Corbucci’s jolly, zesty 1970 spaghetti Western, starring Franco Nero as a Swedish (!) mercenary and Tomas Milian as a Mexican bandit who form an uneasy alliance when they abduct an intellectual revolutionary (Fernando Rey) in their quest to ransack a fortune in gold – and are summarily pursued by the minions of one-handed, pot-smoking villain Jack Palance (completely off the charts). A follow-up of sorts to Corbucci’s The Mercenary, which also featured Nero and Palance (in a different, equally zany role). Needless to say, the score was by Ennio Morricone. In the US, this was released at only 90 minutes, but

this Blu-ray – which boasts a spectacular visual restoration – includes both the longer international and Italian-language versions. Nero’s advice to Milian holds true: “Being on the side of reason is not always a good reason!” Rated R.

“THE EAGLE” (MHz Networks): Mai Brostrom and Peter Thorsboe created this award-winning Danish crime series (originally titled Ornen: En krimi-odysse) starring Jens Albinus as a sharp-eyed (hence his nickname) but weary police inspector who heads a special task force that investigates international crime. In Danish with English subtitles. “Season 2” includes all eight episodes from the the 2005 season, “Season 3” all eight episodes from the 2006 (and final) season. Each three-DVD collection retails for $39.95.

“EXTANT”: THE FIRST SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount): Astronaut Halle Berry’s return to Earth after a 13-month mission is fraught with mystery in this award-winning CBS science-fiction series created by Mickey Fisher. Fisher and Steven Spielberg are among the executive producers, and Berry is a co-executive producer. All 13 episodes from the inaugural 2014 season (plus bonus features) are available on DVD ($64.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($76.99 retail).

“THE INSPECTOR AND THE SEA” (MHz Networks): In this popular German mystery series (originally titled Der Kommissar und das Meer) based on Mari Jungstedt’s best-selling novels, Walter Sittler portrays German detective Robert Anders, who relocates to the idyllic Swedish island of Gotland to be with his family despite a pathological fear of water, only to find himself in the midst of treachery, deception, and murder. In German with English subtitles. “Season 1” includes all six feature-length episodes from the inaugural 2007-’09 season, “Season 2” all six episodes from the 2010-’12 season. Each DVD retails for $39.95.

MISFIRE (RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment): DEA agent Gary Daniels goes on a rampage to rescue his ex-wife from a Mexican drug cartel in director/ producer/story writer R. Ellis Frazier’s forgettable, aptly named shoot-’em-up. No stars.

SHOCK WAVES (Blue Underground): The Blu-ray bow ($29.98 retail) of director Ken Wiederhorn’s 1976 cult-classic debut feature, in which unwary travelers (including Brooke Adams and John Carradine) are stranded on an island and preyed upon by undead Nazis with superhuman strength. Definitely on the cheap side but not without memorable moments and incidental pleasures, among them top-billed Peter Cushing, who adds a touch of class as the former SS officer prowling around. Released in some territories as Death Corps. Special

features include audio commentary, retrospective interviews and more. Rated PG.

THAT’S MY MAN (Olive Films): Producer/director Frank Borzage’s 1947 melodrama stars ever-dapper Don Ameche as an ambitious racehorse owner and Catherine McLeod as his wife, whose marriage is threatened by his habitual gambling. A charming first half bogged down by soap suds in the second, but good performances help, including Roscoe Karns as a comic-relief cabbie sidekick. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95.

TO BE AND TO HAVE (Kino Lorber): Editor/director Nicolas Philibert’s acclaimed, award-winning 2002 documentary (originally titled Etre et avoir) profiles Georges Lopez (not the comedian), a tireless teacher who instructs schoolchildren aged 4-11 in the rural region of Auvergne in France. In French with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $24.95.

“UNIT ONE” (MHz Networks): Three DVD selections encompassing all 32 episodes from the entire run (2000-’04) of the award-winning Danish crime series (originally titled Rejseholdet) dramatizing the exploits of a mobile police task force and inspired by actual cases. The ensemble cast includes Charlotte Fich, Lars Brygmann, Trine Pallesen, Waage Sando and Mads Mikkelsen (currently prime-time TV’s Hannibal Lecter). In 2002, the series won the International Emmy for Best Drama Series. “Set 1” includes episodes 1-12, “Set 2” episodes 13-24, and “Set 3” episodes 25-32. In Danish with English subtitles. Each DVD set retails for $39.95. !

MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2014, Mark Burger.

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