DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: DON’T LOOK NOW (The Criterion Collection)
Don’t look for answers in director Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s short story, because this sumptuous chiller is a triumph of style over substance – what Roeg himself termed “pure cinema.”Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie (both first-rate) play John and Laura Baxter, an attractive couple still grieving the tragic drowning of their young daughter, now in Venice where John (an architect) is restoring an old cathedral. Laura is approached by two elder sisters (Hilary Mason and Clelia Matana),that claim that her daughter is trying to warn her from the other side.Both John and Laura soon become privy to strange occurrences and coincidences, including fleeting glimpses of a small figure wearing a red coat much like their daughter wore. At the same time, the police are plagued by a series of mystifying murders that edges closer and closer to the couple.The film makes excellent use of its Venice locations, with Anthony B. Richmond’s rich cinematography and Pino Donaggio’s fabulous score augmenting the suspense. Don’t Look Now isn’t really a horror film – it was billed as “a psychic thriller” – but it contains some memorable and vivid moments, including a still-controversial love scene between Christie and Sutherland, abundant symbolism, and a shattering finale.The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $39.95. Both contain special features including retrospective interviews and more. Rated R.
ADDICTED (CodeBlack Films/LionsGate): Executive producer Zane’s best-selling novel comes to the screen in this steamy adaptation starring Sharon Leal as a successful businesswoman who endangers her marriage to Boris Kodjoe by dallying with Tyson Beckford and William Levy. Available on DVD ($26.98 retail) in R-rated and unrated versions.
“ANCIENT ALIENS”: SEASON 6, VOLUME 2 (LionsGate): The final 12 episodes from the 2014 season of the popular History Channel documentary series exploring the origins of mankind and the universe, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail).
APACHES (Film Movement): Thierry de Perreti’s drama (originally titled Les Apaches) focuses on disaffected youth at large in Corsica – and the trouble they get into. Visually enticing but lacks dramatic heft. In French with English subtitles.
THE CABINING (Indican Pictures): Writer/producer/director Steve Kopera’s knockabout slasher spoof stars producer/ brother Mike Kopera and Bo Kiester as struggling screenwriters who attended a weekend writing seminar at a cabin in the woods, at which point people start getting killed off. A modest, painless diversion for genre fans.
COME MORNING (Monarch Home Entertainment): Writer/producer/director/ cinematographer Derrick Sims’ brooding, award-winning Southern Gothic is set in rural Arkansas in 1973, as hunter Michael Ray Davis and grandson Thor Wahlestedt in his feature debut) accidentally shoot neighbor Thomas Moore, with whom they’ve previously feuded, and decide to hide the body. This, naturally, makes a bad situation worse. The premise is a little thin, but hard-working performances and striking atmosphere compensate. Not perfect, but encouraging – and worth a look.
“DALLAS”: THE COMPLETE THIRD AND FINAL SEASON (Warner Home Video): Another chapter closes on Southfork Ranch, as the award-winning TNT series (spun off from the hit ’80s CBS prime-time soap opera) comes to an end. The regular cast includes long-time series veterans Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Ken Kercheval, as well as Jordana Brewster, Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe, Julie Gonzalo, Brenda Strong and Mitch Pileggi. All 15 episodes from the 2014 season are available on DVD ($39.98 retail).
FINDING JOY (Inception Media Group): Struggling writer Josh Cooke returns to his childhood home to finish his book and is attracted to neighbor Liane Balaban (as Joy) who wants him to write her obituary in this flimsy, cutesy comedy from firsttime writer/producer Shona Tuckman and director Carlo De Rosa. The cast tries: Barry Bostwick, Lainie Kazan, Kiki Harris, Tyler Bunch and talented newcomer Arielle Hoffman.
“HEATHER McDONALD: I DON’T MEAN TO BRAG” (Inception Media Group): Stand-up comedienne Heather McDonald takes the stage for her first solo special, available on DVD ($14.98 retail).
I AM YOURS (Film Movement): Writer/ director Iram Haq’s drama (originally titled Jeg er din) stars Amrita Acharia as a promiscuous single mother in Oslo whose relationship with a compassionate filmmaker (Ola Rapace) compels her to change her life. In Norwegian, Swedish and Urdu with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $24.95.
LIFE ITSELF (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Producer/director Steve James’ warm-hearted, award-winning documentary explores the life of film critic Roger Ebert (1942-2013), based on his autobiography, featuring interviews with friends, filmmakers, colleagues and wife Chaz. Martin Scorsese and Steven Zaillan are among the executive producers. A must for movie fans. Rated R.
“LOOKING”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (HBO): Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez and Murray Bartlett play gay friends in San Francisco wending their way through life and love in this HBO drama series. Not unlike Showtime’s “L Word,” in which each episide began with the letter L, each episode of this show begins with the word “Looking.” All eight episodes from the inaugural season, plus bonus features, are available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.98 retail).
MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (CodeBlack Films/LionsGate): Writer/producer/ director Ava DuVernay’s award-winning, heartfelt, but slow-moving drama stars Emayatzy Corinealdi as a nurse who puts her ambitions on hold when husband Omari Hardwick is imprisoned, then begins to re-think her priorities. David Oyelowo, who reteamed with DuVernay to play MLK in Selma, plays a bus driver who befriends Corinealdi. Rated R.
“NCIS”: THE ELEVENTH SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount): Mark Harmon and his Naval Criminal Investigative Service team are back in action in Washington, DC in all 24 episodes from the 2013-’14 season of the long-running, award-winning CBS mystery series. The six-DVD collection ($64.99 retail) includes audio commentaries, a tribute to Ralph Waite, a commemoration of the 250 th episode, and additional bonus features.
NIGHTCRAWLER (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Producer Jake Gyllenhaal is first-rate as an ambitious, increasingly amoral photographer who thrives on crime and disasters in screenwriter/first-time director Dan Gilroy’s atmospheric Los Angeles thriller, boosted by Robert Elswit’s stylish cinematography but occasionally burdened with over-plotting and heavy-handedness. Nevertheless, Gilroy’s original screenplay earned an Oscar nomination and there’s much to savor, including Gilroy’s reallife wife Rene Russo as a compromised TV news producer. The DVD retails for $29.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $34.98. Rated R.
$ELLEBRITY (Random Media/ Cinedigm): Photographer Kevin Mazur makes an auspicious directorial debut with this persuasive, almost alarming, documentary about the paparazzi, celebrity culture and the impact on 21 st century media, featuring interviews with Jennifer Aniston, Rosanna Arquette, Salma Hayek, Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kid Rock, and then-married Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. ***’½
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (Paramount): Those unstoppable “heroes on the halfshell” are back in action in producer Michael Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman’s PG-13-rated, big-screen blow-out featuring the voices of Johnny Knoxville as Leonardo and Tony Shalhoub as Splinter, with the human contingent represented by Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner and Whoopi Goldberg. The DVD retails for $29.99, the DVD/Bluray combo for $39.99, the 3-D DVD/Bluray combo for $52.99. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. ‘© 2015, Mark Burger.