MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
THE MEAN SEASON (Olive Films): This overlooked 1985 adaptation of John Katzenbach’s best-seller In the Heat of the Summer is both a suspenseful thriller and an accurate depiction of the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan newspaper.
Miami reporter Malcolm Anderson (Kurt Russell), sweating through another blistering summer, is prodded by girlfriend Christine (Mariel Hemingway) to leave everything behind, but his stories about a series of unsolved murders not only reinvigorates his career, it also leads to an unexpected – and increasingly dangerous – correspondence with the killer (Richard Jordan).
Hemingway, who eventually (and predictably) becomes a damsel in distress, is lovely but saddled with a stock role. Russell, however, is in top form, and a solid cast includes Richard Masur, Andy Garcia, Joe Pantoliano, Richard Bradford and William Smith – but it’s Jordan (an underrated actor who died in 1993 at only 56) who steals the film with a riveting turn.
The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated R. ***
5 TO 7 (IFC Films): Neurotic writer Anton Yelchin enjoys an illicit romance with older, married beauty Berenice Marlohe during the title hours in this mild comedy overly reminiscent of Woody Allen, although Glenn Close, Frank Langella, Lambert Wilson and Olivia Thirlby are pleasant company. Rated R. **
72% (Moguldom Studios/Cinedigm): The title of Jeremy Batchelor and Janice M. Garcia’s award-winning documentary refers to the percentage of children born out of wedlock and raised (mostly) by single mothers in the African-American community. The DVD retails for $19.97.
“THE AFFAIR”: SEASON ONE (Showtime Entertainment/CBS DVD/Paramount): A four-DVD collection ($42.99 retail) of all 10 episodes, plus bonus features, from the inaugural 2014 season of the award-winning Showtime series detailing the illicit romance between Dominic West and Ruth Wilson and its repercussions.
BABY IT’S YOU (Olive Films): John Sayles’ bittersweet, award-winning 1983 drama detailing the star-crossed romance between Rosanna Arquette and Vincent Spano, beginning in high school in 1960s New Jersey. Matthew Modine, Tracy Pollan and Liane Curtis make their screen debuts, and look for Robert Downey Jr. and Fisher Stevens in early roles. Rights’ issues over the (first-rate) soundtrack kept this off home-video for years. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated R. ***
THE BABYSITTER (Olive Films): In the title role, Alicia Silverstone’s got everybody hot and bothered in Guy Ferland’s R-rated 1995 thriller, co-starring. J.T. Walsh, Jeremy London, Lois Chiles, Nicky Katt and George Segal. The DVD retails for $19.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95.
“THE CHURCHMEN”: SEASON 1 (MHz Networks): A three-DVD collection ($39.95 retail) of all eight episodes from the inaugural 2012 season of the French-language drama series (originally titled Ainsi soient-ils) about five young men (Julian Bouanich, Samuel Jouy, Clement Manuel, Clement Roussier and David Baiot) as they study for the priesthood at the Capuchin Seminary in Paris.
CITIZENFOUR (RADiUS/Anchor Bay Entertainment): Director Laura Poitras’ controversial, Oscar-winning documentary follows whistle-blower Edward Snowden as he begins disseminating classified government documents of the National Security Agency (NSA), essentially making him an international fugitive. Effective and topic, but sometimes overly emphatic. The DVD retails for $22.98, the Blu-ray for $26.99. Rated R. ***
“FAST N’ LOUD”: SPEED DEMONS (Cinedigm): A DVD compilation ($14.98 retail) of five episodes from the Discovery Channel reality series following Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman of the Gas Monkey Garage, who specialize in restoring classic automobiles.
FIVE STAR (XLRator Media): Writer/director Keith Miller’s gritty, award-winning urban drama details the relationship between rebellious teenager John Diaz and his mentor, gang leader James “Primo” Grant, whose electrifying screen debut earned him an “honorary mention” in the Best Actor category at this year’s RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem. ***
THE FRONTIER (Virgil Films): Low-key, picturesque dysfunctional-family drama in which retired professor Max Gail is reunited with estranged son Coleman Kelly (in his screen debut) while dictating memoirs to his attractive assistant (newcomer Anastasia Sendyk), who tries to hasten the reconciliation while romancing Kelly. **’½
GEMMA BOVERY (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): Luminous Gemma Arterton plays the title role in Anne Fontaine’s picturesque but somewhat smug romantic comedy, in which her new neighbor (Fabrice Luchini) becomes obsessed with the parallels between her life and the immortal character in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Those who know the story will appreciate the many in-jokes and references. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $34.95. Rated R. **’½
HAMMER (Olive Films): Fred Williamson, the “Hammer” himself, headlines this standard-issue 1972 action melodrama as boxer B.J. Hammer, whose rise to the top is hampered by the mob. A familiar cast includes Vonetta McGee, Bernie Hamilton, D’Urville Martin, Stack Pierce, Mel Stewart, Marilyn Joi (in her screen debut), and ace tough guy William Smith. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated R. **
THE LOVERS (IFC Films): Josh Hartnett stars in director Roland Joffe’s R-rated time-travel fantasy as a scientist who lapses into a coma after an accident and finds himself transported to 18th-century India, where as a British soldier he finds romance with female warrior Bipasha Basu, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).
“MADAM SECRETARY”: SEASON 1 (CBS DVD/Paramount): Tea Leoni balances politics and family as the nation’s Secretary of State in all 11 episodes from the inaugural 2014 season of the CBS drama series created by executive producer Barbara Hall, with a star-studded supporting cast including Keith Carradine (as the President), Bebe Neuwirth, Geoffrey Arend, Patina Miller, Zeljko Ivanek and Tim Daly (Leoni’s real-life beau) as her husband. The DVD collection retails for $64.99 and includes a myriad of special features.
“ROOKIE BLUE”: SEASON FIVE, VOLUME ONE (Entertainment One): A three-DVD collection ($39.98 retail) of the first 11 episodes from the 2014 season of the award-winning police series, broadcast on ABC, detailing the lives of the officers assigned to 15 Division. The ensemble cast includes Missy Peregrym, Ben Bass, Gregory Smith, Travis Milne and Enuka Okuma.
“SHARK WEEK: DOMINATING THE DEEP“ (Cinedigm): The title tells all in this three-DVD collection ($16.97 retail) of 10 episodes from the popular Discovery Channel series that explores mankind’s ongoing fascination with sharks.
STONE COLD (Olive Films): Undercover cop Brian Bosworth infiltrates a murderous biker gang (led by scene-stealers Lance Henriksen and William Forsythe) in director Craig R. Baxley’s relentlessly silly 1991 action blow-out, which bombed on its initial release but has since become a cult favorite of the “so-bad-it’s-good” school, although the stunt work is first-rate. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated R. *’½
TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT (The Criterion Collection): Marion Cotillard earned an Oscar nomination as Best Actress in Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s drama (originally titled Deux jours, une nuit), as a woman desperately trying to convince her fellow workers to vote for her to keep her job – even though it means less pay for them. A late plot twist threatens to send this careening into soap-opera territory, but Cotillard’s performance keeps it on track. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $39.95 – both replete with special features. In French with English subtitles. Rated PG-13. ***
– (Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2015, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”email@example.com