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[VIDEO VAULT]

by Mark Burger

MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT

DVD PICK OF THE WEEK

MY FAIR LADY (CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount): Director George Cukor’s opulent screen version of the 1956 Lerner & Loewe musical smash was the big winner at the 1964 Academy Awards, winning eight in all (including Best Picture) – and besting the likes of Becket, Mary Poppins (which starred the original Fair Lady, Julie Andrews), Zorba the Greek and Dr. Strangelove.

Based on George Bernard Shaw’s comedy Pygmalion (itself a stage and screen hit), the story follows Rex Harrison, in his signature (and Oscar-winning) role of scholar Henry Higgins, as he attempts to transform Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) into the toast of high society. (“By George, I think she’s got it!”)

Undeniably colorful and entertaining – if a tad overstated at 170 minutes – this feel-good blockbuster paved the way for similar grand-scale musicals, some big hits (The Sound of Music) and some big misses (Dr. Doolittle, Star!, Hello Dolly!). My Fair Lady‘s Oscar bounty also included Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Original Music Score, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration and Best Sound.

The special-edition 50th-anniversary DVD/Blu-ray combo ($42.99 retail) includes a retrsospective documentary, vintage production and promotional footage, trailers and more. Rated G. ***½

ALSO AVAILABLE

99 HOMES (Broad Green Pictures): Michael Shannon’s first-rate turn as an unscrupulous relator who specializes in home foreclosures highlights Ramin Bahrani’s timely, award-winning, but increasingly preachy drama, with Andrew Garfield as a single father who loses his home then goes to work for Shannon and sees first-hand the impact of his dealings, and Laura Dern as Garfield’s moralizing mom. The DVD and Blu-ray each retail for $26.99. Rated R. **½

“AGATHA CHRISTIE’S PARTNERS IN CRIME” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Jessica Raine and David Walliams and Jessica Raine star as married sleuths Tommy and Tuppence Beresford in this pair of feature-length BBC TV specials based on the Christie classics The Secret Adversary and N or M? – available on DVD and Blu-ray (each $39.99 retail), both with special features.

BADGE OF HONOR (Alchemy): Writer/producer/director Agustin’s topical but talky crime drama stars Mena Suvari as a rookie internal-affairs detective delving into a drug bust gone bad, with Martin Sheen, Jesse Bradford, Lochlyn Munro, Natasha Henstridge, Haylie Duff and producer Patrick Muldoon adding a little star power. **

BLACK MASS (Warner Home Video): Johnny Depp’s striking, cold-blooded portrayal of real-life Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger dominates director Scott Cooper’s atmospheric, award-winning crime saga based on Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s best-seller, which also benefits from authentic locations and a top-notch cast including Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Corey Stoll, Julianne Nicholson, Dakota Johnson, Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Plemons, Adam Scott, Juno Temple and Rory Cochrane. The DVD retails for $28.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $35.99. Rated R. ***½

BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE (Monarch Home Entertainment): Echoing John Carpenter’s version of The Thing (1982) and even Michael Mann’s 1983 screen version of The Keep, writer/producer/director Nick Szostakiwskyj’s award-winning chiller is set at a remote Canadian outpost where the unearthing of an ancient artifact unleashes a torrent of paranoia, panic … and worse. Nice work by the ensemble cast (including Shane Twedun, Marc Anthony Williams, Michael Dickson, Carl Toftfelt and producer Cameron Tremblay), but the buildup’s better than the pay-off. **½

“BLACK SAILS”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Toby Stephens sets sail again as the fearless Captain Flint in all 10 episodes from the 2015 season of the award-winning STARZ Original adventure series set in the years before Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Emmy-nominated for Outstanding Special Visual Effects and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series, available on DVD ($49.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($59.99 retail).

BRIDGE OF SPIES (Disney): Steven Spielberg’s fact-based Cold War thriller reunites him with Tom Hanks, superb as attorney James Donovan, tapped to defend Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), then engage in top-secret negotiations in Berlin for the release of captured U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell). Intelligent, compelling and one of last year’s very best films – a class act all the way. Six Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Rylance), Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Production Design and Best Sound Mixing. The DVD retails for $29.99, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $39.99. Rated PG-13. ****

CLASS OF 1984 (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Director Mark L. Lester’s vividly brutal 1982 exploitation hit pits idealistic high-school music teacher Perry King against sadistic gang leader Timothy Van Patten. Highly effective knee-jerk cinema, with a solid cast including executive producer Merrie Lynn Ross (in her final screen role to date) as King’s pregnant and jeopardized wife, Lisa Langlois, Stefan Arngrim, Al Waxman, Keith Knight, young Michael J. Fox and Roddy McDowall, especially good as a terrorized fellow teacher. Alice Cooper sings the theme song “I Am the Future.” The special-edition Blu-ray ($29.93 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews and more. Rated R. ***

“FLESH AND BONE” (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Sarah Bay (herself a veteran of the American Ballet Theatre) makes her dramatic debut as a gifted but troubled ballerina torn between ambition and self-destruction, in all eight episodes from the 2015 mini-series created by “Breaking Bad” alumnus Moira Walley-Beckett and broadcast on STARZ, available on DVD ($39.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($49.99 retail).

“A FRENCH VILLAGE: 1941” – SEASON TWO (MHz Networks): A four-DVD collection ($39.95 retail) of all six episodes from the 2009 season of the acclaimed French-language series (originally titled Un village Francais) dramatizing the impact of the German occupation of a bucolic burg on the French/Swiss border during World War II.

MOONLIGHT AND VALENTINO (Olive Films): The Blu-ray bow ($24.95 retail) of director David Anspaugh’s weepy 1995 adaptation of the semi-autobiographical play by Ellen Simon (Neil’s daughter), scripted by the author, in which young widow Gwyneth Paltrow tries to put her life back together – with the help of Kathleen Turner, Whoopi Goldberg, Elizabeth Perkins (stealing the movie), and Jon Bon Jovi (in his screen debut). Rated R. **

MY ALL AMERICAN (Aviron Pictures/Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Screenwriter Angelo Pizzo makes his feature directorial debut with this award-winning, fact-based sports saga based on Jim Dent’s best-seller, starring Finn Wittrock as college football star Freddie Steinmark, who battles a debilitating illness – with the help of his girlfriend (Sarah Bolger), parents (Robin Tunney and Michael Reilly Burke), and coach Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart). The DVD retails for $29.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $34.98.

“NIGHTMARE WEEKEND” (Vinegar Syndrome): College girls in Florida fall prey to a bizarre scientific experiment that turns them into sex-crazed mutants in this hilariously awful, consistently nonsensical 1985 shocker that at least provided early work for Dale Midkiff, Robert John Burke and Andrea Thompson. The special-edition (!) DVD/Blu-ray combo ($27.98 retail) includes retrospective interviews and more. A must for grindhouse junkies, others beware. ½

“SCREAM FACTORY DOUBLE FEATURES” (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A quintet of Blu-ray fantasy/horror twin bills: The Dungeonmaster/Eliminators ($26.99), both rated PG-13; The House Where Evil Dwells/Ghost Warrior ($26.99 retail), both rated R; The Curse/Curse II: The Bite, ($26.99 retail), both rated R; the PG-13 Millennium/R-rated R.O.T.O.R. ($26.99 retail); and the PG-13 Troll/R-rated Troll 2 ($29.99 retail).

SHEBA, BABY (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A DVD/Blu-ray special edition ($29.95 retail) of cult director William Girdler’s 1975 “blaxploitation” shoot-’em-up starring the inimitable Pam Grier as private eye Sheba Shayne, aiding her private-detective dad (Rudy Challenger) and his partner/her love interest (Austin Stoker) battle Kentucky crime boss D’Urville Martin. One of Grier’s tamer efforts – it’s rated PG – but she’s always worth watching. Special features include audio commentary and more. **½

SUN RA: A JOYFUL NOISE (Mug-Shot Productions/MVD Entertainment Group): Filmmaker Robert Mugge’s 1980 documentary feature debut follows the life and career of jazz composer, performer, philosopher and poet “Sun Ra” (born Henry Poole Blount; 1914-’93), featuring footage of performances in Philadelphia and Baltimore. The DVD retails for $19.95.

THE 33 (Warner Home Video): The Chilean mine disaster of 2010 is dramatized in this award-winning, PG-13-rated, star-studded saga with Antonio Banderas, Lou Diamond Phillips, Juliette Binoche, Rodrigo Santoro, James Brolin, Gabriel Byrne and Bob Gunton, available on DVD ($13 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail).

THUNDERCRACK! (CAV Distributing): A 40th-anniversary special edition of Curt McDowell’s (very) avant-garde, 1975 adult cult classic that remains perhaps the very definition of “porno chic” to this day, a satirical send-up of old-dark-house mysteries told in underground fashion, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail)

“TOGETHERNESS” THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (HBO): Mark Duplass and Melanie Lynskey’s household just got a little bigger with the addition of her sister (Amanda Peet) and his best friend (Steve Zissis), all of them trying to make their dreams come true in all eight episodes from the inaugural 2015 season of the HBO comedy series created by Mark and Jay Duplass and Zissis, available on DVD ($26.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.98 retail).

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Director Massimo Dallamano’s 1972 giallo thriller (originally titled Cosa avete fatto a solange?) sees a sexual sadist stalking a Catholic girls’ school. Camille Keaton, in her screen debut, plays the title role. The special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews and more.

– (Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2016, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:marksburger@yahoo.com”marksburger@yahoo.com

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