MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
MACBETH (Anchor Bay Entertainment): With Michael Fassbender in the title role and Marion Cotillard as his Lady Macbeth, director Justin Kurzel’s atmospheric adaptation of the Shakespeare classic would seem to have the ingredients for a masterpiece.
Yet, despite its noble aspirations, a mournful score by Justin’s brother Jed Kurzel, and Adam Arkapaw’s stunning cinematography, this Macbeth is heavy in symbolism and adheres to the original text so closely that it becomes burdensome and interrupts the dynamic of its momentum.
The pall of doom is established from the beginning, as Macbeth’s thirst for power consumes him, but once crowned he is crowned king he becomes equally consumed by paranoia and guilt, bringing his kingdom to inevitable ruin.
Fassbender is well-cast as Macbeth, but Cotillard tends to fade into the background as the story progresses. A fine cast includes Paddy Considine (as Banquo), Sean Harris (as Macduff) and David Thewlis (the ill-fated King Duncan). The DVD retails for $22.98, the Blu-ray for $26.99. Rated R. **Â½
BLOOD AND LACE (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Director Philip Gilbert’s one and only feature, this sluggish low-budget 1971 shocker (originally titled The Blood Secret) stars Melody Patterson as a comely orphan who encounters dark secrets in an orphanage run by Gloria Grahame (which should have been warning enough!). Milton Selzer, Vic Tayback, Len Lesser and Dennis Christopher (in his screen debut) also turn up — and some turn up dead. Never before released on any home-video format, this is considered by some to be a precursor of the slasher genre. The DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.99 retail) includes audio commentary and trailer. Originally rated “GP” (PG), it’s now rated R. *Â½
“THE BRADY KIDS”: THE COMPLETE ANIMATED SERIES (CBS DVD/Paramount): A self-explanatory three-DVD collection ($29.99 retail) of all 22 episodes from the entire 1972-’73 run of the ABC Saturday-morning cartoon series spun off from “The Brady Bunch,” with Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, Christopher Knight, Susan Olsen and Mike Lookinland vocally reprising their series roles.
THE DICKS FROM TEXAS (MVD Entertainment Group): Billed as “the man, the myth, the music,” this rock documentary ($19.95 retail) explores the history of singer Gary Floyd and his Austin-based traveling punk band The Dicks, which lasted only four years but still boasts a fervent following.
ENTERTAINMENT (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Gregg Turkington brings his stand-up comedy character Neil Hamburger to the big screen in this award-winning black comedy following a third-rate comic (billed simply as “The Comedian”) on a dead-end tour slowly losing his grip on reality. Sometimes outrageous, sometimes cringing, and frequently biting â€“ a real one-of-a-kind, with John C. Reilly, Michael Cera, Amy Seimetz and a very funny Tye Sheridan also on hand. The DVD retails for $26.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Rated R. ***
EXPERIMENTER (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Writer/director Michael Almereyda’s biography of behavioral scientist Stanley Milgrim (well-played by Peter Sarsgaard) tends to be on the dry side, although it comes together nicely at the end. Familiar faces abound: Winona Ryder (as Milgram’s wife), Jim Gaffigan, John Leguizamo, Taryn Manning, Josh Hamilton, Kellan Lutz (as William Shatner!), Dennis Haysbert (as Ossie Davis), Anton Yelchin and Anthony Edwards. The DVD retails for $26.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Rated PG-13. **Â½
“THE FACTS OF LIFE”: SEASON EIGHT (Shout! Factory): A DVD collection ($29.93 retail) of all 24 episodes from the 1986-’87 season of the long-running NBC sitcom spun off from “Diff’rent Strokes,” with Charlotte Rae’s Mrs. Garrett getting married and Cloris Leachman (as her sister) assuming her motherly mantle alongside series regulars Charlotte Rae, Nancy McKeon, Lisa Whelchel, Kim Fields and Mindy Cohn.
GOD’S CLUB (Cinedigm): Stephen Baldwin, Lorenzo Lamas and Corbin Bernsen headline this faith-based drama about a small-town debate regarding school prayer, available on DVD ($14.93 retail).
HATCHED (Cinedigm): Originally titled Farm House 81, this is the first in a planned trilogy of animated family comedies following the misadventures of a group of barnyard animals, featuring the voices of Sean Astin and Jeff Foxworthy, available on DVD ($14.93 retail).
HATING OBAMA (Cinedigm): Producer/director Marquis Smalls’ intriguing documentary examines whether negative reaction to Barack Obama’s presidency is motivated more by racial intolerance than political dissent. ***
“HILL STREET BLUES”: THE FINAL SEASON (Shout! Factory): A DVD collection ($34.93 retail) of all 22 episodes from the 1986-’87 season of the acclaimed NBC police series, with Daniel J. Travanti heading an ensemble cast including Veronica Hamel, James B. Sikking, Charles Haid, Michael Warren, Joe Spano, Rene Enriquez, Betty Thomas, Ed Marinaro, Bruce Weitz, Robert Prosky, Dennis Franz, Joe Spano, Taurean Blacque, Kiel Martin, Mimi Kuzyk and Barbara Bosson (then married to creator/executive producer Steven Bochco). Nominated for three Emmy awards including Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Thomas).
“INDIEPIX MIX, VOLUME TWO” (IndiePix Films): A 10-DVD collection ($74.95 retail) of critically acclaimed and/or award-winning documentary features: Bhopali (2011), Disarm (2005), 2008’s Road to the Big Leagues (Rumbo a Las Grandes Ligas), Satellite (2006), So Bright is the View (2004), 2013’s Soldate Jeannette (Soldier Jane), That Girl in Yellow Boots (2010), The Nine Lives of Marion Barry (2009), We Live in Public (’09) and White Shadow (’13).
LUTHER THE GEEK (Vinegar Syndrome): A special-edition DVD/Blu-ray ($27.98 retail) of director Carlton J. Albright’s low-budget shocker, completed in 1988 but not released until 1990, with Edward Terry (in his last role to date) playing the title character — although billed simply as “The Freak” (the film’s original title) â€“ a metal-toothed maniac released from a 20-year stint in an asylum who promptly resumes his bloodthirsty rampage. Devotees of grade-Z schlock are in for a treat. In an early role, Stacy Haiduk (who went on to bigger and better things including “The Young and the Restless”) is a knockout. Special features include audio commentary, retrospective interviews and more. *Â½
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE â€“ ROGUE NATION (Paramount): Unlike most franchises, the fifth installment of the globe-trotting, money-spinning action series, based on the popular CBS series, is the best one yet â€“ with Tom Cruise back in action as super-agent Ethan Hunt, tracking a covert team of rogue agents bent on dismantling the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) and, of course, taking over the world. Christopher McQuarrie supplies a first-rate script and direction, and delivers plenty of breathtaking action sequences, with series regulars Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg joined by Alec Baldwin and gorgeous Rebecca Ferguson. The DVD retails for $29.99, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $39.99, and a boxed set of the previous five films on DVD retails for $64.99. Rated PG-13. ***Â½
THE NORTH STAR (RLJ Entertainment): Ex-NFL superstar Jeremiah Trotter makes a credible acting debut alongside Thomas C. Bartley Jr. as escaped slaves seeking sanctuary in pre-Civil War Pennsylvania. Sincere and fact-based (and with a faith-based bent), but first-time director and co-writer Thomas K. Phillips is hamstrung by a low budget that diminishes the film’s scale. A good cast includes Lynn Whitfield, John Diehl, producer Clifton Powell, and Keith David (seen briefly as Frederick Douglass). The DVD retails for $27.97. **
“SCIENCE FICTION DOUBLE FEATURE” (Alpha Home Entertainment): A tepid DVD twosome ($7.98 retail) of low-budget outings designed to cash in on the ’70s UFO craze: Robert Hoffmann, Nathalie Delon and Martin Balsam (dubbed with a British accent) star in the Italian-made Eyes Behind the Stars (1978); the G-rated UFO: Target Earth (1974) marked writer/producer/director Michael A. de Gaetano’s feature debut. Both films: *Â½
SKIN TRADE (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Good action sequences elevate this slick thriller pitting co-writer/co-producer Dolph Lundgren and Tony Jaa against human trafficker Ron Perlman (sporting a wild Serbian accent), with Peter Weller, Michael Jai White, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa and Celina Jade caught in the crossfire. The DVD retails for $26.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Rated R. **Â½
SLASH: RAISED ON THE SUNSET STRIP (Shout! Factory): Writer/director Martyn Atkins’ rock documentary, originally aired on DirecTV, traces the life and career of iconic Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash (born Saul Hudson), featuring interviews with Joe Perry, Dave Grohl, Alice Cooper, the recently departed Lemmy Kilmister, and others, available on DVD ($16.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($21.98 retail).
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING (VSC): Inspired by Naomi Klein’s best-selling book, Avi Lewis’ feature documentary examines seven communities around the world that have made a stand against the further destruction and despoiling of the environment â€“ and how these methods could prove cost-effective in the long run. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.98.
“THE VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION III” (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A five-film Blu-ray collection ($69.97 retail) celebrating the master of the macabre Vincent Price (1911-’93): Master of the World (1961), Tower of London (1962), Diary of a Madman (1963), An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (1970) and Cry of the Banshee (1970). The previous two collections have all but exhausted Price’s canon of classics, but each of these films comes replete with a bevy of special features include audio commentaries, retrospective interviews, trailers and more.
WAKE UP AND KILL (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Carlo Lizzani’s award-winning, fact-based 1966 crime thriller (originally titled Svegliati e uccidi and also known as Wake Up and Die) stars Robert Hoffmann as real-life criminal and folk hero Luciano Lutring, with Gian Maria Volonte as the cop on his trail and an Ennio Morricone score. The special-edition DVD/Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) includes both Italian and English-language soundtracks.
WEAPONIZED (Cinedigm): Johnny Messner headlines this sci-fi/action blow-out (originally titled Swap), as a cop trying to prevent a bio-weapons project from going haywire and causing global chaos. Mickey Rourke, Tom Sizemore, Michael Pare, Taylor Cole, John Laughlin, Jon Foo and producer/director Timothy Woodward Jr. also appear. The DVD retails for $14.93, the Blu-ray for $19.97.
WELCOME TO NEW YORK (IFC Films): Abel Ferrara’s controversial, R-rated drama, based on the fall of international banker Dominique Strauss-Kahn, stars Gerard Depardieu as a mogul whose career collapses under the weight of allegations of sexual assault, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).
(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2016, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”email@example.com