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[VIDEO VAULT]

by Mark Burger

MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT

DVD PICK OF THE WEEK

NO WAY OUT (Shout! Factory): Thr 1948 film-noir The Big Clock (definitely worth checking out) formed the basis for this tantalizing – and even superior — 1987 political thriller that scored with audiences and critics alike, and helped propel leading man Kevin Costner to superstar status.

He plays handsome Naval officer Tom Farrell, who embarks on a steamy affair with Washington party girl Susan Atwell (Sean Young), the mistress of Farrell’s own boss, Secretary of Defense David Brice (Gene Hackman). When Brice accidentally kills her in a fit of rage, his homicidal hatchet man Scott Pritchard (Will Patton) covers it up by pinning the crime on a mysterious, possibly mythical, Soviet agent called “Yuri,” and assigns Farrell to spearhead the investigation.

In essence, Farrell is seeking himself, and as his options evaporate and the noose tightens, director Roger Donaldson assuredly ups the suspense quotient without sacrificing credibility or intelligence – and there’s a wicked twist at the end (much debated at the time).

The cast could hardly be better. Costner exudes star power, Hackman is effortlessly terrific, Young (for all of her controversial career) is sexy but sympathetic, and razor-sharp Patton nearly steals the show. Howard Duff (in one of his last screen roles), George Dzundza, Jason Bernard, Fred Dalton Thompson and Iman offer solid support.

The Blu-ray ($26.99 retail) includes audio commentary with Donaldson. Rated R. ***½

ALSO AVAILABLE

600 MILES (LionsGate): Writer/producer Gabriel Ripstein’s topical, award-winning editing/directing debut (originally titled 600 Millas) stars Tim Roth as a federal agent abducted by gun-runner Kristyan Ferrer. Low-key and quietly observant, although fairly conventional toward the end. Nevertheless, Ripstein (son of Arturo) is a talent to watch. Rated R. **½

CABIN FEVER (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Executive producer Eli Roth “reboots” his 2002 debut feature in which partying college students are exposed to a highly contagious flesh-eating virus during a weekend getaway, available on DVD ($14.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail).

THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT (Summit Entertainment/LionsGate): The third (of four) in the PG-13-rated big-screen sci-fi franchise based on Veronica Roth’s best-selling novel continues the ongoing battle between good and evil, with Shailene Woodley heading a star-studded cast including Theo James, Jeff Daniels, Naomi Watts, Miles Teller. Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Octavia Spender, Angel Elgort, Maggie Q and Bill Skarsgard, available on DVD ($29.95 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($42.99 retail).

THE FEAR OF 13 (First Run Features): Producer/director David Sington’s award-winning documentary chronicles the imprisonment of Pennsylvania Death Row inmate Nick Yarris, who eventually petitioned the state to be executed. Reminiscent of Errol Morris’ documentaries (not a bad thing), this absorbing treatise explores an all-too-familiar tale of a miscarriage of justice. ***

FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES (Shout! Factory): Mike Slee’s 2012 IMAX documentary follows millions of Monarch butterflies as they embark on their annual migration from Canada across the United States to Mexico, available on Blu-ray ($19.99 retail) and 4K UHD 3-D Blu-ray ($39.93 retail).

FOR MEN ONLY/SCHOOL FOR SEX (Kino Lorber): A softcore sex romps from British B-movie impresario Pete Walker, who wrote, produced and directed both films: 1967’s For Men Only (AKA I Like Birds) and 1969’s School for Sex, available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) – both replete with special features.

HAIL, CAESAR! (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): Joel and Ethan Coen’s latest comedy finds them in a loose mood as they tell the tale of studio flack Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) as he contends with, and squelches, high-profile Hollywood scandals including the Communist kidnapping of a star (George Clooney). Enticing visuals (courtesy cinematographer Roger Deakins), a terrific score (courtesy Carter Burwell), snappy repartee and inspired nods toward ’50s Hollywood can’t quite overcome a wayward, self-indulgent storyline. A fine, and fun, cast includes Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Ralph Fiennes, Frances McDormand (Joel’s wife), Alden Ehrenreich, Clancy Brown, Robert Trebor, Robert Picardo, Peter Jason, Heather Goldenhersh, Fisher Stevens and Michael Gambon (who narrates). The DVD retails for $29.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $34.98. Rated PG-13. **½

JUST DESSERTS (Synapse Films): Subtitled The Making of Creepshow, director/editor self-explanatory Michael Felcher’s 2007 documentary looks at the making of the classic 1982 horror anthology written by Stephen King, directed by George A. Romero, and boasting memorable makeup effects by Tom Savini, featuring interviews with cast and crew. The special-edition Blu-ray ($24.95 retail) includes audio commentaries, retrospective interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and more.

THE MIDNIGHT AFTER (Well Go USA Entertainment): Fruit Chan’s award-winning sci-fi send-up (the original title is too long to write here) is based on a novel by “Mr. Pizza” (no joke), and focuses on a group of passengers on a Hong Kong bus who disembark and discover that the entire population has disappeared and some sort of apocalypse has taken place. In Cantonese and Japanese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail).

MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART (Kino Lorber): Jia Zhangke’s award-winning drama (originally titled Shan he gu ren) follows a young woman (Zhao Tao) and those around her in the past (1999), present (2014) and future (2025) – and how their lives change over time. In Mandarin with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail).

“NAKED AND AFRAID XL”: SEASON 1 (LionsGate): For 40 days and 40 nights, a dozen extreme survivalists must prove their mettle with no food, no water and, as the title indicates, not a stitch of clothing – in all 11 episodes from the inaugural 2015 season of the Discovery Channel reality series, available on DVD ($19.98 retail).

NAPOLI, NAPOLI, NAPOLI (RaroVideo/Kino Lorber): The Blu-ray bow ($29.95 retail) of Abel Ferrara’s R-rated, 2006 Italian-language docu-drama that explores the social structure of Naples in the 21st century.

THE PACK (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Man’s best friend turns mean, as wild dogs attack a remote farm in the Australian outback, available on DVD ($14.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail).

PRECIOUS CARGO (LionsGate): This R-rated thriller pits jewel thieves Claire Forlani and Mark-Paul Gosselaar against crime boss Bruce Willis after a heist gone wrong, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail).

ROCKY MOUNTAIN EXPRESS (Shout! Factory): Stephen Low’s award-winning 2011 IMAX documentary chronicles the history of Canada’s first trans-continental railroad and follows a steam-train following the same route through the Canadian Rockies, available on Blu-ray ($19.99 retail) and 4K UHD 3-D Blu-ray ($39.93 retail).

SEARCH PARTY (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): Director Scot Armstrong’s R-rated debut feature stars Thomas Middleditch as a groom left at the altar by his fed-up fiancee (Shannon Woodward), so he and buddies T.J. Miller and Adam Pally follow her to Mexico, where they get mixed up in all sorts of misadventures. Alison Brie, Krysten Ritter, Lance Reddick and J.B. Smoove join in the fun. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $26.98.

“SLASHER”: SEASON ONE (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Katie McGrath stars as Sarah, whose return to the town where she was born seems to spark a series of brutal murders similar to those of her parents 30 years before. Brandon Jay McLaren, Steve Byers, Dean McDermott and Wendy Crewson also appear in all eight episodes of the inaugural 2016 season of the Chiller horror series, now available on DVD ($19.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($27.99 retail).

THE SUM OF US (Olive Films): Jack Thompson and Russell Crowe are terrific in this award-winning, still-timely 1994 Australian drama, adapted from David Stevens’ play by the author, as a widowed father who shares a loving, supportive relationship with his gay son. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated R. ***

THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Yes, there’s actually a feminist message (of sorts) in Jack Hill’s 1974 drive-in favorite, starring Jo Johnston (in her first and only screen role) as a college reporter who infiltrates the campus cheerleading squad to investigate the personal lives of cheerleaders Colleen Camp, Rainbeaux Smith and future Playboy Playmate Rosanne Katon. Reportedly a favorite of Quentin Tarantino’s (who likewise reveres Hill), the special-edition DVD/Blu-ray ($34.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective and archival interviews, and more. Rated R. **

SYNCHRONICITY (Magnet Label/Magnolia Home Entertainment): Writer/editor/director Jacob Gentry’s intriguing, award-winning sci-fi thriller stars Chad McKnight as a scientist who perfects time travel, only to discover its imperfections as he tries to right previous wrongs and prevent a perilous future. The concepts are better developed than the characters (who aren’t very likable), but genre aficionados may well embrace this as a cult favorite. The DVD retails for $26.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Rated R. **½

TRICLOPS! (Alpha New Cinema): Writer/producer/director Brett Piper’s campy, affectionate throwback to low-budget ’50s sci-fi sees a group of bumbling explorers encountering all sorts of bizarre beasties (including Kurt Jordan in the title role) in a radioactive crater. The stop-motion animation and miniatures are more interesting than the human characters (isn’t that always the case?), but this has some spunk. Genre fans have a head start. **

VIGILANTE DIARIES (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Paul Sloan leaps into action as “The Vigilante” in this feature-length adaptation of the popular Chill.com web series. Empty-headed but stylish nonsense bolstered by a good-humored cast including Michael Madsen, Michael Jai White, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Jacqueline Lord, James Russo, executive producer Jason Mewes and Danny Trejo. Executive producer Sloan also wrote the script with producer/director Christian Sesma. The DVD retails for $22.98, the Blu-ray for $26.99. Rated R. **

WEIGHT (First Run Features): Subtitled “A Powerlifter in Brooklyn,” editor/cinematographer/producer/director Andrew Filippone Jr.’s feature documentary follows weightlifter and gym owner Paul Steinman after he fails at the 2012 American Open and strives to return to competion the next year. The DVD retails for $24.95.

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT (Paramount): Producer Tina Fey headlines this R-rated adaptation of Kim Barker’s memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, based on her experiences as a foreign correspondent covering Operation Enduring Freedom, with Billy Bob Thornton, Margot Robbie, Martin Henderson, Josh Charles and Alfred Molina in support, available on DVD ($29.99 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 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:marksburger@yahoo.com”marksburger@yahoo.com

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