BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) of Mario Bava’s 1964 cult classic (originally titled Sei donne per l’assassino and also known as Six Women for the Murderer) about a series of brutal murders of scantily-clad fashion models in swingin’ Rome. Per Bava’s reputation, style overwhelms substance in this early example of the Italian giallo thriller, featuring Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Mary Arden, Thomas Reiner and Alan Collins (AKA Luciano Pigozzi). Special features include audio commentary, English- and Italian-language tracks, collectible booklet, and more. The film has never looked better, even when (also per Bava) emphasizing the grotesque.
THE BOSS (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): Melissa McCarthy takes charge in this R-rated corporate comedy directed by her real-life husband Ben Falcone, with Kristen Bell, Kathy Bates, Peter Dinklage, Tyler Labine, Cecily Strong, and Falcone. McCarthy and Falcone also collaborated as producers and screenwriters.
Both the DVD ($29.98 retail) and DVD/ Blu-ray combo ($34.95 retail) include an unrated version of the film plus bonus features.
THE CANDY TANGERINE MAN/ LADY COCOA (Vinegar Syndrome): A Blu-ray double feature ($29.98 retail) of two vintage, R-rated “blaxploitation” shoot-’em-ups directed by Matt Cimber: John Daniels stars in the title role of 1974’s The Candy Tangerine Man; Lola Falana stars in the title role of Lady Cocoa (1975) co-starring Millie Perkins, Alex Dreier and NFL stars Gene Washington and “Mean” Joe Greene.
CONFESSIONS (TLA Releasing): Writer/director Mark Bessenger’s anthology offers 10 personal stories told by gay men, ranging from the humorous to the tragic, available on DVD ($24.99 retail)
CONFIRMATION (HBO): Kerry Washington plays Anita Hill and Wendell Pierce plays Clarence Thomas in this factbased dramatization of the controversy surrounding Thomas’ 1991 nomination to the Supreme Court when accused of sexual harassment by former employee Hill. A star-studded cast includes Greg Kinnear (as Joe Biden), Treat Williams (as Ted Kennedy), Jennifer Hudson, Jeffrey Wright, Erika Christensen, Eric Stronestreet, Bill Irwin, Grace Gummer (Meryl Streep’s daughter), Kimberly Elise, and Dylan Baker (as Orrin Hatch). Emmy nominations for Outstanding Television Movie and Washington as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Mini-Series or Movie, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Bluray ($24.98 retail).
CRIMINAL (Summit Entertainment/LionsGate): Star power carries this silly but entertaining action romp with Kevin Costner as a Death Row inmate injected with the memories of recently-murdered CIA operative Ryan Reynolds, thus propelling him on a mind-bending, globe-trotting odyssey to complete the mission. Gary Oldman, Gal Gadot, Alice Eve, Michael Pitt, Scott Adkins and Tommy Lee Jones (as the scientist, one “Dr. Franks”) round out the cast. The DVD retails for $29.95, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $39.99, the 4K Ultra-HD combo for $42.99. Rated R.
EYE IN THE SKY (Bleecker Street/ Universal Pictures Home Entertainment):
Director/co-star Gavin Hood and screenwriter/executive producer Guy Hibbert explore the moral and political ramifications of drone warfare in this thoughtful, topical thriller about a covert operation to locate terrorists in Kenya, bolstered by a fine cast including Alan Rickman (in his final on-screen role), Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Jeremy Northam, Barkhad Abdi, Monica Dolan, Iain Glen, Laila Robins and Michael O’Keefe, available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.98 retail). Rated R.
GANG RELATED (Olive Films): Writer/ director Jim Kouf’s engrossing, still-relevant 1997 crime drama casts James Belushi and Tupac Shakur (in his final role) as corrupt cops who frame homeless man Dennis Quaid after they murder a drug dealer (Kool Moe Dee) who was actually an undercover federal agent. A little rough around the edges, but aided by a solid cast including James Earl Jones, Gary Cole, Lela Rochon, Wendy Crewson and David Paymer. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated R.
GREEN ROOM (LionsGate): Writer/ director Jeremy Saulnier’s award-winning, R-rated shocker stars Anton Yelchin (in the last film he lived to see released) and Imogen Poots as members of a punk band terrorized by sadistic white supremacists (led by Patrick Stewart) after witnessing a murder in a Oregon nightclub, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.99 retail).
HOODLUM (Olive Films): Director Bill Duke’s fact-based 1997 gangster saga stars Laurence Fishburne as Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson, godfather of Depression-era Harlem, clashing with rival Dutch Schultz (Tim Roth) and “Lucky” Luciano (Andy Garcia). Charismatic performances and exquisite period detail are compromised by a talky, bumpy (no pun intended) storyline that tends toward the obvious. A fine cast includes Vanessa Williams, Cicely Tyson, William Atherton, Ed O’Ross, Chi McBride, Loretta Devine, Richard Bradford, Queen Latifah, Paul Benjamin and Clarence Williams III. The DVD retails for $14.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated R.
“JACK IRISH”: SEASON 1 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Guy Pearce plays the title role of a hard-bitten ex-attorney and part-time sleuth in all six episodes from the inaugural 2016 season of the popular Australian crime series based on Peter Temple’s best-selling novels, available on DVD and Blu-ray (each $39.99 retail).
THE LOBSTER (LionsGate): Writer/ producer/director Yorgos Lanthimos’ award-winning, R-rated sci-fi satire is set in a dystopian future where people have 45 days in which to find true love, lest they turn into animals – which is the fate facing everyman Colin Farrell, whose wife has just left him. Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Lea Seydoux, Oliva Colman and Ben Whishaw also appear, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.99 retail).
MANHATTAN NIGHT (LionsGate):
Producer Adrien Brody headlines firsttime feature screenwriter/producer/director Brian DeCubellis’ R-rated adaptation of Colin Harrison’s novel Manhattan Nocturne as a New York reporter drawn into a web of deceit, seduction and treachery when aids alluring widow Yvonne Strahovski investigate the death of her filmmaker husband Campbell Scott (also a co-producer), available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail).
MODEL HUNGER (Wild Eye Releasing): Lynn Lowry’s full-tilt turn as a murderous ex-model is the best thing about actress-turned-producer/director Debbie Rochon’s inauspicious feature debut, a gory but ponderous black comedy in which Lowry tortures and cooks her victims. This runs out of inspiration early on and lapses into a succession of grisly set-pieces.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2016, Mark Burger.
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK:
BY THE SEA
(Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
They may be the most famous celebrity couple in the world, but producer/stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s most recent onscreen pairing was this self-important vanity project whose critical reception was so scathing the studio canceled its national release last Christmas.
Jolie, billed for the first time as “Angelina Jolie Pitt,” wrote and directed this slow-moving, lugubrious portrait of a marriage on the rocks, as personified by Roland and Vanessa, a glamorous but dour duo on a European getaway in the early 1970s. When they’re not spying on the newlywed couple (Melanie Laurent and Melvil Popaud) in the next suite, their long, mournful glances at each other indicate unspoken truths that gnaw away at their marriage.
Echoing, if faintly and feebly, the works of Michelangelo Antonioni and Patricia Highsmith, what should be a penetrating examination of a disintegrating relationship is instead a self-important soap opera that wants for substance and fire, although Christian Berger’s cinematography is quite lovely. Otherwise, however, By the Sea drowns in fathomless pretentiousness.
The DVD retails for $22.98, the Blu-ray for $26.98. Rated R.