DVD PICK OF THE WEEK:
Director Alan Parker’s 1991 adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s novel was one of the best films of its year and one of Parker’s best.
Robert Arkins plays Jimmy Rabbitte, an energetic and ambitious Dublin teenager determined to start a band called “The Commitments,” to which end he assembles a rag-tag group of friends and local musicians, including Michael Aherne, Angeline Ball, Maria Doyle, Dave Finnegan, Bronagh Gallagher, Felim Gormley, Glen Hansard, Dick Massey, Johnny Murphy, Kenneth McCluskey and lead singer Andrew Strong (who wails like Joe Cocker) – and let’s not forget delightful Colm Meaney as Jimmy’s Elvis-loving dad.
With its fresh young cast – many in their first film and some their only one – as well as a salty, sassy, saucy Irish flavor and an irresistible soundtrack (including memorable covers of “Mustang Sally,” “In the Midnight Hour” and “Try a Little Tenderness”), The Commitments is great fun and grand entertainment. Although it earned only one Oscar nomination (Best Film Editing), it won four BAFTA Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay (Ian La Frenais, Dick Clement and Doyle).
The special-edition “25 th Anniversary” DVD ($14.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail) both include audio commentary, retrospective interviews and more. Rated R.
A CINDERELLA STORY: IF THE SHOE FITS (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment):
The fourth in the ongoing Cinderella Story series sees Sofia Carson singing and dancing the title role in this modern-day, PG-rated version of the classic tale, with Jennifer Tilly as the obligatory wicked stepmother and Thomas Law the obligatory handsome Prince, available on DVD ($19.98 retail).
“CLEAN BREAK” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): The unraveling of a kidnapping plot forms the basis for this four-part Irish mini-series starring Adam Fergus as a desperate car dealer who hatches the scheme, Aidan McArdle as the intended victim, Damien Molony, Sean McGinley, Ned Dennehy, Kelly Thornton, Packy Lee, Simone Kirby and Amybeth McNulty, available on DVD ($39.99 retail)
THE DARK HORSE (Broad Green Pictures): Writer/director James Napier Robertson’s award-winning, fact-based, R-rated drama stars executive producer Cliff Curtis as New Zealand chess master Genesis Potini, who tries to overcome his own emotional instability by mentoring underprivileged Maori children, available on DVD ($26.99 retail).
“THE GOLDEN AGE OF MUSICALS” (Film Chest Media Group): The title tells all in this five-DVD collection ($19.98 retail) of 17 vintage musicals released between 1937-’57, including James Cagney in Something to Sing About (1937), which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Musical Score; Fred Astaire and Paulette Goddard in Second Chorus (1940), which earned Oscar nominations for Best Musical Score and Best Original Song (“Love of My Life”); Astaire and Jane Powell in Stanley Donen’s Royal Wedding (1951), which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song (“Too Late Now”); Michael Curtiz’ star-studded 1943 adaptation of Irving Berlin’s hit musical This is the Army, which earned an Oscar for Best Musical Score and nominations for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (color) and Best Sound Recording; The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1957) starring Van Johnson in the title role; Till the Clouds Roll By (1946) starring Robert Walker as composer Jerome Kern; the 1952 Bing Crosby/Bob Hope/Dorothy Lamour romp Road to Bali; and more.
“HEE HAW: THE COLLECTOR’S EDITION” (Time Life): The title tells all in this 14-DVD collection ($199.95 retail) of musical and comedy highlights from the 23-year run (1969-’92) of the popular variety series, which was canceled by CBS in 1971 but became a syndication juggernaut.
Hosts Roy Clark and Buck Owens are joined by guests Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Tanya Tucker, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty and many more.
THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Chris Hemsworth (in the title role) and Charlize Theron (the evil Queen Ravenna) and reprise their roles in this extended edition of the effects-laden fantasy follow-up to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman, joined again by Nick Frost and Sam Claflin, as well as franchise newcomers Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain, available on DVD ($29.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.98 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($49.98 retail). Rated PG-13 (also available in an unrated version).
KEANU (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Producer Keegan-Michael Key and producer/screenwriter Jordan Peele (“Key & Peele”) bring their winning teamwork to the big screen in this fun-filled farce about two cousins (guess who?) trying to retrieve the titular kitten, available on DVD ($28.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail). Rated R.
MICROWAVE MASSACRE (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.95 retail) of director Wayne Berwick’s one-joke feature debut, a horror spoof starring comedian Jackie Vernon (in his final role) as a henpecked husband who develops a taste for human flesh after murdering his wife (Claire Ginsberg in her only screen role). Originally filmed in 1981 but not released until 1983. Special features include audio commentary, retrospective documentary and more. It’s got a cult following; they’re welcome to it.
“NARCOS”: SEASON ONE (Lions- Gate): Wagner Moura plays real-life Colombian crime kingpin Pablo Escobar and Boyd Holbrook and Pedro Pascal the DEA agents bent on bringing him to justice, in all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2015 season of the fact-based Netflix crime series, available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.97 retail) – both replete with special features including audio commentaries, deleted scenes and more.
THE PHENOM (RLJ Entertainment):
Writer/director Noah Buschel’s sports drama stars Johnny Simmons as a rookie pitcher whose memories of abusive father Ethan Hawke send him spiraling downward, until he finds help — and hope — from therapist Paul Giamatti, available on DVD ($29.96 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.97 retail).
THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION (Olive Films): Producer/director Stanley Kramer’s big-budget 1957 adaptation of CS Forester’s novel The Gun stars Cary Grant as a British officer who aids the Spanish (including freedom-fighter Frank Sinatra and mistress Sophia Loren) in their battle against Napoleon’s forces by providing a large cannon. Grand-scale action but a melodramatic misfire (would you believe Ol’ Blue Eyes as a Spanish peasant?), available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).
PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A special-edition Blu-ray ($27.99 retail) of Anthony Perkins’ final go-’round as Norman Bates, recalling the events that drove him as a young man (played by Henry Thomas) to kill his mother (Oliva Hussey). Originally produced in 1990 for Showtime and written by original Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stefano, this avoids major potential for disaster and emerges as a decent, if flawed, effort. Special features include audio commentary and behind-the-scenes footage. Rated R.
SUNDOWN (LionsGate): Best buds Devon Werkheiser and Sean Marquette hit Puerto Vallarta for spring break – and Puerto Vallarta hits back – in this teen sex romp. A little long for this sort of thing, but co-screenwriter/producer Fernando Lebrija directs with flourish and a friendly cast includes Teri Hatcher and John Michael Higgins as Werkeiser’s parents, Jordi Molla as a bewigged bad guy, Silverio Palacios as a canny cabbie, and Camilla Belle, whose pole dance is definitely a highlight. Rated R. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2016, Mark Burger.