Video Vault

by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: 44 Inch chest (Image entertainment)

The screenwriters of 2001’s scintillating Sexy Beast (louis mellis and David scinto) reunite for this gritty, noir-ish study of misogynistic rage among a group of london thugs. It’s David mamet meets Quentin Tarantino, with a definite theatrical bent.

Ray Winstone plays colin Diamond, who has been told by his wife (Joanne Whalley) that she’s leaving him for another man. colin forcibly demands the identity of her lover, tracks him down, takes him hostage, then gathers his own cohorts, played by such heavy hitters as Ian mcshane, John Hurt, stephen Dillane and Tom Wilkinson, to determine what to do with “loverboy” (melvil Poupaud), who sits in their midst, dazedly awaiting his fate.

The film’s third act, however, takes a jarring, unexpectedly detrimental turn into surrealism when it attempts to get inside colin’s head, eventually leading to an unsatisfying, anti-climactic conclusion. one can appreciate the audaciousness of the attempt, but it doesn’t quite work. even a more conventional ending would have been more effective.

Yet, even as the narrative derails, there’s such pleasure watching this terrific ensemble tear into the material. You can’t do much better than Winstone and mcshane (both Sexy Beast alumni and executive producers here), Wilkinson, Dillane and Hurt — and they’re all in top form. It’s the actors who make 44 Inch Chest worthy — and worth watching. Rated R.


ACROSS THE PLAINS (Alpha Home entertainment): This 1939 Western quickie stars Jack Randall as cherokee, a wagon master in pursuit of the gang who killed his parents and abducted his brother years before. The supporting cast includes Dennis moore (as the kansas kid), Glenn strange, and “Rusty,” the Wonder Horse. Directed with expediency by serial veteran spencer Gordon Bennet, with mexican and Indian characters portrayed in a positive light.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Walt Disney studios Home entertainment): The latest, and least, collaboration between director Tim Burton and Johnny Depp is a visually dazzling but otherwise middling adaptation of the classic lewis carroll story, with mia Wasikowska in the title role and Depp (onscreen only intermittently) as the mad Hatter. A star-studded supporting cast includes Helena Bonham carter, Anne Hathaway, crispin Glover and the voices of Alan Rickman, christopher lee, Timothy spall, michael sheen, stephen Fry, michael Gough, Barbara Windsor and Imelda staunton. extensive hype made this a box-office hit, but it rates as one of the year’s bigger big-screen disappointments. Available as a single-disc DVD ($29.99 retail), a single-disc Blu-ray ($39.99 retail), and a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack ($44.99 retail). Rated PG.

BLACK CRESCENT MOON (monarch Home Video): James oliver toplines this offbeat but mostly benign black comedy, as a small-town Texas sheriff investigating a murder with too many suspects — some of whom hit a little too close to home for comfort. An amiable cast includes charles Napier (as the town’s minister/ mayor/coroner), Gil Bellows, William Atherton, melora Walters, mike starr, DW moffett, meredith monroe and Brent Briscoe, all of whom give it a little heft, but not nearly enough. Rated R.

BLAZING BARRIERS (Alpha Home edward Arnold Jr. star in this minor 1937 melodrama as a pair of small-time con men who join the civilian conservation corps and eventually wind up battling a forest fire. Also on hand: milburn stone (years before “Gunsmoke”) and Nestor Paiva (in his screen debut).

CREEP (lionsGate Home entertainment): This one-dimensional, latter-day variation on the ’70s cult horror hit Raw Meat stars Franka Potente (who deserves better) as a woman who encounters a sub-human killer in the subway tunnels of london. Appropriately grungy but the story’s a victim of repetition. Rated R.

THE FIGHTER (Alpha Home entertainment): Richard conte plays the title role in this 1952 adaptation of Jack london’s fact-based story “The mexican,” that of a political activist who boxes in order to raise money for the resistance at home. The climactic bout is well-handled, but the story’s momentum is hampered by endless flashbacks.

THE FORGOTTEN VILLAGE (Alpha Home entertainment): Burgess meredith this 1941 pseudo-documentary, scripted by no less than John steinbeck, about the clash between traditionalism and modernism when disease strikes the mexican village of santiago, the residents of which all play themselves on-camera. Interesting and still relevant.

THE FOURTH KIND (Universal studios Home entertainment): milla Jovovich plays a psychologist who begins to uncover possible evidence of alien visitations in Alaska. This brooding but clumsy thriller, which hyped as being based on documented facts (a claim later found to be untrue) never delivers the goods. Rated PG-13.

FROM PARIS WITH LOVE (lionsGate Home entertainment): The title town gets rocked in this flashy, fast-paced shoot-‘em-up pairing John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys meyers as hot-shot American agents tracking terrorists in the city of light. No great work of art, but it delivers what itpromises: Action, action, action. Rated R.

GOOD HAIR (lionsGate Home entertainment): chris Rock headlines this slight but amusing documentary about the black community and the importance of having good hair. The city of Greensboro plays a pivotal role in the proceedings! Rated PG-13.

“MLB BLOOPERS: BASEBALL’S BEST BLUNDERS” (major league Baseball Productions/shout! Factory): The title tells all in this special-edition DVD ($14.97 retail) that spotlights the bats, balls and bloopers of the National Pastime. mlB Productions/shout! Factory is also releasing the self-explanatory “Reds memories: The Greatest moments in cincinnati Reds History” ($19.93 retail), which showcases the nation’s oldest professional baseball team, whose history includes five World series titles (two by “The Big Red machine” in the ’70s), nine pennants and such superstar players as Johnny Bench, Joe morgan, Frank Robinson, ken Griffey sr. and ken Griffey Jr., George Foster, Bid mcPhee, Tom seaver and, of course, Pete Rose.

THE NEW DAUGHTER (Anchor Bay entertainment): kevin costner, who used to be one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, plays a recently divorced dad who moves with his kids (Ivana Baquero and Gattlin Griffith) and the pet cat to a new house in south carolina — one that comes complete with an Indian burial mound in the backyard and a history of strange events. Guess what happens next… and guess what happens to the cat!) The feature directorial debut of luis Berdejo is all build-up with little pay-off, occasionally recalling m. Night shyamalan’s work — hardly an attribute these days. Rated PG-13.

NYC: TORNADO TERROR (monarch Home Video): The title tells all, as the Big Apple takes a beating this stillborn canadian-made disaster movie that wound up premiering on cable-TV and grows sillier as it goes along. The freeze-frame final shot is a howl (for all the wrong reasons).

THE SPY NEXT DOOR (lionsGate Home entertainment): A cutesy family comedy with a hard-working Jackie chan as a cIA operative whose ongoing pursuit of Russian terrorists becomes complicated when he has to babysit the three children (madeline carroll, Will shandley and Alina Foley) of his girlfriend (Amber Valletta). Few surprises. Rated PG-13.

THE STEPFATHER (shout! Factory): The original 1987 thriller, a modern classic directed by Joseph Ruben and starring Terry o’Quinn in the title role, makes its debut on special-edition Blu-ray ($26.99 retail). Rated R.

THE STRANGER (Anchor Bay entertainment): Pro wrestler “stone cold” steve Austin plays an amnesiac pursued by both the FBI and a Russian crime syndicate in this action opus directed by Robert lieberman. Austin’s not bad, but the overall movie is. Rated R.

“UFC RAMPAGE GREATEST HITS” (Ultimate Fighting championship/Anchor Bay entertainment): A collection of eight hard-hitting fights (and some never-before-seen footage) showcasing the abilities of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, one of the most popular personalities in the Ultimate Fighting championship. The DVD retails for $19.97, the Blu-ray for $29.97.

“Z ROCK”: SEASON 2 (Anchor Bay entertainment): All 10 episodes from the 2009 season of the IFc “mockumentary” comedy series focusing on the on- and off-stage antics of the title, Brooklyn-based rock group (Paulie Z, David Z and Joey c). Guest stars include Dave Navarro, Dee snider, Frank stallone, Daryl Hall, marky Ramone, John Popper, Warren sapp and Joan Rivers. This boxed set retails for $19.97.

Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92.