DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: TRACK 29
(Anchor Bay Entertainment)
The teaming of writer Dennis Potter and director Nicolas Roeg promised something far beyond the mainstream, and this lively and loony grab-bag of psychological thriller, surreal satire and black comedy certainly delivered. That it baffled audiences and many critics back in 1988 is no surprise.
Theresa Russell stars as Linda Henry, an affluent but bored housewife obsessed with the son she gave up for adoption at birth, while her doctor husband Henry (Christopher Lloyd) — that’s right, Henry Henry — is obsessed with his model trains and his kinky nurse (Sandra Bernhard… who better?).
Enter Gary Oldman as Martin, an eccentric drifter who claims to be that son and promptly insinuates himself into Linda’s life, at which point a very strange game of cat-and-mouse commences — all of which just might be transpiring in Linda’s imagination. That Russell and Oldman (in only his third film) are roughly the same age only adds to the film’s (intentionally) weird vibes.
Filmed in Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington (at what was then the De Laurentiis Studio), Track 29 is expectedly eclectic work from Roeg and Potter, two talents hardly known for their restraint. The performances are likewise exaggerated, entirely in keeping with the onscreen mania. Love it or hate it, Track 29 is an original. Rated R.
(For an exclusive interview with actress Theresa Russell, turn to Page 38.)
BLADE OF KINGS (Well Go USA Entertainment): Mysticism and magic mesh with high-powered action in this all-star Hong Kong fantasy adventure starring Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen, Bing Bing Fan, Daniel Wu, Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung, and directed by Patrick Leung and Cory Yuen. Also known as The Twins Effect 2 and originally titled Chin gei bin 2: Fa dou daii jin. In Cantonese with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
CLIMATE OF CHANGE (Tribeca Film/New Video): Tilda Swinton reads Simon Armitage’s poetry as narration for director Brian Hill’s critically acclaimed documentary focusing on the efforts of environmental activists throughout the world. The DVD retails for $24.95.
DAVID E. TALBERT’S WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND (One Village Entertainment/ Image Entertainment): Award-winning playwright/producer/director David E. Talbert’s popular play stars Wesley Jonathan as a womanizer whose girlfriend (Reagan Gomez) decides to teach a lesson. The DVD retails for $14.98. One Village Entertainment/Image Entertainment has also released David Talbert’s What My Husband Doesn’t Know, a musical drama starring Michelle Williams (of Destiny’s Child) as a restless wife who finds herself in a romantic crisis. The DVD retails for $14.98.
“DRAGON AGE: REDEMPTION” (Flatiron Film Company/New Video): Felicia Day wrote and stars in this six-part web series based on the “Dragon Age” video game franchise, set in a medieval age where magic and mysticism reigned supreme. This special edition DVD, which includes bonus interviews and featurettes, retails for $14.95.
“FAN FAVORITES: THE BEST OF” (CBS DVD/ Paramount Home Entertainment): A selection of classic episodes from popular TV series’, as voted by the viewers: “Cheers,” “Frasier,” “Happy Days,” “Hogan’s Heroes,” “The Honeymooners,” “MacGyver” and “The Odd Couple.” Each DVD retails for $14.99.
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 (FULL SEQUENCE) (IFC Midnight/MPI Media Group): The surgical savagery continues in writer/director Tom Six’s follow-up to his controversial, award-winning shocker, in which a sadistic scientist (Laurence R. Harvey) attempts to create a human centipede (don’t ask why). Ashlynn Yennie returns from the first film. Available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail). IFC Midnight/MPI Media Group also released the original film on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail). A third installment is due next year.
IF YOU ARE THE ONE: LOVE AND MARRIAGE (China Lion/New Video): Shu Qi and Ge You reunite with director Feng Xiaogang for this follow-up to the award-winning 2008 romantic comedy (originally titled Fei Cheng Wu Rao), one of the biggest box-office hits in Chinese history, which picks up where the first film left off. In Mandarin with English subtitles. The DVD retail for $26.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95.
LOOKING FOR PALADIN (Monterey Media): Writer/producer/director Andrzej Krakowski’s long-winded, lackadaisical comedy/drama stars David Moscow as an obnoxious Hollywood hotshot who travels to Guatemala in order to persuade retired film star Jack Paladin (Ben Gazzara) — who was once married to his mother — to come out of retirement. On the plus side: Nice to see Gazzara (who died this year) enjoy a star turn, as well as Talia Shire, Vincent Pastore and Pedro Armendariz Jr. (who also died recently). Rated R.
“LAWRENCE WELK CLASSIC EPISODES, VOL. 1-4” (Film Chest/Synergy Entertainment): As hard as it may be to believe, “The Lawrence Welk Show” was on the air for nearly 30 years, first on ABC and then in first-run syndication. This four- DVD boxed set ($34.98 retail) offers a selection of popular episodes from that amazing run.
“MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE” — THE ’89 TV SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): This DVD boxed set ($42.99 retail) contains all 16 episodes from the 1989- ’90 (and final) season of ABC’s prime-time follow-up to the popular ’60s espionage series, which brought back Peter Graves as IMF agent Jim Phelps with a new team including Thaao Penghlis, Antony Hamilton, Jane Badler and Phil Morris, son of original cast member Greg Morris (who guest-starred a few times). Emmy nomination for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series.
NEVER LET ME GO (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Director Mark Romanek’s award-winning adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, an ethereal, eerie, sci-fi drama (and tragic love story) with Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley as friends who discover they’re clones earmarked for organ donation during their (brief) adulthood. Good performances by all, including Charlotte Rampling and Sally Hawkins, with Mulligan particularly strong. Ishiguro and screenwriter Alex Garland also earn executive-producer credit. Rated R.
TANNER HALL (Anchor Bay Entertainment): In their feature debuts, Francesca Greorini and Tatiana von Furstenberg wrote, produced and directed this indecisive comedy/drama about life within the halls of an exclusive girls’ boarding school in New England. A flat script strands a not-untalented cast including a pre-Lisbeth Salander Rooney Mara, Brie Larson, Amy Ferguson, Georgia King, Tara Subkoff, Tom Everett Scott, Chris Kattan and Amy Sedaris. Rated R.
TEXAS KILLING FIELDS (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Inspired by an actual case, director Ami Canaan Mann’s crime thriller stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Sam Worthington as detectives on the trail of a serial killer. Moody but also murky and meandering, the film’s style tends to slow the story’s momentum. Chloe Grace Moretz, Jason Clarke, Annabeth Gish, Stephen Graham, Sheryl Lee and the everbusy Jessica Chastain co-star. Mann is the daughter of Michael Mann, one of the film’s producers. Rated R.
“THAT SHOW WITH JOAN RIVERS”: VOL. 1-3 (Film Chest/Synergy Entertainment): A DVD compilation ($24.98 retail) of selected episodes from the syndicated daytime NBC talk show (which ran 1968-’69) that marked comedienne Joan Rivers’ first foray into series television. Guests included Johnny Carson, Jerry Lewis, Joel Grey, Soupy Sales and many others.
URBANIZED (Plexifilm/New Video): Director Gary Hustwit completes his “design film” documentary trilogy (after Helvetica and Objectified) with this examination of urban development around the world. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $34.95.
WHAT WOMEN WANT (China Lion/New Video): Turnabout is fair play, as Asian cinema remakes an American hit — in this case Mel Gibson’s 2000 romantic comedy — with advertising executive Andy Lau gaining the power to hear what women (including Gong Li and Kelly Hu) are thinking. Originally titled I Know a Woman’s Heart. In Mandarin in English subtitles. The DVD retails for $26.95.
Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2012, Mark Burger