video vault

by Mark Burger


STREAMERS (Shout! Factory): During the 1980s, filmmaker Robert Altman enjoyed a lengthy association with the stage and with stage-to-screen adaptations (including Secret Honor, Fool for Love and Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean). These may not represented his best or most innovative work, and weren’t terribly successful at the box office, but they added another layer of intrigue to the career of this much-missed American maverick. Altman’s 1983 rendition of David Rabe’s award-winning 1976 play, which seemed timely in ’76 but somewhat dated in ‘83, is — to a great extent — a filmed play. A good play, to be sure, but Altman doesn’t make much attempt to open it up, except to emphasize scenes that he feels are important… and often in slow-moving, overly attentive fashion. The ensemble cast includes Matthew Modine, David Alan Grier (in his screen debut), Michael Wright and Mitchell Lichtenstein as four young Army recruits preparing to ship out to Vietnam, while George Dzundza and Guy Boyd drop in periodically as sergeants trying to drink their memories away. The action never leaves the confines of an Army barracks, although the claustrophobic atmosphere doesn’t hurt the film’s intensity, which stems from the interaction of its characters, who debate, discuss and argue such heady topics as social identity, sexual identity and moral responsibility (this is not a light film in any sense of the term) — culminating in an explosive and tragic climax. Those expecting the satirical Altman may be in for a shock, as Streamers is deadly serious. Nevertheless, for Altman aficionados, it’s a must. Rated R. **’½ ALSO ON DVD ALL ABOUT STEVE (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Sandra Bullock produced and stars in this jittery, off-balance black comedy as a kooky crossword-puzzle creator who becomes obsessed with the title character (Bradley Cooper) after one date and proceeds to pursue him across the country. What may be the first mainstream stalker comedy is a jaw-dropping failure that ranks with 2009’s worst films. Still, it is different…. Rated PG-13 ‘½* “DALLAS”: THE COMPLETE 12TH SEASON (Warner Home Video): George Kennedy joins Larry Hagman (also an executive producer), Patrick Duffy, Barbara Bel Geddes, Linda Gray, Charlene Tilton, Steve Kanaly, Priscilla Presley and the whole gang of Southfork, in all 26 episodes from the 1988-’89 season of the long-running prime-time CBS-TV soap opera focusing on the lives, loves and schemes of the oil-rich Ewing clan. This marked the last season that the series earned an Emmy nomination: Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (for the episode “Hustling”). This boxed set retails for $39.98. “ER”: THE COMPLETE 12TH SEASON (Warner Home Video): It’s life or death on a daily basis at County General Hospital, in all 22 episodes from the 2005-’06 season of the long-running, award-winning prime-time NBC-TV medical drama, one of the most honored series’ in the history of television. The ensemble cast includes Laura Innes, Maura Tierney, Goran Visnjic, Mekhi Phifer, Linda Cardellini and Sherry Stringfield. Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (James Woods, for the episode “Body & Soul”) and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series (for the episode “Two Ships”). This boxed set retails for $49.98. G-FORCE (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): Jerry Bruckheimer produced this elaborate children’s adventure about a group of guinea pigs who carry out top-secret assignments on behalf of the US Government. The live-action human contingent includes Zach Gallifiankis, Bill Nighy and Will Arnett, while the voiceover cast includes Nicolas Cage, Steve Buscemi, Sam Rockwell, Penelope Cruz, Tracy Morgan and Jon Favreau. The jokes aren’t exactly terrific, but the visuals carry the day. Available as a single-disc DVD ($29.99 retail), a two-DVD special edition ($39.99 retail), or as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack ($44.99 retail). Rated PG. **’½ “I (HEART) JONAS” (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): For $19.99 retail, you can own this selection of seven episodes from the popular, award-winning Disney Channel comedy series “Jonas,” which depicts the musical misadventures of the Lucas brothers, as played by the Jonas brothers (Kevin, Nick and Joe). THE KEEPER (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Steven Seagal produced and stars in this standard-issue action melodrama as an ex-cop-turned-bodyguard. He’s not looking for trouble, but it always seems to find him. Fill in the blanks. Seagal appears more engaged than he has been in some of his recent films, but otherwise there’s nothing new here. Rated R. * “LIFE ON MARS”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): Jason O’Mara plays a New York City detective who time-travels back to 1973, in all 17 episodes from the 2008-’09 (and only season) of the prime-time fantasy/retro ABC-TV crime series, based on a popular British television series. Harvey Keitel made his series debut as the prototypical hard-boiled police lieutenant, and the regular cast also included Gretchen Mol, Michael Imperioli and Jonathan Murphy. Emmy nomination for Outstanding Cinematography for a One-Hour Series (for the episode “Out Here in the Fields”). This boxed set retails for $39.99. “MIRAMAX BLU-RAYS” (Miramax Home Entertainment/Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): The Blu-ray roll-out continues with this fierce foursome of Asian action favorites: Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung and and Zhang Ziyi star in director Zhang Yimou’s 2002 spectacle Hero (rated PG-13; $44.99 retail), which earned an Oscar nomination as Best Foreign Language Film; Donnie Yen stars in 1993’s Iron Monkey (rated PG-13; $39.99 retail); Jackie Chan and Anita Mui star in the award-winning 1994 marital-arts extravaganza The Legend of Drunken Master (rated R; $39.99 retail); and Takeshi “Beat” Kitano wrote the screenplay, directed and stars in 2003’s award-winning adaptation of Zatoichi (rated R; $39.99 retail). The boxed set of all four movies retails for $109.99. MONSTERS, INC. (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): The Blu-ray release of Pixar Animated Studio’s fun-filled, animated 2001 blockbuster, in which the world of Monstropolis is shocked to the core by the arrival of a human girl named Boo (voice by Mary Gibbs). The all-star lineup of vocal talent also includes John Goodman, James Coburn, Billy Crystal, Bonnie Hunt, Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Tilly, Frank Oz and Pixar regular John Ratzenberger. Randy Newman’s song “If I Didn’t Have You” won the Academy Award — marking his first Oscar win after 16(!) nominations. Additional nominations for Best Animated Feature, Best Original Score and Best Sound Editing. As in the best animated films, this is great entertainment for all ages. This new Blu-ray/DVD combo retails for $39.99. Rated G. ***’½ “PARKER LEWIS CAN’T LOSE”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Shout! Factory): Corin Nemec returns as the crafty high-school hustler in all 25 episodes from the 1991-’92 season of the prime-time Fox Network comedy series, which also stars Billy Jayne, Troy Slaten, Maia Brewton, Taj Johnson and Melanie Chartoff as Parker’s nemesis, Principal Musso. “SOUTHLAND”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Warner Home Video): Ben McKenzie, Regina King, Shawn Hatosy and Michael Cudlitz are among the ensemble cast of this critically-acclaimed, prime-time NBC-TV crime series focusing on the inner workings of the Los Angeles Police Department. This boxed set ($29.98 retail) includes all seven episodes from the 2009 season. When NBC canceled the series, TNT picked it right up for cable. THE STORY OF RUTH (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Elana Eden (in her screen debut) essays the title role of this turgid 1960 Biblical melodrama, which lacks the pizzaz (or even the camp value) that a Cecil B. DeMille would’ve brought to it. Stuart Whitman (as Boaz) and Peggy Wood (as Naomi) try to give it a lift, but it’s pretty heavy lifting. Also on hand (and usually clad in togas): Tom Tryon, Jeff Morrow, Thayer David, Les Tremayne, Eduard Franz, John Banner, Berry Kroeger and Victor Buono (in his screen debut). *’½ “SUPER FRIENDS”: SEASON 1 VOLUME 1 (DC Comics/Warner Home Video): Such popular DC Comics’ superheroes as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman team up to battle evildoers in the first eight episodes from the 1973 season of the ABC-TV Saturday-morning cartoon series, which ran until 1976. Familiar voices include those of Ted Knight (as the narrator) and Casey Kasem (as Robin). This two-DVD boxed set retails for $26.99. “THIRTYSOMETHING”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Shout! Factory): Life as it’s lived by a group of friends in Philadelphia, dramatized in all 17 episodes from the 1988-’89 season of the critically-acclaimed, prime-time ABC-TV drama series, created by executive producers Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick and boasting an ensemble cast that includes Melanie Mayron, Peter Horton, Ken Olin, Patricia Wettig, Mel Harris, Timothy Busfield and Polly Draper. Winner of four Emmy Awards including Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Mayron) and Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series (for the episode “First Day/Last Day”), with an additional nine nominations including Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Busfield) and Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (Jack Gilford, for the episode “The Mike Van Dyke Show”). Horton and Olin also directed a few episodes during the season. This five-DVD boxed set retails for $59.97. WINNIE THE POOH: A VALENTINE FOR YOU (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): Disney gets a jump on the Valentine’s Day holiday with this special-edition DVD ($29.99 retail) that includes three animated stories based on the classic “Winnie the Pooh” characters created by AA Milne, plus other surprises for the kids.’