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by Mark Burger

video vault

DVD PICK OF THE WEEKTHE DAMNED UNITED (SonyPictures Home Entertainment): ActorMichael Sheen’s third teaming withscreenwriter Peter Morgan (after TheQueen and Frost/Nixon) continuestheir winning streak, with Sheen takingcenter stage this time around.Like their previous collaborations,the story of The Damned United (basedon the book by David Peace) is rootedin actual events — the infamous 44-day tenure in 1974 of football (soccer)manager Brian Clough (Sheen) at thehelm of the reigning champions LeedsUnited, succeeding the much-belovedDon Revie (Colm Meaney).The brash and boastful Cloughsucceeds primarily in antagonizing hisplayers, the team’s owners and the fansbut, having parted ways with long-timeassistant manager Peter Taylor (TimothySpall), he can’t seem to find a way towin. This may be the only sports moviein history in which one almost roots forthe hero to lose.Meaney, Spall and Jim Broadbent(as the chairman of Clough’s previousteam) are excellent, but this is Sheen’sshowcase and he’s in top form, againplaying a real-life character. Sharplydirected by Tom Hooper, this film neverfound its audience stateside, but it’s justwaiting to be discovered. Rated R.ALSO ON DVDBAD GIRLS OF FILM NOIR(Sony Pictures Home Entertainment):Ladies both luscious and lethalhighlight this selection of crime thrillersfrom the vaults of Columbia Pictures:“Volume 1” includes Two of a Kind(1951) starring Lizabeth Scott, EdmondO’Brien, Terry Moore and AlexanderKnox; Scott teams up with CharltonHeston in 1953’s Bad for Each Other;Evelyn Keyes and Dorothy Malone starin The Killer That Stalked New York(also ‘53); and Vittorio Gassman andGloria Grahame headline The GlassWall (also ‘53). Volume 2 includesNight Editor (1946) starring WilliamGargan and Janis Carter; One Girl’sConfession (1953) stars Cleo Moore andwriter/producer/director Hugo Haas;Moore also appears in Women’s Prison(1955) with Ida Lupino, Jan Sterlingand Lupino’s then-husband, HowardDuff; and Moore turns up once more inOver-Exposed (1956), opposite RichardCrenna and Constance Towers. Eachfour-film volume retails for $24.96.“BARNABY JONES”: THE FIRSTSEASON (CBS DVD/ParamountHome Entertainment): A boxed set($42.99 retail) of all 13 episodes fromthe inaugural 1973 season of the longrunning,prime-time CBS-TV crimedrama starring Buddy Ebsen as a retiredprivate eye who returns to work afterhis son is killed, aided by his widoweddaughter-in-law (Lee Meriwether). Spunoff from “Cannon,” with William Conradreprising his role as fellow private eye(and pal) Frank Cannon. First-seasonguest stars include Bradford Dillman,William Shatner, Lloyd Bochner,Darleen Carr, Janice Rule, Eric Braeden,Cathy Lee Crosby and Gary Lockwood.CAMILLE (National EntertainmentMedia): Not to be confused with theAlexandre Dumas classic, this clumsyblack comedy stars James Franco andSienna Miller as a honeymooning couplewhose trip to Niagara Falls hits a snagwhen she is killed en route. This startsbadly, gets worse and only manages afew inspired moments toward the end.It’s not enough. Also on hand: ScottGlenn, Ed Lauter, Patricia Yeatman,Mimi Kuzyk, James B. Douglas and thelate David Carradine. The debut featureof producer/director Gregory Mackenzie.Rated PG-13.CLINT EASTWOOD: 35 FILMS 35YEARS AT WARNER BROS. (WarnerHome Video): The title tells all in thismammoth, 35-film collection ($179.98retail) that spotlights the remarkablecareer of box-office superstar andacclaimed filmmaker Clint Eastwood,from Where Eagles Dare (1968) to GranTorino (2008). Such Oscar-winningfavorites as Unforgiven (1992), MysticRiver (2003) and Million Dollar Baby(2004) are included, as are all of the“Dirty Harry” films. The 35th film isfilm critic Richard Schickel’s newdocumentary The Eastwood Factor.HEAT WAVE (Warner Home Video):Jordan Kerner, dean of the UNCSASchool of Filmmaking, produced thisengrossing dramatization of the 1965Watts Riots, with Blair Underwoodas real-life LA Times messenger (laterreporter) Bob Richardson, whosecoverage of the story earned thenewspaper a Pulitzer Prize. Originallybroadcast on TNT in 1990 and directedby Kevin Hooks (whose father Robertappears in a supporting role). A good castincludes David Strathairn, Cicely Tyson,Vondie Curtis-Hall, Sally Kirkland,Adam Arkin, Margaret Avery and JamesEarl Jones, who picked up an EmmyAward as Outstanding Supporting Actorin a Mini-series or Special.ICE CASTLES (Sony Pictures HomeEntertainment): Donald Wrye, whodirected the 1979 tearjerker, returns todirect this contemporary (and ratherunnecessary) remake, starring real-lifefigure skater Taylor Firth in her screendebut as a young skater who triumphsover adversity after being blinded in anaccident. Rated PG.JFK: 3 SHOTS THAT CHANGEDAMERICA (A&E Home Entertainment):The title tells all in this History Channeldocumentary ($19.95 retail) thatchronicles the assassination of PresidentJohn F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. Inthe same vein, A&E Home Entertainmenthas also released writer/producer/directorAnthony Giacchino’s documentary “TheKennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After”(also $19.95 retail), based on the book bySteven M. Gillion.LEGENDS OF LAUGHTER: ABBOTT& COSTELLO (Infinity EntertainmentGroup): A six-DVD boxed set ($29.98retail) highlighting the career oflegendary comedy duo of Bud Abbott(1895-1974) and Lou Costello (1906-’59), this includes 17 episodes from their’40s radio show, 14 episodes from theirsyndicated ’50s TV series, the featurefilms Africa Screams (1949) and Jackand the Beanstalk (1952), movie trailers,bloopers and more.THE MOMENT AFTER (Affirm Films/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment):Dreadful faith-based potboiler withKevin Downes and David AR White(both also producers) as FBI agentsinvestigating the disappearance ofmillions of people following theprophesied Rapture. Poorly written andacted, this was originally made in 1999and there’s even a sequel out there.“OMNIBUS:” LEONARDBERNSTEIN (E1 Entertainment):Rarely seen in the last five decades, thisfour-DVD collection ($49.98 retail)boasts the entire original broadcasts offour episodes from the long-running“Omnibus” series, each one showcasingthe talents of legendary conductor andcomposer Leonard Bernstein, includingperformances of “Beethoven’s FifthSymphony” and “The Music of JSBach.” Bernstein won consecutiveEmmy Awards (1957 and ’58) for BestMusical Contribution for Television forhis appearances on “Omnibus.”“PAWN STARS”: SEASON ONE(A&E Home Entertainment): A boxedset ($19.95) containing all 14 episodesfrom the 2009 season of the popularHistory Channel reality-TV series aboutthe Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, the onlyfamily-run pawn shop in Las Vegas, andits proprietors: Richard, son Rick andgrandson Corey Harrison.RIFFTRAX (Legend Films): The“Mystery Science Theatre 3000” gang(Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and BillCorbett) reunites for this series of likemindedspecial-edition DVDs (eachretailing for $9.95) in which they’re upto their old tricks, goofing on moviesold and new, long and short — andalmost always bad. This new collectionincludes “Rifftrax Shorts Volume 1”and “Volume 2,” the “Shorts-tacularShorts-travaganza,” “Wide World ofShorts,” and such feature films as Nightof the Living Dead (which actually isn’tbad), Planet of the Dinosaurs, Houseon Haunted Hill, Voodoo Man, Missileto the Moon, Reefer Madness, Carnivalof Souls, Little Shop of Horrors, SwingParade, and the granddaddy of all duds:Plan 9 from Outer Space (both a studioversion and a live version performed inNashville).“ROME”: THE COMPLETE SERIES(HBO Home Entertainment): The riseand (more to the point) fall of the RomanEmpire, as dramatized in this criticallyacclaimed, grand-scale HBO toga partythat ran from 2005-’07 and won sevenEmmy Awards during its run. The castincludes Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson,Polly Walker, Kerry Condon, JamesPurefoy, Lindsay Duncan, Ian McNieceand Ciaran Hinds as Julius Caesar (andwe all know what happened to him, don’twe?). The 11-DVD boxed set retailsfor $99.98, the Blu-ray 10-disc set for$139.99.THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING(Affirm Films/Sony Pictures HomeEntertainment): David de Vos wrote,produced, co-edited, directed, stars anddoes his own flying in this faith-basedtearjerker in which a man is reunitedwith the biological father (Victor Lundin)he’s never met — and who’s dying.Sincere performances, but the sentimentis applied with a leaden touch and growsheavier (and more contrived) as the filmprogresses.“THREE SHEETS”: SEASON4 (Infinity Entertainment Group):Comedian Zane Lamprey continues hisjolly, booze-soaked jaunt around theworld in all 18 episodes from the 2009season of the popular (and ongoing)series originally broadcast on the InDemand Networks’ MOJO HD Channeland now aired on the Fine LivingNetwork. This special-edition DVDretails for $24.98.“WANDA SYKES: I’MA BE ME”(HBO Home Entertainment): She’s outof the closet, she’s got her own showon Fox, and she’s the headliner of thisstand-up comedy special ($19.97 retail)filmed at the Warner Theater in herhometown of Washington DC.Mark Burger can be heard Fridaymornings on the “Two Guys NamedChris” radio show on Rock-92.Copyright 2010, Mark Burger !

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