video vault

by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: Pirate radio (Universal studios Home entertainment)

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll all figure prominently in writer/ director Richard curtis’ rambunctious, nostalgic comedy, loosely inspired by actual incidents.

Originally titled The Boat That Rocked (which is a dead giveaway), Pirate Radio humorously details the history of Radio Rock, a ship anchored outside of Britain’s territorial waters, which broadcasts rock ‘n’ roll all day and all of the night (to quote a kinks tune), attracting a listening audience that comprises nearly half of the nation’s population.

Bill Nighy plays the dandified owner of the floating radio station, and his cool crew of disc jockeys and music mavens include Philip seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost, Ralph Brown,

Tom Brooke and Tom Wisdom (as mark, “the sexiest man in the world”). Tom sturridge plays a teenager sent by his mother (emma Thompson) to spend the summer aboard Radio Rock, where he comes of age amidst a barrage of classic rock tunes.

Opposition is personified by smug, officious sir Alistair Dormandy (kenneth Branagh) and his sycophantic hatchet man mr. Twatt (Jack Davenport), who are determined to clean up the nation’s airwaves by means fair or foul — the government, of course, justifying either.

The cast is both engaging and engaged, the humor is consistent and consistently funny, and the music’s great. What’s not to love? Rated R.

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Thematically similar toJames cameron’s Avatar, but not as successfulat the box-office. The all-star lineup of voicetalent includes James Garner, Dennis Quaid,evan Rachel Wood, Brian cox, Danny Glover,luke Wilson, Rosanna Arquette, Amanda Peet,chris evans, Beverly D’Angelo and mark Hamill.Rated PG.COUPLES RETREAT (Universal studiosHome entertainment): Actor-turned-directorPeter Billingsley makes his feature debut withthis flabby, sitcom-level comedy about fourcouples (Vince Vaughn and malin Akerman,Jon Favreau and kristin Davis, Jason Batemanand kristen Bell, Faizon love and kali Hawk)on vacation at a tropical getaway. Vaughn alsoproduced and collaborated on the screenplaywith Favreau. A box-office hit, although hopefullynot enough of one to justify a’s enough. Rated PG-13.CRAVINGS (lionsGate Homeentertainment): Despite the DVD cover art,this is not at all the traditional vampire film.originally titled Daddy’s Girl, writer/directorDJ evans’ moody psycho-drama stars RichardHarrington as a troubled psychiatrist tryingto probe the case of a deranged teenagedgirl (Jaime Winstone) with a taste for blood,only to also become involved with her mother(louise Delamere). Rated R.DANTE’S INFERNO: AN ANIMATED EPIC(Anchor Bay entertainment): The title tells all inthis high-decibel adaptation of Dante Alighieri’s14th century poem as created by multiple Asiananimation studios, with Graham mcTavishproviding the voice of the title character. otherfamiliar voices amid the bombast include markHamill and Victoria Tennant. 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The voiceover line-up includeslance Henriksen, Danielle Harris, Tiffany shepis,katie Nisa and Bill moseley.“KOURTNEY & KHLOE TAKE MIAMI”:SEASON ONE (lionsGate Homeentertainment): For those who can’t getenough of the gals from “keeping Up With thekardashians,” this two-DVD boxed set ($19.98retail) contains all nine episodes from the 2009season of the e! entertainment reality series,which brings the sisters to miami.THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS (Anchor Bayentertainment): Producer Grant Heslov makeshis feature directorial debut with this rollicking(and fact-inspired!) military satire, based on JonRonson’s non-fiction best-seller, about a covertUs special Forces team trained to exercise theirpsychic abilities. Uneven at times, but pushedacross by a terrific cast: George clooney (alsoa producer), ewan mcGregor, kevin spacey,Jeff Bridges, stephen lang, Robert Patrick andstephen Root. Rated R.“MONK”: SEASON EIGHT (Universal studiosHome entertainment): executive producer andleading man Tony shalhoub bids farewell to hissignature character, the obsessive, multi-phobicdetective with an unerring knack for solvingcrime, in all 16 episodes from the 2009 (and final)season of the critically acclaimed, award-winningUsA Network series. This four-DVD boxed setretails for $59.98.O JERUSALEM (Anchor Bay entertainment):said Taghamaoui and JJ Feild (who uncannilyresembles singer michael Bolton) play bestfriends — one muslim, one Jewish — who findthemselves on opposite sides during the early,hard-fought days of Israel’s independence.Although sincerely intentioned, director eliechouraqui’s award-winning adaptation oflarry collins and Dominique lapierre’s 1972best-seller turns potentially incendiary (andinsightful) historical drama into hokey soapopera. maria Papas plays the girl in the middle,with appearances by Tom conti, directorchouraqu’, a bewigged Ian Holm as DavidBen-Gurion and a severe Tovah Feldshuh asGolda meir (a role she previously played onstage). Rated R.“PARTY DOWN”: SEASON 1 (starzentertainment/Anchor Bay entertainment):A group of aspiring entertainers (and misfits)find themselves employees at the “Party Down”catering company, working one night at a timein all 10 episodes from the debut 2009 season ofthe starz entertainment situation comedy. Theregular cast includes ken marino, Adam scott,lizzy caplan, Ryan Hansen and martin starr, withongoing appearances by Jane lynch and meganmullally. This two-DVD boxed set (replete withbonus features) retails for $29.97.TRAPPED ASHES (lionsGate Homeentertainment): A five-part horror anthologydirected by Joe Dante, ken Russell, seancunningham, monte Hellman and John Gaeta.sometimes erotic and sometimes silly, and likea lot of anthologies it’s hit-or-miss — but notbad overall. An international co-productionbetween canada, Japan and the Us, the castincludes John saxon, lara Harris, Jayce Bartok,Rachel Veltri, Dick miller and the late HenryGibson. Rated R.