DVD Pick of the week: Devil
(Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
It’s a bad day in Philadelphia for five strangers who find themselves stuck in the elevator of a high-rise office building, then realize after a series of weird circumstances that dark forces are at work.
Fast-moving and claustrophobic, Devil is unquestionably the best film that producer/story writer M. Night Shymalan’s been involved with in for some time, but don’t ignore the contributions of director John Erick Dowdell (who scored with Quarantine), composer Fernando Velazquez and ace cinematographer Tak Fujimoto, who have whipped up a cult-worthy chiller.
Bokeem Woodbine, Bojana Novakovic, Logan Marshall- Green, Geoffrey Arend and Jenny O’Hara play the unlucky elevator quintet, each one a red herring. Rather than a whodunit, this is a “who-is-it?” — as one among them is actually the personification of the Devil come to raise a little hell on Earth. It’s up to disillusioned cop Chris Messina to sort through the Satanic panic before more hell breaks loose.
Like most of Shymalan’s films, everything builds to a twist in the end. Maybe one twist too many, but the build-up’s so good and so shrewd that, overall, Devil delivers. Rated PG-13.
ASTRO-ZOMBIES M3: CLONED (Alpha NewCinema): Ted V Mikels’ latest follow-up to his 1968schlock classic (as well as his 1973 cult favoriteThe Doll Squad) sees the murderous mutants onthe rampage once again. laughably, intentionallycampy, but a little on the long side. Mikels servedas co-writer/producer/editor/cinematographer/director and plays a dual role!CONVICTED (Alpha Home entertainment):Not to be confused with the recent Conviction, this1931 quickie (under an hour) involves a shipboardwhodunit. Death on the Nile it’s not, but tolerable.Directed by prolific, Philadelphia-born ChristyCabanne (over 150 films!). On board are RichardTucker (as the victim), Jameson Thomas, AileenPringle and Dorothy Christy.DANGER AHEAD (Alpha Homeentertainment): This 1940 installment of theRenfrew of the Royal Mounted series sees thesinging Mountie (James Nevill) investigatinga series of robberies with the help of DaveO’Brien, Dorothea kent and Guy Usher. RoutineMonogram fare.DEATH RACE 2 (Universal studios Homeentertainment): This (unrated) prequel to the2008 remake of the ’70s drive-in favorite detailshow incarcerated convicts came to participatein mechanized mayhem for the pleasure of theviewing audience at home. luke Goss plays the(anti-)hero, while Danny Trejo, Ving Rhames andsean Bean provide growls and scowls in supportingroles. Hardly original or innovative, butat least it knows it’s trash.“HAWAII FIVE-O”: THE TENTH SEASON(CBs DVD/Paramount Home entertainment):There’s crime to be fought in the 50th state, andsteve McGarrett (Jack lord) is just the man to do it,in all 24 episodes from the 1977-’78 season of thepopular, award-winning prime-time CBs-TV crimedrama. This six-DVD boxed set retails for $54.99.THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (Universal studiosHome entertainment): Annette Bening andJulianne Moore are (expectedly) excellent as alesbian couple whose children (Mia Wasikowskaand Josh Hutcherson) seek out their biologicalfather (Mark Ruffalo, also terrific) in lisaCholodenko’s smart, funny, award-winningcomedy. In other hands, this could’ve been abad big-screen sitcom, but the performancesmake it work. Rated R.LENNONYC (A&e Home entertainment):Writer/producer/director Michael epstein’s winning,well-rounded documentary explores Johnlennon’s often-tumultuous post-Beatles life inNew York City during the 1970s, as told by familyand friends including Yoko Ono (of course),elton John, David Geffen, Mai Pang, photographerBill Gruen and others. Concentratingmore on the man than the music, the film is allthe more distinctive. Of course, this story doesnot have a happy ending, but that doesn’t casta pall over its appeal. An absolute must forlennon aficionados. The DVD retails for $24.95,the Blu-ray for $34.95.NESHOBA: THE PRICE OF FREEDOM (FirstRun Features): Micki Dickoff and Tony Pagano’ssobering, award-winning documentary recountsthe 1964 murder of three Civil Rights workers inNeshoba County, Miss. followed 40 years later bythe trial of the accused killer, edgar Ray killen. Theoriginal murder case was the inspiration for the1988 film Mississippi Burning, which I happen tothink was one of the best films of the ‘80s.NOWHERE BOY (sony Pictures Homeentertainment): Director sam Taylor-Wood’s featuredebut stars Aaron Johnston as the youngJohn lennon, torn between his free-spiritedmother (Anne-Marie Duff) and his proper aunt(kristin scott Thomas). Based on the memoirby lennon’s half-sister Julia Baird, this awardwinning,well-intentioned “pre-Beatles” dramalooks good (courtesy cinematographer seamusMcGarvey) but never quite feels right and issomehow predictable. Johnston and Taylor-Wood are now a real-life couple. Rated R.“PRESENTING ROGER CORMAN’S…BEST OF THE B’S, COLLECTION 3: ESCAPEFROM PRISON!” (Infinity entertainment Group):A five-film collection ($29.98 retail) of prison thrillersproduced by the prolific Roger Corman: MarieWindsor, Mike Connors, Beverly Garland anded Nelson star in Swamp Women (1955), whichCorman also directed; an uncredited Corman wasthe executive producer of writer/director JoelRapp’s High School Big Shot (1959); Pam Grier starsin Women in Cages (1971); The Hot Box (1972) starsCarmen Argenziano and Margaret Markov, andwas co-written by Jonathan Demme; and VonettaMcGee headlines The Big Bust-Out (1973). The latterthree films are rated R.SWING IT, PROFESSOR (Alpha Homeentertainment): This mild 1937 musical comedyis a vehicle for radio and recording star PinkyTomlin, as a guileless music professor whogets mixed up with the mob while researchingswing music in Depression-era Chicago.TRADE IN (skD UsA/e1 entertainment): Wackygoings-on at rival auto dealerships in this weakcomedy featuring Chris Mascarelli, Tiffany shepis,Michelle Bauer, Ron Jeremy and Corey Haim (in hisfinal appearance). stick with Used Cars.TWO-FISTED JUSTICE (Alpha Homeentertainment): This 1943 installment of thelong-running, low-budget Range Busters seriessees the rough-and-tumble trio (John “Dusty”king, Dave sharpe and Max “Alibi” Terhune)restoring law and order to an outlaw-infestedWestern town. For comic relief, there’s Terhune’sdummy, elmer.“UFC: ULTIMATE HEAVYWEIGHTS”(Anchor Bay entertainment): A selection of thefiercest Ultimate Fighting Championship boutsfeaturing the likes of Brock lesnar, RandyCoutoure, shane Carwin, Junior Dos santosand others. The DVD retails for $19.98, theBlu-ray for $29.99. Anchor Bay entertainmentis also releasing the self-explanatory “UFC:Ultimate knockouts 8” (featuring Andersonsilva, Chuck liddell, Cain Velasquez, lesnarand Dos santos), which retails for $19.98 (DVD)and $29.99 (Blu-ray), as well as “UFC 119: FrankMir vs. Mirko Crocop” and “UFC 120: MichaelBisping vs. Yoshiro Akiyama,” each of whichretail for $19.98 (DVD).“THE UNIVERSE”: THE COMPLETESEASON FIVE (A&e Home entertainment):The majesty and mystery of outer space areexplored in all eight episodes from the 2010season of the popular History Channel documentaryseries, narrated by erik Thompson. TheDVD boxed set retails for $24.95, the Blu-rayboxed set for $34.95.WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS(Twentieth Century Fox Home entertainment):After 23 years, director Oliver stone and MichaelDouglas reunite for this engrossing follow-up,with Douglas reprising his Oscar-winning role asformer financial hotshot Gordon Gekko, out ofjail and up to his old tricks with the help of theyoung broker (shia laBeouf) who’s engaged tohis estranged daughter (Carey Mulligan). It’s fun towatch Douglas in action, but this is something of arehash of the first film. still, as sequels go this isn’ta bad one. Josh Brolin, Frank langella, the alwayswelcomeeli Wallach and susan sarandon (wastedin a cameo role) round out the high-profile cast.Rated PG-13.