video vault

by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: Not Since You (Monarch Home Entertainment)

Smooth pacing and engaging performances make all the difference in director/co-writer Jeff Stephenson’s low-budget feature debut, a comedy/drama about a group of college friends reuniting for a wedding.

Some having not seen each other since graduation from NYU a decade ago, emotions run high as old romances are rekindled (or abandoned), old grudges resurrected (and put to rest) and friendships fractured (and solidified). Comparisons to Lawrence Kasdan’s 1983 classic The Big Chill aren’t unwarranted. The territory’s a little familiar, but this establishes its own identity — and does so without descending (too much, anyway) into soap-opera melodrama.

The actors are all in good form: Kathleen Robertson, Desmond Harrington, Sunny Mabrey, Will Estes, Christian Kane, Sara Rue, Jon Abrahams, Liane Balaban and veteran Barry Corbin, and there’s a palpable a sense that these people have known each other a long time — the hallmark of a solid ensemble. This is a nice little sleeper, well worth a look. Rated PG-13.

ALSO Available

BLOODWORTH (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): An indecisive, episodic comedy/ drama based on William Gay’s Provinces of Night and starring Kris Kristofferson in the title role as a burned-out country singer who returns home and immediately upends his alreadydysfunctional family. Careening from comic to tragic, often in the same scene, proves too much for director Shane Dax Taylor, but the actors try hard: Val Kilmer, Dwight Yoakam, Frances Conroy, Hilary Duff, Reece Daniel Thompson, Sheila Kelley, Barry Corbin, Hilarie Burton, Brent Briscoe and producer/screenwriter W. Earl Brown. UNCSA School of Filmmaking alum Tim Orr was the cinematographer. Rated R.

FAMILY (Curb Entertainment/MVD Visual): Renee Humphrey delivers a nice turn as an escaped con who finds herself on the road — to nowhere? — with New Orleans cop Boyd Kestner and his nervous young son (Travis Richie) in this slow-moving, noir-ish melodrama that kicks into gear in the second act. Joe Russo and Durek Verett (in his screen debut) add sleazy support in the big-screen bow of story writer/producer/director JM Logan.

“HEY ARNOLD!”: SEASON ONE (Shout! Factory): The popular, award-winning animated Nickelodeon children’s series about a young boy with an overactive imagination, makes its DVD debut in a four-disc boxed set ($29.93 retail) containing all 20 episodes from the inaugural 1996-’97 season.

JOHN PINETTE: STILL HUNGRY (Entertainment One): Award-winning funnyman John Pinette follows up his popular I’m Starvin’ comedy special with this stand-up performance, filmed at the Vic Theater in Chicago, now available on DVD ($19.98 retail).

JUMPING THE BROOM (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Paula Patton and Laz Alonso play a young couple whose wedding nearly comes undone when their families meet for the first time. Simplistic characterizations and soap-opera storytelling hamper the efforts of a not-unappealing ensemble cast that also includes Angela Bassett, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Loretta Devine, Tasha Smith, Meagan Good and Mike Epps. Ostensibly a faith-based film, but even that aspect of the story is rendered in tepid fashion. Rated PG-13.

MARS NEEDS MOMS (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): A excessive barrage of CGI visual effects tramples whatever charm this simple story might have had, as a young boy (voiced by Seth Dusky with the “movements” of Seth Green) journeys to the Red Planet after his mother (voiced by Joan Cusack) is abducted by aliens seeking Earth mothers. Producer Robert Zemeckis’ inexplicable affinity for moderncapture animation technology backfires (again, following Polar Express and A Christmas Carol), and this film lost more than $100 million at the box-office, making it one of Disney’s biggest flops in history. Available as a single DVD ($29.99 retail), a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail) or a four-disc combo pack ($49.99 retail). Rated PG.

MST3K VS. GAMERA: ‘MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE 3000’ VOL. XXI” (Shout! Factory): A limited-edition “Deluxe Edition” ($64.99 retail) that includes the “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” episodes in which the crew of the Satellite of Love riffed on the adventures of everyone’s favorite giant, fire-breathing turtle: Gamera, Gamera vs. Barugon, Gamera vs. Gaos, Gamera vs. Guiron and Gamera vs. Zigra. Bonus features include collectible mini-posters, retrospective documentaries, original trailers and more — all in an exclusive tin.

OBLIVION (Shout! Factory): Years before Cowboys & Aliens, there was director Sam Irvin’s affectionate, low-budget 1994 sci-fi Western loaded with in-jokes and campy humor, with a genre-friendly cast including George Takei, Meg Foster, George Takei, Andrew Divoff and Isaac Hayes. Rated PG-13.

“ROBOT CHICKEN: STAR WARS, EPISODE III” (Adult Swim/Cartoon Network): George Lucas’ popular space saga gets spoofed in this irreverent animated “adaptation” featuring the voices of Zac Efron, Seth Green, Rachael Leigh Cook, Seth MacFarlane, Donald Faison and Anthony Daniels, reprising his signature role of C-3PO. Special features include an interview with Lucas himself. The DVD retails for $14.98, the Blu-ray for $19.98.

SATIN (Monarch Home Entertainment): Producer/co-writer Hamilton von Watts toplines this light low-budget comedy in the title role, as a wannabe lounge lizard whose car breaks down in a small desert town en route to a gig in Atlantic City. An encouraging feature debut for co-writer/producer/director Christopher Olness, bolstered by a likable: Robert Guillaume, Stacey Travis, Alley Mills, Michael Cudlitz and the everfetching Melissa Joan Hart.

STAKE LAND (Dark Sky Films): Vampires rule the roost in this apocalyptic shocker starring Danielle Harris, Kelly McGillis and co-writer Nick Damici. Available as a single-disc DVD ($27.98 retail), a two-DVD special edition ($29.98 retail), or a Blu-ray ($34.98 retail). Rated R

STREETWALKIN’ (Shout! Factory): Like many, future Oscar winner Melissa Leo began her career working under the auspices of executive producer Roger Corman, in this gritty, selfexplanatory 1985 urban thriller, as a runaway teen who drifts into a life of prostitution on the mean streets of New York. An exploitation film, to be sure, but better-handled and better-acted than most, with notable turns by Dale Midkiff (striking as a sadistic pimp), Julie Newmar, Antonio Fargas, Leon Robinson, Randall Batinkoff and Greg Germann. Rated R.

SUPER (IFC Midnight/MPI Media Group): Writer/director James Gunn’s outrageous black comedy stars Rainn Wilson as a loser who dons a superhero costume in a pathetic attempt to win back his wayward wife (Liv Tyler) and then discovers his own propensity for heroism … and violence. An excellent supporting cast includes Kevin Bacon, Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry, Nathan Fillion and Linda Cardellini, but it’s Ellen Page who steals the show as deranged sidekick “Boltie.” Rated R.

“SUPERNATURAL”: THE ANIME SERIES (Warner Home Video): Based on the popular, long-running CW Network fantasy series, this animated series continues the adventures of the Brothers Winchester as they battle the forces of evil. All 22 episodes from the premiere 2011 season are included in this collection, available on DVD ($49.98 retail) or Blu-ray ($54.97 retail).

ZIN! ZIN! ZIN! A VIOLIN (Scholastic Storybook Treasures): A three-DVD collection ($14.95 retail) of children’s stories, including the title tale, which combine music and merriment and feature the talents of Marvin Hamlisch, Aretha Franklin, Zach Braff, Mary Beth Hurt and others.

Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2011, Mark Burger