Video Vault – Dec 7, 2016
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
DEAD RINGERS (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): David Cronenberg’s chilling, fact-based 1988 psychological thriller is not a horror film by definition (although audiences expected as much) but a penetrating study of obsession.
In the pivotal roles of twin gynecologists Beverly and Elliot Mantle, Jeremy Irons gives not one, but two, superb performances – brilliantly bringing individual and distinctive shading to each character. The brothers are also well-versed in the art of seduction, surreptitiously passing women between them.
The introduction of actress Claire Niveau (Genevieve Bujold) into their lives is the catalyst for a rapid downward spiral into drug addiction, mental instability and a devastating final act of self-destruction that is both cathartic and tragic.
The film’s critical acclaim didn’t translate to box-office success, but Dead Ringers remains a triumph for all concerned, particularly Cronenberg and Irons. It’s not an easy film to watch, but it’s impossible to forget.
The collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($34.97 retail) includes audio commentaries, retrospective and vintage interviews, and more. Rated R. ***½
BAKED IN BROOKLYN (Well Go USA Entertainment): Executive producer/director Rory Rooney’s feature debut stars Josh Brener as an unemployed college graduate who turns to dealing drugs to make ends meet – which doesn’t exactly thrill girlfriend Alexandra Daddario, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).
“BARBARIANS RISING” (LionsGate): The rise and fall of the Roman Empire is dramatized in this four-part History Channel mini-series narrated by Michael Ealy, featuring Steven Waddington, Ian Beattie, Steven Berkoff, Tom Hopper, Richard Brake and Ben Batt (as Spartacus), available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail).
“CAPITAL” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): John Lanchester’s international best-seller forms the basis for this 2015 BBC One mini-series about a group of contemporary characters linked by their ties to Pepys Road in a suburb of London, with Toby Jones, Gemma Jones, Lesley Sharp, Adeel Akhtar and Rachael Stirling heading the ensemble cast, available on DVD ($34.99 retail).
CHICKEN PEOPLE (CMT/Samuel Goldwyn Films/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Executive producer Nicole Lucas Haimes makes her feature directorial bow with this documentary that examines the competitive world of champion-show chicken breeders, available on DVD ($14.99 retail).
COMPADRES (LionsGate): Writer/director Enrique Besne’s formulaic but well-made action comedy stars popular Mexican funnyman Omar Chaparro as a hard-boiled cop who recruits teen computer hacker Joey Morgan to assist him after powerful drug kingpin Erick Elias kidnaps his girlfriend (Aislinn Derbez) and sets him up to take a fall. Rated R. **½
THE DEVIL’S DOLLS (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A small Mississippi town falls under the curse of a serial killer in producer/director Padraig Reynolds’ supernatural shocker (originally titled Worry Dolls), available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.97 retail).
A DOGWALKER’S CHRISTMAS TALE (Monarch Home Entertainment): Cash-strapped college student Lexi Giovagnoli begins walking the dog of a wealthy couple (Starship Troopers veterans Dina Meyer and Patrick Muldoon) – and parries with veterinary student Jonathan Bennett at the local dog park – only to discover that the couple plans to raze it. Average holiday fluff. **
“GAME OF THRONES”: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON (HBO): The battle between good and evil rages on in all 10 episodes from the 2016 season of the blockbuster HBO fantasy series based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling novels, boasting an ensemble cast including Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington, Aidan Gillen, Emilia Clarke, Natalie Dormer, Maisie Williams, Lena Headey, Iain Glen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sophie Turner, Rory McCann and Liam Cunningham. Winner of a 12 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series and Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, with an additional 12 nominations including Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Dinklage and Harington), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Clarke, Headey and Williams) and Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (Max von Sydow). Both the DVD ($59.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($74.99 retail) include a bevy of special features.
THE GREAT GILLY HOPKINS (LionsGate): Director Stephen Herek’s adaptation of Katherine Paterson’s 1978 best-seller stars Sophie Nelisse (first-rate) in the title role of a rebellious, angst-ridden teen who chafes against her new foster mother (Kathy Bates). An appealing cast (Glenn Close, Octavia Spencer, Julia Stiles, Bill Cobbs and Clare Foley) help overcome some maudlin moments. Rated PG. **½
HOT TYPE: 150 YEARS OF THE NATION (First Run Features): Barbara Kopple’s feature documentary (originally titled, simply, The Nation) is an informative, if talky, exploration of the history of the nation’s oldest continuously published weekly magazine, its impact and ongoing legacy. **½
I.T. (RLJ Entertainment): Executive producer Pierce Brosnan plays an aviation tycoon whose I.T. consultant (James Frecheville) turns out to be an obsessive psychopath. Slick but silly, and sometimes unintentionally funny. Anna Friel, Stefanie Scott and Michael Nyqvist do what they can. Dedicated to Brosnan’s producing partner Beau St. Clair, who died in January. *½
THE LEGEND OF TARZAN (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Alexander Skarsgard plays Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Lord of the Jungle in director David Yates’ PG-13-rated big-budget spectacle, with Margot Robbie as Jane, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent and Christoph Waltz (as the baddie), available on DVD ($28.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($35.99 retail), 3-D Blu-ray combo ($44.95 retail) and Ultra HD Blu-ray combo ($44.95 retail).
“LOOKING”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (HBO): A collection of all 18 episodes from the entire 2014-’16 run of the award-winning HBO ensemble drama series (and the wrap-up movie) about a group of gay friends navigating the turbulent waters of modern romance, available on DVD ($39.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($49.99 retail)
NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Writer/director Nicholas Stoller reunites with writer/producer Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, James Franco and Lisa Kudrow for this self-explanatory, R-rated sequel to the 2014 box-office hit, as Chloe Grace Moretz’s sorority sisters at Kappa Nu join the party, available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.98 retail)
RABID (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) of David Cronenberg’s award-winning 1977 cult classic starring Marilyn Chambers (the one and only) as an accident victim who develops a taste for blood after undergoing a skin graft with severe side effects. Vicious and visceral, and not for the squeamish. Special features include audio commentaries, retrospective interviews and more. Rated R. **½
T.A.M.I. SHOW/THE BIG T.N.T. SHOW (Shout! Factory): A Blu-ray double feature ($29.98 retail) of the award-winning 1964 musical documentary T.A.M.I. Show featuring performances by Jan and Dean, Chuck Berry, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, The Beach Boys and more; and the 1966 follow-up The Big T.N.T. Show boasting performances by The Lovin’ Spoonful, Petula Clark, Ray Charles, Joan Baez and more.
TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. (Shout! Factory): William Friedkin’s 1985 adaptation of Gerald Petievich’s novel pits aggressive federal agent William L. Petersen against counterfeiter Willem Dafoe in the City of Angels. Sleek, stylish and relentlessly cold-blooded, with characters who are often tough to empathize with, but it has a (growing) cult following and offered early roles for John Pankow, John Turturro, Debra Feuer, Darlanne Fluegel and Steve James, with Dean Stockwell clocking in as a sleazy attorney. The collector’s-edition “Shout! Select” Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews, deleted scene and alternate ending, documentary and more. Rated R. **
“WENTWORTH”: SEASON 1 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): A three-DVD collection ($59.99 retail) of all10 episodes from the inaugural 2013 season of the award-winning Australian drama series (also known as “Wentworth Prison”) starring Danielle Cormack as a woman who learns how to survive behind bars Kate Atkinson, Celia Ireland, Shareena Clanton, Katrina Milosevic and Robbie Magasiva round out the regular cast.
“WHITLOCK: A STUDY IN STARLET” (The Film Detective): Writer/producer/editor/series creator Lauren Tess pays homage to Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal Sherlock Holmes in this low-budget web series, portraying Sophie Whitlock, an eccentric but brilliant “consulting detective” in modern-day Los Angeles, with with Mary Guilliams as her New Age sidekick, Fern Watkins. Sometimes inspired, sometimes smug, but well worth a look for Baker Street devotees. **½
“WINTER: THE COMPLETE SERIES” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn):A two-DVD collection ($49.99 retail) containing the original feature-length pilot (The Killing Field) and all six episodes from the 2015 season of the 2015 season of the Australian mystery series starring Rebecca Gibney as a tenacious detective who teams with former partner and ex-flame Peter O’Brien to solve a series of murders in the seemingly bucolic burg of Mingara.
(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2016, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”email@example.com