Video Vault – Feb 15, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): Writer Kelly Fremon Craig’s feature debut as producer/director earned acclaim – including a Golden Globe nomination for Hailee Steinfeld (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – Musical or Comedy) – but didn’t score at the box-office.
Steinfeld plays Nadine Franklin, an all-American teen whose adolescent angst is amplified when her popular older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) falls for her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). One of the strongest attributes of Craig’s screenplay is in the believability with which the teen-aged characters are portrayed. They’re not simply sex-crazed goofballs but sympathetic and vulnerable.
That quality extends to the adult characters, including Kyra Sedgwick as Nadine and Darian’s mother, from whom Nadine has obviously inherited a few neuroses, and particularly Woody Harrelson as the beleaguered teacher whom Nadine constantly confides in. Harrelson and Steinfeld share some wonderful exchanges, and Steinfeld truly comes into her own here as a formidable talent. Nadine is cloying, needy and demanding, but Steinfeld plays her with empathy and charm. Truly, a star is born.
Both the DVD ($29.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.98 retail) include deleted scenes and gag reel. Rated R. ***
ANTIBIRTH (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Writer/director Danny Perez’ wild, audacious feature debut stars producer Natasha Lyonne as a hard-partying babe who begins to exhibit signs of a pregnancy that is anything but typical. Not for all tastes, but darkly humorous and well-acted by a cast including Chloe Sevigny, Mark Webber, and Meg Tilly in a wild-eyed big-screen comeback. The DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $24.97. **½
THE BLACK DRAGON’S REVENGE (The Film Detective): The “blaxploitation” and “chop-socky” genres collide in this R-rated 1975 drive-in favorite (originally titled Long zheng hu dou jing wu hun and also known as The Black Dragon Revenges the Death of Bruce Lee), starring Ron van Clief in the title role as a warrior who battles rival gangs who covet a secret martial-arts manual written by Bruce Lee, available on DVD ($14.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail).
BROTHER NATURE (Paramount): “Saturday Night Live” cast members Taron Killam (also an executive producer) and Mikey Day wrote this frenetic farce in which Killam’s straight-laced politician endures a weekend getaway at the lake house owned by the family of his girlfriend (Gillian Jacobs), to whom he hopes to propose – only to be constantly thwarted or interrupted, usually by her brother (Bobby Moynihan). The debut feature of co-directors Osmany Rodriguez and Matt Villines (who died last July) was produced by “SNL”’s Lorne Michaels and features Bill Pullman, Rita Wilson, Kumail Nanjiani, Kenan Thompson, David Wain, Rachael Harris and Giancarlo Esposito in support, but predictability reigns supreme. Rated R. *½
DEEPWATER HORIZON (Summit Entertainment/LionsGate): Producer/star Mark Wahlberg reunites with director Peter Berg (Lone Survivor) in this intense, well-mounted dramatization of the tragic disaster aboard the BP offshore oil rig off the coast of Louisiana on April 20, 2010 – and the heroism of those aboard. Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O’Brien and Kate Hudson also appear. Academy Award nominations for Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects, available on DVD ($29.95 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail), and 4K Ultra HD ($42.99 retail). Rated PG-13. ***
“HELLRAISER: THE SCARLET BOX LIMITED EDITION TRILOGY” (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment): A self-explanatory Blu-ray collection ($124.95 retail) boasting the first three Hellraiser films – Clive Barker’s ground-breaking 1987 cinematic debut Hellraiser, Anthony Randel’s even-better 1988 follow-up Hellbound: Hellraiser III, and Anthony Hickox’s disappointing Hellraiser: Hell on Earth (1992), which was filmed in North Carolina – each featuring Doug Bradley as the demonic “Pinhead.” Each disc contains a bevy of special features, as well as the 200-page book Damnation Games and the bonus disc The Clive Barker Legacy.
MEN & CHICKEN (Drafthouse Films/MVD Entertainment Group): Mads Mikkelsen and David Dencik star as adopted brothers – or are they? – determined to find their biological father on the Danish island of Ork in this broad, bizarre, award-winning absurdist comedy (originally titled Maend & Hons). Not for all tastes, but there’s no denying it’s different! In Danish with English subtitles, available in a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail). **½
THE MEN’S CLUB (Olive Films): Leonard Michaels adapted his novel for director Peter Medak’s misfired 1986 screen adaptation, a critical and financial failure still worthy of interest given the cast: Roy Scheider, Harvey Keitel, Frank Langella, Treat Williams, Richard Jordan, David Dukes and Craig Wasson as the titular group, with various ladies in their lives played by Stockard Channing, Cindy Pickett, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ann Wedgeworth, Gina Gallego, Gwen Welles, and Playboy Playmate Penny Baker, available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail). Rated R. **
THE MONSTER (LionsGate): Writer/director Bryan Bertino’s R-rated shocker sees mother and daughter Zoe Kazan and Ella Ballentine pursued by an unseen menace after surviving a car crash on a lonely backwoods road, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.99 retail).
MOUNTAIN (First Run Features): Writer/director Yaelle Kayam’s award-winning feature debut (originally titled Ha’har) stars Shani Klein as an orthodox Jewish woman drawn into a nocturnal world of criminals and prostitutes in the cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives. In Hebrew with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.95 retail).
MURDER RAP: INSIDE THE BIGGIE AND TUPAC MURDERS (FilmRise/MVD Entertainment Group): Producer/director Mike Dorsey’s self-explanatory true-crime documentary, based on former LA homicide investigator’s non-fiction book Murder Rap: The Untold Story of the Biggie Smalls & Tupac Shakur Murder Investigations offers a straightforward and credible examination – and solution — to the (related) killings of two hip-hop superstars, whose lives ended in a hail of bullets less within eight months of each other. **½
“QUARRY”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (HBO): Logan Marshall-Green portrays a disillusioned Vietnam veteran who returns home in 1972 and becomes a killer-for-hire at the behest of a mysterious criminal known as “The Broker” (Peter Mullan), in all nine episodes from the inaugural 2016 season of the HBO action series based on the best-selling novels by Max Allen Collins, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.98 retail).
THE SECRET AGENT (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): This well-rendered and suspenseful, three-part BBC One adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novel stars Toby Jones in the title role of a Soho shopkeeper and political anarchist whose status as a double agent for the Russian embassy leads him to commit an act of terrorism in 1886 London. The fine cast includes Vicky McClure, Tom Goodman-Hill, Stephen Graham, David Dawson, Charlie Hamblett, Raphael Acloque and Ian Hart. The DVD retails for $34.99. ***
“THE UNDERGROUND KINGS” (Breaking Glass Pictures): Writer/producer/co-star Skye Dennis created this four-part web series starring Kevin Savage as an undercover cop determined to nail a Philadelphia crime lord (producer Christopher Mann). Not bad, but very familiar. **
“VICE PRINCIPALS”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (HBO) Higher education takes a hit when suburban high-school vice principals Danny McBride and Walton Goggins vie for the lofty perch of school principal, only to be usurped by Kimberly Hebert Gregory’s former college professor, in all nine episodes from the inaugural 2016 season of the award-winning HBO comedy series created by UNCSA graduates McBride and Jody Hill, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.98 retail).
YOGA HOSERS (Invincible Pictures/MVD Entertainment Group): The second in Kevin Smith’s “Canadian trilogy” (following 2014’s Tusk) focuses on the misadventures of two convenience-store clerks named Colleen (Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith) as they practice yoga, play in a rock band, get into mischief, and foil a latter-day Nazi plot to conquer Canada. Depp is the daughter of Johnny Depp (who reprises his Tusk role as eccentric detective Guy Lapointe) and Vanessa Paradis (who also appears), and Smith the daughter of writer/producer/director Smith and producer/co-star Jennifer Schwalbach. Tusk veterans Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment and Genesis Rodriguez are back (in different roles), along with Tyler Posey, Austin Butler, Natasha Lyonne, Adam Brody, Ashley Greene, Tony Hale, Kevin Conroy, associate producer Jason Mewes, Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee, and Lily-Rose’s little brother Jack. Not as aggressively unlikable as Tusk, and the leads have an easy chemistry, but this is still one of Smith’s lesser efforts, with Moose Jaws (reuniting the Colleens) yet to come. The DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $29.95. Rated PG-13. *
(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2017, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”email@example.com