Video Vault – Mar 22, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
S.O.B. (Warner Archive): Blake Edwards delivered this poison-pen letter to Hollywood with this blistering 1981 satire that remains one of his most divisive (and overlooked) films, informed by his own show-biz ups and downs.
When his latest film, a sugary musical called Night Wind, bombs, legendary producer Felix Farmer (Richard Mulligan) tries to kill himself (repeatedly), then comes up with a brainstorm: Re-shoot the film as a soft-core sex picture. It’s just so crazy it might work … or so he thinks.
With a first-rate cast firing on all cylinders, S.O.B. is both outrageous and on the money. The inside “secrets” it spills still feel relevant, although now a director more than a producer would take the most blame for a flop.
Edward’s real-life wife Julie Andrews plays Felix’s wife, leading lady Sally Miles, who is persuaded to chuck her goody-two-shoes image by filming a topless scene (which was much talked-about at the time, given Andrews’ screen image), and William Holden (in his last role) plays a hedonistic director who still has a few scruples left.
Robert Vaughn, Robert Loggia, Shelley Winters, Larry Hagman, Stuart Margolin, Loretta Swit, Larry Storch, Craig Stevens and Rosanna Arquette are all in fine form, but the real scene-stealers are Robert Preston as a jolly “Dr. Feelgood” and Robert Webber as a harried press agent, who along with Holden execute a third-act ruse that lends the film an unexpectedly bittersweet, even moving, coda.
The new Blu-ray ($21.99 retail) is available exclusively through HYPERLINK “https://www.warnerarchive.com/”https://www.warnerarchive.com/. ***½
AN AMERICAN CONSCIENCE: THE REINHOLD NIEBUHR STORY (First Run Features): Writer/director Martin Doblmeier narrates this persuasive, fast-moving documentary that explores the life and legacy of author/theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1982-1971), with Hal Holbrook as the voice of Niebuhr. ***
COLLATERAL BEAUTY (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Will Smith headlines this PG-13-rated drama as a high-powered advertising executive coming to terms with personal tragedy, backed by an all-star cast including Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Michael Pena and Naomie Harris, available on DVD ($28.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).
“DRUNK HISTORY”: SEASON 4 (Comedy Central Home Entertainment/Paramount): Host Derek Waters continues to hoist spirits as he explores history, in all 11 episodes from the 2016 season of the award-winning Comedy Central series based on the “Funny or Die” web series, which features guest stars Ed Helms, Elizabeth Olsen, Josh Charles, Liev Schreiber, Aubrey Plaza, Ed Helms, Ben Folds, Dave Grohl and others, and earned three Emmy nominations including Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, available on DVD ($21.99 retail).
FENCES (Paramount): August Wilson’s Pultizer Prize- and Tony Award-winning stage drama has been masterfully adapted for the screen by producer/director Denzel Washington, who also stars as a proud, boastful Pittsburgh patriarch whose hold on his family is slowly but surely eroding. Washington and Viola Davis, reprising their Tony-winning roles from the 2010 Broadway revival, earned Oscar nominations as Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively (with Davis winning), along with fellow holdovers Steven McKinley Henderson (a UNCSA School of Drama graduate), Mykelti Williamson and Russell Hornsby, and newcomers Jovan Adepo and Saniyya Sidney. Also nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. One of 2016’s best films, available on DVD ($29.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.99 retail). Rated PG-13. ****
“A FRENCH VILLAGE: 1945” – SEASON SIX (MHz Networks): A four-DVD collection ($39.95 retail) of all 12 episodes from the 2014-’15 season of the acclaimed French-language series (originally titled Un village Francais) dramatizing the impact of the German occupation on a small town on the French/Swiss border during World War II.
THE LAST BEST YEAR (Olive Films): This 1990 ABC-TV movie stars Bernadette Peters as an executive coming to terms with a fatal illness with the help of compassionate therapist Mary Tyler Moore. Dorothy McGuire (in her final role), Carmen Mathews, Kate Reid, Lawrence Dane, Kenneth Welsh and Brian Bedford round out the cast of this earnest, well-acted tearjerker, available on DVD ($19.95 retail). **½
THE LEGEND OF CHUPACABRAS (LionsGate): Originally titled La Leyenda del Chupacabras, this PG-rated animated fantasy/adventure sees a group of young adventurers seeking the mythical monster of the title, marks the fourth in the ongoing Leyenda series, and is available on DVD ($19.98 retail).
THE LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE (Kino Classics): Writer/director Leos Carax’s award-winning 1991 drama (originally titled Les amants du Pont-Neuf) about the star-crossed romance between one-eyed artist Juliette Binoche and homeless alcoholic Denis Lavant, who meet on Paris’ oldest bridge, the Pont-Neuf, and commence a relationship. Gorgeous cinematography by Jean-Yves Escoffier highlights this well-mounted tearjerker. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail). Rated R. ***
“MAMA’S FAMILY: THE MAMA’S FAMILY FAVORITES COLLECTION” (Time Life): A six-DVD collection ($89.95 retail) of 37 episodes from the entire 1983-’90 series run of the sitcom “Mama’s Family,” spun off from “The Carol Burnett” with each episode selected by star Vicki Lawrence (“Mama” herself).
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (LionsGate): Casey Affleck took home the Oscar as Best Actor for his sensitive performance as a disillusioned blue-collar worker who returns to the titular town where he grew up to bury his older brother (Kyle Chandler) – only to learn he’s gained custody of his nephew (UNCSA School of Drama student Lucas Hedges). Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan’s original screenplay, which deftly combines wry humor with bittersweet sentiment, also won an Oscar, with additional nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Hedges) and Best Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams). One of 2016’s best films, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail). Rated R. ***½
MAN DOWN (LionsGate): Shia LaBeouf and Jai Courtney headline this R-rated action thriller as combat veterans searching for the former’s wife (Kate Mara) and son (Charlie Shotwell, in his screen debut), with Clifton Collins Jr. and Gary Oldman co-starring, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.98 retail).
MARINONI: THE FIRE IN THE FRAME (First Run Features): Writer/cinematographer/executive producer/director Tony Girardin’s feature documentary debut examines the life and career of champion cyclist Giuseppe Marinoni, who became a renowned cycle designer before embarking on a regimen to break the speed record for his age group. Marinoni comes across in all his curmudgeonly glory in this affectionate chronicle. ***
NEW LIFE (Broad Green Pictures): Jonathan Patrick Moore and writer/producer Erin Bethea star as a young couple whose picture-perfect romance is threatened when she contracts cancer. A mild melodrama ideally suited to the small screen, with Terry O’Quinn, James Marsters, Bill Cobbs and Irma P. Hall in support. Rated PG. **
RESISTANCE (The Film Movement): First-time feature director Amit Gupta and Owen Sheers adapted the latter’s 2007 novel for this award-winning drama that posits the notion that D-Day failed and the Nazis have invaded the United Kingdom, set in a Welsh valley now under the command of a war-weary officer (the excellent Tom Wlashiha) who takes a shine to a local farm wife (Andrea Riseborough). Engrossing but episodic, slow in places, but more thoughtful and brooding than expected. Released in 2011, this is receiving a belated release due to the increased fame of Wlashiha and Iwan Rheon (on “Game of Thrones”) and Michael Sheen (on “Masters of Sex”), and likely the popularity of the similarly-themed “The Man in the High Castle.” **½
SEASONS (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): Filmmakers Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud conclude their “nature trilogy” (following 2001’s Winged Migration and 2009’s Oceans) with this self-explanatory documentary feature (originally titled Les Saisons), which explores the landscape and wildlife of the Arctic Circle, a region previously lorded over by beasts until man’s encroachment. The re-enactments are vaguely heavy-handled, but the superb camerawork and dazzling cinematography compensate mightily. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail). Rated PG. ***
SOLACE (LionsGate): Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Dean Morgan team up to track down psychic serial killer Colin Farrell in this R-rated thriller that was initially conceived as a follow-up to Se7en (1995), available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.99 retail).
SUICIDE SQUAD (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Just what the world needed, an extended cut of the brainless special-effects fiasco based on the popular DC Comics characters, which nevertheless overcame (deservedly) withering reviews to become one a box-office smash. Such is the power of hype. A star-studded cast includes Will Smith, Jared Leto (as the Joker), Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Scott Eastwood, Adam Beach, super-model Cara Delevingne (what an actress!), Viola Davis (a great actress, utterly wasted) and Margot Robbie, whose funky turn as Harley Quinn is the only standout. One of the worst films of 2016 and one of the worst films to ever win an Academy Award (Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling) … and, lucky us, a sequel is imminent. The DVD retails for $28.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $35.99, the 3-D Blu-ray combo for $44.95, and the Ultra HD Blu-ray for $44.95. Rated PG-13. ½
THROUPLE (Candy Factory Films): This flip, award-winning comedy from first-time writer/producer/directors Zoe Eisenberg and Philips Payson (also editor) stars Jordan Turchin and Ingrid Vollset as a couple in Hawaii who befriend the threesome next door (Mikaal Bates, Caitlin Holcombe and Todd Litzinger) and meet another mysterious neighbor (Ayinde Howell). Quirky and offbeat, but a little ragged around the edges. Still worth a look. **½
(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