Video Vault – May 10, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
RED DAWN (Shout! Factory): Writer/director John Milius’ 1984 sleeper – the first film ever to receive the PG-13 rating – captured the Reagan-era Cold War zeitgeist in a fashion both provocative and controversial, to say nothing of entertaining in blunt, knee-jerk fashion.
On a sunny day in the bucolic Colorado burg of Calumet, World War III begins when gun-toting Soviet and Cuban paratroopers raid the region. A group of young people, including Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell and Charlie Sheen (in his screen debut), flee into the mountains and systematically form a rebel force, named for the high-school football team, the Wolverines.
Joined later by Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey, the Wolverines wage their own war in properly jingoistic, action-packed fashion. The symbolism is hardly subtle, but Milius does know his pyrotechnics and firepower. Basil Poledouris contributes an appropriately pounding, rousing score, and a sturdy supporting cast includes Powers Boothe, Ben Johnson, Harry Dean Stanton, Lane Smith, Ron O’Neal and William Smith (no relation to Lane). As for the 2012 remake, the less said, the better.
The collector’s-edition “Shout Select” Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) includes retrospecive and archival featurettes and theatrical trailer. Rated PG-13. ***
“2016 WORLD SERIES – THE COMPLETE GAME 7: ULTIMATE EDITION” (Major League Baseball/Shout! Factory): The title tells all in this two-disc collector’s edition showcasing the climactic Game 7 of last year’s Fall Classic, in which the Chicago Cubs earned their first world championship in 108 (!) years, available on DVD ($19.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.97 retail) – both replete with bonus features.
BLANCHE (Olive Films): Walerin Borowczyk’s award-winning 1971 screen adaptation of Juliusz Slowacki’s poem Mazepa is set in medieval France and stars Ligia Branice (Borowczyk’s wife) in the title role of the young wife of a venerable baron (Michel Simon), whose marriage is rocked by accusations of infidelity and betrayal. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).
“DIVORCE”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (HBO): It’s the end of the line for married couple Sarah Jessica Parker (also an executive producer) and Thomas Haden Church – or is it? – in all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2016 season of the HBO comedy series created by executive producer Sharon Horgan, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.98 retail).
GOTO, ISLE OF LOVE (Olive Films): Walerin Borowczyk’s 1969 drama (originally titled Goto, l’ile d’amour) starring Pierre Brasseur as a paranoid dictator tormented by suspicions that his wife (Ligia Branice, Borowczyk’s real-life wife) is unfaithful. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).
“INSIDE AMY SCHUMER”: SEASON 4 (Comedy Central Home Entertainment/Paramount): The popular actress/comedienne returns to wreak more comic havoc in all 11 episodes from the 2016 season of the Comedy Central series, winner of an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series, with additional nominations for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series, and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series – available on DVD ($22.98 retail), replete with bonus features.
“KIJU YOSHIDA: LOVE + ANARCHISM LIMITED EDITION” (Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment Group): A limited-edition Blu-ray collection ($99.95 retail) of three Japanese-language features from the award-winning filmmaker Yoshishinge (Kiju) Yoshida: 1969’s Eros + Massacre (Erosu purasu gyakusatsu), starring real-life wife Mariko Okada, available in both theatrical version and director’s cut; 1970’s Heroic Purgatory (Rengoku eroica), also starring Okada; and 1973’s Coup d’etat (Kaigenrei), which marked his final film for over a decade. Special features include audio commentaries, retrospective interviews, illustrated 80-page book, and much more.
MUSSOLINI: THE UNTOLD STORY (The Sprocket Vault): Somehow, it seemed inevitable that George C. Scott would one day portray Italy’s charismatic, bombastic fascist dictator “Il Duce,” and he did so in this melodramatic but very watchable 1985 mini-series featuring an all-star cast including Lee Grant, Raul Julia, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Gabriel Byrne, Virginia Madsen, Robert Downey Jr., Kenneth Colley, David Suchet, George Coulouris, and Gunnar Moller (as Adolf Hitler). Emmy nominations for Outstanding Editing for a Miniseries or Special (Single Camera Production) and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or Special. The two-disc DVD retails for $24.99. Sprocket Vault DVDs are sold exclusively through Amazon, or check out the official website: HYPERLINK “http://thesprocketvault.com/”http://thesprocketvault.com/. **½
THE MYSTERIOUS AIRMAN (The Sprocket Vault): Noted mystery novelist Arthur B. Reeve penned this 10-chapter 1928 silent serial about an aviation company whose business rivals resort to sabotage and theft in order to obtain their technology, starring Walter Miller, Eugenia Gilbert and Robert Walker (not the later star of Strangers on a Train), available on DVD ($19.99 retail). Sprocket Vault DVDs are sold exclusively through Amazon, or check out the official website: HYPERLINK “http://thesprocketvault.com/”http://thesprocketvault.com/.
“RAKE”: SERIES 1 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Richard Roxburgh stars as a sharp but self-destructive Australian lawyer who tackles seemingly impossible cases, in all eight episodes from the inaugural 2011 season of the award-winning courtroom comedy/drama series, with Danielle Cormack, Matt Day, Kate Box, Russell Dykstra and Adrienne Pickering, and guest appearances by Sam Neill, Rachel Griffiths and Noah Taylor. The three-DVD collection retails for $39.99.
RINGS (Paramount): A belated – and belabored – addition to the American Ring horror franchise, with the ever-present specter of Samara (Bonnie Morgan) going viral, much to the chagrin of tough-willed teen Matilda Lutz and her collegiate boyfriend Alex Roe. Johnny Galecki, Aimee Teegarden and big, bad, blind Vincent D’Onofrio round out the cast. Atmospheric but silly, squandering a potentially interesting concept. The DVD retails for $29.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $39.99. Rated PG-13. *
“RUGRATS” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): From the award-winning, long-running animated Nickelodeon comedy series, “Season One” ($14.99 retail) includes all 25 episodes from the inaugural 1991-’92 season, and “Season Two” ($19.99 retail) all 51 episodes from the ’92-;93 season.
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (Paramount): A 40th-anniversary special edition of John Badham’s 1977 disco drama, which propelled John Travolta to stardom (and an Oscar nomination as Best Actor) and catapulted the Bee Gees’ music to legendary status, including both the R-rated theatrical version and Badham’s unrated director’s cut, as well as a bevy of bonus features – available on DVD ($15.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($16.99 retail).
SPLIT (Candy Factory Films): Not to be confused with M. Night Shymalan’s hit shocker, Deborah Kampmeier’s provocative, award-winning avant garde drama stars Amy Ferguson as a troubled young actress starring in an avant garde, (way) off-Broadway production, whose relationship with tormented artist Morgan Spector affects both her life and work. Very strange, very long, and very depressing – but certainly ambitious. A cult following would not be out of the question … for those who can take it. **
VHS MASSACRE (Troma Entertainment/CAV Distributing Corp.): Actor/executive producer Thomas Edward Seymour and executive producer/first-time director Kenneth Powell co-directed this award-winning feature documentary (subtitled Cult Films and the Decline of Physical Media), tracing the rise of independent genre filmmaking during the heady days (daze?) of the ’80s VHS craze, featuring interviews with Joe Bob Briggs, Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman (of course!), Debbie Rochon (also a producer), associate producer Ron Bonk, and others – available on Blu-ray ($24.98 retail), replete with bonus features.
WAR ON EVERYONE (LionsGate): Writer/director John Michael McDonagh’s boisterous shoot-’em-up pairs Alexander Sarsgard with Michael Pena as a pair of corrupt New Mexico cops who tangle with freaky strip-club manager Caleb Landry Jones and junkie crime czar Theo James, while being repeatedly reprimanded by Paul Resier, as the obligatory disapproving captain. Raucous, rowdy and sometimes rambling, but not without its two-fisted, bullet-riddled charms – and its fun use of Glen Campbell tunes. The DVD retails for $19.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $24.99. Rated R. **½
THE WATCHER (Monarch Home Entertainment): Writer Ryan Rothmaier makes his feature directorial debut with this eerie but obvious chiller starring Erin Cahill and Edi Gathegi as a young couple who move into a house with a dire history … and guess what happens next? The build-up’s better than the pay-off – despite a twist ending – but a competent cast (including Obba Babatunde, Sab Shimino and Denise Crosby) makes this a painless time-killer. **
THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL SWINDLERS (Olive Films): Catherine Deneuve, Jean Seberg, Jean-Pierre Cassel and Mie Hama are among the stars of this 1964 anthology (originally titled Les plus belles escroqueries du monde) that dramatize the art of the con from the cinematic perspective of four acclaimed directors: Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, Ugo Gregoretti and Hiromichi Horikawa (a fifth segment, directed by Roman Polanski, was deleted at his request). In Dutch, French, Italian and Japanese, available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).
(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