Video Vault – May 16, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
HOPE AND GLORY (Olive Films): John Boorman’s autobiographical screen memoir of his youth is perhaps the sunniest and most nostalgic film ever made about World War II (certainly regarding the German Blitz), and ranks among the filmmaker’s very best films – earning 1987 Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction/Set Decoration.
In his screen debut, Sebastian Rice Edwards plays Bill Rohan, the impressionable London lad through whose eyes the story unfolds. With Dad (David Hayman) called up for military service, it falls to mother Grace (Sarah Miles) to tend Bill, willful older sister Dawn (Sammi Davis), and cheerful little sister Sue (adorable Geraldine Muir, in her only screen role). Friendly neighbor Mac (Derrick O’Connor) is around to help, although it’s clear there’s a long-standing, unrequited love between he and Grace.
As the bombs burst around them, the Rohans prove their mettle and resilience, without ever losing sight of the bonds of love which bind them. When the Rohan house burns down, they retreat to the country manor of Grace’s gruff but lovable father (an irresistibly incorrigible Ian Bannen), enjoying an idyllic respite amidst the global conflict looming over them.
Beautifully acted and loaded with charm, Hope and Glory is warm, winsome and totally winning – and the final twist is an utter delight. The DVD retails for $19.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated PG-13. ***½
BENT (LionsGate): Screenwriter/director Bobby Moresco’s R-rated adaptation of J.P. O’Donnell’s novel Deadly Codes stars Karl Urban as a vengeful ex-cop caught in a web of danger and deception after a drug bust gone wrong. Sofia Vergara, Grace Byers, Vincent Spano, John Finn and Andy Garcia also appear, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($21.99 retail), each with bonus features.
BEUYS (Kino Lorber): Andres Veiel’s award-winning feature documentary examines the life and career of the German-born, fedora-wearing artist, teacher, performance artist, political activist and periodic provocateur Joseph Beuys (1921-’86) – a man of influence, inspiration, and not a little controversy. Occasionally on the long side, but there’s no denying the sheer thoroughness of the presentation, packed with vintage footage of Beuys. In English and German with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) replete with bonus features. ***
“BUBBLE GUPPIES: BUBBLE PUPPY’S AWESOME ADVENTURES” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A self-explanatory DVD selection ($10.99 retail) of five episodes from the award-winning, animated Nickelodeon children’s series, focusing on the character “Bubble Puppy” (voiced by voice-over veteran Frank Welker).
THE CREW (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Burt Reynolds, Richard Dreyfuss, Seymour Cassel and Dan Hedaya portray retired mobsters who plan one last heist to save their Miami Beach retirement home in this empty-headed 2000 fluff, which squanders the efforts of an appealing cast that also includes Carrie-Anne Moss, Jennifer Tilly, Jeremy Piven, Lainie Kazan, Frank Vincent, Miguel Sandoval, Casey Siemaszko, and Fyvush Finkel. Both the DVD ($11.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.95 retail) include audio commentary with director Michael Dinner and theatrical trailer. Rated PG-13. *½
DIVINE DIVAS (FilmRise/MVD Entertainment Group): Actress-turned-producer and first-time writer/director Leandra Leal’s award-winning documentary feature (originally titled Divinas Divas) chronicles the colorful, sometimes controversial history of the first generation of Brazilian transvestite artists in the 1960s, who performed at the Rival Theatre in Rio de Janeiro when it was run by Leal’s grandfather. In Portuguese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.95 retail).
THE HALF-BREED/THE GOOD BAD MAN (Kino Classics): Legendary screen star Douglas Fairbanks, director Allan Dwan, and cinematographer Victor Fleming (later an Oscar-winning director) teamed for a pair of silent Westerns released in 1916: The Half-Breed , which stars Fairbanks in the title role and is based on Bret Harte’s story In the Carquinez Woods, and The Good Bad Man, which Fairbanks also wrote. Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentaries and more.
“THE JACKIE GLEASON SHOW IN COLOR: DELUXE EDITION” (Time Life): The title tells all in this three-DVD collection ($29.95 retail) of 12 never-before-released, full-length episodes from the 1966-’70 run of the award-winning CBS comedy/variety show hosted by “The Great One,” boasting seven “Honeymooners” sketches with Art Carney, Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean, plus guest appearances by Jack Benny, Sid Caesar, Alan King, Red Buttons, Tony Bennett, George Burns, Mickey Rooney, Robert Goulet, Frankie Avalon, Milton Berle and many others. The series earned Carney two Emmy Awards (in 1967 and ’68), and in ’67 earned nominations as Outstanding Variety Series and four Outstanding Writing in Variety.
A LADY TAKES A CHANCE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Jean Arthur and John Wayne’s relaxed chemistry carries this breezy 1943 romantic comedy produced by Arthur’s then-husband Frank Ross, in which a city girl falls for a rodeo cowboy, with a friendly supporting cast on hand: Charles Winninger, Grady Sutton, Grant Withers, Hans Conreid, and the always welcome Phil Silvers. The DVD retails for $19.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. **½
THE MANOR (LionsGate): After checking out of an asylum, Christina Robinson must contend with a reunion of her dysfunctional family at a sleepy bed-and-breakfast called Anders Manor (the film’s original title), then things get bloody, although no less boring. Frenzied but feeble, populated by characters less dysfunctional than unlikable – although this may be the only chance to see former pro wrestler Kevin Nash playing a traveling evangelist. Rated R. ½
MARX RELOADED (Icarus Films Home Video): Originally made for television, writer/producer/director Jason Barker’s 2011 documentary debut examines how the theories and ideas of Karl Marx pertain to the contemporary global economy, particularly in light of the 2008 financial crisis. Well-meaning and relevant, but somewhat fragmented. Barker also provides the voice of Marx. **
MASTERMIND (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Zero Mostel goes the “Charlie Chan” route as a bumbling Japanese detective in this G-rated comedy produced in 1969 but not released until 1976, during the waning days of the “kiddie matinee,” with Bradford Dillman, Sorrell Booke, Phil Leeds, Herbert Berghof, and Jules Munshin (who died in 1970) in his final feature. Screenwriter Terence Clyne is a pseudonym for William Peter Blatty, who disowned the final product, available on DVD ($14.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.95 retail).
THE MAZE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Legendary production designer/director William Cameron Menzies’ final feature, this 1953 adaptation of a Maurice Sandoz story stars genre veteran Richard Carlson as the heir to a mysterious Scottish castle whose sudden changes in behavior and demeanor disturb visiting fiancee Veronica Hurst. Menzies’ expertise at creating atmosphere – even in 3-D – is in full bloom (with a big assist from cinematographer Harry Neumann), and a sturdy cast includes Katherine Emery, Hillary Brooke, Michael Pate and Lillian Bond, but the plot unravels in the third act, leading to a ludicrous (but undeniably memorable) finale. Both the DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail) include audio commentary, retrospective interview with Hurst, original 3-D trailer, and digitally restored 3-D technology. **
PETER RABBIT (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): James Corden provides the voice for the title character in this PG-rated adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s classic stories, featuring the voices of Margot Robbie, Rose Byrne, Elizabeth Debicki, Domhnall Gleeson, Sam Neill, real-life marrieds Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward, David Wenham and Daisy Risley, with Neill, Byrne and Gleeson also among the human contingent, available on DVD ($30.99 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.99 retail) and 4K Ultra HD combo ($45.99 retail) – each boasting bonus features.
SEVEN (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Super-stud super-spy William Smith leads a crack team of intelligence operatives against a crime ring bent on taking Hawaii over in Andy Sidaris’s low-budget 1979 thriller, exemplifying his ongoing cinematic theme of “babes, bombs and bullets” – but in saucy, inoffensive, comic-book terms. A personable cast includes Barbara Leigh, Playboy Playmate Susan Kiger, Art Metrano, Martin Kove, martial-arts master Ed Parker, Reggie Nalder and Lenny Montana, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) – each replete with special features including audio commentary and original trailer. Rated R. **
WENT TO CONEY ISLAND ON A MISSION FROM GOD … BE BACK BY FIVE (MVD Rewind/MVD Entertainment Group): In producer/director/co-writer Richard Schenkman’s award-winning, R-rated 1998 comedy/drama, producer/co-writer Jon Cryer and Rick Stear play best friends who embark on a journey to learn the whereabouts of a childhood chum (Rafael Baez) who vanished years before. Ione Skye, Frank Whaley, Dominic Chianese, and Peter Gerety round out the cast. The special-edition Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) includes audio commentary, featurette, Schenkman’s comedy short The Producer, and more.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)