Video Vault – May 17, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
STREETS OF FIRE (Shout! Factory): Billed as “A Rock & Roll Fable,” Walter Hill’s sleek, stylish, award-winning 1984 shoot-’em-up – a Western by any other name — was a (surprise) box-office flop but found its audience on cable and home-video, rapidly earning a deserved reputation as a cult classic.
When rising rock star Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) is abducted by biker leader Raven (Willem Dafoe, oozing charismatic menace), her ex-boyfriend, soldier of fortune Tom Cody (Michael Pare) comes to her rescue – aided and abetted by two-fisted sidekick McCoy (scene-stealer Amy Madigan) and Ellen’s obnoxious manager and current beau, Billy Fish (Rick Moranis).
A lot of familiar faces are on hand: Bill Paxton, Richard Lawson, Rick Rossovich, Ed Begley Jr., Robert Townsend, Mykteli Williamson, Stoney Jackson, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Lee Ving, E.G. Daily, Grand L. Bush, Lynne Thigpen and Peter Jason (a Hill regular). Andrew Laszlo’s cinematography and Ry Cooder’s score are terrific, and the soundtrack was a success (spawning Dan Hartman’s chart-topper “I Can Dream About You”).
The “Shout Select” two-disc Blu-ray combo ($34.93 retail) includes retrospective and vintage featurettes, music videos, and more. Rated PG. ***
“THE 4400”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (CBS DVD/Paramount): A 14-DVD collection ($45.98 retail) of all 42 episodes (plus bonus features) from the entire 2004-’07 run of the award-winning, Emmy-nominated CBS science-fiction series in which 4400 missing persons suddenly reappear on Earth in a flash of light, none having aged in the interim, featuring an ensemble cast including Jacqueline McKenzie, Joel Gretsch, Patrick Fluegler, Conchita Campbell, Billy Campbell, Peter Coyote and future Oscar winner Mahershala Ali.
ANATAHAN (Kino Classics): A special, digitally restored edition of Josef von Sternberg’s final film, a 1953 adaptation of Michiro Maruyama’s fact-based novel (originally titled Ana-ta-han) about Japanese sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island during the last days of World War II. In Japanese with English subtitles (and rated PG), available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail), both replete with special features.
THE BABYMOONERS (Candy Factory Films): Real-life couple Shaina Feinberg and Chris Manley (members of the Brooklyn comedy troupe Bankrukt) play “themselves” in their award-winning feature debut as writer/directors, playing neurotic first-time parents awaiting – sometimes none too eagerly – the birth of their first child. Feinberg’s real parents, Mary and Paul, are great fun, but this precious, scattershot comedy only scores intermittent points, although Feinberg and Manley (who also edited) are talents to watch. **
BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DIME (The Sprocket Vault): Sanford Lieberson and David Puttnam produced writer/director Philippe Nora’s enjoyable and informative 1975 documentary that examines the Great Depression through vintage movie clips, newsreels, songs and sound bytes. The DVD retails for $19.99, the Blu-ray for $24.99. Sprocket Vault DVDs are sold exclusively through Amazon, or visit the official website: HYPERLINK “http://thesprocketvault.com/”http://thesprocketvault.com/.
“BUBBLE GUPPIES: SUPER GUPPIES” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A DVD selection ($14.99 retail) of five episodes from the award-winning animated Nickelodeon children’s series about the misadventures of six fish-tailed kids.
DIGIMON ADVENTURE TRI. – REUNION (Toei Animation/Shout! Factory): The “DigiDestined” (from the “Digimon Adventure” series) are reunited to battle foes both new and old in this animated sci-fi adventure (originally titled Digimon Adventure tri. Salkai), featuring both English- and Japanese-language tracks, available on DVD ($14.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($24.97 retail).
“DUCK DYNASTY”: THE FINAL SEASON (LionsGate): The Robertson clan wraps up 11 seasons with 15 episodes from the 2016-’17 season of the award-winning A&E reality series, available in a two-DVD collection ($19.98 retail). LionsGate has also released the self-explanatory “Duck Dynasty: The Complete Series,” a 24-DVD collection ($99.98 retail) of all 132 episodes from the entire run of the series (plus bonus features).
FIFTY SHADES DARKER (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): James Foley assumes the directorial reins for the second installment of the romantic-thriller trilogy based on producer E.L. James’ best-selling novel, adapted by James’ husband Niall Leonard, with Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan reprising their roles as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, respectively. Returning cast members Marcia Gay Harden and Rita Ora are joined by series newcomers Kim Basinger, Bella Heathcote and Eric Johnson. Slick, shallow and silly – with the final installment (Fifty Shades Freed) due for release next year. The DVD retails for $29.98 retail, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $34.98, the 4K Ultra HD for $44.98 – each replete with special features. Rated R (also available in an unrated extended edition). *
THE GIRL FROM THE BROTHEL (Cinema Libre Studio): Writer/director Illaria Borrelli’s topical, award-winning drama (originally titled Talking to the Trees) casts her as a photographer so infuriated by the Cambodian sex trade that she attempts to spirit a group of pre-teen prostitutes to safety. Clearly well-intentioned but frequently overstated, with unnecessary slow-motion and Borrelli’s equally unnecessary narration over-emphasizing the obvious. **½
“ICE”: SEASON ONE (Entertainment One): Diamonds are forever, to say nothing of dangerous trade for a family of gem dealers navigating the treacherous waters of the Los Angeles diamond trade, in all 10 episodes from he inaugural 2016-’17 season of the AT&T Audience Network/DIRECTV Original crime series created by executive producer Ronald Bass, starring Cam Gigandet, Jeremy Sisto, Ray Winstone, Raymond J. Barry, Judith Shekoni, Ella Thomas, Tom Bower and Donald Sutherland, available in a three-DVD collection ($40.99 retail) replete with bonus features.
“MARTIN CLUNES’ ISLANDS OF AUSTRALIA” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Award-winning actor Martin Clunes hosts this three-part 2016 documentary mini-series in which he explores 16 islands (of over 8,000!) in the land Down Under, available on DVD ($34.99 retail).
A MATTER OF TIME (First Run Features): Writer/producer/director Casey Cohen’s award-winning feature documentary debut follows rock pianist Kathryn Calder (of the New Pornographers) as she puts aside her career to care for her mother Lynn, who is suffering from ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
MOONLIGHT (LionsGate): The little movie that could – and did. Writer/director Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue is a coming-of-age fable of a lonely Miami youngster (played at different points in his life by newcomer Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes). Episodic at times, but atmospheric and extremely well-acted, particularly by Mahershala Ali (Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor) as the boy’s mentor and Naomie Harris (Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress) as the boy’s mother. Additional Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay and, the big one, Best Picture, with additional nominations for Best Director, Best Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Original Score. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.99 – both replete with bonus features. Rated R. ***
THE OTHER HELL (Severn Films/CAV Distributing): Satanic shenanigans rock a remote Italian monastery in this tacky 1981 “nunsploitation” shocker (originally titled L’altro inferno) directed by cult filmmaker/story writer Bruno Mattei (under the pseudonym “Stefan Oblowsky”). Yours truly saw this in the theater in 1985 (under the title Guardian of Hell) and was, to say the least, dumbfounded. If nothing else – and there isn’t much else – it looks and sounds better than ever in this new transfer, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.95 retail), both replete with bonus features including audio commentary, retrospective interviews, and more. *½
ROAD TO THE WELL (Candy Factory Films): Writer/producer/director John Cvack’s award-winning, noir-ish thriller stars Laurence Fuller and Micha Parker as old friends whose reunion turns into an odyssey of paranoia and murder – compounded by the unexpected presence of hair-trigger veteran Marshall R. Teague. Intense and well-acted, but also unduly protracted. Still worth a look, and Cvack’s a talent to watch. **½
THE SPACE BETWEEN US (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Asa Butterfield, as a youngster born on Mars, comes to Earth to meet the girl of his dreams (Britt Robertson), in this PG-13-rated science-fiction melodrama co-starring Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino and directed by Peter Chelsom, available on DVD ($29l.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.98 retail) – both replete with bonus features.
THEATRE OF MR. & MRS. KABAL (Olive Films): Walerian Borowczyk’s award-winning, animated 1967 comedy (originally titled Theatre de Monsieur and Madame Kabal) about the increasingly contentious relationship between a husband (voiced by Pierre Collet) and wife (voiced by Louisette Rousseau). In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).
TUNNEL (Well Go USA Entertainment): Ha Jung-woo stars in writer/director Kim Seong-hun’s award-winning thriller (originally titled Teo-neal) as an everyman trapped in a collapsed tunnel while rescue workers race against time to save him. In Korean with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail).
WOMAN OF THE YEAR (The Criterion Collection): Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn (Oscar nominee for Best Actress) first teamed onscreen in George Stevens’ sparkling 1942 romantic comedy, about the contentious relationship between a political correspondent (Hepburn) and a hard-boiled sportswriter (Tracy). The chemistry between the two leads is palpable, and Michael Kanin and Ring Lardner Jr.’s witty original screenplay won an Oscar. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $39.95. Both contain a bevy of special features including retrospective interviews, Hepburn’s 1986 documentary The Legacy of Spencer Tracy, and more. ***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