Video Vault – Nov 8, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
INTO THE NIGHT (Shout! Factory): John Landis’ 1985 black comedy was a box-office disappointment but remains one of his sharpest, snappiest efforts – with considerable chemistry generated by leads Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer, both on the verge of stardom.
Goldblum’s Ed Okin is an insomniac cuckold into whose dull life crashes – literally – the glamorous Diana (Michelle Pfeiffer), a genuine damsel in distress who leads Ed on a wild, wacky odyssey through Los Angeles.
In addition to playing one of Ed and Diana’s onscreen pursuers, Landis has filled the film with a star-studded array of cameos including Dan Aykroyd, Vera Miles, Irene Papas, Clu Gulager, Kathryn Harrold, Richard Farnsworth, Carl Perkins, Paul Mazursky, Roger Vadim, Bruce McGill, Jim Henson, Art Evans, Amy Heckerling, Paul Bartel, David Cronenberg, and David Bowie (particularly good as a polite hit-man). Ira Newborn’s contributes a delightful score, augmented by B.B. King tunes, including a smashing end-credit rendition of “In the Midnight Hour.”
Besides, any film in which every TV is playing Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) simply has to be good.
The “Shout Select” Blu-ray ($27.99 retail) includes retrospective interviews, the original trailer, and Landis’ 1985 video short B.B. King Into the Night. Rated R. ***
BARRY LYNDON (The Criterion Collection): Stanley Kubrick’s undeniably opulent 1975 adaptation of Thackeray’s novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon stars Ryan O’Neal in the title role of a social-climbing 18th-century Irish rogue, backed by an elegant supporting cast including Marisa Berenson, Hardy Kruger, Patrick Magee, Steven Berkoff, Andre Morell, Philip Stone and Murray Melvin, with Michael Hordern providing narration. Beautiful to look at (courtesy John Alcott’s Oscar-winning cinematography) and listen to (courtesy Leonard Rosenman’s Oscar-winning score), but despite many devotees (including Martin Scorsese and Roger Ebert) its detractors aren’t mistaken when they point to the protracted length and sometimes agonizing pacing. Additional Academy Awards for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration and Best Costume Design, with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay (both for Kubrick). Both the DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) include retrospective documentary and interviews. Rated PG. **½
CENTER OF MY WORLD (TLA Releasing): Jakob M. Erwa’s award-winning adaptation of Andreas Steinhofel’s novel (originally titled Die Mitte der Welt) stars Louis Hofmann as a beleaguered student contending with family problems while confronting his attraction to new classmate Jannik Schumann. In German with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.99 retail).
DREAMGIRLS (Paramount): An unrated “Director’s Extended Edition” of Bill Condon’s flashy, splashy 2006 big-screen extravaganza based on the smash Broadway musical (inspired by the career of the Supremes), charting the meteoric rise of a ’60s girl group, its members played by Beyonce Knowles, Anika Noni Rose and Jennifer Hudson (in her screen debut), with Jamie Foxx, Danny Glover, Keith Robinson, John Lithgow, John Krasinski and Eddie Murphy as the various men in their lives. Hudson won the Oscar as Best Supporting Actress, but the equally deserving Rose wasn’t even nominated, and the film also won for Best Sound Mixing, with additional nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Murphy), Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, and three for Best Original Song (“Listen,” “Love You I Do” and “Patience”). The DVD/Blu-ray combo ($16.99 retail) includes Hudson’s audition and screen tests. ***
LE GAI SAVOIR (Kino Classics): Jean-Luc Godard’s 1969 two-hander (released in the US as Joy of Learning) sees political activists Jean-Pierre Leaud and Juliet Berto engaging in an evening-long discussion steeped in the ideals and debates of the 1960s, with Godard serving as narrator. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) – each replete with audio commentary.
GIRLS TRIP (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish are the “girls gone wild” in director Malcolm D. Lee’s R-rated comedy hit about four lifelong friends – “the Flossy Posse” – who reunite for a wacky weekend in New Orleans, available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.98 retail), both replete with special features.
GOD OF WAR (Well Go USA Entertainment): Vincent Zhao and Sammo Hung team up in Gordon Chan’s adventure epic (originally titled Dang kou feng yun) to battle marauding pirates along the Chinese coastline during the 16th century. In Japanese and Mandarin with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.98 retail).
THE GOOD CATHOLIC (Pigasus Pictures/Broad Green Pictures): Writer/director Paul Schoulberg’s award-winning, PG-13-rated romantic comedy, inspired by his own parents’ relationship, stars Zachary Spicer (also a producer) as a small-town priest who unexpectedly falls in love with local singer Wrenn Schmidt, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($36.95 retail)
GRAY MATTERS (First Run Features): Marco Orsini’s feature documentary explores the life and career of architect and designer Eileen Gray (1878-1976), a pioneer of the Modernist movement, with Mary McGuckian narrating and providing Gray’s voice. A bit talky at the outset, but nicely sums things up at the end. ***
HEARTSTONE (Breaking Glass Pictures): Arnar Gomundsson’s award-winning coming-of-age drama (originally titled Hjartasteinn) stars Baldur Einarsson (in his feature debut) and Blair Hinrikkson as best friends in a small fishing village coming to terms with adolescence. In Icelandic with English subtitles, available on DVD ($21.99 retail).
THE HOUSE (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): The effortless chemistry between Will Ferrell (also a producer) and Amy Poehler buoys this bubbly, featherweight suburban farce in which they earn extra money by turning their home into an underground casino. Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Kroll, Aliison Tolman, Ryan Simpkins and Jeremy Renner also appear – the latter in a brief but vivid cameo as the neighborhood crime czar. The DVD retails for $28.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $35.99 – both replete with special features. Rated R. **½
“I’M FINE”: SEASON ONE (Dekkoo/TLA Releasing): A DVD collection ($24.99 retail) of all eight episodes from the inaugural 2016-’17 season of the gay comedy/drama series starring Nate Powell as a bachelor trying to put his romantic life in order.
THE MIDWIFE (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): Martin Prevost’s well-acted but leisurely paced melodrama (originally titled Sage femme) stars Catherine Frot in the title role of a middle-aged midwife whose life is turned upside when she encounters Catherine Deneuve, her father’s one-time mistress, now suffering from a terminal illness. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail). **½
“MODERN FAMILY”: THE COMPLETE EIGHTH SEASON (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): A three-DVD collection ($29.98 retail) of all 22 episodes (plus bonus features) from the 2016-’17 season of the acclaimed, award-winning ABC comedy detailing the trials and tribulations of three families in suburban Los Angeles, with an ensemble cast including Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Tyler Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sarah Hyland and Eric Stonestreet. Nominated for three Emmy Awards including Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Burrell).
OVERDRIVE (Paramount): Scott Eastwood and Freddie Thorp headline this PG-13-rated action extravaganza as sibling car thieves coerced to steal a priceless Ferrari by crime boss Simon Abkarian – lest he punch their ticket permanently. The DVD retails for $22.98, the Blu-ray for $24.98.
PERSON TO PERSON (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Filmmaker Dustin Guy Defa expands his 2014 short film for this rambling, but not disagreeable, comedy/drama set on a single day in New York City, where the principal characters interact in random, sometimes profound, ways, bolstered by an appealing ensemble cast including Michael Cera, Philip Baker Hall, Abbi Jacobson, George Sample III, Michaela Watkins, newcomer Ben Coopersmith, and scene-stealer Tavi Gevinson. **½
PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (Paramount): A 30th-anniversary DVD/Blu-ray combo ($14.98 retail) of John Hughes’ hit 1987 comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy – both terrific – as an unlikely duo of travelers trying to get home for Thanksgiving. Hilarious yet heartwarming, this is arguably Hughes’ best film. Special features include retrospective interviews, tributes to Candy and Hughes, and more. Rated R. ***½
POP AYE (Kino Lorber): Writer/director Kirsten Tam’s winsome, award-winning comedy/drama is a contemporary fable starring Thaneth Warakulnukroh as an architect undergoing a mid-life crisis, who embarks on a journey through Singapore with an elephant he tended as a boy. As the elephant (named “Popeye”), scene-stealer Bong even gets top billing in the end credits! In Thai with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail). ***
STAY HUNGRY (Olive Films): Bob Rafelson’s bawdy 1976 adaptation of Charles Gaines’ satirical novel stars Jeff Bridges as a wealthy wastrel who becomes the unlikely manager of a Los Angeles gym at the behest of shady land-grabber Joe Spinell, only to fall for saucy receptionist Sally Field, also the paramour of ambitious bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger (in his award-winning starring debut). The fun cast includes Robert Englund, Roger E. Mosley, Joanna Cassidy, Ed Begley Jr., Scatman Crothers, Fannie Flagg, John David Carson, and an especially funny R.G. Armstrong. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated R. ***
WHERE’S THE MONEY (LionsGate): Executive producer Andrew Bachelor headlines writer/director Scott Zabielski’s debut feature, a predictable, scattershot farce about the struggling owner of a South Central gym who infiltrates a nearby college fraternity after learning his convict father (Mike Epps) hid $1 million in the basement wall 20 years before. Typically broad hi-jinks connect only intermittently, despite an affable cast including Kat Graham, Logan Paul, Allen Maldonado, Method Man, Retta, and Terry Crews, available on DVD ($19.98 retail). Rated R. *½
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2017, Mark Burger)