Video Vault – Oct 11, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
TOPPER (VCI Entertainment): For vintage charm, Cary Grant and Constance Bennett are the ghosts with the most in this delightful 1937 screwball romp based on the Thorne Smith novel of the same name.
Cheerfully irresponsible George and Marion Kerby (Grant and Bennett) are stuck in spectral limbo after perishing in a car crash. To atone for their careless lifestyle, these blithe spirits decide to “haunt” their old friend, uptight bank president Cosmo Topper (Roland Young), and convince him that life is to be savored and enjoyed.
Needless to say, this causes all sorts of comic calamity, with Topper’s nagging wife (Billie Burke) and snooty manservant (Alan Mowbray) caught up in the fray. Grant and Bennett are a delightful duo, and Young (master of the slow burn) – who earned an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor – is a first-rate straight man to their ghostly hi-jinks. The film also earned a nomination for Best Sound Recording.
Sharp-eyed viewers will recognize such familiar faces as Hoagy Carmichael, Hedda Hopper, Arthur Lake, Doodles Weaver, Lana Turner and Ward Bond in small roles.
The Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) includes the original theatrical trailer. ***
“2 BROKE GIRLS”: THE COMPLETE SIXTH AND FINAL SEASON (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs have finally achieved their dream of opening a dessert bar – but success can be fleeting, as they discover – in all 22 episodes from the 2016-’17 season of the award-winning CBS sitcom. Emmy nominations for Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series and Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series. The DVD ($24.98 retail) includes deleted scenes and gag reel. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has also released the self-explanatory “2 Broke Girls: The Complete Series” on DVD ($112.99 retail).
ALL THE SINS OF SODOM/VIBRATIONS (Film Movement): A digitally remastered double-feature of late-’60s soft-core erotica made by adult-film pioneer Joe Sarno (1921-2010): All the Sins of Sodom (1968) stars Dan Machuen (in his debut starring role) as lusty fashion photographer in New York City; Vibrations (also ’68) stars Marianne Prevost (in her debut starring role) as a sexually repressed writer. Both the DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) include audio commentary and vintage interviews with Sarno.
CHILDREN OF THE CORN (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A limited-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) of director Fritz Kiersch’s 1984 debut feature, with Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton bringing conviction to flimsy roles as a couple who stumble into the foreboding Nebraska burg of Gatlin, where the children have murdered the adults and worship the unseen “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.” A bastardization of Stephen King’s original story, but Kiersch directs with swift efficiency. This became a box-office hit, a cult classic, and spawned numerous sequels (and a remake) over the years. Special features include audio commentaries, retrospective interviews and documentaries, and more. Rated R. **
THE FLESH (Cult Epics/CAV Distributing): Marco Ferreri’s typically outrageous 1991 comedy (originally titled La Carne) stars Sergio Castellito as a divorced pianist who falls under the spell of buxom temptress Francesca Dellera. Ever the provocateur, Ferreri was very much an acquired taste, so his fans have a big head start here. All others, proceed with caution. In Italian with English subtitles, the special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.95 retail) includes vintage interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and more. *½
A GHOST STORY (LionsGate): Even death can’t separate lovers Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in writer/editor/director David Lowery’s award-winning, R-rated supernatural drama, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.99 retail) – each replete with special features.
HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY (Zeitgeist Films/Kino Lorber): Writer/producer/editor/director Daniel Raim’s feature documentary takes an affectionate and encompassing look at the 60-year marriage of acclaimed storyboard artist Harold Michelson (who died in 2007) and his wife, noted film researcher Lillian Michelson, featuring interviews with such Tinseltown luminaries as Mel Brooks, Francis Ford Coppola, executive producer Danny DeVito and others, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail) – each boasting bonus features.
HERITAGE FALLS (Monarch Home Entertainment): Writer/director Shea Sizemore’s feature debut is a modestly engaging comedy/drama starring David Keith as a retired basketball coach who bonds with son Coby Ryan McLaughlin and grandson Keean Johnson (in his feature debut) during a weekend camping trip. The leads have a comfortable chemistry, and the faith-based present without being prevalent. **½
“iZOMBIE”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (DC Entertainment/Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): A three-DVD collection ($24.98 retail) of all 13 episodes from the 2017 season of the popular CW horror series, based on the DC Comics Vertigo series, starring Rose McIver as a scientist whose skills come in handy – to a point – after being infected with a zombie virus, and whose visions come in handy when solving crimes. The regular cast includes Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley, Aly Michalka, Rahul Kohli and David Anders.
“MURDOCH MYSTERIES: ONCE UPON A MURDOCH CHRISTMAS” (Acorn TV): A daring train robbery rings in the holidays in this yuletide-themed 2016 installment of the long-running, award-winning Canadian mystery series (also known as The Artful Detective), based on Maureen Jennings’ best-selling novels, with Yannick Bisson and the regular cast on the case. Both the DVD and Blu-ray retail for $24.99.
THE OTHERWORLD (Severin Films/CAV Distributing): Filmmaker Richard Stanley explores supernatural phenomenon in this 2013 documentary (originally titled L’autre monde), available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and limited-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($24.95 retail) – both replete with special features.
PILGRIMAGE (RLJ Entertainment): Tom Holland headlines director Brendan Muldowney’s brutal, rugged medieval melodrama, as a novice monk who joins Jon Bernthal, John Lynch and Hugh O’Conor on a treacherous pilgrimage in the early 13th century to transport a sacred relic to Rome – only to be pursued by relentless Norman warrior Richard Armitage. Evocative and sometimes repetitious, but the action scenes are extremely well-done and cult possibilities are palpable. The DVD retails for $29.96, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $34.97. ***
QUEEN OF THE DESERT (IFC Films/Shout! Factory): Werner Herzog’s fact-based drama stars Nicole Kidman as explorer and diplomat Gertrude Bell, whose adventures in the Middle East were punctuated by an ill-fated romance with married British officer James Franco and an encounter with T.E. Lawrence (Robert Pattinson). Damian Lewis, Jay Abdo, Jenny Agutter, David Calder and Christopher Fulford (as Winston Churchill) co-star in this picturesque but soapy historical melodrama, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($24.97 retail). Rated PG-13. **½
“SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS”: THE COMPLETE NINTH SEASON (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A four-DVD collection ($22.99 retail) of all 20 episodes (and three double-length episodes) from the 2011-’12 season of the award-winning, long-running animated Nickelodeon comedy series detailing the underwater misadventures of the title character (voiced by Tom Kenny).
THE SURVIVALIST (IFC Midnight/Shout! Factory): Writer/director Stephen Fingleton’s award-winning debut feature is a grim, but effective, post-apocalyptic parable starring Martin McCann in the title role, who forms a tentative alliance with two women (Mia Goth and Olwen Fouere) when he allows them to share his remote, ramshackle abode. Not for all tastes, but steeped in slow-simmering dread, and a definitive cult contender, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($22.97 retail). **½
TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (Paramount): Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel and Stanley Tucci return for another round of PG-13-rated, mechanized mayhem in producer/director Michael Bay’s fifth big-screen sci-fi extravaganzas based on the popular Hasbro toy line, with Anthony Hopkins joining the fray this time around, available on DVD ($29.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail), 3-D Blu-ray combo ($37.99 retail), and 4K Ultra HD ($37.99 retail).
A TRIBUTE TO LES PAUL: LIVE FROM UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD (MVD Visual/MVD Entertainment Group): A self-explanatory, straightforward music documentary filmed in 2006 to commemorate the birthday of guitar pioneer Les Paul (1915-2009), featuring performances by special guests including Joe Perry, Buddy Guy, Joe Satriani, Edgar Winter, Steve Lukather, Slash, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Neil Schon and others, available on DVD ($19.95 retail). **½
VIVA LA LIBERTA (Distrib Films/Icarus Films Home Video): Roberto Ando’s bright, award-winning political satire (also known as Long Live Freedom), based on his own novel, stars Toni Servillo in a tour-de-force turn as an exhausted politician who flees the country – only to be secretly replaced by his twin brother (also Servillo), a former mental patient whose outspoken opinions, to say nothing of his ballroom dance skills, make him a champion of the people. A little gem, well worth seeking out. In French, German and Italian with English subtitles. ***
THE WIZARD OF LIES (HBO): The scandalous saga of corrupt Wall Street financier Bernie Madoff is dramatized in executive producer/director Barry Levinson’s adaptation of Diane B. Henriques’ non-fiction best-seller starring Robert De Niro (also an executive producer) as Madoff and Michelle Pfeiffer as his wife Ruth, with Alessandro Nivola, Kristen Connolly, Lily Rabe, Nathan Darrow, Henriques (as herself), and Hank Azaria. Four Emmy nominations: Outstanding Television Movie, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (De Niro), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie (Pfeiffer), and Outstanding Casting for a Limited Series, Movie or Special, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.98 retail) – both boasting bonus features.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2017, Mark Burger)