DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: 3:10 TO YUMA (The Criterion Collection)
There are echoes of High Noon (1952) in director Delmer Daves’ adaptation of an Elmore Leonard story, but this well acted, absorbing 1957 Western more than holds its own as a solid, suspenseful horse opera.Notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) has been captured and is awaiting the title train that will take him to trial. Dan Evans (Van Heflin) is an impoverished farmer who, desperate for the reward money, becomes Wade’s unlikely captor.As Wade’s vicious gang (including ace tough guy Richard Jaeckel) waits for the chance to spring him, he engages in a duel of wits with Evans. Yet as the hours tick by, Wade develops a grudging respect for Evans, who doesn’t allow his mounting fear to sway his determination.Ford oozes cool as the charismatic killer, and he’s well-matched by the often underrated Heflin as an average man thrust into dangerous circumstances. It’s their intense relationship that forms the backbone of the story, which adds a refreshing dimension to the proceedings.The special-edition DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $39.95.
24-HOUR LOVE (One Village Entertainment/RLJ Entertainment): Modern romance over a 24-hour period is depicted in this ensemble drama starring Malinda Williams, Tatyana Ali, Keith Robinson, Lynn Whitfield, Darius McCrary, Duane Avery and Todd Anthony. The DVD retails for $14.98.
8:46 (Virgil Films): First-time writer/ producer/director Jennifer Gargano’s awardwinning, hour-long ensemble drama set on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, following the various lives of random people who would be affected by the subsequent events. The cast includes Mike DiGiacinto, Roland Sands, Todd Lewis, Shelley Shenoy and Gargano herself, with many of the actors in their screen debuts.
“AFTER PEOPLE” (LionsGate): A DVD collection ($19.98 retail) of four History Channel documentaries that speculate what could happen to humankind in Earth’s future: “Life After People,” “After Armageddon,” “Mega Drought” and “Mega Freeze.”
ANY LAST WORDS? (LionsGate): A wounded Bat Masterson (Tom Lagleder) hovers between life and death in this lame low-budget Western, an inauspicious debut for director/producer/editor Vaughn Taylor, who also wrote the script and costars as Belle Starr. Rated PG-13.
“BLOOD ON THE VINE” (MHz Networks): Pierre Arditi stars as brilliant wine expert Benjamin Lebel, whose expertise serves him well in sniffing out crime in this popular French mystery series (originally titled Le sang de la vigne) based on the novels by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen. In French with English subtitles. Season 1 (2011-12) includes the first four episodes and Season 2 (2012-13) the most recent four. Each season retails on DVD for $39.95.
DIVISION III: FOOTBALL’S FINEST (Image Entertainment): Well made, surprisingly engaging and unsurprisingly vulgar gridiron comedy with co-writer/executive producer Andy Dick (less annoying than usual) as a deranged college football coach. The lineup also includes co-writer/ director Marshall Cook, Adam Carolla, Will Sasso, Mo Collins, Debra Wilson, Sally Kirkland and Michael Jace, the latter all but stealing the show by playing it mostly straight as a exasperated assistant coach. Rated R.
THE EXORCIST IN THE 21ST CENTURY (The Disinformation Company): Interesting if one-sided documentary following Father Jose Antonio Fortea, an actual, modern-day, Vatican-approved exorcist. Skeptics need not apply — this accepts demonic possession as a reality — but although the exorcism footage is genuinely chilling a more comprehensive approach might have been more effective.
FREELANCERS (LionsGate): Oscar winners Robert De Niro and Forest Whitaker add star power to an otherwise routine crime drama (originally titled Crossfire) about a corrupt contingent of cops at large in New York City. Top-billed Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (one of many producers) is the obligatory rookie torn between graft and goodness, with Dana Delany, Vinnie Jones, Robert Wisdom and the late Pedro Armendariz Jr. also on hand. Rated R.
HP LOVECRAFT’S COOL AIR (LionsGate): Albert Pyun directed this loose, low-budget and very boring adaptation of the Lovecraft tale, with Morgan Weisser as a struggling screenwriter enmeshed in eerie doings in a Malibu boarding house. A few hallucinatory highlights but little else, padded with dull narration and a lengthy pre-credit crawl. Weisser’s real-life dad Norbert co-stars and was also a producer. Rated PG-13.
“ICE ROAD TRUCKERS”: SEASON 6 (LionsGate): The top-rated History Channel reality series rolls on in all 16 episodes from the 2012 season, available in a four- DVD boxed set ($24.98 retail).
IF YOU REALLY LOVE ME (One Village Entertainment/RLJ Entertainment): In this gospel musical drama, Reagan Gomez, Eva Marcille and Caryn Ward play sisters whose relationship and faith are tested by unexpected emotional upheavals in their lives. The DVD retails for $14.98.
NINJA MASTERS (LionsGate): Female bodyguard Luxia Jiang must compete in an underground martial-arts tournament in order to save her kidnapped client in this 2009 action thriller originally titled Zhang wu shuang. The DVD retails for $26.98. Rated PG-13.
NOT FADE AWAY (Paramount Home Entertainment): Writer/director David Chase makes his feature film debut with this nostalgic look back at rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s, set in his old New Jersey stomping grounds. Appealing leads John Magaro and Bella Heathcote are ably supported by Christopher McDonald, Brad Garrett and Chase’s old “Sopranos” lead James Gandolfini. Occasionally self-indulgent, with some unnecessary subplots and an oddly surreal ending, but this has a keen feel for time, place and attitude — and the soundtrack is top notch. Rated R.
THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Fresh from its broadcast premiere on the Syfy Channel, this remake of the 1984 time-travel opus features Michael Pare (star of the original film), Nicholas Lea, Ryan Robbins, Gina Holden and Malcolm McDowell. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.99. Rated PG-13.
RED HOOK SUMMER (One Village Entertainment/Image Entertainment): Newcomers Jules Brown and Toni Lysaith star in Spike Lee’s latest valentine to New York City, set in the title housing projects of Brooklyn. The DVD retails for $27.97, the Blu-ray for $29.97. Rated R.
TOMORROW YOU’RE GONE (Image Entertainment): Ex-con Stephen Dorff hooks up with Michelle Monaghan but finds his past catching up to him in this moody, slowmoving, noir-ish melodrama adapted from the novel Boot Tracks by author Matthew F. Jones. Willem Dafoe has little to do as a mysterious criminal known as “the Buddha,” but Dorff and Monaghan give it their best. Jones and director David Jacobson also served as executive producers.
“TRUE BLOOD”: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON (HBO Home Entertainment): Bad blood is brewing for the undead in all 12 episodes from the 2012 of the toprated, award-winning HBO series created and produced by Alan Ball and based on Charlaine Harris’ best-selling series of Southern Vampire Mysteries novels. The regular cast includes Anna Paquin and real-life husband Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, Chris Bauer and Carrie Preston. The DVD collection retails for $59.99, the Blu-ray collection for $79.98. Both feature extensive bonus features including audio commentaries, previews and more.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.