DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: RUSHLIGHTS (Vertical Entertainment)
Writer/director Antoni Stutz’s makes an auspicious feature debut with this twisty (and twisted) contemporary film noir, set in a sleepy little town where everyone, it seems, hides a dark secret. Rushlights isn’t Blood Simple, but it more than holds its own.Josh Henderson and Haley Webb play Billy and Sarah, a young couple desperate for a fresh start. To this end, they attempt to claim a dead friend’s inheritance in Texas, figuring that no one will be the wiser. How wrong they are.Top-billed Beau Bridges plays the local sheriff, who just knows something’s not right, and Aidan Quinn plays his brother, who also happens to be the town’s resident attorney. It’s not long before the dominoes begin to fall, with mistrust and suspicion inevitably leading to betrayal and murder. Solid performances further the film’s moody intensity, with Quinn in especially good form. That’s Beau’s real-life son Jordan Bridges as his stoic, mustachioed deputy.Rated R. ***(For an exclusive interview with cinematographer Gregg Easterbrook, turn to Page 35)
“BANSHEE”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (HBO Home Entertainment): Antony Star portrays the new sheriff in town — only he’s an impostor whose dark past keeps coming back to haunt him — in all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2013 season of the popular Cinemax crime drama. Rus Blackwell, Matt Servitto, Demetrius Grosse, Frankie Faison, Ivana Milecevic, Ben Cross and UNCSA School of Drama graduate Trieste Kelly Dunn co-star. Set in Pennsylvania but filmed in North Carolina. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $49.99.
THE CLOTH (Uncork’d Entertainment/ VIVA Pictures): Justin Price wrote, directed and co-stars in this crummy shocker about a secret, Vatican-sanctioned team that seeks out and exorcizes (or destroys) those possessed by demons. Utter cheese, with endless boring exposition and pointless appearances by Eric Roberts and Danny Trejo as priests. No stars.
THE CORPSE GRINDERS 3 (Alpha Home Entertainment): The Lotus Cat Food Company opens its doors in Barcelona in this predictably campy but jumbled horror spoof. Executive producer Ted V. Mikels, director of the 1971 original and 2000 sequel, hands the directorial reins to Manolito Motosierra, but the third time is no charm. *½
“DETECTIVE INSPECTOR IRENE HUSS” (MHz Networks): Angela Kovacs plays the title role in this popular Swedish mystery series based on Helene Tursten’s bestselling novels, that of a devoted wife and mother, former martial-arts champion and tenacious investigator with the Violent Crimes Unit in Gothenburg — where all of her skills come in handy when solving crimes. Each three-DVD collection ($39.98 retail) includes three feature-length mysteries from the 2011 season. In Swedish with English subtitles.
“EASTBOUND & DOWN”: THE COM- PLETE THIRD SEASON (HBO Home Entertainment): The UNCSA troika of Danny McBride, Jody Hill and Ben Best created this popular HBO comedy series following the misadventures of a washed-up baseball pitcher (McBride) who truly is a screwball. Fellow UNCSA alumnus David Gordon Green serves as producer and has alternated directing with Hill, and the cast includes John Hawkes, Steve Little, Jennifer Irwin and Jason Sudeikis. All eight episodes from the 2012 season, plus bonus features, are included in the DVD boxed set ($29.98 retail) and the Blu-ray boxed set ($39.98 retail).
FUTURE WEATHER (Virgil Films): Perla Haney-Jardine is wonderful as a troubled teen abandoned by her mother (Marin Ireland) and consumed with concern over the environmental, in writer/producer/director Jenny Deller’s award-winning feature debut, set in rural Illinois but shot outside of Philadelphia (another reason to like it!). A fine cast includes Lili Taylor, William Sadler and Amy Madigan (in her best role in years) as Haney-Jardine’s grandmother. **½
GUN HILL ROAD (Virgil Films): Ex-con Esai Morales (also an executive producer) struggles to re-adjust to life on the outside, dealing with an adulterous wife (Judy Reyes) and a son (newcomer Harmony Santana) coming to terms with his sexuality. A good cast includes Isaiah Whitlock Jr., Miriam Colon and Vincent Laresca. Rambling at times but frank, well-acted, and a noteworthy (and award-winning) debut for writer/director Rashaad Ernesto Green. Rated R. **½
HAPPY PEOPLE: A YEAR IN THE TAIGA (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): Werner Herzog’s documentary is culled from Dmitry Vasyukov’s four hours of footage of the Siberian village of Bakhta and its people, whose culture has been unaltered for decades. This award-winning documentary retails on DVD for $29.95.
MIMESIS (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Partygoers are compelled to re-live Night of the Living Dead lest they die in this uneven, award-winning shocker that doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny, but has its moments. Fans will enjoy the in-jokes. Appealing newcomer Jana Thompson stars with Allen Maldonado, Lauren Mae Shafer and genre favorites Sid Haig, Courtney Gains and the late Bill Hinzman, co-star of the original Night of the Living Dead, in his final role. A sequel is in the works. Rated R. **
“MOUNTAIN MEN”: SEASON 1 (Lions- Gate): A two-DVD collection ($19.98 retail) of all eight episodes from the inaugural 2012 season of the popular History Channel reality series narrated by DB Sweeney that follows the day-to-day lives of three men in different mountain regions (one in North Carolina) who live isolated from society and modern conveniences.
NORTH FACE (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): To prove German superiority during the Third Reich, the Nazi government urges climbers to scale a seemingly insurmountable mountain in the Alps. This award-winning, fact-based 2008 drama (originally titled Nordvald) focuses on those who tried. In German with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $19.95, the Blu-ray for $24.95.
PAWN (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Gimmicky, scattershot thriller about a robbery in an all-night diner gets some mileage from a star-studded ensemble: Ray Liotta, Nikki Reed, Forest Whitaker, Martin Csokas, Stephen Lang, Sean Faris, Common, Jessica Szohr, Max Beesley, Jonathan Bennett, Ronald Guttman and producer Michael Chiklis (sporting a Cockney accent). Rated R. **
“PORTLANDIA”: SEASON THREE (VSC): Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein return in all 10 episodes from the 2012-’13 season of award-winning IFC comedy series about Portland, Ore. created by Armisen, Brownstein and director Jonathan Krisel. Kyle MacLachlan plays the mayor, with Jeff Goldblum, Chloe Sevigny, Juliette Lewis, Rose Byrne, Jim Gaffigan, Bill Hader, George Wendt, Roseanne Barr and Martina Navratilova visiting. The DVD boxed set retails for $19.95, the Blu-ray boxed set for $24.95.
TYLER PERRY’S TEMPTATION (Lions- Gate): Producer/director Tyler Perry adapts his own dramatic stage play, subtitled Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, with Jurnee Smollett-Bell as a wife torn between studious husband Lance Gross and wealthy hunk Robbie Jones. Vanessa Williams, Brandy Norwood and the inescapable Kim Kardashian round out the cast. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $39.99. Rated PG-13.
WOULD YOU RATHER (IFC Midnight/ MPI Media Group): Wicked billionaire Jeffrey Combs invites guests to dinner then pits them against one another in deadly games. Appropriately claustrophobic thriller quickly becomes repetitious, despite a few good moments and a hard-working ensemble cast: Brittany Snow (also an executive producer), John Heard, Sasha Grey, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Eddie Steeples and Charlie Hofheimer. *½
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.