DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: DRIVE HARD (RLJ Entertaiment/Image Entertainment)
John Cusack and Thomas Jane bring A-list pizazz to this unabashed, cheerfully irreverent B-movie from veteran Aussie director Brian Trenchard-Smith, a specialist in “Ozsploitation” (Dead=End Drive-in, Night of the Demons 2, Leprechaun 4).A shaggy-maned Jane plays Peter Roberts, a former racing driver now relegated to minor status as a driving instructor. A deadpan Cusack, channeling Hunter S.Thompson with his e-cigarette and large holder, plays Simon Keller, who hires Roberts for lessons then forces him to be his getaway driver for a $9 million heist.Thus begins a fast-moving chase across Australia involving cops, killers, corporate baddies, and a mammoth media frenzy. Cusack and Jane are a delightful duo, some of their exchanges seeming improvised and off-the-cuff, while Trenchard-Smith delivers the requisite action. Drive Hard isn’t great art but it’s great fun, a perfect popcorn movie.
COME BACK TO THE FIVE & DIME JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN (Olive Films): The first of Robert Altman’s string of big-screen stage adaptations, this award-winning but high-pitched 1982 version of Ed Graczyk’s play is set on the 20 th anniversary of James Dean’s death in the Texas town where he filmed Giant, with an ensemble cast including Karen Black, Sandy Dennis, Cher (in her dramatic debut), Kathy Bates, Sudie Bond, Marta Heflin and Mark Patton (in his screen debut). The DVD retails for $34.95, the Blu-ray for $39.95. Rated PG.
DICK: THE DOCUMENTARY (IndiePix Films): Men discuss their members in this self-explanatory documentary ($19.95 retail) marking the debut of co-directors Brian Fender and Chiemi Karasawa.
DRACULA UNTOLD (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Luke Evans is down for the Count – pun intended – in this overblown, underwhelming, CGIstuffed revamping (again, pun intended) of Bram Stoker’s immortal character. Despite a cast including Charles Dance and Dominic Cooper, this is one story best left untold “¦ although the scariest thought is that a follow-up is in the works. The DVD retails for $29.98, the DVD/Bluray combo for $34.98. Rated PG-13.
“EPISODES”: THE THIRD SEASON (Showtime Entertainment/CBS DVD/ Paramount): Matt LeBlanc returns as “himself” in this show-biz satire about the production of an American sitcom based on a British series and overseen by the same creators (Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig). Mircea Monroe, Kathleen Rose Perkins and John Pankow also star, with guest stars including Alex Rocco, Roger Bart and Jay Leno. This two-DVD collection ($29.99 retail) includes all nine episodes from the 2014 season of the award-winning Showtime series.
HOLLYWOOD CHAOS (Breaking Glass Pictures): Casting director Angela Marie Hutchinson’s inauspicious writing/producing feature debut stars Vanessa Jean Simmons as a show-biz reporter whose TV special profiling her celebrity friends forces her to re-think her priorities. What initially seems a timid satire/soap opera instead becomes a feeble, faith-based treatise. Only Federico Dordei, as a gay fashion designer who falls in love with a woman, makes any positive impression.
HOW TO MURDER YOUR WIFE (Olive Films): The title tells all in writer/ producer George Axelrod’s cheerful 1965 black comedy starring Jack Lemmon as a cartoonist who drunkenly marries gorgeous Virna Lisi on a whim, then schemes to kill her when she refuses a divorce. A bit on the long side but buoyed by a sparkling cast including Claire Trevor, Eddie Mayehoff, Sidney Blackmer, Jack Albertson, Mary Wickes, Max Showalter and especially Terry-Thomas as Lemmon’s loyal valet. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95.
KINK (Dark Sky Films): Producer James Franco and director Christina Vornos take an in-depth look at Kink.com, the internet’s largest provider of BDSM content, in this feature-length documentary. The DVD retails for $24.98.
LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER (Olive Films): The “ubiquitous” Golan/Globus production duo at Cannon Films reunited Emmanuelle siren Sylvia Kristel and director Just Jaeckin for this ostensibly elegant but rather musty 1982 screen version of the DH Lawrence classic, with Kristel the lusty Lady who takes gamekeeper Nicholas Clay to her bed, much to the consternation of crippled husband Shane Briant. If nothing else, the leads look good unclothed. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated R.
“MAISON CLOSE”: SEASON ONE (Music Box Films Home Entertain ment): The lives of the ladies who work at an elegant brothel called “Paradise” in 1870s’ Paris are explored in all eight episodes from the inaugural 2010 season of the popular French drama series starring Anne Charrier, Jemima West, Valerie Karsenti, Catherine Hosmalin, Clemence Bretecher and Deborah Grall. In French with English subtitles. The DVD collection retails for $34.95, the Blu-ray collection for $39.95.
MOBILIZE (TDC Entertainment): Writer/producer/director Kevin Kunze’s feature documentary ($19.98 retail) examines the potentially unhealthy consequences of cell-phone use, featuring interviews with scientists, researchers, politicians and those in the cell-phone industry.
THE MULE (XLrator Media): In this fact-based black comedy, co-director/coscreenwriter Angus Sampson plays a drug mule detained at an airport in Australia. Hugo Weaving, Ewen Leslie, John Noble and co-screenwriter Leigh Whannell also star. The DVD retails for $14.99, the Bluray for $20.99.
NAS: TIME IS ILLMATIC (Kino Lorber): This hip-hop documentary examines the 20-year impact of the album Illmatic, which marked the debut of rap star Nas (nee Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones) and remains a seminal work in the genre. The DVD retails for $24.95.
THE OUTSIDER (RLJ Entertainment/ Image Entertainment): British mercenary Craig Fairbrass barrels through Los Angeles (Limey-style) in search of missing daughter Melissa Ordway. Routine revenge fare with an upscale cast including James Caan, Jason Patric, Shannon Elizabeth and Johnny Messner. Fairbrass also earns a story credit. Rated R.
QUEENS OF THE RING (RLJ Entertainment/WWE Studios/Image Entertainment): This award-winning French comedy (also known as Wrestling Queens and originally titled Les reines du ring) stars Marilou Berry as a mother who tries to appeal to her estranged son by becoming a professional wrestler. Nathalie Baye, Audrey Fleurot, Corinne Masiero, Andre Dussollier and real-life pro wrestlers Mike “The Miz” Mizanin and Eve Torres also appear. Reportedly, an American remake is in the works. The DVD retails for $27.97.
THE REAGANS: THE LEGACY ENDURES (RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment): The DVD release ($19.98 retail) of writer/director Robert Kline’s self-explanatory documentary that looks at the lives and legacy of Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
SOUTHERN BAPTIST SISSIES (Breaking Glass Pictures): An awardwinning, filmed presentation of writer/ director Del Shores’ acclaimed focusing on four teenagers (Emerson Collins, Matthew Scott Montgomery, William Belli and Luke Stratte-McClure) coming to terms with their homosexuality against the backdrop of their Southern Baptist upbringing. The DVD retails for $21.99.
TWO MOTHERS (Canteen Outlaws/ TLA Releasing): Lesbian couple Karina Plachetka and Sabine Wolf’s efforts to conceive a child begin to shake their relationship in writer/director Anne Zohra Berrached’s well-acted, award-winning drama (originally titled Zwei Mutter) – although the (ambiguous?) ending is maddeningly abrupt. In German with English subtitles.
ZARRA’S LAW (Arc Entertainment): Tony Sirico heads a hard-working cast in this standard-issue shoot-’em-up as a retired cop bent on avenging the death of his mobster brother. Also on hand: Burt Young, Renee Taylor, Brendan Fehr, Erin Cummings and Michael Badalucco. Rated R. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. ‘© 2015, Mark Burger.