DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: LATE PHASES (Dark Sky Films/MPI Media Group)
There hasn’t been a good werewolf film in some time, but director Adrian Garcia Bogliano’s chiller, subtitled Night of the Lone Wolf, is a hands-down, claws-down winner.
A major reason is Nick Damici’s terrific turn as Ambrose McKinley, a blind, embittered Vietnam veteran newly arrived at Crescent Bay, a suburban retirement community that seems to have more than its fair share of fatal animal attacks.
After a fateful first night in which his neighbor (Saturday Night Fever siren Karen Lynn Gorney) and his seeing-eye dog are torn apart, Ambrose becomes convinced that a werewolf is at large, and determines the end the threat once and for all.
Eric J. Stolze’s crisp script offers a surprising amount of character development, elements of dark humor, and even works as a whodunit – until Bogliano delivers a surprise reveal of the furry fiend’s true identity. And horror fans can rest assured, there will be blood … and plenty of it.
The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
BIRD PEOPLE (Sundance Selects/IFC Films): Josh Charles plays an American in Paris who quits his job and leaves his wife, and Anais Demoustier plays a maid at the hotel where he’s staying, in Pascale Ferran’s fanciful comedy/drama that goes on a bit too long but boasts Julien Hirsch’s exquisite cinematography. In English and French with English subtitles.
COPENHAGEN (Level 33 Entertainment): In the spirit of Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation and Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy – and none the worse because of it – writer/director/executive producer/editor Marc Raso’s auspicious, award-winning debut feature stars Gethin Anthony as an obnoxious tourist seeking his family roots in the title town, aided and abetted by a local teenager (luminous Frederikke Dahl Hansen) with whom he unexpectedly becomes infatuated. Insightful, funny and wistful.
FORCE MAJEURE (Magnolia Home Entertainment): While on vacation in the French Alps, an avalanche comes a little too close to a vacationing couple (Johannes Bah Kuhnke and Lisa Loven Kongsli) and their children – and throws the entire family structure into disarray. Writer/director Ruben Ostlund’s visually stunning, coolly satirical, award-winning drama (originally titled Turist) deservedly became an art-house hit … although, no pun intended, it left some viewers a little cold. In Swedish with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $26.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Rated R. ***
“GIRLS”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (HBO): Creator/writer/executive producer/director Lena Dunham and Adam Driver copped Emmy nominations (she for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, he for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series) for their performances in the award-winning HBO comedy series about young women – and their significant others (sometimes) – in New York City. All 12 episodes from the 2014 season, plus bonus features, are available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and Bluray ($39.98 retail).
HALO: NIGHTFALL (Microsoft Studios): A feature-length digital sci-fi adventure based on the popular videogame franchise, which introduces Mike Colter as agent Jameson Locke, sent with his commandos to investigate reports of biological warfare on a distant colony. Ridley Scott was an executive producer, and a live-action series is in the works. The DVD retails for $20.99, the Blu-ray for $24.99.
LAGGIES (LionsGate): Keira Knightley shines (and nails an American accent) as an aimless twenty-something who befriends teenager Chloe Grace Moretz, then is drawn to her divorced dad (Sam Rockwell). A bright script by first-timer Andrea Seigel, nicely directed by Lynn Shelton and well-acted all around. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.99. Rated R.
“THE LEGEND OF KORRA – BOOK FOUR: BALANCE” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): The award-winning, animated Nickelodeon fantasy series sees the titular heroine (voiced by Janet Varney) battling armies of the power-crazed Kuvira (voiced by Zelda Williams), in all 13 episodes from the 2014 season, available on DVD ($19.99 retail) or Blu-ray ($34.99 retail).
“MAMA’S FAMILY”: THE COM- PLETE SIXTH SEASON (StarVista Entertainment/Time Life): Executive producer Vicki Lawrence’s riotous run as Thelma Harper comes to an end, in all 20 episodes from the 1989-’90 (and final) season of the award-winning, syndicated sitcom spun off from “The Carol Burnett Show.” The three-DVD collection retails for $29.95. StarVista/Time Life has also released “Mama’s Family: Mama’s Favor ites, Season Four,” a self-explanatory DVD collection ($12.95 retail) of Lawrence’s six favorite episodes from the 1987-’88 season.
NIGHTCAP (Cohen Media Group): Claude Chabrol’s award-winning 2000 black comedy, originally titled Merci Pour le Chocolate and based on Charlotte Armstrong’s novel The Chocolate Cobweb, stars Isabelle Huppert as the devious head of a Swiss chocolate factory who’s not above murder to maintain her hold on business and family. In French with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $29.98, the Blu-ray for $39.98. Both contain special features including audio commentary.
“NURSE JACKIE”: SEASON SIX (LionsGate): Edie Falco returns – scoring another Emmy nomination as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series – as the diligent, dedicated, and sometimes self-destructive New York nurse in the acclaimed Showtime series, with all 12 episodes from the 2014 season available on DVD ($29.97 retail) or Blu-ray $29.98 retail).
OPEN WINDOWS (Cinedigm): Obsessed fan Elijah Wood’s dream date with Hollywood starlet Sasha Grey takes a turn for the weird when he begins surreptitiously spying on her via her computer.
This award-winning thriller marks the English-language debut of writer/director Nacho Vigalondo. The DVD retails for $14.93, the DVD for $19.97.
“SUPER BOWL XLIX CHAMPIONS: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS” (NFL Films/Cinedigm): Quarterback Tom Brady leads the Patriots to their fourth Super Bowl victory since 2001, this time besting the defending champion Seattle Seahawks 28-24, in the official commemorative NFL chronicle of the big game, available on DVD ($24.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.93 retail).
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (Best Actor) and Oscar nominee Felicity Jones (Best Actress) portray Stephen Hawking and first wife Jane in this adaptation of Jane’s memoir, detailing the relationship between the famed physicist and his wife as they met, married, and dealt with Stephen’s debilitating illness. A tearjerker that works, as much due to Redmayne and Jones as anything else – although David Thewlis provides steady back-up as Hawking’s mentor-turnedcolleague. Additional nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score. The DVD retails for $29.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $34.98. Rated PG-13.
V/H/S: VIRAL (Magnet Label/Magnolia Home Entertainment): The third in the R-rated horror-anthology franchise boasts four tales of terror directed by Nacho Vigalondo, Marcel Sarmiento, Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead and Gregg Bishop. The DVD retails for $26.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Both contain extensive special features including audio commentaries and interviews.
WORST FRIENDS (Level 33 Entertainment): Writer/producer/director Ralph Arend’s loose, likable comedy stars Richard Tanne as an incorrigible prankster who is hit by a car and must rely on his resentful childhood chum (Noah Barrow) to care for him. A fun cast includes Kristen Connolly, Cody Horn, Deanna Russo, Sarah Wynter and Larry Fessenden (amusingly channeling Jack Nicholson as Tanne’s boisterous dad). Barrow and Tanne also contributed to the story.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2015, Mark Burger.