DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: 21 YEARS: RICHARD LINKLATER (Breaking Glass Pictures)
He didn’t get the Oscar for Boyhood, but filmmaker Richard Linklater gets the royal treatment in Michael Dunaway and Tara Wood’s lively, engaging documentary tracing his career, from his 1991 breakthrough Slacker up to Boyhood, filmed over a 12-year span – and everything in-between.Sharing their fond and fun memories are such Linklater veterans as Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Jack Black (School of Rock), Keanu Reeves (A Scanner Darkly), Matthew McConaughey (Dazed and Confused) and others, although Linklater himself is oddly absent. Colorful animation and a playful tone make this irresistible for film fans and Linklater mavens alike – an entertaining, illuminating tribute to a talented and versatile filmmaker still very much at the peak of his career.
ALIEN RISING (Breaking Glass Pictures): Lance Henriksen, John Savage, Brian Krause, Amy Hathaway, David Vescio and Art Evans squander their talents in this pathetic sci-fi thriller (originally titled Gemini Rising) about a secret military project using alien technology. Drab narration, jokey fight scenes and some of the worst CGI effects in recent memory add up to … Zero stars
A BET’S A BET (Cinedigm): Real-life couple Jonathan Silverman and Jennifer Finnigan produced, directed and co-star in this comedy (originally titled The Opposite Sex) with Geoff Stults as a womanizing attorney who meets his match in Mena Suvari … but with a few hitches. Kristin Chenoweth, Joey Fatone, Josh Hopkins, Dana Ashbrook, Kenan Thompson, Debra Jo Rupp and Eric Roberts add star power to predictable but painless proceedings.
BLACKWOODS (Martini Entertainment/Olive Films): Uwe Boll apes M. Night Shymalan in this surreal, silly 2014 shocker in which Michael Eklund and Keegan Connor Tracy’s weekend turns bad when trapped by a backwoods clan. Michael Pare, Patrick Muldoon and Clint Howard also turn up. Rated R. *
BLIND WOMAN’S CURSE (Arrow Films/MVD Entertainment Group): A DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) of Teuro Ishii’s 1970 cult classic (originally titled Kaidan nobori ryu) that combines the Yakuza crime genre with the traditional Japanese ghost story, as a spectral presence intrudes upon a violent gang war – making it more violent!
BLOOD CAR (Horizon Movies): Producer/co-writer/director Alex Orr’s award-winning 2007 debut feature stars Mike Brune as a geeky teacher who develops a car that runs on human blood. Brisk and brash, but it runs out of gas (no pun intended). Katie Howlett plays the meat-eating vixen and scene-stealer Anna Chlumsky the vegan who pine for him.
THE BOOK OF NEGROES (Entertainment One): A six-part BET mini-series based on Lawrence Hill’s award-winning 2007 novel (published in the US as Someone Knows My Name) explores the life of Aminata Diallo (Aunjanue Ellis), a woman abducted from Africa into slavery in the 1750s. Cuba Gooding Jr., Louis Gossett Jr., Ben Chaplin and Jane Alexander co-star. The three-DVD collection, replete with special features, retails for $39.98.
ICEMAN (Well Go USA Entertainment): Originally titled Bing feng: Chong sheng zhi men, director Law Wing Cheong’s R-rated remake of the 1989 fantasy Iceman Cometh (no relation to Eugene O’Neill’s play) stars Donnie Yen as a Ming Dynasty guard frozen in suspended animation along with three brothers he’s fighting, for four centuries — then all thaw out and resume battle while acclimating to the 21 st century. In Cantonese with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
THE INTERNET’S OWN BOY (Alive Mind Cinema/Kino Lorber): The all-tooshort life of computer genius, “Reddit” co-founder and free-speech/informationaccess activist Aaron Swartz (1986-2013) receives thorough and compassionate treatment in this award-winning documentary from writer/producer/director/coeditor Brian Knappenberger.
INTERSTELLAR (Paramount): Christopher Nolan’s dazzling (and very long) sci-fi epic sci-fi/drama dramatizes a mission to find a suitable planet to repopulate as Earth nears its end. The star-studded cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Ellen Burstyn, Wes Bentley, John Lithgow, Topher Grace, Casey Affleck, William Devane, David Oyelowo, the voice of Bill Irwin, an unbilled Matt Damon, and the great Michael Caine. Nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects (which it won). The DVD retails for $29.99, the DVD/Bluray combo for $39.99. Rated PG-13.
“LOVEJOY”: SERIES 5 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Ian McShane returns as the smooth-talking antiquarian/sleuth in all 14 episodes from the 1993 season of the BBC series adapted from Jonathan Gash’s best-selling novels. Series regulars Phyllis Logan and Chris Catchpole depart, while Dudley Sutton soldiers on as Lovejoy’s compatriot Tinker, and guest stars include John Gielgud, Pete Postlethwaite, James Nesbitt, Anna Calder-Marshall and Lionel Jeffries. The four-DVD collection retails for $49.99.
“NICOLAS LE FLOCH”: VOLUME TWO, EPISODES 7-10 (MHz Networks): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($29.95 retail) of four feature-length mysteries from the 2012-’13 season of the awardwinning period series, based on Jean-Francois Parot’s novels, with Jerome Robart in the title role of the 18th-century Parisian police commissioner. In French with English subtitles.
“PERRY MASON MOVIE COLLEC- TION DOUBLE FEATURES” (CBS DVD/ Paramount): Nearly 30 years after playing the tenacious attorney created by Erle Stanley Gardner, Raymond Burr reprised his Emmy-winning role in a series of toprated NBC-TV mystery movies reuniting him with Barbara Hale as Della Street. These self-explanatory DVDs (each retail for $16.99) include The Case of the Scandalous Scoundrel (1987)/The Case of the Avenging Ace (1988), The Case of the Lady in the Lake (‘88)/The Case of the Lethal Lesson (1989), The Case of the Musical Murder/The Case of the All-Star Assassin (both ‘89), The Case of the Poisoned Pen/ The Case of the Desperate Deception (both 1990), The Case of the Silenced Singer/The Case of the Defiant Daughter (both ‘90), The Case of the Ruthless Reporter/The Case of the Maligned Mobster (both 1991), The Case of the Glass Coffin/The Case of the Fatal Fashion (both ‘91), The Case of the Fatal Framing/The Case of the Reckless Romeo (both 1992), The Case of the Heartbroken Bride (1992)/The Case of the Skin-Deep Scandal (1993). Needless to say, Mason’s streak of courtroom victories remains intact!
THE PIRATES (Well Go USA Entertainment): Swashbuckling adventure in Seok-hoon Lee’s award-winning Koreanlanguage epic (originally titled Hae-jaok: ba-da-ro gan san-jeok) pitting 14th-century pirates, thieves and other miscreants in a quest to retrieve the Emperor’s Royal Seal … which has been swallowed by a whale (!). The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
THE WAITER (Indican Pictures): Leading man Jason Konopisos makes his feature debut as writer/producer/director of this lame, low-budget, award-winning (!) shoot-’em-up, as a hired gun in Houston. Familiars on hand include Dan Lauria, Glenn Morshower, James Handy, the late Robert Z’Dar and the late Charles Durning (top-billed in a cameo as a godfather). This was made in 2010, and a 2012 prequel (Rogue Assassin) evidently awaits …
WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL? (Kino Lorber): Director Marc Silver and actor/ producer Gael Garcia Bernal examine the immigration debate in this award-winning documentary ($29.95 retail) investigating the case of an identified corpse discovered in the Arizona desert. In English and Spanish with English subtitles. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2015, Mark Burger.