Video Vault – Jan 11, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
HELL OR HIGH WATER (CBS Films/LionsGate): There’s a distinct Western flavor to director David Mackenzie’s award-winning action drama, set deep in the heart of Texas – a landscape littered with broken dreams and lost hope.
In order to avoid foreclosure on their family ranch, brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner Howard (Ben Foster) have embarked on series of armed robberies – targeting only branches of the Texas Midlands Bank, which holds the deed to the ranch. (After all, fair’s fair.)
Jeff Bridges, at his grizzled best, plays Marcus Hamilton, a veteran Texas Ranger bent on cracking the case before his impending retirement. As the brothers continue their increasingly dangerous – and ultimately deadly – crime spree, Hamilton is able to pinpoint their route, leading to an inevitable and exciting showdown.
Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, who also cameos as a cowboy, brings sardonic humor to the dusty proceedings, exemplified in Bridges’ ongoing banter with fellow Ranger Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham). Nick Cave and Warren Ellis provide an evocative score, and the desolate locations (actually in New Mexico) are beautifully captured by cinematographer Giles Nuttgens. The DVD retails for $29.95, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $39.99. Rated R. ***
AMERICAN HONEY (LionsGate): Writer/director Andrea Arnold’s award-winning, R-rated drama stars Sasha Lane (in her screen debut) as an adventurous teenager who hits the road with a group of like-minded misfits (including Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough), available on DVD ($19.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.99 retail).
CREEPSHOW 2 (Arrow Video): Encoring from the (superior) 1982 film, screenwriter George A. Romero adapted three Stephen King stories for this 1987 horror anthology that marked cinematographer Michael Gornick’s feature directorial debut. The cast includes Lois Chiles, George Kennedy, Dorothy Lamour (her final film), Tom Savini, Tom Wright, the screen debuts of Holt McCallany and Don Harvey, and a cameo by King. Enjoyable in its own right, with the third story, “The Hitchhiker,” the best. (“Thanks for the ride, lady!”) The standard Blu-ray ($34.95 retail) and limited-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) each include bonus features including audio commentary, behind-the-scenes footage, trailers and TV spots, and more. Rated R. **½
THE DRESSMAKER (Broad Green Pictures): Director Jocelyn Moorhouse’s award-winning, R-rated adaptation of Rosalie Ham’s novel stars Kate Winslet in the title role, who returns to her Australian home town on a mission of revenge, with Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving, Caroline Goodall, Julia Blake, Kerry Fox and Liam Hemsworth in support, available on DVD ($26.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.99 retail).
THE DRILLER KILLER (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Abel Ferrara’s crude but effective 1979 feature debut and cult classic stars “Jimmy Laine” (Ferrara himself) as a deranged artist who prowls the streets of New York armed with a power drill, available in a special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) and a limited-edition “Steelbook” ($44.95 retail), both boasting a myriad of special features including audio commentary, retrospective interviews, and more. **
END OF A GUN (LionsGate): The latest R-rated Steven Seagal shoot-’em-up casts the producer/star as an ex-DEA agent who flees with foxy Jade Ewen and $2 million in drug money — with cops and goons in hot pursuit, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail).
“THE HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS FEAST” (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A limited-edition, 17-disc (!) Blu-ray collection ($229.95 retail) that encompasses and celebrates the work of the “Godfather of Gore” (who died age 90 in September), with special editions of his entire ouvre, including such cult classics as Blood Feast (1963), Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964), Color Me Blood Red (1965), The Gruesome Twosome (1967), A Taste of Blood (also ’67), She-Devils in Wheels (1968), The Wizard of Gore (1970), The Gore Gore Girls (1972), et al. Needless to say, none of these are for the squeamish!
HICKEY (Gravitas Ventures): A friendly cast brings zest to familiar proceedings in writer/director Alan Grossman’s award-winning debut feature, starring Troy Doherty as a teen trying to save the car-stereo store he works at when smarmy regional manager Alex Ashbaugh threatens to close it by day’s end, available on DVD ($16.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail). **
IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE (Magnet Label/Magnolia Home Entertainment): After his son dies under mysterious circumstances, vengeful Stellan Skarsgard strikes back against local crime boss Pal Sverre Hagen – thus igniting a full-blown blood feud, in director Hans Petter Moland’s award-winning, R-rated black-comedy/thriller (originally titled Kraftidioten). An American version with Liam Neeson is in the works. In Norwegian with English subtitles, available on DVD ($26.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).
JACKIE CHAN PRESENTS AMNESIA (LiosnGate): The international superstar (who recently received an honorary Academy Award) is the executive producer for this PG-13-rated remake of his 1998 action thriller Who Am I? (originally titled Wo shi shei 2015) starring Wang Haixiang as an amnesiac bike courier who goes on the run after witnessing a murder, available on DVD ($19.98 retail)
KNUCKLEHEAD (RLJ Entertainment): Writer/producer/director Ben Bowman’s award-winning debut feature is an offbeat urban parable starring producer Gbenga Akinnagbe (first-rate) as a mentally impaired loner obsessed that a new drug can cure him, but forced to contend with abusive mother Alfre Woodard. ***
MORRIS FROM AMERICA (LionsGate): UNCSA School of Filmmaking graduate Chad Hartigan wrote and directed this appealing, award-winning, coming-of-age comedy starring Marques Christmas (in his screen debut) in the title role, a lonely teenager living with his widowed father (Craig Robinson) in Germany, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.98 retail). Rated R. ***
NEVER (Indican Pictures): Writer/producer/director Brett Allen Smith’s award-winning debut feature focuses on the relationship that develops between troubled twenty-somethings Zelda Williams (daughter of Robin) and Zachary Booth in Seattle. A bit on the talky side, but Williams and Booth give empathetic performances, and Smith is a talent to watch. **½
ONE KISS (TLA Releasing): Ivan Controneo’s award-winning drama (originally titled Un bacio) details the simmering passions and jealousies that threaten to tear apart three teenage friends (Rimau Ritzberger Grillo, Valentina Romani and Leonardo Pazzagli). In Italian with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.99 retail).
ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING (Olive Films): Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1942 wartime thriller sees the crew of a downed British bomber trying to survive in occupied Dutch territory, with Hugh Burdon, Eric Portman, Hugh Williams, Godfrey Tearle, Googie Withers, Joyce Redman, Emrys Jones, Bernard Miles Pamela Brown and Peter Ustinov rounding out the cast. Future directors David Lean and Ronald Neame were editor and cinematographer, respectively. Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Special Effects, available on DVD ($14.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).
THE ORPHAN KILLER (Reel Gore Releasing): Writer/producer/director/editor/co-cinematographer and co-star Matt Farnsworth’s low-budget, gore-soaked shocker stars David Backhaus in the title role of a masked maniac who terrorizes and tortures older sister Diane Foster (also a producer) as he embarks on a murderous spree. Veterans John Savage and Karen Young are wasted in small roles. The DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $34.95. ½
THE SEASONS IN QUINCY (Icarus Films): Subtitled Four Portraits of John Berger, this exploration of the life and work of the artist, philosopher and humanist is not a conventional documentary, and reflects the sensibilities and observations of its four directors: Tilda Swinton (whose segment is the first and best), Bartek Dziadosz, Colin MacCabe and Christopher Roth. **½
“SWAMP PEOPLE”: SEASON 7 (LionsGate): It’s back to the bayou for Troy Landry and his gator-hunting buddies, in all 10 episodes from the 2016 season of the popular A&E reality series, available on DVD ($19.98 retail), replete with bonus webisodes.
TEENAGE KICKS (TLA Releasing): Writer/director Craig Boreham’s drama stars Miles Szanto as a disillusioned teenager coming to terms with his sexuality and a family tragedy in contemporary Australia, available on DVD ($24.99 retail).
(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2017, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:email@example.com”firstname.lastname@example.org