Video Vault – Mar 13, 2019
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS (Shout! Factory): Remakes rarely surpass, much less equal, the original, but this 1988 remake of Bedtime Story (1964) – which boasted the immortal comic duo of David Niven and Marlon Brando – is superior in every way, as well as marking a high point for director Frank Oz.
Here, we have Michael Caine as suave con artist Lawrence Jamieson and Steve Martin as upstart American hustler Freddy Benson, who attempts to move in on Jamieson’s territory on the French Riviera. Their escalating attempts to show up the other reaches its zenith when they make a $50,000 wager on who can first bilk bubble-headed heiress Janet Colgate (Glenne Headly).
Caine and Martin make a delightful duo and the much-missed Headly an ideal foil, with pleasing support from Barbara Harris, Dana Ivey, Ian McDiarmid, Louis Zorich, Francis Conroy, and Anton Rodgers, the latter as the local police inspector – although conveniently in cahoots with Jamieson.
Although a box-office success, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels never got the sequel treatment, although it was later adapted into a successful stage musical, and this May we’ll have The Hustle, with Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson attempting to one-up the other.
The “Shout Select” Blu-ray ($29.99 retail), includes audio commentary, featurette, trailers, and retrospective interview. Rated PG-13. ***½
BAD REPUTATION (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Rock icon Joan Jett recounts her life and career in director/cinematographer Kevin Kerslake’s award-winning documentary – which is just as funky, punky and spirited as its subject – and an absolute must for music mavens. The DVD ($26.98 retail) includes bonus features. Rated R. ***½
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Rami Malek won the Academy Award as Best Actor for his dazzling turn as legendary rock star Freddie Mercury in this appropriately colorful big-screen biography that became an unexpected blockbuster, despite the controversy surrounding credited director Bryan Singer. Yet for all the flash and panache, it’s still a disappointment; Malek’s is the only character to emerge with any dimension, and this tends to manipulate and whitewash history for its own sake. Watching this, you’d think Live Aid was a complete failure until Queen performed, which was hardly the case. Oscar winner for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing, with an additional nomination for Best Picture, available on DVD ($29.95 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.99 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($39.99 retail) – each replete with special features. Rated PG-13. **
“THE BROKENWOOD MYSTERIES”: SERIES 5 (Acorn TV): Neill Rea, Fern Sutherland and Nic Sampson are back on the case, investigating crimes in the titular New Zealand town, a seemingly bucolic burg with dark secrets all its own, in all four feature-length episodes from the 2018 season of the popular mystery series, available on DVD and Blu-ray (each $59.99 retail).
BURNING (Well Go USA Entertainment): Producer/screenwriter/director Lee Chang-dong’s award-winning epic (originally titled Beoning) is based on Haruki Murakami’s short story Barn Burning and examines contemporary confusion and obsession as it follows three characters (Steven Yeun, Ah-in Yoo, and newcomer Jong-seo Jun) whose individual paths are destined to collide. In English and Korean with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.98 retail).
DUETS (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): This episodic 2000 comedy, which marked the final film of producer/director Bruce Paltrow, follows a disparate group of characters who find themselves competing in karaoke contests. A fine ensemble cast includes Bruce’s daughter Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Giamatti, Maria Bello, Huey Lewis, Andre Braugher, Angie Dickinson, Maya Rudolph, Lochlyn Munro, Marian Seldes, and Scott Speedman (who played Paltrow’s love interest when she broke up Brad Pitt, who’d originally been cast) – but there’s only so much they can do with such flimsy, contrived material. Both the DVD ($11.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.95 retail) include audio commentary, music video, original trailer and more. Rated R. *½
HALLOWEEN (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): UNCSA graduates David Gordon Green (director/co-writer/executive producer) and Danny McBride (co-writer/executive producer) do right by executive producer/composer John Carpenter in the latest installment of the 40-year-old big-screen series, in which executive producer Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode, determined to protect her estranged daughter (Judy Greer) and granddaughter (Andi Matichak) from unstoppable killing machine Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney), on the rampage once more. Made with respect for the genre and the franchise’s fans, which makes all the difference. The DVD ($29.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.98 retail) and 4K Ultra HD combo ($39.98 retail) all boast bonus features. Rated R. ***
THE JERK (Shout! Factory): A 40th-anniversary “Shout Select” Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) of co-writer Steve Martin’s first starring vehicle, which conveys the rags-to-riches saga of Martin’s title character, an all-American moron named Navin Johnson. The first of several collaborations between Martin and director Carl Reiner (who makes an amusing cameo), and so eager to please that it’s hard to resist, with zealous support from Bernadette Peters, Jackie Mason, Catlin Adams, M. Emmet Walsh, Bill Macy, Maurice Evans (in his final film), Dick Anthony Williams, Dick O’Neill, and the priceless duo of Mabel King and Richard Ward as Navin’s (adopted) parents. Special features include retrospective featurettes, trailers and radio spots, and more. Rated R. **½
THE ROVER (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Director Terence Young’s flawed adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novel stars Anthony Quinn as an 18th-century buccaneer who becomes involved with a deranged girl (Rosanna Schiaffano) and her lonely aunt (Rita Hayworth) in the coastal port of Toulon while he plans his escape – until French officer Richard Johnson starts nosing around. Originally produced in 1967 (as L’avventuriero) and barely released in the United States four years later, this exemplifies the difficulty in adapting Conrad to the screen, although Ennio Morricone’s score and Quinn’s charisma add heft. Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentary. **
SHIPS (IndiePix Films): Writer/producer/director Elif Relig’s award-winning 2013 debut feature (originally titled Ferahfeza) follows compulsive dreamer Ugur Uzunel and hip graffiti artist M. Sitare Akbas as they embark on a day-long journey through Turkey’s port cities in search of a ship that Uzunel has seen only in dreams. In Turkish with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
“SISTER STREET FIGHTER COLLECTION” (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Etsuko “Sue” Shiomi attained cult status as a martial-arts icon in this trio of action extravaganzas spun off from Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba’s Street Fighter franchise: Sister Street Fighter (Onna Hissatsu Ken) was released in 1974 and features Chiba, Sister Street Fighter: Hanging by a Thread (Onna Hissatsu Ken Kiki ippatsu) followed the same year, then Return of the Sister Street Fighter (Kaettekita Onna Hissatsu Ken) in 1975. The two-disc Blu-ray special edition ($49.95 retail) includes all three films, fully restored and uncut, plus bonus features.
SNOWFLAKE (Artsploitation): This mind-bending, award-winning shocker (originally titled Schneeflockchen) stars Reza Brojerdi and producer Erkan Acar as hired killers whose actions are dictated by the whims of a dentist (Alexander Schubert) who is writing his first screenplay. In German with English subtitles, available on DVD ($14.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail) – each including behind-the-scenes featurette.
“SPRING TIDE” (MHz Networks): Julia Ragnarsson plays a rookie police officer whose investigation of an unsolved 25-year-old murder becomes both an obsession and a personal crusade, in all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2016 season of the award-winning Swedish mystery series (originally titled “Springfloden”), based on the best-selling novel by the husband-and-wife team of Cilla and Rolf Borjlind, available in a three-DVD collection ($39.95 retail).
A STAR IS BORN (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Making his feature debut as director and co-writer, producer/star Bradley Cooper scores big with this entertaining (if overlong) remake of the Hollywood chestnut, in which he portrays a talented but self-destructive singer/songwriter who woos and wins aspiring starlet Lady Gaga (in an impressive big-screen debut), only to see her fame overshadow his. Nominated for eight Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor (Sam Elliott), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Song (“Shallow”) – just only the latter. The DVD ($28.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($35.99 retail) and 4K Ultra HD combo ($44.95 retail) all boast bonus features. Rated R. ***
THE TROUBLE WITH TERKEL (Indican Pictures): This zany animated 2010 farce – a remake of the 2004 Danish hit Terkel in Trouble – follows the antics of the title character (voiced by Mike Olsen, making his screen debut), a tormented schoolboy who is beleaguered at home, bullied at school, and pursued by a psychotic killer. Filled with raunchy jokes and goofy musical numbers, this flaunts political incorrectness at every turn and is definitely not for the kiddies, but despite cult potential it’s hit-and-miss throughout. Rated R. **
WE, THE MARINES (Shout! Factory): Gene Hackman, himself a Marine (as well as being a peerless actor), narrates this self-explanatory 2017 MacGillivray Freeman IMAX documentary that chronicles the history of the U.S. Marine Corps, available in a 4K HD Ultra/Blu-ray combo ($29.93 retail).
WEST OF REDEMPTION (Indican Pictures): Billy Zane stars in this noir-ish, award-winning psychological drama as a small-town recluse who takes traumatized combat veteran Keven Alejandro hostage for reasons that gradually become clear – and directly involve Zane’s young wife (Mariana Klaveno). Not so much an exploitation film as a character study, with a few twists thrown in. Occasionally bumpy but worth a look. **½
WIDOWS (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Director Steve McQueen and best-selling author Gillian Flynn adapted Lynda La Plante’s 1983 British mini-series, updated and transposed to Chicago, in which three widows (Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki and Michelle Rodriguez) must join forces to pull off a $2 million heist after their criminal husbands are killed during a similar heist. Intense, well-acted and satisfying, with a fascinating political undercurrent that adds further resonance (to say nothing of reality), although the narrative occasionally struggles to tie up loose ends. A very strong ensemble cast includes Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Danuel Kaluuya, Cynthia Erivo, Carrie Coon, Jacki Weaver, Lukas Haas, Garrett Dillahunt, Jon Bernthal, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Kevin J. O’Connor. The DVD ($29.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail) and 4K Ultra HD combo ($39.99 retail) each include bonus features. Rated R. ***
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2019, Mark Burger)