Video Vault – Apr 11, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
WOMEN IN LOVE (The Criterion Collection): Often labeled a provocateur, the always-controversial Ken Russell earned considerable – and deserved – acclaim for this 1969 adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s classic novel, presented in a frank manner quite in tune with Russell’s approach.
The story takes place in post-World War I England, beautifully recaptured by Billy Williams’ gorgeous cinematography, following sisters Gudrun (Glenda Jackson) and Ursula Brangwen (Jennie Linden) as they become romantically involved with best friends Gerald Crich (Oliver Reed) and Rupert Birkin (Alan Bates) in a small coal-mining town.
Gudrun is forthright and assertive, Ursula traditional and grounded. Conversely, Rupert is contemplative and curious, Gerald more compulsive. The actors all bring sharp conviction to their roles – doing full justice to Lawrence’s themes, which remain intact in Larry Kramer’s potent, perceptive screenplay. As the title implies, this is a film about love – in all its passion and all its pain.
Released in the US in 1970, Women in Love was an art-house smash, earning Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Jackson winning the Oscar as Best Actress.
Both the DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) include audio commentaries, retrospective and vintage interviews, theatrical trailer, and more. Rated R. ***½
ALONG WITH THE GODS: THE TWO WORLDS (Well Go USA Entertainment): Writer/director Yong-hwa Kim’s award-winning adaptation of a popular web-comic (originally titled Singwa hamgge) stars Jung-woo Ha as a heroic firefighter who dies unexpectedly and must complete several unearthly tasks before being allowed to return to life via reincarnation. A major box-office hit in its native Korea, with a sequel (Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days) due for release this year. In Korean with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.98 retail), both boasting special features.
BAD COMPANY (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): A slick, standard-issue 1995 thriller in the John Grisham mold, starring Laurence Fishburne as an ex-CIA agent who infiltrates a covert outfit known as “The Toolshed,” which specializes in extortion and murder, with Ellen Barkin in femme-fatale mode, Frank Langella, Michael Beach, Gia Carides, David Ogden Stiers, Spalding Gray, Daniel Hugh Kelly, James Hong, and an unbilled Michael Murphy adding a little heft. Both the DVD ($14.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.95 retail) include audio commentary, original trailer, and more. Rated R. **
BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL (Indican Pictures): Satanic panic grips Atlanta with the seductive succubus of Biblical lore, Lilith (newcomer Alice Rose) at large – and on a collision course with brooding college student (Grant Harvey), who himself possesses supernatural powers. Writer/director Joshua Coates’ daft, dull combination of faith-based drama and gory shocker, some of it filmed in North Carolina, hindered by endless talk, bland performances and a spotty narrative. Eric Roberts earns third billing for a cameo as a reality-TV host in the opening scene, and it’s all downhill from there. ½
GONE ARE THE DAYS (LionsGate): Ailing outlaw Lance Henriksen seeks redemption by reuniting with wayward daughter Meg Steedle in editor/producer/director Mark Landre Gould’s feature debut, with a genre-friendly cast including Tom Berenger, Steve Railsback, and Danny Trejo. Leisurely paced, with too much soul-searching, but good period flavor makes this worth a look for Western buffs, plus it’s nice to see reliable Henriksen in the lead. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $21.99. Rated R. **
HEARTWORN HIGHWAYS REVISITED (FilmRise/MVD Entertainment Group): Filmmaker Wayne Price picks up where the late Jim Szalapski’s 1976 documentary Heartworn Highways left off, as he continues the explortation of the “Outlaw Country” movement in music, featuring appearances by Guy Clark, Steve Young and David Allan Coe (encoring from the first film) while introducing the next generation, whose members include John McCauley, Shovels & Rope, Justin Townes Earle, Shelly Colvin, Andrew Combs, Jonny Fritz and others, available on DVD ($19.95 retail).
“INDIEPIX FESTIVAL FAVORITES, VOLUME 4” (IndiePix Films): A three-DVD collection ($59.95 retail) of critically acclaimed foreign films: Sibling writer/producer/directors Michael and Joel Florescu’s 2014 Romanian drama So Bright is the View (Atat de stralucitoare e vederea); producer/co-writer/director Daniel Hoesl’s award-winning, PG-13-rated debut feature, the Greek satire Soldier Jane (Soldate Jeannette): and writer/executive producer/director Syllas Tzoumaerkas’ award-winning Greek thriller A Blast.
INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): The fourth installment in the popular, R-rated horror franchise is a “sequel to a prequel,” with Lin Shaye reprising her role as an intrepid parapsychologist who confronts her own haunted past with the help of ghost-hunting sidekicks Angus Sampson and writer/producer Leigh Whannell, available on DVD ($30.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.99 retail), each replete with special features.
THE MAN FROM OUTER SPACE (Indican Pictures): Writer/director Ben Hall’s encouraging debut feature expands upon his 2011 short, with Christopher Watson as an overworked screenwriter whose obsession with his latest script, an existential science-fiction drama (in which Watson envisions himself the leading role) is costing him his family. Despite a low budget, this is an intriguing and ambitious attempt at parallel storytelling – and worth a look. **½
MY FRIEND DAHMER (FilmRise/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/producer/director Marc Meyers’ award-winning, R-rated adaptation of Derf Backderf’s acclaimed graphic novel dramatizes the high-school years of future serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer (Ross Lynch), with Vicent Kartheiser, Alex Wolff (as Backderf), and Anne Heche and Dallas Roberts as Dahmer’s parents, available on Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).
PINOCCHIO (LionsGate): The classic Carlo Collodi tale about a boy puppet is retold in this award-winning, family-friendly, PG-rated animated adaptation featuring the voices of Jon Heder, Ambyr Childers, and Johnny Orlando as Pinocchio, available on DVD ($14.98 retail).
THE SOULTANGLER (AGFA/MVD Entertainment): Writer/editor/line producer/director Pat Bishow’s ultra-cheap 1987 debut feature is a direct steal from Re-Animator (1985), with Pierre Devaux (Bishow’s brother-in-law, in his only feature to date) as the Lovecraftian mad scientist who has developed a formula for reviving the dead, resulting in a slew of cheesy zombies at large on Long Island. Jane Kinser (in her only feature to date) plays the local reporter whose nightmarish hallucinations put her on a collision course with the diabolical doc. Stilted, senseless and technically inept, but occasionally hilarious. The gory finale and heavy-metal theme song (!) are a hoot. The special-edition (!) DVD ($19.95 retail) includes audio commentary, behind-the-scenes footage, music video, and the original 62-minute director’s cut. Rated R. *½
TAD THE LOST EXPLORER AND THE SECRET OF KING MIDAS (Paramount): The title tells all in this award-winning PG-rated follow-up to the animated 2012 adventure, with Oscar Barberin reprising the voice of the title character, available on DVD ($19.99 retail).
THE TRIBES OF PALOS VERDES (IFC Films/Shout! Factory): Maika Monroe headlines sibling directors Brendan and Emmett Malloy’s award-winning, R-rated adaptation of Joy Nicholson’s 1997 novel, as an aspiring surfer contending with her dysfunctional, self-destructive family, co-starring Jennifer Garner (also an executive producer), Justin Kirk, Cody Fern, Noah Silver and Alicia Silverstone, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail).
WITHIN THE DARKNESS (Indican Pictures): The production team of a would-be reality-TV show investigates a supposedly haunted house – and guess what happens next? – in co-writer/co-producer/director Jonathan Zuck’s uneven low-budget shocker, which can’t seem to decide whether or not to be taken seriously, despite a few jolts and a neat twist at the end. *½
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)