Video Vault – Aug 7, 2019
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
DO THE RIGHT THING (The Criterion Collection): Some 30 years on, in many ways Spike Lee’s breakthrough 1989 drama feels as fresh and relevant as ever.
The narrative encompasses the hottest day of the year in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City, mostly centered around a staple of the neighborhood: Sal’s Famous Pizzeria, run by the gruff but lovable Sal (Danny Aiello) and his sons, the racist Pino (John Turturro) and the more agreeable Vito (Richard Edson). Lee portrays Mookie, the wise-cracking and unmotivated delivery man.
Lee fleshes out the story with beautifully realized characters, including the booze-soaked sage “Da Mayor” (Ossie Davis), the aptly named “Mother Sister” (Ruby Dee), the firebrand “Buggin’ Out” (Giancarlo Esposito), the nobly stoic “Radio Raheem” (Bill Nunn), the mentally disabled “Smiley” (Roger Guenveur Smith), and Clifton (John Savage), who represents the imminent gentrification of the neighborhood.
Do the Right Thing was controversial only in the sense that it reflected cultural and societal realities in a brash, unsentimental fashion. Lee, never a reticent filmmaker, addressed the story’s issues in honest, hard-hitting (and occasionally self-indulgent) fashion – and he succeeded.
The film earned only two Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actor (Aiello) and Best Original Screenplay (Lee), but its legacy goes beyond that. It’s a film that still has something to say.
Both the DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray (39.95 retail) include audio commentary, retrospective and vintage interviews and featurettes, deleted and extended scene, theatrical trailer, TV spots, and more. Rated R. ***½
ALWAYS SAY YES (TLA Releasing): Gerardo Torres Rodriguez (in his screen debut) portrays a male model who embarks on a hedonistic spree of sex, love, and misadventure when he travels to Mexico City in writer/co-producer/director Alberto Fuguet’s LGBTQ drama (originally titled Siempre si). In Spanish with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.99 retail).
AMERICAN BEACH HOUSE (Monarch Home Entertainment): Three guys and three gals share a Malibu beach house in writer/director Straw Weisman’s generic 2015 romp, which plays like a bad episode of MTV’s The Real World. Boring, boorish, and by the numbers, with Mischa Barton (resident chaperone) and Lorenzo Lamas (lusty lifeguard) earning associate-producer credit. ½
BOOM! (Shout! Factory): Hollywood’s hottest couple, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, cooled off at the box-office with director Joseph Losey’s PG-rated 1968 adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, scripted by the author, depicting the allegorical relationship between a wealthy but terminally ill recluse (Taylor) and a mysterious poet (Burton) who may be “The Angel of Death.” Noel Coward, Michael Dunn, Joanna Shimkus, and Romolo Valli also appear. The “Shout Select” Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) includes audio commentary (with John Waters!), retrospective appraisal, original trailer, and more.
CHAIN OF DEATH (Cleopatra Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): Executive producer David Martin Porras wrote and directed this award-winning thriller starring Jack Patrick Amedori as a physician who, believing he’s suffering the same neurological condition as his abusive father (Ray Wise), becomes involved in a covert “support group” that carries out surreptitious assisted suicides. Potentially provocative and watchable, but also self-conscious, this never quite comes together, despite Adrienne Barbeau, Madeleine Zima, and Dey Young in support. The DVD ($19.95 retail) includes deleted scenes and trailer. **
“CMA AWARDS LIVE: GREATEST MOMENTS 1968-2015” (Time Life): The title tells all in this 10-DVD collection ($99.99 retail) showcasing 127 performances from the annual Country Music Awards ceremony, featuring such luminaries as Glen Campbell, Kenny Rogers, Alan Jackson, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Carrie Underwood, Barbara Mandrell, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, George Strait, Randy Travis, Brooks & Dunn, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, and many others – plus bonus interviews and collectible 44-page memory book.
CREED II (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Michael B. Jordan returns as boxer Adonis Creed in this sequel to 2015’s Creed, wherein he battles Viktor Drago (Florian “Big Nasty” Munteneau), the ferocious son of Russian boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), who killed Apollo Creed in the ring in Rocky IV (1985). Needless to say, training Adonis is a job for Rocky Balboa (writer/producer Sylvester Stallone). An excellent follow-up to Creed and far superior to Rocky IV. Lundgren is terrific, Brigitte Nielsen (once married to Stallone) a wicked treat as Drago’s ex-wife, and reliable Russell Hornsby first-rate as a slick fight promoter. Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad encore from Creed. Director Steven Caple Jr. ably fills in for executive producer Ryan Coogler, who was busy directing Black Panther. The DVD ($28.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($35.99 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($44.95 retail) each boast bonus features. Rated PG-13. ***½
“THE GOOD PLACE”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (Shout! Factory): This award-winning NBC sitcom, created by Michael Schur, stars Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, and Manny Jacinto as average people struggling to achieve the high moral and compassionate standards of the titular otherworldly realm, with Ted Danson as their proverbial “guardian angel,” in all 12 episodes from the 2018-’19 season, for which the series earned Emmy nominations as Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Danson), Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (Maya Rudolph), and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, available on DVD ($19.99 retail), replete with bonus features.
THE ISLAND (Well Go USA Entertainment): Leading man Huang Bo makes his feature debut as writer and director of this award-winning adventure romp (originally titled Yi chu hao xi), in which he and co-workers Shi Qu, Wang Baoqiang, and Zhand Yixing try to survive after being shipwrecked on a deserted island. In Mandarin with English subtitles, available on Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).
LUMINOUS MOTION (Kino Lorber): Director Bette Gordon’s 1998 adaptation of Scott Bradfield’s novel The History of Luminous Motion (co-scripted by the author) follows free-wheeling single mother Deborah Kara Unger and her young son (Eric Lloyd) as they con their way across the country – pursued by his estranged father Jamey Sheridan until she settles down with carpenter Terry Kinney. Both the DVD ($29.95) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail) include audio commentary and more.
“MAGNUM P.I.”: SEASON ONE (CBS DVD/Paramount): Jay Hernandez steps into Tom Selleck’s shoes as the Hawaiian-based private investigator, in all 20 episodes from the inaugural 2018-’19 season of the CBS remake/reboot of the popular ’80s crime series updated to present day, with Magnum a veteran of Afghanistan. Perdita Weeks (as Higgins), Stephen Hill, Zachary Knighton, and Tim Kang round out the regular cast, with guest appearances by Carl Weathers, Ken Jeong, Jordana Brewster, Jamie Lynn-Sigler, Elisabeth Rohm, and Domenick Lombardozzi. The five-DVD collection ($49.99 retail) includes bonus features.
MOUNTAIN REST (FilmRise/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/director Alex O. Eaton’s award-winning drama stars Frances Conroy as a reclusive, retired actress determined to reunite with her estranged daughter Kate Lyn Sheil and granddaughter Natalia Dyer, available in a special-edition Blu-ray ($24.95 retail), replete with bonus features including deleted scenes and interviews.
RESURRECTING THE CHAMP (MVD Entertainment Group): Producer/director Rod Lurie’s PG-13-rated adaptation of J.R. Moehringer’s magazine article stars Josh Hartnett as a Denver sportswriter who encounters Samuel L. Jackson’s derelict, who claims to have once been a boxing champion. Alan Alda, Kathryn Morris, Peter Coyote, David Paymer, Teri Hatcher, and Rachel Nichols also appear. The “MVD Marquee” Blu-ray ($24.95 retail) includes audio commentary, featurette and interviews, and original theatrical trailer.
RUBEN BRANDT, COLLECTOR (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Noted Hungarian animator Milorad Krstic makes an imaginative, indulgent, award-winning feature debut with this surreal, highly stylized, animated comedy in with the titular psycho-therapist (voiced by Ivan Kamaris) enlists the assistance of several patient to steal legendary works of art from around the world. Loaded with pop-culture references, this is a surefire cult contender, as well as an auspicious bow for writer/producer/director Krstic. Rated R. ***
“SESAME STREET: DANCE PARTY” (Sesame Workshop/Shout! Kids/Shout! Factory): A self-explanatory DVD ($14.98 retail) set on “Dance Your Favorite Dance Day” with such beloved Muppets as Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, Abby Cadabby, and Elmo joined by such human guests as Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Maria Menounos, Amy Ryan, Sutton Foster, Wendy Williams, and Janelle Monae.
SHAZAM! (New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): The DC Universe expands in this PG-13-rated big-screen incarnation of the DC Comics superhero, embodied by Zachary Levi. Asher Angel plays his Earthbound alter-ego Billy Batson, with Mark Strong, Adam Brody, Djimon Hounsou, Jack Dylan Grazer, Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Cooper Andrews, and Marta Milans in support, available on DVD ($28.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($35.99 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($44.95 retail) each boast bonus features.
“VIDAGO PALACE” (Acorn TV): A two-DVD collection ($39.99 retail) of all six feature-length episodes from the award-winning 2017 mini-series set in 1936 Portugal, starring Mikaela Lupu as a young aristocrat infatuated with David Seijo, the son of the concierge of the Vidago Palace Hotel, which complicates her intention of marrying wealthy Pedro Barroso, who has consented to save her family from bankruptcy. In Gallegan and Portuguese with English subtitles.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2019, Mark Burger)