Video Vault – Jul 10, 2019
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
THE SILENT PARTNER (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): A terrific movie perennially ripe for discovery (or rediscovery) is director Daryl Duke’s award-winning 1978 adaptation of Danish novelist Anders Bodelson’s Taenk pa et tal (Think of a Number), scripted by future Oscar winner Curtis Hanson, a consistently surprising, wickedly satisfying thriller that never lets up.
Miles Cullen (Elliott Gould), is a mild-mannered teller at a Toronto bank who’s been embezzling funds, and when the bank is robbed by Harry Reikle (Christopher Plummer) – disguised as Santa Claus, no less — Miles conceives a way of hiding his own crime while pinning it on Reikle, now languishing in prison.
Needless to say, this doesn’t sit well with Reikle, a sadistic, sexual psychopath bent not only on retribution, but retrieving the money he believes is due him. Once he’s released from prison, thus commences a meticulous, malevolent game of cat-and-mouse – one that ultimately involves Miles’s comely co-worker Julie (Susannah York) and an alluring seductress named Elaine (Celine Lomez), who has her own agenda.
Gould and Plummer are in top form, with Plummer giving what may be his most terrifying performance, and there’s also good work from York, Lomez, Sean Sullivan as the bank’s (usefully) doddering security guard, and a young John Candy as a fellow bank teller. Oscar Peterson’s score and crisp cinematography by Billy Williams are also major assets.
The DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interview with Gould, and radio spot. Rated R. ***½
ACCIDENT (Well Go USA Entertainment): Stephanie Shield, Roxane Hayward, Tyrone Keough, and Keenan Arrison play partying teenagers whose Lake Tahoe excursion goes awry when their stolen car crashes into a ravine, and then the (very unhappy) owner shows up). Writer/director Don Tondowski’s feature debut, filmed in South Africa, is reasonably well-made but otherwise below-average scare fare. The Blu-ray retails for $29.98. *½
“DIVORCED DAD” (Kino Lorber): The Canadian comedy collective Astron-6 (Adam Brooks, Gilles Degagne, Matthew Kennedy, and Conor Sweeney) returns for this irreverent comedy web series wherein the title character (Kennedy) undergoes a mid-life crisis and launches a cable-access television series. All five episodes from the inaugural 2018 season – plus bonus features – are available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail).
“THE EMMANUELLE TRILOGY” (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Sylvia Kristel (1952-2012) became in international sex goddess in her portrayal of the amorously adventurous, titular heroine of the softcore romps based on the best-selling novel by Emmanuelle Arsan: Emmanuelle (1974), directed by Just Jaeckin; the 1975 follow-up Emmanuelle 2, directed by Francis Giacobetti; and 1977’s Emmanuelle 3 (Goodbye, Emmanuelle), directed by Francois Leterrier. Each special-edition DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include retrospective interviews, trailers, English or French (with English subtitles) audio options, and more.
HOW TO STUFF A WILD BIKINI (Olive Films): Writer/director William Asher’s appropriately splashy 1965 comedy/musical – the sixth in the Beach Party series – relegates Frankie Avalon to cameo status, tapping witch doctor “Bwana” (Buster Keaton!) to prevent Annette Funicello from dallying with Dwayne Hickman during his absence. Lightweight fluff with an appealing cast: Mickey Rooney, Brian Donlevy, Beverly Adams, John Ashley, Jody McCrea, Len Lesser, Irene Tsu, Bobbi Shaw, The Kingsmen, Playboy Playmate Marianne Gaba, Michele Carey (in her screen debut), an unbilled Elizabeth Montgomery (Asher’s then-wife), and the priceless Harvey Lembeck as buffoonish biker leader Eric von Zipper, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail). **
IYENGAR: THE MAN, YOGA, AND THE STUDENT’S JOURNEY (Alive Mind Cinema/Kino Lorber): The title tells all in filmmaker Jake Clennell’s feature documentary tracing the life, practices, and spiritual teachings of the internationally renowned but famously reclusive yogi B.K.S. Iyengar, available on DVD ($29.95 retail).
THE LAST RACE (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Writer/director Michael Dweck’s engaging, award-winning feature documentary debut chronicles the history of Riverhead Raceway in New York, which has played host to the stock-car racing circuit since 1949 but it now on the verge of its final season, with the history of the sport smoothly interspersed with interviews about the track. The DVD ($26.98 retail) includes additional footage, scenes, and interviews. ***
MATRIARCH (LionsGate): Actor Scott Vickers makes his feature debut as writer/executive producer/director of this predictable but well-made shocker starring Charlie Blackwood and Vickers as expectant parents who are taken prisoner by deranged farm couple Julie Hannan (in her screen debut) and Alan Cuthbert (making his feature debut as producer), benefiting from first-timer Paul Riley’s cinematography, Philip Curran’s score, and a neat twist ending. Rated R. **
MAZE (Lightyear Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/director Stephen Burke’s award-winning dramatization of the mass prison escape by members of the Irish Republican Army in 1983, as masterminded by prisoner Larry Marley (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), available on Blu-ray ($24.95 retail) boasting audio commentary and Burke’s 1997 short film 81.
MOKO JUMBIE (IndiePix Films): Filmmaker Vashti Anderson’s colorful debut feature is set in 1990 Trinidad and dramatizes the blossoming, yet forbidden, romance between Vanna Girod and newcomer Jeremy Thomas, set against the backdrop of political tumult. A colorful, ethereal exploration of the region’s traditions and culture, beautifully shot by cinematographer Shlomo Godder, but this definitely moves at its own pace. The DVD ($24.95 retail) includes audio commentary. **½
ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): This atmospheric but stodgy 1984 Agatha Christie adaptation stars Donald Sutherland as an American scientist determined to prove the innocence of a man hanged for the murder of his wealthy mother (Faye Dunaway, seen in black-and-white flashbacks), despite the family’s efforts to quell his investigation. A good cast includes Christopher Plummer, Sarah Miles, Diana Quick, Annette Crosbie and Michael Elphick, but Dave Brubeck’s score is jarringly inappropriate, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail). Rated PG-13. **
OVERLORD (Paramount Home Media Distribution): Eye-popping visuals and blazing violence dominate this shallow but entertaining (and award-winning!) World War II sci-fi saga in which American paratroopers behind enemy lines encounter a bizarre Nazi experiment that gives soldiers super strength … and rather a nasty disposition. Produced by J.J. Abrams, this combines state-of-the-art special effects with hoary war-movie cliches, essentially reducing the conflict to a comic-book level, but it’s certainly never dull. The ensemble cast includes Wyatt Russell, Jovan Adepo, Pilou Asbaek, John Magaro, and Bokeem Woodbine, available on DVD ($25.99 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($31.99 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($34.99 retail). Rated R. **½
THE POISON ROSE (LionsGate): John Travolta headlines this R-rated adaptation of screenwriter Richard Salvatore’s contemporary film-noir as a hard-drinking Los Angeles private eye who returns home to Galveston to investigate a missing person’s case, with Morgan Freeman, Famke Janssen, Brendan Fraser, Robert Patrick, Peter Stormare, Kat Graham, and John’s real-life daughter Ella Bleu Travolta lending star-studded support, available on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($21.99 retail) – each boasting audio commentary.
QUARANTINE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): U.S. President Harry Hamlin and scientist Nastassja Kinski race against the clock to prevent germ warfare from decimating the planet in this laughably hokey, relentlessly soapy, alarmist disaster melodrama, originally broadcast on ABC in 2000. In this case, contamination by cliches is terminal. The DVD ($19.95 retail) includes bonus trailers. ½
“RKO CLASSIC ROMANCES” (Lobster Films/Kino Classics): A self-explanatory collection of five pre-Code love stories released by RKO Radio Pictures and digitally restored: Millie (1931), based on Donald Henderson Clarke’s novel and starring Helen Twelvetrees in the title role; Kept Husbands (1931) starring Joel McCrea, Dorothy Mackaill, and Clara Kimball Young; The Lady Refuses (1931) starring Betty Compson, John Darrow, and Gilbert Emery; The Woman Between (1931) starring Lili Damita, Lester Vail, O.P. Heggie, and Anita Louise; and Sin Takes a Holiday (1930) starring Constance Bennett and Basil Rathbone. The DVD retails for $34.95, the Blu-ray for $39.95.
SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Director Gordon Hessler’s mind-boggling 1970 sci-fi thriller, based on Peter Saxon’s novel The Disorientated Man, involves the creation of synthetic humanoids by mad scientist Vincent Price (who else?), mixed with political corruption and Cold War sensibilities. Despite prominent billing, Price, Christopher Lee (as a mysterious British operative), and Peter Cushing (in a single scene) don’t have much to do, although Michael Gothard and Alfred Marks are impressive as a murderous synthetic and the police inspector on his trail. Bizarre and convoluted but undeniably fascinating, this has a devoted cult following (including, reportedly, Fritz Lang!). Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include both the American and British versions, audio commentary, trailers, and more. Rated R. **½
A STAR IS BORN ENCORE (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. This “Encore” version includes 12 extra minutes. 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”) – winning only the last. The Blu-ray retails for $28.98. Rated R. ***
WONDER PARK (Paramount Home Entertainment): Eye-popping visuals make all the difference in this bubbly, if obvious, animated feature following a bright but brooding young girl (voiced by Sofia Mali, then Brianna Denski) whose imaginary amusement park – actually named “Wonderland” in the movie – magically comes to life. An all-star voice-over cast includes Jennifer Garner, Matthew Broderick, Mila Kunis, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong, Norbert Leo Butz, and John Oliver, available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail). Rated PG. **½
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2019, Mark Burger)