Video Vault – Jun 5, 2019
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
THE HEIRESS (The Criterion Collection): Olivia de Havilland took home an Oscar for her performance of the title role in this 1949 screen adaptation of the 1947 Broadway hit, inspired by the classic 1880 Henry James novel Washington Square.
The plain, timid spinster Catherine Sloper (de Havilland) is unexpectedly delighted when she attracts the attention of Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift), a wealthy wastrel whom Catherine’s domineering father, prominent New York physician Dr. Austin Sloper (Ralph Richardson), suspects – perhaps justifiably – of being interested only in her inheritance.
Despite the encouragement of her flighty but compassionate aunt Lavinia (Miriam Hopkins), Catherine is torn between devotion to her father and the possibility that Morris is her last, best hope for happiness.
Under the attentive direction of William Wyler, the story crackles with unspoken tension. Wyler, renowned for getting the best out of actors, certainly did so here – and under trying circumstances. Clift, in only his third film, believed (not incorrectly) that Wyler was ceding the film to de Havilland (who had personally asked Wyler to direct), and Richardson’s attempts at scene-stealing were a further hassle for the actress. No matter, because what remains is what’s on the screen. This is a timeless tale of love lost and hopes dashed, unavoidably theatrical and occasionally studied at times but still a classic.
In addition to de Havilland’s win (her second as Best Actress), The Heiress also won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (black-and-white), Best Costume Design (Edith Head and Gile Steele) and Best Score (Aaron Copland), with additional nominations for Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Richardson), Best Cinematography (black-and-white), and Best Picture.
Both the DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) include retrospective featurettes and interviews, theatrical trailer, and more. ***½
“BLOOD” (Acorn TV): Sophie Petzal created this acclaimed mystery series starring Carolina Main as a prodigal daughter who returns to her childhood home in Ireland upon learning of her mother’s accidental death, but begins to suspect that her well-respected physician father (Adrian Dunbar) may somehow have been involved. All six feature-length episodes from the inaugural 2018 season – plus bonus features – are available on DVD and Blu-ray (each $39.99 retail).
“CAPTAIN MARLEAU” (MHz Networks): Corinne Masiero portrays the title character in this French-language mystery series (originally titled Capitaine Marleau) created by Elsa Marpeau and directed by executive producer Josee Dayan, a captain of the French Gendarmerie whose quirky demeanor masks a brilliance in solving baffling crimes, as she tangles with an all-star variety of suspects including Gerard Depardieu, David Suchet, Victoria Abril, Julie Depardieu (Gerard’s daughter), Sandrine Bonnaire, Jean-Hughes Anglade, and more. “Volume 1” includes six feature-length episodes from the 2015-’16 season in a three-DVD collection ($39.95 retail), “Volume 2” includes six feature-length episodes from the 2016-’17 season in a three-DVD collection ($39.95 retail).
THE GUILTY (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Screenwriter/director Gustav Moller’s award-winning police procedural (originally titled Den skyldige) stars Jakob Cedergren as a disillusioned Copenhagen cop, relegated to emergency-dispatcher status, who receives a panic-stricken call from a woman claiming to have been kidnapped. An impressive, tightly wound yarn that wastes no time and hits the ground running. In Danish with English subtitles, available on DVD ($26.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail). Rated R. ***
HIGHWAY PATROLMAN (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Alex Cox’s award-winning 1991 drama (originally titled El patrullero) is seen through the eyes of Roberto Sosa, as an ambitious but naïve rookie policeman who discovers first-hand the corruption of law enforcement and government in Mexico City. In English and Spanish with English subtitles, both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentary, featurette, 2018 re-release trailer, and more.
“LONDON KILLS”: SERIES 1 (Acorn TV): Paul Marquess created this crime series dramatizing the efforts of a crack police unit headed by Hugo Speer and Sharon Speer as they attempt the crack the toughest cases in the titular city, with Bailey Patrick and Tori Allen-Martin as fellow detectives. All five feature-length episodes from the inaugural 2019 season – plus behind-the-scenes featurette – are available on DVD and Blu-ray (each $39.99 retail).
MADE ME DO IT (Indican Pictures): Writer/producer/director Benjamin Ironside Koppin’s debut feature is a grim, grisly shocker starring Kyle Van Vonderen (in his feature debut) as a psychologically damaged (and mask-wearing) serial killer who returns to his hometown where he terrorizes siblings Anna B. Shaffer (making her feature debut as actress and producer) and Jason Gregory London (in his feature debut) and her high-school boyfriend (Liston Spence). Repetitious but sometimes interesting, although the twist ending doesn’t really work. **
MAKING A KILLING (Cleopatra Entertainment/Shoreline Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/producer/director Devin Hume’s debut feature is a fact-based combination of black comedy and film noir, following small-town mortician Mike Starr and brother Jude Moran as they attempt to abscond with the priceless coin collection of fellow mortician Christopher Lloyd, recently paroled from prison. Slow-moving but well-acted, with Michael Jai White, Sally Kirkland, and Aida Turturro offering sturdy support. **½
MAN’S BEST FRIEND (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A special-edition Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) of writer/director John Lafia’s 1993 award-winning sci-fi shocker, in which a genetically enhanced guard dog goes on a rampage after being set free by well-meaning reporter Ally Sheedy, with Robert Costanzo and John Cassini the obligatory dumb cops on the case, and the ever-intense Lance Henriksen as the resident mad scientist. Hardly a great work of art, but fast-paced and entertaining, with a few laughs along the way. Special features include audio commentary, theatrical trailer, TV spots, and more. Rated R. **½
NEVER EVER (Film Movement): The passionate romance between acclaimed but struggling filmmaker Mathieu Amalric and performance artist Julia Roy forms the centerpiece of this uneven existential psychological drama (originally titled A Jamais), adapted from Don DeLillo’s novella The Body Artist by Ray. The nerve-jangling score by Bruno Coulais is a major asset. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail). **½
“PAW PATROL: JUNGLE RESCUES” (Nickelodeon/Paramount Home Entertainment): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($10.99 retail) of seven episodes from the award-winning animated Nickelodeon children’s series, created by Keith Chapman, detailing the adventures of a group of courageous canines.
THE SHAPE OF NOW (IndiePix Films): Filmmaker Manuel Correa’s feature documentary examines the impact and legacy of the 50-year civil war in Colombia, which ostensibly ended in 2016 despite a lingering atmosphere of suspicion and anger. Thoughtful and low-key, but curiously detached. In Spanish with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail). **
“SOUTH PARK”: THE COMPLETE TWENTY-SECOND SEASON (Comedy Central Home Entertainment): Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Emmy- and Peabody-winning Comedy Central animated juggernaut continues in all 10 episodes from the 2018 season, once again nominated for the Emmy Award as Outstanding Animated Program, available on DVD ($29.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($42.99 retail) – each replete with special features.
THIS WAY MADNESS LIES … (First Run Features): Documentary filmmaker Sandra Luckow turns the cameras on herself and her family as she chronicles, in first-hand fashion, her brother Duanne’s descent into schizophrenia, forcing her to become his legal conservator. A harrowing, heartbreaking, and powerful plea for better understanding of mental illness. ***½
“TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN”: SEASON ONE (Paramount Home Entertainment): Executive producer John Krasinski steps into the shoes of Tom Clancy’s eponymous CIA analyst, in all eight episodes from the inaugural 2018-’19 season of the Amazon Studios action series based on Clancy’s character, with Wendell Pierce as Ryan’s mentor James Greer and Abbie Cornish as Ryan’s girlfriend, Cathy Mueller, available on DVD ($31.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.98 retail).
THE UNNAMABLE (Unearthed Films/MVD Entertainment Group): Producer/director/screenwriter Jean-Paul Ouellette’s R-rated debut feature, is a latter-day adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft story, in which students from Miskatonic University (hmmm …) unwisely decide to party at an old mansion haunted by a demon. Both the DVD ($21.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentary, retrospective interviews, trailers, and more.
“VELVET”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (MHz Networks): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($129.95 retail) of all 55 episodes from the entire 2013-’16 run of the popular, award-winning Spanish drama series set in the 1950s, the golden age of haute couture, at the Velvet Galleries, the most popular fashion emporium in Madrid, and the romance between Alberto Marquez (Miguel Angel Silvestre), heir to the empire, and Ana Ribera (Paula Echevarria), a humble yet innovative dressmaker. The regular cast also includes Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Manuela Velasco, Marta Hazas, Javier Rey, Cecilia Freire, Adrian Lastra, Miriam Giovanelli, and Jose Sacristan. In Spanish with English subtitles, each individual season is also available on DVD ($39.95 retail).
WILLARD (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Crispin Glover is inspired casting in the title role of screenwriter/producer Glen Morgan’s award-winning feature directorial debut, a 2003 remake of the 1971 cult classic based on Stephen Gilbert’s Ratman’s Diaries, playing a socially maladjusted loner who develops a bizarre rapport with a colony of rats. R. Lee Ermey plays Willard’s abusive boss, Jackie Burroughs his domineering mother, Laura Harring a co-worker and potential love interest, and look for an amusing nod to Bruce Davison’s role in the original film. Despite decent reviews, this was a surprise box-office flop but is a must for Glover devotees. The collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) includes audio commentaries, retrospective featurettes, Glover’s music video for the song “Ben” (originally performed by Michael Jackson!), theatrical trailer, and more. Rated PG-13. **½
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2019, Mark Burger)