Video Vault – Mar 1, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
“BILL & TED’S MOST EXCELLENT COLLECTION” (Shout! Factory): In 1989, Alex Winter (“Bill”) and Keanu Reeves (“Ted”) starred in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, a loose and likable teen comedy that became an instant cult classic and introduced the world to the goofy duo of the title, a pair of Southern California teens who take a wild and woolly trip through time, thanks to the machinations of messenger Rufus (George Carlin).
The film proved so popular that Winter, Reeves and Carlin reunited for Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991), in which they travel to heaven, hell and beyond. The original film was more free-wheeling, but the second has its charms too, including the inspired casting of William Sadler as Death (whom the boys beat playing Battleship) and Joss Ackland as their foe, the futuristic megalomaniac Chuck De Nomolos, renowned as being the sit-up champion of the 27th century.
The first film was originally produced by DEG (De Laurentiis Entertainment Group), which went bust before its release, and was picked up by Orion Pictures – becoming a sleeper hit. By the time of the sequel, however, Orion was itself on the road to financial ruin. Still, talk persists that we’ve not heard the last of Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Theodore “Ted” Logan.
The Blu-ray collection ($49.97 retail) includes audio commentaries, retrospective interviews and more. The “limited-edition” Blu-ray collector’s set ($79.99 retail) includes the same bonus features plus exclusive lithograph and Rufus action figure (!). Both films rated PG. Both: ***
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Shout! Factory): Lea Seydoux and Vincent Cassel play the title roles in Christophe Gans’ award-winning, PG-13-rated adaptation (originally titled La belle et la bete) adaptation of the classic tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($22.97 retail).
“BLAZE AND THE MONSTER MACHINES: RACE INTO VELOCITYVILLE” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A DVD selection ($14.99 retail) of six episodes from the popular animated Nickelodeon children’s series detailing the motorized misadventures of the title racecar (voiced by Nolan North), featuring guest appearances by such real-life racing luminaries as Danica Patrick, Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne.
DOWN ON THE FARM (Ruthless Studios/MVD Entertainment Group): When a bale of hay disappears, the flying pig Oink (voiced by K.J. Schrock) and owl sidekick Boink (voiced by April Rose) begin a farm-wide investigation in this family-friendly animated comedy also boasting the voices of Bill Oberst Jr., William McNamara, Bobby Catalano and Jason Pascoe, available on DVD ($19.95 retail).
THE EAGLE HUNTRESS (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Producer Daisy Ridley narrates filmmaker Otto Bell’s engaging, award-winning debut documentary feature, which follows Aisholpan, a young girl striving to break down cultural barriers to become the first female eagle hunter and participate in the annual Golden Eagle Festival held in Mongolia. The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking, and Aisholpan has considerable screen presence. In Kazakh with English subtitles, available on DVD ($26.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($30.99 retail). Rated G. ***
EVELYN (Olive Films): Director Bruce Bereford’s award-winning, fact-based 2002 drama casts producer/star Pierce Brosnan as a single father struggling to gain custody of his three children in mid-’50s Ireland. Sophie Vavasseur, in her screen debut, plays the title character, Brosnan’s daughter. Sincere but soapy, although helped by a good cast including Aidan Quinn, Julianna Margulies, Stephen Rea, John Lynch, and especially Alan Bates as a crafty attorney, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail). Rated PG. **½
GO, JOHNNY, GO! (The Sprocket Vault): In his final film (and only one as a producer), disc jockey Alan Freed plays himself in this low-budget 1959 musical melodrama dramatizing the rise to fame of singer Jimmy Clanton (in his screen debut). The story is hokey to the nth degree, but dig those classic rock ‘n’ roll acts: Chuck Berry, Jackie Wilson, Eddie Cochran (in his last film appearance), Jo-Ann Campbell, The Cadillacs, The Flamingos, and Ritchie Valens (in his only film appearance). Look fast too for Joe Flynn as a grumpy head usher. Given the era, it’s especially nice to see black and white performers sharing the same stage – a rarity at the time. Sprocket Vault DVDs are sold exclusively through Amazon, or check out the official website: HYPERLINK “http://thesprocketvault.com/”http://thesprocketvault.com/. **½
“HOOPERMAN” (Olive Films): John Ritter returned to network TV in the title role of this ABC comedy/drama, created by Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, focusing on the life of a San Francisco police inspector, with Barbara Bosson (then Mrs. Bochco), Felton Perry, Clarence Felder and Debrah Farentino (in the first season) rounding out the regular cast. A critic’s darling that struggled to find its audience, although at the 1988 Emmy Awards it won Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series (Gregory Hoblit) and earned Ritter a nomination as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. The “Season One” DVD ($34.95 retail) contains all 22 episodes from the 1987-’88 season and “Season Two” ($34.95 retail) all 20 episodes from the ’89-’90 season.
“JUDY COLLINS – LOVE LETTER TO STEPHEN SONDHEIM” (Cleopatra/MVD Entertainment Group): The title tells all in this concert filmed in May 2016 in Denver, with the Grammy Award-winning songbird performing numbers from the Sondheim songbook, including the inevitable rendition of “Send in the Clowns.” The DVD retails for $19.95.
KING SOLOMON’S MINES (Olive Films): Richard Chamberlain plays adventurer Allan Quartermain in director J. Lee Thompson’s enjoyably silly 1985 adaptation of H. Rider Haggard’s classic novel, produced by the inimitable Golan/Globus duo at Cannon Films, with Sharon Stone the damsel in distress and Herbert Lom and John Rhys-Davies chewing the African scenery as a dastardly duo. Despite a Razzie Award nomination (!), Jerry Goldsmith’s score is customarily good. The DVD retails for $19.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated PG-13. **
LOST & FOUND (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Justin Kelly and Benjamin Stockham exhibit good chemistry as brothers trying to locate treasure hidden by their grandfather before he vanished 30 years ago in this mild, award-winning adventure co-starring Jason Patric, Cary Elwes and Celeste Desjardins (in her screen debut). **
PANTHER GIRL OF THE KONGO (Olive Films): Former Lois Lane Phyllis Coates plays the title role in this 12-part 1955 serial, joined by big-game hunter Myron Healey as she battles evil scientist Arthur Space in the heart of the African Congo, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).
“A PLACE TO CALL HOME”: SEASON 4 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Marta Dusseldorp returns as Sarah, a nurse come home home to New South Wales following World War II, in all 12 episodes from the 2016 season of the award-winning Australian drama series created by Bevan Lee, co-starring Noni Hazlehurst, Brett Climo, Jenni Baird, David Berry, Abby Earl, Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood and Ben Winspear (Dusseldorp’s real-life husband), available in a three-DVD collection ($59.99 retail).
RAIDERS!: THE STORY OF THE GREATEST FAN FILM EVER MADE (Drafthouse Films/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/producer/directors Tim Skousen and Jeremy Coon’s entertaining feature documentary follows the lives of boyhood buddies from Mississippi so inspired upon seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981 that they spent years making their own scene-for-scene remake (eventually completed in 1989 as Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation), and chronicled in Alan Eisenstock’s 2012 non-fiction book. A spirited, “can-do” spirit pervades this film, which is must for movie mavens and especially Raiders fans. The DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.95 retail) includes audio commentaries, deleted scenes, a photo booklet and more. ***
“SABRINA, DOWN UNDER” (CBS DVD/Paramount): Melissa Joan Hart’s dishy teen witch Sabrina Spellman visits Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in this feature-length 1999 episode from the long-running (1996-2003) ABC/WB sitcom based on the Archie Comics character, available on DVD ($14.98 retail).
“SHIMMER AND SHINE: FRIENDSHIP DIVINE” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A DVD selection ($14.99 retail) of eight episodes from the animated Nickelodeon children’s series relating the misadventures of the titular twin genies (voiced by Eva Bella and Isabella Crovetti).
TIE THE KNOT (Monarch Home Entertainment): A bland, forgettable comedy starring Tara Reid as an impetuous American tourist and Karishma Ahluwalia as a doctor who become fast friends in Mumbai, where the latter is attempting to appease her parents by finding a husband. Despite top billing, Reid’s role is very much secondary to Ahluwalia’s. *
(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2017, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:email@example.com”firstname.lastname@example.org