Video Vault – Mar 14, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
BASKET CASE (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): At a time when home-video was on the rise and the midnight movie on the wane, along came Frank Henenlotter’s bold, brash, low-rent 1982 shocker to rejuvenate the circuit – if only for a time.
Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryk in a memorable screen debut) skulks through the mean streets of New York touting a large wicker basket that contains his deformed, deranged Siamese twin, Belial. They’ve come to take the proverbial bite out of the Big Apple, seeking revenge against the doctors who separated them at birth – and it’s not going to be pretty.
Filmed guerrilla-style, Basket Case benefits mightily from its sleazy locations, offering a fond (?) reminder of Gotham’s “good old days.” The film not only delivers the gore promised, but boasts a wide streak of diabolical humor throughout, including crude but effective symbolism regarding the notion of sibling rivalry – which would continue through Henelotter’s subsequent (bigger-budgeted) sequels. Basket Case isn’t for all tastes, to say the least, but it fully deserves its cult-classic status.
The limited-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews and featurettes, and more. ***
COURT (Zeitgeist Films/Kino Lorber): Writer/director Chaitanya Tamhane’s award-winning feature debut examines the contemporary legal system in India, focusing on Vira Sathidar (in his screen debut) as a folk singer and political activist on trial for inciting a sewage worker’s suicide. In English. Gujarati, Hindi and Marathi with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail), both with bonus features.
THE CROSSBREED (Breaking Glass Pictures): Satanic panic reigns supreme in writer/producer/director Biray Dalkiran’s confused, derivative shocker starring Angela Durazo as a writer who accompanies boyfriend Nathan Schellerup to a sleepy town to research superstitions that – surprise! – turn out to be well-founded. Despite having won awards (!) at festivals, this is dire, dull, and poorly acted. ½
“CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM”: THE COMPLETE NINTH SEASON (HBO): After a six-year hiatus, creator Larry David returns – as comedy writer “Larry David” – in all 10 episodes of the award-winning HBO comedy series, backed by encoring regulars Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin and Susie Essman, and guest appearances by Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Bryan Cranston, Jimmy Kimmel, Steven Weber, Elizabeth Perkins, Lauren Graham and F. Murray Abraham, available on DVD ($19.99 retail), replete with bonus features.
A FANATIC HEART: GELDOF ON YEATS (Network Ireland TV/MVD Entertainment Group): A CD/two-DVD ($29.95 retail) biography of poet W.B. Yeats (1865-1939) and his pivotal contribution to the Irish independence movement, hosted by rock star Bob Geldof and featuring readings of Yeats’ work by such luminaries as Liam Neeson, Van Morrison, Stephen Fry, Sting, Noel Gallagher, Colin Farrell, Richard E. Grant, Bill Nighy and others
FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE (Random Media): Writer/co-director Matt Jacobs and writer/producer/co-director Liz Graham’s award-winning debut feature details a nocturnal romp with some of L.A.’s most dysfunctional denizens along the city’s Metro system, featuring an appealing ensemble cast including producer Eve Annenberg, Bradley J. Herman (his screen debut), Maxx Maulion, Nija Okoro, Krzysztof Soszynski, and Isadora Oboto (her screen debut). Occasionally self-indulgent but bittersweet and nicely quirky, with great use of locations. **½
GINTAMA (Well Go USA Entertainment): Hideaki Sorachi’s best-selling manga comes to the screen in writer/director Yuichi Fukuda’s live-action adaptation, depicting a feudal Japan under the sway of alien invaders, with Shun Oguri in the pivotal role of a former samurai who gets a shot at redemption – if he can locate the cursed sword Benizakura. A TV mini-series aired subsequently in Japan, and Gintama 2‘s on its way. In Japanese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.98 retail).
HAIR (Olive Films): Milos Forman’s episodic, award-winning 1979 adaptation of the Gerome Ragnit/James Rado/Galt MacDermot ’60s musical smash boasts a spirited cast including a wonderful Treat Williams, John Savage, Beverly D’Angelo, Dorsey Wright and Annie Golden (in her screen debut), plus dazzling dance numbers (choreographed by Twyla Tharp), but the attitudes of the Age of Aquarius had dated considerably in the 12-year interim between play and film. Rated PG. **½
IT (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Bill Skarsgard dons the devilish makeup of the murderous clown Pennywise in this blockbuster adaptation of Stephen King’s best-selling novel, opposed by a group of children whose nightmares he haunts. Sometimes ferociously effective and often slavishly faithful to the novel, but overlong and, in the end, oddly underwhelming and more exhausting than entertaining … although the inevitable sequel’s in the works. The DVD retails for $28.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $35.99, the 4K Ultra HD combo for $44.95. Rated R. **
KICKBOXER: RETALIATION (Well Go USA Entertainment): Alain Moussi’s back in action as MMA champion Kurt Sloane, who is shanghaied to Thailand by crime czar Christopher Lambert and forced to compete in an underground death match. Executive producer Jean-Claude Van Damme also returns as Sloane’s mentor, Durand, with Mike Tyson lending his punchy presence as his coach. Flashy, slick and overlong, but producer/director/co-writer Dimitri Logothetis knows his fight scenes, with Moussi’s athleticism put to good use. Kickboxer: Armageddon is in the works. The DVD retails for $24.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $29.98. Rated R. **
MONSTERS AT LARGE (LionsGate): Matthew Kosto, Auggie Pulliam, and scene-stealer Alicia C. Del Aguila play schoolmates who become “Monster-Busters” – only to confront an actual monster – in this easy-to-take, family-friendly comedy/fantasy. Top-billed Mischa Barton and Austin St. John don’t have much to do as Kosto’s parents, but reliable Stephen Tobolowsky is fun as a science teacher (his onscreen daughter is played by Florida Project breakout Brooklynn Prince). Rated PG. **
PARADISE (Film Movement): Andrei Konchalovsky’s award-winning World War II drama focuses on three characters: Julia Vysotskaya as a Russian countess and member of the French Resistance, Philippe Duquesne as the French Nazi collaborator smitten with her, and Christian Clauss as the idealistic SS officer who once loved her – and how their paths intersect in 1942 Paris. Steeped in remorse and irony (hence the title), this well-acted, occasionally pretentious saga benefits from Alexander Simonov’s evocative black-and-white cinematography and solid performances, including those of Jakob Diehl, Peter Kurth, and Victor Sukhorukov (as Himmler). In French, German, Russian and Yiddish with English subtitles. ***
PORTO (Kino Lorber): Gabe Klinger’s award-winning, R-rated debut feature stars the late Anton Yelchin and Lucie Lucas as lost souls who connect in the titular Portuguese town, then reflect on their encounter years later. In English, French and Portuguese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail) – both replete with bonus features.
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE, EBBING MISSOURI (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Writer/director Martin McDonagh’s piercing exploration of the dark underbelly of Americana stars Frances McDormand (Oscar winner as Best Actress) as a bereaved mother determined to solve her daughter’s murder by any means necessary – without thought to potential consequences for her and those around her. Sam Rockwell won the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his fierce portrayal of a vile deputy who unexpectedly finds redemption, and a superb cast also includes Woody Harrelson (Oscar nominee as Best Supporting Actor), Abbie Cornish, Caleb Landry Jones, Zeljko Ivanek, Peter Dinklage, Clarke Peters, and the UNCSA School of Drama’s Lucas Hedges. One of 2017’s best films, this earned additional Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Film Editing – available on DVD ($29.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.99 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($39.99 retail). Rated R. ****
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)