Video Vault – Mar 21, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
THE ‘BURBS (Shout! Factory): Director Joe Dante’s 1989 comedy was unjustly overlooked as simply a Tom Hanks vehicle when, at its best, it’s an inspired, even subversive send-up of suburbia.
Hanks is the quintessential everyman as Ray Peterson, an all-American dad enjoying a week’s vacation at home with wife Carol (Carrie Fisher) and son Dave (Cory Danziger). Well, he would be enjoying it were it not for his eccentric neighbors, collectively convinced that the Klopeks, who have recently moved next door to Ray, are up to something. When another neighbor, Walter (Gale Gordon, in his final film), mysteriously disappears, Ray becomes obsessed with revealing the Klopeks for the fiends they are … or are they?
Although the film falters somewhat in its conventional climax, there’s much to enjoy, including a customarily good score by Jerry Goldsmith, and a solid cast including Bruce Dern (hilarious as a deranged Vietnam veteran), Courtney Gains, Franklyn Ajaye, Rance Howard, Brother Theodore (in his final appearance) and Rick Ducommun, plus such Dante stalwarts as Henry Gibson, Wendy Schaal, Corey Feldman, Dick Miller and Robert Picardo.
The “Shout Select” Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews and featurette, original workprint (with deleted and extended scenes), theatrical trailer, and more. Rated PG. ***
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Producer/director Luca Guadagnino’s leisurely paced but sensitive adaptation of Andre Aciman’s 2007 novel stars Timothee Chalamet as a precocious teenager coming of age in 1983 Italy, both with a local girl (Esther Garrel) and, more significantly, the handsome scholar (Armie Hammer) assisting the research of his father (Michael Stuhlbarg). Chalamet earned an Oscar nomination as Best Actor, but Hammer and Stahlberg are equally fine, with the latter’s climactic speech a highlight of producer/screenwriter James Ivory’s eloquent, Oscar-winning script. Additional nominations for Best Picture and Best Song (“Mystery of Love”), available on DVD ($17.64 retail) and Blu-ray ($30.99 retail), both replete with special features. Rated R. ***
CHOKESLAM (MVD Visual/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/director Robert Cuffley’s award-winning romantic comedy sees Chris Marquette getting a second chance to woo high-school sweetheart Amanda Crew at their 10th reunion – even though she’s become a notorious pro wrestler in the interim, available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).
THE CHURCH (Scorpion Releasing): Writer/producer Dario Argento and writer/director Michele Soavi reconvened for this 1989 chiller (originally titled La chiesa) in which an ancient crypt is (unwisely) opened, unleashing demonic forces upon such potential victims as Tomas Arana, Hugh Quarshie, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., and Dario’s daughter Asia Argento. Predictably, a triumph of style over substance, bolstered by gruesome visual effects and a pounding score by Keith Emerson and Goblin. The special-edition Blu-ray ($24.95 retail) includes retrospective interviews and trailers. **½
“THE GOOD FIGHT”: SEASON ONE (CBS DVD/Paramount): Christine Baranski takes center stage, reprising her role as high-powered attorney Diane Lockhart as she attempts to rebuild her life and career in all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2017 season of the CBS All Access drama series spun off from “The Good Wife,” with Rose Leslie, Justin Bartha, Delroy Lindo and fellow “Good Wife” alumni Cush Jumbo and Sarah Steele also aboard, available in a three-DVD collection ($33.99 retail), replete with special features.
ICHI THE KILLER (Well Go USA Entertainment): A fully-restored, special-edition Blu-ray ($29.98 retail) of Takahi Miike’s controversial, award-winning, and highly influential 2001 adaptation of Hideo Yamamoto’s popular manga series (originally titled Koroshiya 1), starring Nao Ohmori in the title role of a demented assassin on a collision course with vengeful thug Tadanobu Asano. In English, Cantonese and Japanese, special features include audio commentary and more.
“I’M FINE”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Dekkoo Films/TLA Releasing): A DVD ($24.99 retail) of all eight episodes from the 2018 season of the LBGT comedy/drama series about love, loss and friendship, with Perry Powell and Lee Doud heading the ensemble cast.
NOWHERE IN AFRICA (Zeitgeist Films/Kino Lorber): German Jews Juliane Kohler and Merab Ninidze flee to Africa and embark on a new life in writer/director Caroline Link’s sweeping, gorgeously filmed 2001 epic (originally titled Nirgendwo in Afrika) based on Stefanie Zweig’s non-fiction best-seller, which deservedly won the Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail), each replete with special features including cast and crew interviews, production documentary, deleted scenes, and more. In German with English subtitles. Rated R. ***½
THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC (The Criterion Collection): Carl Theodor Dryer’s still-impressive, award-winning 1928 silent classic (originally titled La passion de Jeanne l’Arc) dramatizes the last days of Joan of Arc, as portrayed by Maria Falconetti in a powerhouse turn in the title role that, despite worldwide acclaim, marked her cinematic swan song, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail), each replete with special features including audio commentary, three musical scores, retrospective interviews, and more. ***½
“ROWAN & MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (Time Life): “Sock it to me!” A seven-DVD collection ($39.95 retail) of all 26 episodes from the inaugural 1969-’70 season of the ground-breaking, often controversial NBC comedy/variety series hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, featuring regulars Goldie Hawn, Henry Gibson, Ruth Buzzi, Lily Tomlin, Judy Carne, Arte Johnson, Alan Sues, Jo Anne Worley and Gary Owens, and guest stars Michael Caine, Jack Benny, Greer Garson, Sonny & Cher, Roger Moore, James Garner, The Monkees, Carl Reiner, Tony Curtis, Ringo Starr, Flip Wilson, Sammy Davis Jr., Buddy Hackett, Bing Crosby and many others. Nominated for seven Emmy Awards including Outstanding Variety or Musical Series and for Hawn and Johnson (Special Classification Achievements – Individuals).
STOPPING TRAFFIC: THE MOVEMENT TO END SEX TRAFFICKING (Gravitas Ventures): The title tells all in this hard-hitting, award-winning documentary about the second largest criminal activity in the world, which marks the feature debut of producer/director Sadhvi Siddhali Shree, a Jain monk, military veteran, and a victim of childhood sexual abuse, featuring (sometimes harrowing) interviews with activists, advocates, and victims – available on DVD ($14.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($16.99 retail). ***
UNEARTHED AND UNTOLD: THE PATH TO PET SEMATERY (Synapse Films/CAV Distributing): First-timers John Campopiano and cinematographer/co-editor Justin White wrote, produced and co-directed this award-winning documentary feature chronicling the production history of the blockbuster 1989 Stephen King adaptation Pet Sematery and its enduring legacy, featuring interviews with cast and crew, available on Blu-ray ($24.95 retail), replete with bonus features including audio and podcast commentaries, retrospective interviews and featurettes, and more.
VOYAGE (Breaking Glass Pictures): From writer/producer/director Scud (Danny Cheng Wan-Cheung) comes this arty 2013 exploration of the human condition, following a group of characters – particularly a suicidal psychologist (Ryo Van Kooten) – as they navigate life and loss. Rampant with symbolism (if not cohesion), self-indulgence and nudity (of both sexes), this isn’t for all tastes, but Charlie Lam’s cinematography is a constant highlight. **
“WHEN CALLS THE HEART: THE HEART OF HOMECOMING” (Shout! Factory): Erin Krakow returns as Elizabeth Thatcher, the schoolteacher in the small coal-mining village of Hope Valley during the early years of the twentieth century, in the latest selection of episodes from the 2017 season of the award-winning Hallmark Channel drama series inspired by Janette Oke’s best-selling novels, available on DVD ($14.93 retail).
WHEN THE STARLIGHT ENDS (Cinedigm): Lovelorn writer Sam Heughan reflects on his time with the girl who got away (screen newcomer Arabella Oz) – both as it really happened and in his imagination – in writer Adam Sigal’s feature directorial debut, which sags in the middle but rebounds nicely for a bittersweet finale, with David Arquette (subdued) as Heughan’s agent and Sean Patrick Flanery (very funny) as Heughan’s oddball neighbor. **½
WHITE SUN (Icarus Films Home Video): Deepak Rauniyar’s award-winning, Nepali-language drama (originally titled Seto Surya) stars Dayahang Rai as a political dissident who must again confront the oppressive customs and rigid caste structures of those he left behind when returns to the remote mountain village he fled years before in order to bury his father, available on DVD ($29.95 retail).
“THE WONDER YEARS”: COMPLETE SERIES (Time Life): All-American boy Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) navigates adolescence in ’60s suburbia (replete with a classic rock beat), in all 115 episodes from the entire 1988-’93 run of the much-beloved, Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning ABC comedy series narrated by Daniel Stern as the adult Kevin, available in a new 30th-anniversary DVD slipcover ($57.49 retail) and in a mini school-locker container ($109.99 retail), each replete with a bevy of bonus features including retrospective interviews, featurettes, highlights from the cast reunion, and more.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)