Video Vault – May 1, 2019
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
RIDER ON THE RAIN (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Master filmmaker Rene Clement takes a page – or two — from Hitchcock with this scintillating, award-winning 1970 thriller (originally titled Le passager de la pluie) that supposedly inspired Jim Morrison to pen “Riders on the Storm” for the Doors.
Marlene Joubert (mother of actress Eva Green) is superb as Mellie, a lonely and troubled young lass who is brutally assaulted, only to turn the tables on her attacker and kill him with a shotgun blast. Consumed by paranoia, she hastily disposes of the body and attempts to act as if nothing happened … but what about the $60,000 she finds in his travel bag?
Enter Harry Dobbs (Charles Bronson), a mysterious American who confronts Mellie and hints – in no uncertain terms – that he knows what she’s done. This pushes Mellie to the brink of insanity, but as this cat-and-mouse game escalates, she begins to wonder if Dobbs is tormentor or protector.
A huge hit in Europe, thereby solidifying Bronson’s worldwide popularity, the film was released on the art-house circuit (!) in the United States and was only a mild success. Bronson effortlessly exudes machismo, mystery and menace, but also a sly sense of humor that he rarely – if ever – got the opportunity to display in his subsequent films. Little wonder it was one of the actor’s personal favorites, and having real-life wife Jill Ireland in the cast (briefly appearing as a clothier) probably didn’t hurt, either.
Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include both American and French theatrical versions, audio commentary, theatrical trailers, and radio spot. Rated PG-13. ***½
ACCEPTABLE RISKS (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Brian Dennehy headlines this still-topical, cautionary 1986 ABC-TV movie as the manager of a chemical plant in the Midwest on the verge of a catastrophic breakdown, inspired by a similar incident that occurred in Bhopal, India, in 1984. Dennehy is first-rate as the conflicted plant manager, with reliable Kenneth McMillan, Cicely Tyson, Christine Ebersole, Richard Gilliland, Beah Richards, Steve Eastin, Vic Polizos, and Peter Jurasik in support. ***
ANTHEM OF A TEENAGE PROPHET (SP Releasing/Echo Bridge): Director/co-producer Robin Hays’s feature debut, adapted from the best-selling Joanne Proulx novel Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet (the film’s original title) stars Cameron Monaghan as a troubled teen consumed by guilt after foretells the death of his best friend (Alex MacNicholl). A coming-of-age tale with a twist, this begins strongly but gets bogged down in second-half melodramatics. The hard-working cast includes Peyton Roi List, Grayson Gabriel, and Juliette Lewis (nicely playing Monaghan’s mother). The DVD retails for $19.99, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $29.99. **
“ARCHER: DANGER ISLAND” – THE COMPLETE SEASON NINE (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): The booze-soaked misadventures of South Pacific seaplane pilot Sterling Archer (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) continue in all eight episodes from the 2018 season of the Emmy-winning, animated FXX Network series created by Adam Reed and also featuring the vocal talents of Judy Greer, Jessica Walter, Chris Parnell, Amber Nash, Aisha Tyler, and creator Reed, available on DVD ($29.98 retail), which boasts bonus features.
BEND OF THE RIVER (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): The Blu-ray bow ($29.95 retail) of James Stewart’s second collaboration with director Anthony Mann, released in 1952 and based on Bill Gulick’s novel Bend of the Snake, sees the star in tough-guy mode, leading a wagon train of settlers on a perilous trek to Oregon. Trim and efficient, with reliable Arthur Kennedy, Rock Hudson, Julia Adams, Jay C. Flippen, Stepin Fetchit, Henry (Harry) Morgan, Lori Nelson, Royal Dano, Howard Petrie, and Frances Bavier (“Aunt Bea” herself!) on hand. Special features include audio commentary and theatrical trailer. ***
THE CORRUPTION OF CHRIS MILLER (Vinegar Syndrome): The isolated existence of nubile teenager Marisol and comely stepmother Jean Seberg is interrupted by the presence of mysterious drifter Barry Stokes, to say nothing of a series of brutal murders in the area, in director Juan Antonio Bardem’s slow-moving 1973 psychological thriller (originally titled Le corrupcion de Chris Miller and released in the US in 1975 as Behind the Shutters). Die-hard giallo enthusiasts have a head start. The collector’s-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($32.98 retail) includes both English- and Italian-language audio tracks, vintage interview with Bardem (who also appears in the film), the documentary short Jean Seberg: Movie Star, original trailer, and more. Rated R. *½
DETOUR (The Criterion Collection): Director Edgar G. Ulmer’s effective, fast-moving, low-budget 1945 adaptation of screenwriter Martin Goldsmith’s novel Detour: An Extraordinary Tale is widely regarded as a quintessential film noir, with Tom Drake a luckless nightclub pianist who assumes the identity of dead bookie Edmund MacDonald, then has the misfortune of picking up predatory femme fatale Ann Savage, which accelerates his downward spiral. Long available on public-domain labels, both the DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) include the documentary Edgar G. Ulmer: The Man Off-Screen, retrospective interview with Noah Isenberg, author of Edgar G. Ulmer: A Filmmaker at the Margins, and more. ***
FARINELLI (Film Movement Classics): The life of the legendary 18th-century castrato and opera sensation is dramatized in writer/director Gerard Corbaiu’s award-winning, R-rated 1994 historical drama, starring Stefanio Dionisi in the title role, with Elsa Zylberstein, Enrico Lo Verso, Caroline Cellier, and Jeroen Krabbe (as Handel) in support. Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Both the DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) boast bonus features including vintage featurette and behind-the-scenes interviews.
GREEN CARD (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): One of Peter Weir’s lesser (but still appealing) films, this self-explanatory, award-winning 1991 romantic comedy has the benefit of charming chemistry between Gerard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell, respectively cast as a French waiter and the American who marries him out of convenience – only to fall in love for real. Bebe Neuwirth, Lois Smith, and reliable Robert Prosky add zing to this breezy confection, which earned an Oscar nomination for Weir’s original screenplay. Both the DVD ($14.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.95) include bonus features. Rated PG-13. **½
HAL (Oscilloscope Laboratories): Editor Amy Scott makes her feature documentary debut with this affectionate profile of filmmaker Hal Ashby (1929-’88), who won an Oscar for editing In the Heat of the Night (1967) then graduated to directing such acclaimed films as The Last Detail (1973), Shampoo (1975) and Coming Home (1978), only to encounter career turbulence in the 1980s. Jane Fonda, Jeff Bridges, Beau Bridges, Rosanna Arquette, Louis Gossett Jr., Norman Jewison, Lee Grant, Jon Voight, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), and the late Haskell Wexler are among the stars who share their reminiscences, and Ben Foster provides Ashby’s voice reading his letters. Both the DVD ($34.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.99 retail) boast bonus features including audio commentaries and extended interviews. ***
AN INNOCENT MAN (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Tom Selleck stars in this predictable, one-note 1989 melodrama as an engineer sent to prison after being framed by corrupt cops David Rasche and Richard Young, upon whom he vows revenge. Directed in uncharacteristically flat fashion by Peter Yates, with F. Murray Abraham (as Selleck’s cellmate), Laila Robins, M.C. Gainey, Badja Djola, Tobin Bell, Dennis Burkley, and Todd Graff squandered in support. Both the DVD ($14.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.95 retail) include audio commentary and retrospective interviews. Rated R. *½
THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Writer/director Joe Cornish’s PG-rated, family-friendly fantasy/adventure stars Louis Ashbourne Serkis (son of Andy) in the title role of an imaginative lad who discovers King Arthur’s legendary sword Excalibur and must do battle with a medieval enchantress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson), available on DVD ($29.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.99 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($39.99 retail).
THE LAST RESORT (Kino Lorber): Dennis Scholl and editor Kareem Tarsch co-produced and co-directed this wistful, nostalgic documentary feature that explores the history of South Beach in Miami when it was a haven for Jewish retirees in the 1960s and ’70s, immortalized in the photos taken by Gary Monroe and the late Andy Sweet, available on DVD ($29.95 retail), which boasts bonus features including deleted scenes, photo galleries, and more. ***
LUCIFERINA (Artsploitation Films): Writer/director Gonzalo Calzada’s award-winning chiller sees novice nun Sofia Del Tuffo in the throes of Satanic panic when she begins experiencing hellish hallucinations and encounters a coven bent on raising the Devil himself. In Spanish with English subtitles, available on DVD ($14.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.99 retail).
NEVER-ENDING MAN: HAYAO MIYAZAKI (GKIDS/Shout! Factory): Director Kaku Arakawa makes his feature debut with this 2016 documentary (originally titled Owaranai hito: Hayao Miyazaki) that explores the life of the acclaimed, Oscar-winning filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki following his self-imposed retirement in 2013. The DVD/Blu-ray combo ($22.97 retail) includes both a 70-minute Japanese version (with English subtitles) and a 48-minute, English-language broadcast version
ON HER SHOULDERS (Oscilloscope Laboratories): Alexandria Bombach’s award-winning documentary feature is a profile in courage, focusing on Nadia Murad, a survivor of both the 2014 Yazidi genocide in Northern Iraq in 2014 and sexual slavery by ISIS operatives, who has become a symbol of hope for her people and an advocate of social and political freedom. In English, Arabic and Kurdish with English, subtitles available on DVD ($34.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.99 retail), each boasting bonus features.
TITO AND THE BIRDS (Shout! Studios/Shout! Factory): This award-winning animated feature (originally titled Tito es o Passaros) sees the titular character (voiced by newcomer Pedro Henrique) as he embarks on a quest to discover the cause of an epidemic in which the victims are literally paralyzed with fear. The DVD/Blu-ray combo ($27.99 retail) includes both the original Portuguese-language soundtrack and English-language soundtrack, and bonus interviews.
WHAT MEN WANT (Paramount Home Entertainment): Executive producer Taraji P. Henson headlines this self-explanatory, R-rated “follow-up” to What Women Want (2000) as a sports agent who gains the ability to hear men’s thoughts, which proves both an asset and an adversity. Tracy Morgan, Aldis Hodge, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Erykah Badu, and Richard Roundtree round out the cast, available on DVD ($18.99 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail).
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2019, Mark Burger)