Video Vault – Nov 28, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): After seven nominations, Geraldine Page finally won the Academy Award (Best Actress) for her touching turn in actor-turned-director Peter Masterson’s first (and best) feature, adapted from Horton Foote’s play by the author (who received a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay).
Set in Texas in the late 1940s, Page’s Carrie Watts is a gentle widow determined to revisit her childhood home of Bountiful, much to the consternation of her son Ludie (John Heard) and shrewish daughter-in-law Jessie Mae (Carlin Glynn, the off-screen Mrs. Masterson).
Undaunted, she embarks on a bus trip to Bountiful, where she recounts her life to fellow passenger Thelma (Rebecca De Mornay), unaware that Ludie and Jessie Mae have contacted the police and that a local sheriff (Richard Bradford) is on her trail.
Quietly moving and beautifully acted by all concerned, this is Page’s show all the way, and that it would be one of her last performances adds to the gravitas of her performance, which is one to treasure.
Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include retrospective documentary and original trailer. Rated PG. ***½
THE 7TH DAY (Olive Films): Director Carlos Saura brings a simmering tension to this award-winning, fact-based 2004 drama (originally titled El 7 Dia) involving two neighboring families whose long feud threatens to erupt again in violence, while the townspeople watch and wait in expectation. Suspenseful, credible, and rife with symbolic touches. In Spanish with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail). ***
BIG TROUBLE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Producer/director Barry Sonnenfeld’s botched 2002 adaptation of Dave Barry’s best-seller is a frenetic and largely unfunny farce about how a mysterious suitcase draws attention from star-crossed characters in Miami. The star-studded cast includes Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Tom Sizemore, Stanley Tucci, Dennis Farina, Omar Epps, Ben Foster, Janeane Garofalo, Jason Lee, Zooey Deschanel, Johnny Knoxville, Patrick Warburton, Heavy D, Jack Kehler, D.J. Qualls, Andy Richter, and Sofia Vergara (in her screen debut). Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.95 retail) include audio commentary and original trailer. Rated PG-13. *
DEADBEAT AT DAWN (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A 30th-anniversary special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) of Jim Van Bebber’s 1988 debut feature, in which he stars as a gang member who goes on a rampage of vengeance after girlfriend Megan Murphy is murdered, with a bevy of bonus features including audio commentary, retrospective and vintage documentaries, music videos, image gallery and more.
“ELENA FERRANTE ON FILM” (Film Movement): A double-feature of award-winning Italian-language features based on the novels of the titular, pseudonymous novelist: Director Roberto Faenza’s 2005 drama The Days of Abandonment (I giorni dell’annandono) starring Margherita Buy and Luca Zingaretti, and Mario Martone’s 1995 drama Troubling Love (L’amore molesto) starring Anna Bonaiuto and Angela Luce – available on DVD ($34.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($49.95 retail), both boasting bonus features.
GAS FOOD LODGING (Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment Group): Director/screenwriter Allison Anders’ heartfelt, award-winning 1992 adaptation of Richard Peck’s novel Don’t Look and It Won’t Hurt details the trials and tribulations faced by a single mother (Brooke Adams) and her daughters (Ione Skye and Fairuza Balk) in a dead-end New Mexico town, with James Brolin, Chris Mulkey, Robert Knepper and Donovan Leitch (Skye’s real-life brother) in support. The special-edition Blu-ray ($34.95 retail) includes retrospective interview and more. Rated R. ***
“THE GOOD FIGHT”: SEASON TWO (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 13 episodes from the 2018 season of the Emmy-nominated 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 on hand, available in a four-DVD collection ($39.98 retail), replete with special features.
THE ICE HARVEST (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Director Harold Ramis’s 2005 adaptation of Scott Phillips’s novel pairs John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton as partners in crime whose Christmas Eve scheme goes awry. Despite a screenplay by executive producers Robert Benton and Richard Russo, and a game cast that also includes Connie Nielsen, Randy Quaid, Mike Starr, Ned Bellamy and Oliver Platt, this black-comedy film noir falls short of the mark. The special-edition Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) includes audio commentary, alternate endings, vintage featurettes, theatrical trailer, and more. Rated R. **
THE INTERPRETER (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): The Blu-ray bow ($29.95 retail) of executive producer/co-star/director Sydney Pollack’s final feature, a slick, vaguely Hitchcockian 2005 political thriller starring Nicole Kidman in the title role of a United Nations interpreter who overhears (or does she?) an assassination scheme, Sean Penn as the maverick Secret Service agent on the case, and scene-stealer Catherine Kenner as Penn’s prickly partner. Appropriately tricky and twisty, but too convoluted. Special features include audio commentary, alternate ending, retrospective featurettes, theatrical trailer, and more. Rated PG-13. **½
“JOSEPH CAMPBELL AND THE POWER OF MYTH” (Kino Lorber): A three-DVD collection ($59.95 retail) of all six episodes from the critically acclaimed, self-explanatory 1988 PBS documentary mini-series featuring mythologist Joseph Campbell in conversation with host Bill Moyers, which was originally televised shortly after Campbell’s death. Bonus features include the 2011 documentary feature Finding Joe, extended interviews, and trailers.
LIONHEART (MVD Entertainment Group): Co-screenwriter Jean-Claude Van Damme stars in co-writer Sheldon Lettich’s 1990 feature directorial debut, in which the “Muscles from Brussels” plays a soldier of fortune who comes to America to avenge his brother’s murder and becomes an underground fighting sensation. Slick and action-packed, but overwrought and overlong, although Harrison Page shines as Van Damme’s fast-talking sidekick. The “MVD Rewind” DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews, featurettes, collectible mini-poster, and more. Rated R. *½
MEMORIES OF ME (MVD Marquee Collection/MVD Entertainment Group): The Blu-ray bow ($24.95 retail) of Henry Winkler’s sappy, overly sentimental 1988 feature directorial debut, starring writer/producer Billy Crystal as a surgeon who attempts to reconnect with estranged father Alan King (also a producer) at the behest of girlfriend JoBeth Williams after suffering a heart attack. Sean Connery drops by in a cameo (as himself). Rated PG-13. **
ORGIES OF EDO (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Teruo Ishii’s controversial 1969 anthology (originally titled Zankoku ijo gyakutai monogatari: Genroku onna keizu) details the downfall of three different women (Masumi Tachibana, Mitsuko Aoi, and Miki Obana). In Japanese with English subtitles, available in a special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) that includes retrospective interview, collectible booklet, and more.
SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD (Kino Lorber): Producer/director Matt Tyrnauer’s eye-opening, award-winning documentary feature explores the life of Scotty Bowers, a lively nonagenarian renowned for his years of “service” procuring women and (mostly) men for some of Tinseltown’s most glittering stars – to say nothing of his discretion – he chronicled in his best-selling 2012 memoir Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Star which he wrote with Lionel Friedberg. ***
SHAMPOO (The Criterion Collection): The lives and loves of a lusty Beverly Hills hairdresser are dramatized in director Hal Ashby’s perceptive, well-acted, and somewhat dated 1975 comedy/drama that cemented producer/co-writer/leading man Warren Beatty’s on- and off-screen reputation as a lothario, as he juggles relationships with Julie Christie (an off-screen Beatty paramour), Goldie Hawn (ditto), and Lee Grant (Oscar winner as Best Supporting Actress) on the eve of the 1968 Presidential election. More glossy than compelling, but a big hit in its day and fascinating artifact of the era, with a shrewd supporting cast including Carrie Fisher (in her screen debut), Tony Bill, Brad Dexter, George Furth, Howard Hesseman, Jay Robinson, Luana Anders, filmmaker William Castle, and the always welcome Jack Warden (Oscar nominee as Best Supporting Actor). Beatty and Robert Towne’s original screenplay and the art direction/set decoration also earned Oscar nominations. Both the DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) boast bonus features. Rated R. ***
SNOWMANCE (Monarch Home Entertainment): Magazine writer Ashley Newbrough thinks she’s found Mr. Right in handsome Jesse Hutch, unaware that childhood best friend Adam Hurtig has loved her for years in this obvious but painless Christmas fluff, with Hutch putting a fun spin on the proceedings. **
“WHO IS AMERICA?” (Showtime Entertainment/CBS DVD/Paramount): Creator/executive producer and sometime director Sacha Baron Cohen (and various alter-egos) ask the title question as he explores the nature of patriotism in the nation in all seven episodes from the inaugural 2018 season of the Showtime documentary comedy series, featuring guest appearances by Bernie Sanders, Ted Koppel, Dick Cheney, O.J. Simpson (!) and others – available in a two-DVD collection ($24.99 retail) boasting bonus features.
WOBBLE PALACE (Breaking Glass Pictures): Having met while voting in the 2012 Presidential election, live-in couple Eugene Kotlyarenko (writer/director/co-story writer) and Dasha Nekrasova (co-story writer in her screen debut) face the end of their relationship on the eve of the 2016 Presidential election. This exploration of modern romance is a self-indulgent gab-fest that starts slow but picks up steam in the second half, hitting a few targets along the way. **½
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)