Video Vault – Sep 26, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
THE DAY OF THE JACKAL (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Frederick Forsyth’s best-seller is expertly brought to the screen in director Fred Zinnemann’s 1973 adaptation – which appropriates a methodical, meticulous, yet irresistibly suspenseful pacing that mirrors the novel and the machinations of its characters.
In the summer of 1962, following France’s withdrawal from Algiers, a disgruntled group of high-ranking military officers seek revenge by assassinating president Charles de Gaulle. When the first attempt fails, the decision is made to bring in an outsider – the enigmatic assassin known only as “the Jackal” (Edward Fox) – to carry out the second attempt.
The crisp screenplay, by Kenneth Ross, approaches the narrative from different perspectives – those of the conspirators, those of the Jackal, and those of Inspector Lebel (Michael Lonsdale), the maverick detective on his trail — all shrewdly integrated in Ralph Kemplen’s Oscar-nominated editing.
In addition to Fox and Lonsdale (both superb), the cast includes plenty of familiar faces: Terence Alexander, Alan Badel, Tony Britton, Cyril Cusack, Maurice Denham, Vernon Dobtcheff, Olga Georges-Picot, Barrie Ingham, Derek Jacobi, Ronald Pickup, Eric Porter, Anton Rodgers, Delphine Seyrig, Donald Sinden, and Timothy West.
The special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes retrospective interview, vintage behind-the-scenes clips, original trailer, and more. Rated PG. ***½
THE BABY (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Troubled social worker Anjanette Comer finds herself embroiled in the domestic travails of tyrannical suburban matriarch Ruth Roman and her children, including a pathetic man-child (David Mooney, billed as David Manzy) in director Ted Post’s genuinely bizarre, semi-satirical 1973 psycho-thriller, with Marianna Hill, Virginia Vincent, Michael Pataki, Suzanne Zenor, and Tod Andrews (in his final film) in support. Wildly uneven but watchable, with a fervent cult following. The special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentary, archival and retrospective interviews, and more. Rated PG. **
BARBERSHOP (MVD Entertainment Group): Producer Ice Cube heads a friendly, star-studded ensemble cast in this predictable but warm-hearted and award-winning 2002 comedy, set in the title establishment on the south side of Chicago, where the priceless Cedric the Entertainer holds court between shaves and haircuts, with Troy Garity, Eve, Michael Ealy, Sean Patrick Thomas, Keith David, Anthony Anderson, and Tom Wright also on hand. The special-edition “MVD Marquee Collection” Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) includes audio commentary, featurettes, music videos, deleted scenes, and more. Rated PG-13. **½
BARBERSHOP 2: BACK IN BUSINESS (MVD Entertainment Group): The title tells all in this cheerful, if unsurprising 2004 follow-up, with producer/star Ice Cube and resident scene-stealer Cedric the Entertainer encoring alongside Troy Garity, Sean Patrick Thomas, Michael Ealy, and Eve, with Queen Latifah, Keke Palmer, and Kenan Thompson joining in. This sequel doesn’t improve on the first film but is certainly equal to it. The special-edition “MVD Marquee Collection” Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) includes audio commentaries, music videos, deleted scenes and outtakes, and more. Rated PG-13. **½
“BEN 10: OMNI-TRICKED” (Cartoon Network): A DVD collection ($14.97 retail) of 16 episodes and special from the inaugural 2017 season of the popular animated fantasy children’s series (this being the fifth “incarnation”), detailing the adventures of the titular, alien-powered, pre-teen superhero (voiced by Tara Strong).
BEAUTY SHOP (MVD Entertainment Group): Queen Latifah (also a producer) runs her own establishment in this featherweight 2005 comedy spun off – none too successfully – from the Barbershop films. The pleasant ensemble cast includes Alicia Silverstone, Kevin Bacon, Mena Suvari, Alfre Woodard, Djimon Hounsou, Keshia Knight Pulliam and Della Reese, but they face an uphill battle all the way. The “MVD Marquee Collection” Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) includes production featurette, gag reel, trailers, and more. Rated PG-13. *½
THE BIG TAKE (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Echoes of Elmore Leonard and Quentin Tarantino abound in writer/director Justin Daly’s debut feature, starring James McCaffrey as a fading movie star who falls prey to a haphazard blackmail scheme cooked up by aspiring filmmakers Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Slate Holmgren – which promptly, uproariously, goes haywire. Familiar but fast-paced and funny, with a sharp supporting cast including Dan Hedaya, Zoe Bell, Bill Sage, Oksana Lada, and the always welcome Robert Forster. Rated R. **½
BOOK CLUB (Paramount): Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen headline producer/co-writer Bill Holderman’s PG-13-rated feature directorial debut, portraying lifelong friends whose collective decision to read Fifty Shades of Grey in their monthly book club has unforeseen, but not necessarily unhappy, consequences. Richard Dreyfuss, Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson, Alicia Silverstone, Katie Aselton, and Wallace Shawn round out a star-studded cast, available on DVD ($24.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail)
“EAST WEST 101”: SERIES 3 (THE FINAL SEASON) (Acorn): Don Hany stars as a Muslim detective navigating the treacherous waters of crime and cultural bias in modern-day Sydney, in all seven feature-length episodes from the 2011 season of the award-winning Australian crime series created by Steve Knapman and Kris Wyld, available on DVD ($39.99 retail).
“MIDSOMER MURDERS”: SERIES 20 (Acorn): Neil Dudgeon is back on the case as tenacious DCI John Barnaby, aided and abetted by Nick Hendrix (as DS Jamie Winter), in all six feature-length episodes from the 2018 season of the long-running, award-winning British crime series (aired by A&E in the US) created by Caroline Graham and set in seemingly peaceful Midsomer County, available on DVD ($49.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($59.99 retail).
“MOHSEN MAKHMALBAF: THE POETIC TRILOGY” (Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment Group): A special-edition, two-disc Blu-ray ($49.95 retail) of three critically acclaimed, award-winning features from the noted Iranian filmmaker: 1996’s Gabbah, 1998’s The Silence (originally titled Sokout), and the 2012 documentary The Gardener. All three films are in Persian with English subtitles, special features include audio commentary (on Gabbah), archival and retrospective interviews, original trailers, and more.
THE NAVIGATOR: A MEDIEVAL ODYSSEY (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Director/screenwriter Vincent Ward’s award-winning, PG-rated 1988 fantasy stars Conor McFarlane (in his screen debut) as a boy in the 14th century whose psychic visions prompt him and a group of warriors to escape the Black Death by digging a tunnel – right to the 20th century. The special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes documentary, theatrical trailer, and more.
“PJ MASKS: MIGHTY MOON PROBLEM” (Entertainment One/Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): A DVD collection ($14.98 retail) of six episodes from the award-winning animated fantasy series story, aired on Disney Junior, following the misadventures of three young friends (voiced by Kyle Brietkopf, Addison Holley, and Jacob Ewaniuk) who become superheroes by night.
RAMEN HEADS (Kino Lorber): First-time director Koki Shigeno’s documentary cameras follow Osamu Tomita, Japan’s “king of ramen,” as he pursues his ongoing, obsessive quest for the perfect noodle. In Japanese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail).
RECORDS COLLECTING DUST II (MVD Entertainment Group): Filmmaker Jason Blackmore follows up his 2015 debut feature with this affectionate and engaging exploration of the record albums that influenced musicians, journalists, and historians on the East Coast. Good fun for buffs, with plenty of room left for future installments. ***
REVOLUTION: NEW ART FOR A NEW WORLD (Film Movement): Writer/producer/director Margy Kinmonth’s award-winning documentary feature offers a concise and enlightening history of the avant-garde art movement of early 20th-century Russia, which was initially supported – and then suppressed – by Stalin. Daisy Bevan, Tom Hollander, James Fleet, Matthew Macfadyen, and Eleanor Tomlinson supply voice-overs as various artists. In English and Russian with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail). ***
“ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME IN CONCERT: ENCORE” (Time Life): A self-explanatory collection of four Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies (2010-’13), featuring a star-studded line-up of inductees and guest artists, including Rush, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Hollies, The Stooges, Donovan, Dr. John, Tom Waits, Small Faces/Faces, Alice Cooper, Heart and many others – available on DVD ($34.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.99 retail).
“ROLLING STONE: STORIES FROM THE EDGE” (Shout! Factory): Executive producers Alex Gibney and first-timer Blair Foster directed this award-winning, six-part HBO documentary mini-series exploring the 50-year history, impact, and legacy of Rolling Stone magazine, featuring founder and publisher Jann Wenner (also an executive producer), writer Cameron Crowe, photographer Annie Leibovitz, Jeff Daniels (as the voice of “Rolling Stone”) and Johnny Depp (as the voice of Hunter S. Thompson), available on DVD ($26.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.93 retail), each replete with special features.
STRAIGHT TO HELL (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Alex Cox’s wildly self-indulgent but frequently 1987 spaghetti-Western send-up follows the misaventures of three hit men (Sy Richardson, Joe Strummer, and screenwriter Dick Rude) south of the border, backed by an eclectic, one-of-a-kind cast including Dennis Hopper, Grace Jones, Elvis Costello, Courtney Love, Miguel Sandoval, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, Xander Berkeley, Biff Yeager, Kathy Burke, and Shane MacGowan (in his screen debut). Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentary, documentary, bonus trailers, and more. Rated R. **½
“SUPERGIRL”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Melissa Benoist soars in the title role of the DC Comics superhero (“superheroine”?) and her alter-ego Kara Danvers, in all 23 episodes from the 2017-’18 season of the award-winning CBS fantasy/adventure series, available on DVD ($44.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($49.99 retail), both replete with special features.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)