Video Vault – Sep 27, 2017
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
THE HERO (LionsGate): UNCSA School of Filmmaking graduate Brett Haley scores big with this warm, witty comedy/drama that affords leading man Sam Elliott a career-capping role that ranks as one of the actor’s best performances.
Elliott’s Lee Hayden is a jaded TV Western star whose brief ’70s heyday has long since faded. When he’s not scrambling for two-bit gigs, including commercial voice-overs, he’s hanging out with one-time co-star, sometime confessor, and full-time drinking-and-doping buddy Jeremy (Nick Offerman).
A dire medical diagnosis forces Lee to re-examine his life and priorities, spurring attempts to reconnect with ex-wife Valerie (Katharine Ross, Elliott’s real-life wife) and estranged daughter Lucy (Krysten Ritter) – as well as an unexpected attraction to saucy stand-up comedienne Charlotte (Laura Prepon).
Augmented by splendid cinematography (courtesy Rob C. Givens, also a UNCSA alumnus), The Hero is a genuine sleeper — a sheer, heartfelt delight from beginning to end, and a stellar showcase for the inimitable Sam Elliott.
Both the DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.99 retail) include audio commentary with Elliott and Haley. Rated R. ***½
2:22 (Magnet Label/Magnolia Home Entertainment): Suspended air-traffic controller Michiel Huisman becomes obsessed with the titular time after experiencing a series of strange events in this PG-13-rated psychological thriller, available on DVD ($26.98 retail), Blu-ray ($29.98 retail), and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($32.98 retail) – each replete with special features.
3 IDIOTAS (3 IDIOTS) (LionsGate): This Spanish-language, PG-13-rated farce stars Christian Vazquez and German Valdes as college buddies who seek a long-lost friend (Alfonso Dosal) in order to reunite him with long-ago flame Martha Higareda, available on DVD ($19.98 retail).
“ARROW”: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Stephen Amell’s back in action as billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (now the mayor of Star City) and his crime-fighting alter-ego in all 23 eoisodes from the 2016-’17 season of the award-winning CW superhero series based on DC Comics’ “Green Arrow” character, available on DVD ($49.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($54.97 retail) – both with special features for “Arrow” aficionados.
BEGGARS OF LIFE (Kino Classics): Director William A. Wellman’s 1928 adaptation of Jim Tully’s autobuography stars Louise Brooks as a young woman who disguises herself as a man after killing her caretaker, then goes on the lam with train-hopping hobo Richard Arlen — only to encounter Wallace Beery’s ruthless “Oklahoma Red.” Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentaries and more.
“BLAZE AND THE MONSTER MACHINES: WILD WHEELS ESCAPE TO MONSTER ISLAND” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A DVD selection ($14.99 retail) of four episodes from the popular animated Nickelodeon series detailing the motorized misadventures of the title racecar (voiced by Nolan North).
CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE (DreamWorks Animation/Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): A cheerful, fun-filled animated romp about two mischievous schoolboys (voiced by Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch) who hypnotize their uptight principal (voiced by Ed Helms) into believing that he’s the titular superhero – fighting for truth, justice, and the right to wear underpants. Good fun for kids and grown-ups alike, available on DVD ($29.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($36.99 retail) and 4K Ultra HD ($44.99 retail) – each replete with a myriad of bonus features. Rated PG. ***
CERTAIN WOMEN (The Criterion Collection): Kelly Reichardt’s award-winning adaptation of stories by Maile Meloy focuses on four women (Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams and Laura Dern), whose lives intersect in random – and not-so-random – ways in a small Montana town. Well-acted but episodic and extremely low-key, although Reichardt’s devotees won’t mind. In support: Jared Harris, James Le Gros, Rene Auberjonois and Guy Boyd. Both the DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) include retrospective interviews and more. Rated R. **½
“CODE BLACK”: SEASON TWO (CBS DVD/Paramount): A four-DVD collection ($45.98 retail) of all 16 episodes from the inaugural 2016-’17 season of the award-winning CBS medical drama, inspired by the 2013 documentary of the same name, dramatizing the goings-on at Angels Memorial Hospital, with Marcia Gay Harden heading an ensemble cast including Rob Lowe, Jillian Murray, Benjamin Hollingworth, Melanie Chandra, Harry Ford, William Allen Young, Boris Kodjoe and Luis Guzman.
ENCIRCLEMENT (IndiePix): Richard Brouillete’s award-winning 2008 documentary feature (originally titled L’encerclement: La democratie dans les rets du neoliberalisme) explores neo-liberalist ideologies around the globe, featuring interviews with such authors and intellectuals as Noam Chomsky, Francois Denord, Ignacio Ramonet and others. In English and French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
IT WAS FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY! THE BEATLES: SGT. PEPPER AND BEYOND (BFD/Damson Lane Productions/The Orchard): Director Alan G. Parker’s self-explanatory documentary examines the circumstances leading up to the Fab Four’s most acclaimed album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – but is hampered by no new interviews with the surviving Beatles nor a single note from the album (or any of the others!). Nevertheless, that won’t matter much to die-hard devotees. Both the DVD ($17.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.98 retail) include special features. **
“JANET KING, SERIES 3: PLAYING ADVANTAGE” (Acorn TV): Marta Dusseldorp returns in the title role of a tenacious crown prosecutor in New South Wales, charged with heading a commission investigating firearms crimes, in all eight episodes from the 2017 season of the award-winning crime series spun off from “Crownies,” available on DVD ($49.99 retail).
JESUS (Breaking Glass Pictures): Writer/director Fernando Guzzoni’s award-winning, fact-based drama stars Nicolas Duran in the title role of a troubled, volatile teenager whose violent, self-destructive tendencies lead him into a moral quandary. In Spanish with English subtitles, available on DVD ($21.99 retail).
“KUU KUU HARAJUKU: SUPER KAWAII!” (Shout! Kids Factory/Shout! Factory): A DVD collection ($14.98 retail) of 12 episodes from the inaugural 2015 season of the animated Nickelodeon series, co-created by Gwen Stefani, about the musical misadventures of a girl group called HJ5.
THE LEGEND OF THE HOLY DRINKER (Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment Group): Ermanno Olmi’s award-winning 1989 adaptation of Joseph Roth’s novella (originally titled La leggenda del santo bevitore) stars Rutger Hauer as a homeless alcoholic determined to repay an act of generosity and overcome his personal demons. In French and Italian with English subtitles, the special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) includes retrospective interviews.
“LINE OF DUTY”: SERIES 4 (Acorn TV): A DVD collection ($39.99 retail) of all six feature-length episodes from the 2017 season of creator Jed Mercurio’s award-winning BBC crime series (aired by Hulu in the US), with Thandie Newton joining series regulars Martin Compston and Vicky McClure as they hunt a suspected serial killer and contend with police corruption in contemporary London.
L.O.R.D.: LEGEND OF RAVAGING DYNASTIES (LionsGate): Bingbing Fen and Kris Wu team up as sorcerers battling the forces of evil in this martial-arts fantasy (originally titled Jue ji). In Mandarin and Khmer with English subtitles, available on DVD ($14.98 retail).
MOUTON (IndiePix Films): First-time filmmakers Gilles Deroo and Marianne Pistone’s award-winning debut feature (also released as Sheep) stars David Merabet (in his screen debut) in the title role of a troubled teen who comes of age in the bucolic seaside burg of Courseulles-sur-Mer. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.99 retail).
“NED AND STACEY”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Shout! Factory): Thomas Haden Church and Debra Messing star as the title characters in all 46 episodes from the entire 1995-’97 series run of the NBC sitcom about a high-powered executive who marries a flaky writer in order to advance his career. This self-explanatory six-DVD collection ($44.99 retail) includes retrospective interviews, audio commentary for the pilot episode, and 11 episodes that never aired.
ONCLE BERNARD: A COUNTER LESSON IN ECONOMICS (IndiePix Films): Richard Brouilette’s award-winning documentary (originally titled Oncle Bernard: L’anti-lecon d’economie) is an interview with noted economist Bernard Maris (“Oncle Bernard”), who was killed during the tragic Charlie Hebdo massacre in 2015. In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
“PHANTASM: 5-MOVIE DVD COLLECTION” (Well Go USA Entertainment): The title tells all in this five-DVD collection ($29.98 retail) of the entire cult-classic Phantasm horror franchise: Phantasm (1979), Phantasm II (1988), Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994), Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998) and Phantasm: Ravager (2016) – each replete with special features including audio commentaries, trailers, featurettes and more. All five films are rated R … for obvious reasons!
SOUL ON A STRING (Film Movement): Zhang Yang’s award-winning epic (originally titled Pi Sheng Shang De Hun) stars Quni Ciren as a young Tibetan warrior who experiences mystical phenomena as he embarks on a perilous journey. In Tibetan with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
TOMMY’S HONOUR (LionsGate): Jason Connery (son of Diane Cilento and Sean) directed this well-made, award-winning adaptation of Kevin Cook’s best-seller, scripted by Cook and Pamela Marin, dramatizing the relationship between of “Old” Tom (Peter Mullan) and “Young” Tommy Morris (Jack Lowden), the father/son duo who revolutionized the game of golf in 19th-century Scotland. Sam Neill, Nicky Henson and Ophelia Lovibond also appear in this atmospheric but leisurely paced drama, available on DVD ($19.98 retail). Rated PG-13. **½
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2017, Mark Burger)