MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
IMAGES (Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment Group): Although released in the wake of such critical successes as M*A*S*H (1970), Brewster McCloud (1970) and McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), Robert Altman’s 1972 psychological thriller remains one of the esteemed filmmaker’s most obscure films, despite Susannah York winning the Best Actress award at Cannes and John Williams’ score earning an Oscar nomination.
In one of her best performances, York portrays Cathryn, the successful (and pregnant) author of children’s books, whose grip on reality is rapidly slipping away. She suspects her husband Hugh (Altman perennial Rene Auberjonois) is having an affair, but consents to spend time resting in a remote seaside manor off the Irish coast.
Once there, however, her paranoia increases, as she imagines – or does she? – a former lover (Marcel Bozzuffi) come to call, and engages in a dangerous flirtation with brutish neighbor (Hugh Millais) – leading to an appropriately ambiguous, yet undeniably fascinating, ending.
Altman would later revisit some of Images’ themes in his subsequent, more high-profile, 3 Women (1977), but for devotees of the filmmakers, Images is a must – a delicate, fragile work that perfectly reflects the mindset of its troubled protagonist.
The special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective and vintage interviews, theatrical trailer, and more. Rated R. ***½
1:54 (Breaking Glass Pictures): Actor-turned-co/-producer/writer/director Yan England’s timely, award-winning debut feature (originally titled Running) stars Antoine Olivier Pilon as a troubled high-school athlete wrestling with his sexual identity while contending with a bullying teammate (Lou-Pascal Tremblay). In French with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.99 retail).
“13 REASONS WHY”: SEASON ONE (Paramount): Teenager Dylan Millette embarks on a soul-searching journey when he receives 13 cassette tapes from his unrequited high-school crush (Katherine Langford) who recently committed suicide, in all 13 episodes from the inaugural 2017 season of the award-winning Netflix drama series based on Jay Asher’s best-selling 2007 novel, available in a four-DVD collection ($33.99 retail) boasting bonus features.
BASMATI BLUES (Shout! Factory): Writer Dan Baron’s directorial debut stars Brie Larson as an American scientist who finds romance with rebellious college drop-out Utkarsh Ambudkar while uncovering malfeasance when she is sent to India in this romantic comedy with a Bollywood twist and Donald Sutherland, Scott Bakula and Tyne Daly in support, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail), each replete with special features.
CELTIC PRIDE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Director Tom DeCerchio’s flimsy 1996 debut feature stars Dan Aykroyd and Daniel Stern as die-hard Boston Celtics fans who kidnap obnoxious Utah Jazz superstar Damon Wayans to ensure their team wins the NBA championship. This predictable, one-note farce, which marked an early feature credit for screenwriter/executive producer Judd Apatow, who went on to bigger – and much better – things. Both the DVD ($11.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.95 retail) include audio commentary and theatrical trailer. Rated PG-13. *
“THE GOVERNOR”: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION (Acorn TV): A five-DVD collection ($59.99 retail) of all 12 feature-length episodes from the entire 1995-’96 run of the ITV drama series starring Janet McTeer as the title character, Helen Hewitt, who becomes the youngest female in charge of an all-male prison when she assumes the top job at Barfield Prison, with Sophie Okonedo, Eamonn Walker, Derek Martin, Ron Donachie, and Idris Elba in support.
THE HAPPYS (Indican Pictures): Writer/directors Tom Gould and John Serpe’s award-winning feature debut is a breezy but scattershot comedy/drama starring Amanda Bauer (in a winning turn) as a winsome Hollywood transplant whose dreams of happiness are seemingly shattered when she walks in on her actor fiancee (Jack DePew) – with another man. A nice try that doesn’t quite add up, but it kills time easily enough and makes good use of Los Feliz locations. **
“LOVE, LIES & RECORDS” (Acorn TV): Award-winning writer Kay Mellor created this Acorn TV/BBC One drama series starring Ashley Jensen as an overworked registrar trying to balance her personal and professional lives, in all six episodes from the inaugural 2017 season, available on DVD ($39.99 retail), replete with bonus features.
THE MALLORY EFFECT (Indican Pictures): In his 2002 debut feature (his only to date), writer/editor/director Dustin Guy brings zippy pacing to this ribald comedy that sees associate producer Steven Roy trying to woo back his ex-girlfriend, the titular Mallory (Josie Maran in her screen debut) by surreptitiously befriending her current beau (Scott Hanks). The ambiguous ending is a surprise. The DVD ($20 retail) includes audio commentary, the director’s (shorter) cut, and more. Rated R. **
“A PLACE TO CALL HOME”: SEASON 4 (Acorn TV): Marta Dusseldorp returns as Sarah, a nurse readjusting to life in New South Wales following World War II, in all 12 episodes from the 2017 season of the award-winning Australian drama series created by Bevan Lee, co-starring Noni Hazlehurst, Brett Climo, Jenni Baird, David Berry, Abby Earl, Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood and Ben Winspear (Dusseldorp’s real-life husband), available in a four-DVD collection ($59.99 retail).
RIBBONS (Indican Pictures): Elias Matar produced, directed, and co-wrote the story for this latter-day film-noir thriller, in which disillusioned veteran Patrick Hickman hooks up with troubled teen Haidyn Harvey (in an award-winning performance), only to find more trouble during a fateful dinner with her mother (Anna Easteden) and abusive stepfather (top-billed Brian Krause, also a producer). Nothing new but not bad. **
THE SANDLOT (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): A “25th Anniversary” edition of writer David Mickey Evans’ 1993 award-winning directorial debut, a sun-dappled slice of Americana and nostalgia following a group of neighborhood kids who bond as they play baseball. The sugary sentiment runs high, but it’s got a fan base. Karen Allen, Denis Leary, Art LaFleur and James Earl Jones represent the adult contingent. Both the DVD ($9.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.96 retail) include featurette, full-color poster, and 10 collectible Topps baseball cards. Rated PG. *½
SWEET VIRGINIA (Shout! Factory): Disillusioned ex-rodeo star Jon Bernthal befriends drifter Christopher Abbott, unaware that he’s a ruthless contract killer “on assignment,” in director Jamie M. Dagg’s R-rated, noir-ish thriller, the first written by twin brothers Benjamin and Paul China, co-starring Rosemarie DeWitt and Imogen Poots, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail).
THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE (VCI Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): Eddie Romero’s silly but watchable 1972 shocker stars producer John Ashley as a hunter held captive on a remote island where mad scientist Charles Macaulay tinkers with human genetics, yielding half-animal hybrids. Essentially a remake of Terror is a Man (1959), which Romero co-directed, which was itself an ersatz (and uncredited) version of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau. Shot in the Philippines, this was among the first films released by Dimension Pictures, with Pat Woodell, Jan Merlin, Eddie Garcia and Pam Grier (as the Panther Woman) in support. This rattled around drive-ins and grindhouses for years, becoming a minor cult classic. One thing’s for sure: It’s never looked better. The special-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.99 retail) includes audio commentary and a vintage interview with Romero, theatrical trailer and TV spots. Rated PG. **
WASTELANDER (Indican Pictures): Angelo Lopes’ derivative, slow-moving, post-apocalyptic sci-fi action thriller stars Brendan Guy Murphy in the title role of a grizzled warrior enmeshed in a futuristic feud. It’s easy to discern the many cinematic inspirations, but this simply rehashes them. Rated R. *
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)