|DVD Reviews For 6/15: "You Were Ready For A Love Affair But Not For Love!"
|by Peter Sobczynski
Yeah, I love "Pretty Little Liars"--you wanna make something of it? Well, do you? I thought not. Besides, it is one of the few highlights in this roundup of new home video releases that also includes very old porn shorts, very dumb action spectaculars and much, much more.
NEW AND NOTABLE
42ND ST. FOREVER: PEEP SHOW COLLECTION VOL.2 (Impulse Films. $24.95): For those of you who want to journey back to the kinder and simpler days of hardcore pornography--the era before the advent of implants, waxings and unforgiving HD video--this compilation offers up a collection of old porn loops, the kind that weary businessmen used to toss an endless supply of quarters away to watch in full, from the Seventies catering to a variety of tastes. While I can't say that the films--at least the ones I looked at--are particularly erotic (if only because of the unshakeable sense that all the performers are now either in their sixties or dead), they are of interest from a sociological perspective and who knows, they may actually prove to be more dramatically sound than the upcoming "Fifty Shades of Grey" adaptation.
ADULT WORLD (MPI Home Entertainment. $24.98): Emma Roberts, the cinematic equivalent of "Fetch," stars in this labored and only fitfully comedy in which she plays a would-be poet who takes a job in a sex shop to pay the bills. John Cusack turns up as the drunken poet serving as her highly dubious mentor and once again inspires the question "What the hell is going on with John Cusack's career these days?"
AMEN/CAPITAL (Cohen Media Group. $24.98 each): Costa-Gavras, the esteemed director of such classics as "Z" and "Missing," is the director of these two recent and relatively interesting dramas making their Blu-Ray debuts. "Amen" (2002) touches on the culpability of the Catholic Church in the atrocities of the Nazis in this tale of an SS officer who discovers that his discoveries are being used to operate the death camp gas chambers and finds the Vatican to be of little assistance when he calls on them for help in exposing this revelation. "Capital" (2013) is a more timely financial thriller in which an ambitious executive and a powerful French bank unexpectedly becomes CEO and finds himself distracted by power struggles, a takeover attempt from an American hedge fund manager (Gabriel Byrne) and his new supermodel girlfriend.
DEVIL'S KNOT (Image Entertainment. $27.97): Continuing his sad and inexplicable descent from the ranks of the world's best filmmakers (thanks to masterpieces like "Exotica" and "The Sweet Hereafter") to the depth of unfathomable hackdom, Atom Egoyan offers us yet another cinematic depiction of the West Memphis Three, a trio of metalhead teens convicted of murdering a couple of kids largely on the basis of their oddball appearance rather than on any concrete evidence. Their story has already been the subject of four acclaimed documentaries--the "Paradise Lost" trilogy and "West of Memphis" and Egoyan not only brings nothing new to the table except for dramatizing things that we have already seen play out in reality via the ridiculously miscast likes of Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth (the latter sporting a hilariously bad southern accent), the story he is telling ends long before the dramatic reversals that eventually led to the trio's freedom a couple of years ago--all of that is summed up via a series of extremely awkward end title cards. About the nicest thing you can say about this one is that it isn't Egoyan's worst work, though that says more about how bad some of his other films have been than anything else.
HAUNT (MPI Home Entertainment. $24.98): Years after her entire family dies under gruesome circumstances in their home, a doctor (Jacki Weaver) sells the place to another family and now their teen son (Harrison Gilbertson), along with the sulky-but-pretty girl next door (Liana Liberato), finds himself making contact with the increasingly malevolent ghosts that are still haunting the place and beginning to assert themselves in the physical world for diabolical reasons of their own. As low-fi ghost stories go, there is little here that you haven't seen before but the cast is a little better than usual (any film with the good taste to include perennial crush object Ione Skye in the cast automatically deserves some respect) and it certainly beats any of that "Paranormal Activity" nonsense.
IN THE BLOOD (Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. $24.98): After her husband mysteriously vanishes while on their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, a woman goes off on her own in search of him and since she is played by Gina Carano, the MMA champion and ass-kicking star of "Haywire" and the last "Fast & Furious" movie, you can be assured that she will break hearts and bones in equal measure. Not surprisingly, the film is pretty awful--pretty much your standard-issue nearly-straight-to-video sludge--but Carano does have an undeniable screen presence and while it doesn't exploit that nearly as well as Steven Soderbergh did with "Haywire," it makes the proceedings at least slightly more tolerable than they might have otherwise been in other hands.
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (Paramount Home Video. $29.95): Not so much a bad movie as an inexplicable one, this attempt to bring the late Tom Clancy's popular hero to the big screen once again inspires nothing but unfortunate questions with no easy answers. Why reboot the series from its Cold War setting to contemporary times and then not take advantage of the changing geopolitical situation instead of trotting out a bad guy straight from a lesser James Bond movie? Why take a character that needs to be played with someone who can radiate a cool intelligence and cast the callow likes of Chris Pine? Why hire an actress as gifted as Keira Knightley and then give her what is essentially the girlfriend part and nothing more? Why hire Kenneth Branagh, not exactly the guy you think of when it comes to depicting globe-trotting adventures, to direct it? Other than a nice supporting turn from Kevin Costner as Pine's world-weary superior, the best thing about this film is that it is so forgettable that it will be much easier to overlook a few years from now when Paramount tries to reboot it once again.
NON-STOP (Universal Home Entertainment. $29.98): In the latest and arguably least of Liam Neeson's excursions into action fodder, he plays a two-fisted, hard-drinking air marshall on a flight that includes a madman threatening to kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless there is a hefty ransom payment. As implausible as the premise sounds in theory, it only gets sillier and sillier before a last-minute twist that tries in vain to add some serious-minded drama to the proceedings and only winds up coming across as spectacularly tasteless in its ham-fisted stab at gravitas. And yes, that is Lupita N'Yongo--Oscar-winning cinematic icon, beacon of all that is good and pure in an otherwise terrible world and someone that Sasha Stone really, really likes--in a throwaway bit of one of the increasingly beleaguered, though ultimately inconsequential, flight attendants.
PRETTY LITTLE LIARS: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON (Warner Home Video. $59.98): One of the most shamelessly entertaining shows on television today--even if you couldn't be further removed from its teen girl demographic--has its fourth season of shocking plot twists, dramatic reveals and fabulous outfits compiled here in a set that includes all 24 episodes, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes and a bonus episode recapping everything that has happened for the benefit of newcomers. Other TV-related titles now available include "Breaking Bad: The Complete Series" (Sony Home Entertainment. $160.99), "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" (Fox Home Entertainment. $49.98), "Graceland: The Complete 1st Season" (Fox Home Entertainment. $39.98), "Major Crimes: The Complete Second Season" (Warner Home Video. $59.98), "Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete Fourth Season" (Warner Home Video. $39.98) and "True Blood: The Complete Sixth Season" (HBO Home Entertainment. $59.99).
ROBOCOP (Fox Home Entertainment. $29.98): The trouble with this dismal remake of Paul Verhoeven's super-violent 1987 cult classic--the particulars of which I will assume you are familiar with--is not that the brutality was toned way down (with bad guys getting tased instead of shot) in an attempt to secure a more commercially viable PG-13 rating (after all, "Robocop 3" was rated PG-13 as well, though the total failure of that entry should have come as a warning). No, the problem is that despite a still-viable premise, a strong director in Jose Padilha and an amazingly good cast (including Joel Kinnaman inside the suit as well as Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson and Abbie Cornish), the resulting film was a total bore that failed to bring anything new to the party that action fans hadn't already seen a dozen times or more and usually done better.
TRUE DETECTIVE (HBO Home Entertainment. $59.95): This HBO limited series, in which Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson play a couple of police detectives investigating a brutal murder with surprisingly parallels to a 1995 case that had a catastrophic effect on their personal and professional lives, received so many hosannas from critics and fans alike that it would seem impossible for it to even come close to living up to all the hype. And yet, it manages to do all of that thanks to a fascinating series of scripts by Nic Pizzolato, fluid direction by Cary Fukunaga and stellar performances from the two leads--McConaughey is so impressive here that I am just going to pretend that he won his Oscar for his turn as the bleakly philosophical Rust Cohle than for the ridiculously overrated and resoundingly uninteresting "Dallas Buyers Club."
THE WHO: QUADROPHENIA--LIVE IN LONDON (Universal Music. $24.98): The legendary rock group--okay, legendary singer Roger Daltrey, legendary guitarist Pete Townsend and an army of hired guns needed to replace the late John Entwhistle and Keith Moon--runs through its seminal 1973 concept album (itself the basis of an excellent 1979 film) and a handful of additional favorites like ""Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" before a crowd in London's Wembley Arena. Although the complexity of the material has often thwarted attempts to present it live in the past, Daltrey, Townsend and the gang blast through the songs in a smooth and slick manner--perhaps too smooth for a group that used to border on anarchy in their heyday--and while it is unlikely to win over new recruits, their loyal fan base should get a kick out of it.
ALEXANDER: ULTIMATE CUT (Warner Home Video. $19.98)
ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (The Criterion Collection. $39.95)
THE BIRDCAGE (MGM Home Entertainment. $19.99)
DEATH BED: THE BED THAT KILLS (Cult Epics. $24.98)
KISMET (Warner Archives. $21.99)
L'ECLISSE (The Criterion Collection. $39.95)
THE MAN WITH NO NAME TRILOGY (MGM Home Entertainment. $38.09)
THE OUTSIDERS (Warner Home Video. $19.98)
THE SPIKE LEE JOINTS VOL 1/VOL.2 (Walt Disney Home Entertainment. $20.00 each)
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=3683
originally posted: 06/16/14 11:37:41
last updated: 06/16/14 22:56:44