DVD Reviews for 10/8 “I Know What Gold Does To Men’s Souls”
By Peter Sobczynski
Posted 10/08/10 04:50:44
After a few lean weeks on the home video front, things finally begin to heat up as several of the greatest movies ever made (not to mention a couple of the most overrated) make their long-awaited Blu-ray debuts.
NEW AND NOTABLEBASEBALL: THE TENTH INNING (Paramount Home Video. $24.99): Picking up where he left off with his landmark documentary series “Baseball,“ Ken Burns takes an in-depth look at the last two decades of the national pastime, covering such subjects as the strike that nearly crippled the game for good, the home run derbies that brought it back to popularity, the steroid scandals and the Cubs still not winning. If you are still in the mood for more baseball history, there is “The Essential Games of the Seattle Mariners” (A&E Home Entertainment. $29.98), a collection of four classic Mariners victories including the final game of their 2000 AL Division Series sweep against the White Sox.
CAPRICA 1.0 (Universal Home Entertainment. $49.98): Arriving on DVD just before the second half of its debut season premieres on SyFy, this prequel to the hugely popular revamp of “Battlestar Galactica” reveals the origins behind the conflict between humans and Cylons and between two powerful families whose destinies unexpectedly become entwined following a violent tragedy. Call me old fashioned but back in my day, we didn’t need all this backstory--we had Lorne Greene and we were happy with it. Other TV-related DVDs now available include “All in the Family: The Complete Seventh Season” (Shout! Factory. $29.95), “Bones: The Complete Fifth Season” (Fox Home Entertainment. $59.98), “The Cleveland Show: The Complete Season One” (Fox Home Entertainment. $39.98), “The Ellery Queen Mysteries--The Complete Series” (E1 Entertainment. $59.98), “The Lord Peter Whimsey Mysteries--Set 2” (Acorn Media. $49.99), “The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Seventh Season” (Fox Home Entertainment. $29.98), “Medium: The Sixth Season” (CBS DVD. $57.99), “Midsomer Murders: Set 16” (Acorn Media. $49.99), “Patton 360: The Complete Season One” (A & E Home Entertainment. $34.95), “Rich Man, Poor Man--The Complete Collection” (A&E Home Entertainment. $79.95), “Scrubs--The Complete Ninth and Final Season” (ABC Studios. $29.99) and “Secret Agent--The Complete Collection” (A&E Home Entertainment. $99.95).
COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY (Sony Home Entertainment. $27.96): The tempestuous love affair that developed between the famed designer and the famed composer when she invited him and his family to live at her estate for his work is the subject of this French melodrama. Despite the passionate personalities involved, the film itself is curiously weak and uninvolving--little more than a well-dressed soap opera that soon wears out its welcome.
THE EXORCIST (Warner Home Video. $34.99): Truth be told, I have never been the biggest fan of this horror classic--it has always struck me as a crude and lumbering machine constantly veering between boredom and sadism. Granted, I am decidedly in the minority on this one and those of you who still consider it to be one of the scariest movies should be thrilled with its Blu-ray debut in a package that contains both the original 1973 version and the less effective 2000 revision, all the bonus features from the previous DVDs (including two less-than-informative commentaries from director William Friedkin and an excellent making-of documentary) as well as a new documentary featuring never-before-seen footage of the film’s actual production.
GET HIM TO THE GREEK (Universal Home Entertainment. $29.98): In this vague spin-off of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” an innocent record company weasel (Jonah Hill) is sent off to collect dissolute British rocker Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) and deliver him to Los Angeles in 72 hours for a big comeback concert. Essentially a retread of “My Favorite Year” sans the sentiment, though with plenty of sex, drugs, vomit and chaos, the film has a few bright spots here and there, many of them courtesy of a hilarious Sean Combs delivering a wicked self-parody, but at a certain point, both Snow and the film eventually become fairly tiresome.
GOOD (E1 Entertainment. $24.98): Viggo Mortensen stars in this drama about a German literature professor in the 1930s whose life is changed forever when he allows his book espousing the benefits of euthanasia to be appropriated by government officials for propaganda purposes. The movie as a whole isn’t very good (which might explain why it was barely released theatrically) but it does feature yet another strong and surprising performance from the always reliable Mortensen
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (MPI Home Entertainment. $24.98): Just so as to avoid causing any unnecessary upset in discussing this already notorious cult horror film, let me just say that if you have heard of it, it does indeed live up (or down) to its reputation and if you haven’t heard of it, you most likely don’t want to. For those so inclined, the disc includes any number of bonus features, including a director’s commentary, audition footage and making-of featurettes. From what I understand, an actors commentary was recorded but was scrapped because the voices were muffled.
IRON MAN 2 (Paramount Home Video. $34.98): Not so much a bad movie as a disappointing one, this sequel to the 2008 surprise superhero smash was too long, too slapdash and lacked the energy and surprise that the original had in spades. Once again, Robert Downey Jr. steals the show with his typically off-beat performance but the other high-profile cast members, including Mickey Rourke as the bad guy, Scareltt Johanssen as a mysterious aide and Don Cheadle as Terrence Howard, are largely wasted here.
THE KILLER INSIDE ME (MPI Home Entertainment. $19.98): In this adaptation of the classic noir novel from Jim Thompson, Casey Affleck plays a seemingly pleasant and well-mannered small-town sheriff whose bland exterior masks a psychopathic personality drive him to commit an ever-increasing number of murders. Yes, it is as dark, twisted and brutal as you have heard (the scene in which friendly prostitute Jessica Alba is literally beaten to a pulp is one of the nastiest things ever filmed) but it just never jells into a cohesive and satisfying whole and most people will find themselves wondering in vain why the usually reliable and always eclectic British director Michael Winterbottom wanted to make it in the first place.
KING KONG (Warner Home Video. $34.99): The monster movie classic makes its Blu-ray debut in a package that includes all of the excellent bonus features from the previous DVD edition, chiefly an extensive documentary chronicling the film’s entire production history, and a booklet featuring additional details of what went into its making. Because of the age of the film and the condition of some of the footage, the disc may not look as spectacular as some may have hoped but it still looks better than any previous version. Besides, the film itself is so damn entertaining that most people will hardly notice or care about the visual flaws.
THE MALTESE FALCON/THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (Warner Home Video. $24.98 each): These two Humphrey Bogart classics--I will assume that neither one needs any further introduction--make their long-awaited Blu-ray debuts. Although the “Maltese Falcon” package is slightly disappointing in that it doesn’t contain everything from the deluxe DVD release from a few years ago (namely the two previous feature film adaptation of the story from 1931 and 1936) but both look so wonderful that few are likely to mind too much. If that isn’t enough Bogart for you, and I cannot imagine any situation in which one could possibly have too much Bogart, this week also sees the release of “Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection” (Warner Home Video. $99.95), a 13-disc behemoth featuring 24 Bogart films ranging from classics like “Casablanca” and “The Big Sleep” to more obscure items like “Black Legion” and the underrated cult favorite “All Through the Night.“
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST: COLLECTOR’S EDITION (Warner Home Video. $39.98): This is another so-called classic film that I have never quite warmed up to over the years--while I love Jack Nicholson’s performance as the rebellious Randall P. McMurphy as much as everyone else, the rest of the film takes Ken Kesey’s complex book and dumbs it down into a shameless crowd-pleaser that is too manipulative for its own good. For those who feel otherwise, this edition contains the usual bells and whistles (commentary, making-of documentary and the like) along with such trinkets as a hardcover booklet on its history, reproductions of the posters and lobby cards and a deck of playing cards with the characters emblazoned on them.
SPLICE (Warner Home Video. $28.98): In this creepy and bizarre horror film that disappeared from theaters after a very brief run this past summer, Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody play a pair of hot-shot genetic researchers who splice together human and animal DNA and wind up creating a new creature (played by Delphine Chaneac) that they are forced to keep under wraps while observing its life cycle--as you can probably guess, things don’t go very well for any of them as a result. While it may sound like a silly knockoff of “Species” (which might partly explain its failure at the box-office), it is actually a surprisingly strong effort that is closer in tone to the early works of David Cronenberg than to the typical monster movie fodder. Alternately scary, thoughtful and darkly funny, this is one of the most underrated films of 2010 and I can only hope that it now finally finds the audience that it deserves.[br]
SUCK (E1 Entertainment. $24.98): In this direct-to-video horror comedy, a struggling rock band finds their fortunes changing when their sexy bass player (Jessica Pare) is bitten by a vampire while being pursued by fearless vampire killer Eddie Van Helsing (Malcolm McDowell). I don’t want to say that the title gives an unfortunately apt description of the film but I have to say that the title gives an unfortunately apt description for this tedious would-be cult film and not even appearances by the likes of Dave Foley, Iggy Pop and Moby can help matters much.
THE THIN RED LINE (The Criterion Collection. $39.95): Although fans of Terrence Malick were no doubt disappointed by the recent announcement that his latest work, “Tree of Life,“ would not be opening this year after all, they can at least content themselves with this magnificent special edition of his visionary 1998 adaptation of the James Jones World War II novel about American soldiers fighting in Guadalcanal. The film itself is still a beauty--a haunting meditation on man, nature and violence that is both spiritual and savage--and the hi-def transfer is equally stunning. Throw in a bunch of fascinating extras, including a commentary featuring cinematographer John Toll, production designer Jack Fisk and producer Grant Hill, interviews with many of the key players from both in front of and behind the camera, outtakes, audition footage and WW II newsreels from Guadalcanal, and you have a leading competitor for the title of Blu-ray of the year. If trippy and meditative WWII films are your cup of tea, Criterion is also offering “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” (The Criterion Collection. $39.95), Nagisa Oshima’s 1983 adaptation of the Laurens Van der Post novel about a clash of cultures between British and Japanese soldiers in a Japanese prison camp that stars David Bowie, Tom Conti and Takashi Kitano.
2001 MANIACS (Lionsgate Home Entertainment. $19.99)
BAD LIEUTENANT (Lionsgate Home Entertainment. $19.99)
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Walt Disney Home Entertainment. $39.98)
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (Lionsgate Home Entertainment. $19.99)
DELGO (Fox Home Entertainment. $19.99)
GRINDHOUSE (Vivendi. $39.95)
HARD CANDY (Lionsgate Home Entertainment. $19.99)
HIGH TENSION (Lionsgate Home Entertainment. $19.99)
THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (Fox Home Entertainment. $34.99)
MAD MAX (MGM Home Entertainment. $24.99)
SECRETARY (Lionsgate Home Entertainment. $19.99)
SISTERS (Image Entertainment. $24.99)
WONDERLAND (Lionsgate Home Entertainment. $19.99)