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DVD Reviews For 7/16: " Never Before Has The Beauty Of The Sexual Act Been So Crassly Exploited!"
by Peter Sobczynski

Admittedly, these are fairly slow times on the DVD front but if you can get past the lack of big-ticket titles, you can still find a couple of interesting things to see here, especially if you are into classic comedy, liquefied winos or former Disney teen queens gone wild.


ADMISSION (Universal Home Entertainment. $29.98): Tina Fey plays a harried Princeton admissions officer whose already tumultuous personal and professional lives are thrown into further chaos when the head of an alternative school (Paul Rudd) invites her up to meet an oddball student who might be both an unheralded genius and the child that she gave up for adoption at birth. Fey and Rudd make for an interesting on-screen pairing and the film is a little more ambitious than the standard-issue workplace comedy promised by the ads but it attempts to cover far too many storylines and narrative tones without ever pulling them all together into a cohesive whole.

BULLET TO THE HEAD (Warner Home Video. $28.98): The early part of 20113 was not a good time to be an aging action movie star as much-hyped titles like "The Last Ride" and "A Good Day to Die Hard" failed to attract much critical or commercial interest. One such film that did not deserve such an ignominious fate was this refreshingly straightforward Sylvester Stallone vehicle in which he plays a hitman who winds up teaming up with a young cop (Sung Kang) in order to bring down the corrupt businessman responsible for the death of his partner. It may not sound like much on the surface but legendary director Walter Hill (the man behind such classics as "The Warriors," "48 HRS" and "Streets of Fire") brings both his impeccable technical gifts and a genuine sense of personal style to the proceedings that elevates the material to something that comes far closer to what one might refer to as "art" than might rightly expect. Yes, I realize that this may sound more than a bit strange to hear but trust me, I would cheerfully take it over all of the big summer blockbusters to date in an instant. Give it a shot--you may be pleasantly surprised.

DEAD MAN DOWN (Sony Home Entertainment. $26.99): If you have been waiting with bated breath to one day see a film produced by the cinematic branch of a wrestling organization that combined the talents of the star and director of the original "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," French film icon Isabelle Huppert and Colin Farrell sporting an outlandish Hungarian accent, you have cause to celebrate. Granted, you may be the only one because the ensuing revenge thriller--in which reformed hitman Farrell goes after the people who killed his family and left him for dead, only to be caught in the act by his neighbor (Noomi Rapace) who asks him to do a job for her as well in exchange for her silence--is nowhere near as offbeat or interesting as the people who signed on to work on it for reasons that pretty much baffle the mind.

HANDS OF THE RIPPER (Synapse Films. $24.95): In this grisly latter-day effort from England's famed horror house Hammer Films, the daughter of none other than the late Jack the Ripper is herself accused of a brutal murder despite it being virtually impossible that she could have done it. After going under Freudian analysis , it seems that the spirit of the Ripper lives on and is carrying out his work by possessing his daughter. Of course, being a strict Freudian, her analyst now starts charging her for two sessions instead of one. . .ba-dum-bump. Although not one of the great Hammer films by any means, it is still a moderately compelling thriller that does play better now than it once did thanks to the restoration of all the various nasty bits that were dropped before its initial U.S. release.

THE HOST (Universal Home Entertainment. $29.98): Freely borrowing from such sources as "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," the dystopian future saga of your choice and the "Twilight" series, the latest big-screen adaptation of the deathless prose of--oh, hey--"Twilight" creator Stephenie Meyer is a ridiculous mess in which most of humanity has their bodies taken over by aliens but one spunky lass (Saoirse Ronan) is able to resist her possession--well, somewhat--lead the few human survivors in a resistance movement and find herself in the middle of a romantic triangle. The whole thing is quiite stupid and the method employed by director Andrew Niccol, who used to make interesting movies like "Gattaca" and "Lord of War," will inspire only giggles from most viewers. This was clearly designed to be the first of a new series but considering its non-success at the box-office, I don't think that we will have to worry about that anytime soon.

SPRING BREAKERS (Universal Home Entertainment. $21.98): A quartet of ever-bikinied college girls (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) want to go to Florida for spring break but have no money to do so. After knocking over a restaurant to fund the trip, they set off on a madcap adventure that sees them tossed into jail, falling under the thrall of a self-styled rapper/gangster (inevitably played by James Franco) and discovering that it is all fun and games until someone gets sprayed with machine-gun fire. Written and directed by enfant terrible Harmony Korine, this weirdo exercise is both a cutting satire of the hedonistic excesses of today's youth culture and a sincere celebration of the liberation that they can also inspire. Either way, it is pretty great--definitely the best of Korine's films to date--but just in case there was any question about it due to its cast, this is most decidedly not slumber party material by any means.

STREET TRASH (Synapse Entertainment. $24.95): One of those horror titles that you always saw on video store shelves in the late 1980's but never quite had the nerve to actually rent, this 1987 cult classic centers around a Skid Row liquor store and a case of a brew known as Tenafly Viper that is selling for a buck a bottle. Alas, the stuff is four decades old, has seen better days and causes anyone who ingests it to melt into gruesome puddles of multi-hued goo. Still, it is only a buck a bottle and the side effects sound no worse than those that come with a case of PBR. I can't say that this is my favorite horror film by any means--it was originally a short film that was expanded into a feature and it feels like it at times--but considering the extremely low budget that director Jim Muro was working with (I am almost certain that it cost more to produce this Blu-Ray than it did to make the film proper, even adjusting for 25 years of inflation), it does have a certain charm that cannot be denied. For those who enjoy it more than I do, the Blu-Ray is stuffed with extras that include the aforementioned short film, a hi-def transfer from the original negative, two audio commentaries, and a full-length documentary on its making and subsequent history.

TYLER PERRY'S TEMPTATION (Lionsgate Home Entertainment. $29.95): Imagine "Fifty Shades of Grey" sans the kink and eroticism, though on approximately the same literary level, and you have Perry's latest inadvertently hilarious melodrama in a nutshell. Jurnee Smollett-Bell plays a sweet country girl who marries her husband and moves to the big city with the dream of being a marriage counsellor, a dream that is initially deferred when she goes to work for a high-level dating service (headed by Vanessa Williams, armed with a French accent that would give Pepe Le Pew pause) and then totally derailed when her husband takes her for granted and drives her into thee arms of a hunky rich guy who turns out to be pure evil. I could go on and on about how bad this one is but I think I can sum it all up by stating that Kim Kardashian turns up in a supporting part and, as awful as her performance is, she is far from the worst thing about this whole silly and sorry endeavor.

UNFORGETTABLE: SEASON ONE (Paramount Home Video. $59.98): Poppy Montgomery isn't just a cop on the edge--she is a cop on the edge with the ability to remember every single detail about everything that she sees, with the sole exception of the incident that has traumatized her for her entire life, naturally. Anyway, she uses these powers to fight crime in the first season of this cop show that you may have forgotten existed but which will be premiering its second season in a couple of weeks. Other TV-related titles now available include "The Last Resort: The Complete First Season" (Sony Home Entertainment. $38.99), "Portlandia: Season 3" (Video Service Corp), "Quincy M.E.: Season Six" (Shout! Factory. $39.97) and "Warehouse 13: Season Four" (Universal Home Entertainment. $49.98).

WOULD YOU RATHER? (MPI Home Entertainment. $19.98): Forgetting one of the most important rules of social etiquette--never under any circumstances accept a dinner party invitation from a mysterious aristocrat played by Jeffrey Combs--a bunch of down-on-their-luck sorts, including "Pitch Perfect" co-star Brittany Snow and the inimitable Sasha Grey (whose credits are already familiar to many of you), accept a dinner party invitation from a mysterious aristocrat played by Jeffrey Combs and find themselves trapped in a grisly version of the title game that will leave one of them rich and a huge mess for the waitstaff to deal with in the morning. The film is okay--you have seen better but you have seen worse--but it bears notice that noted horror fan Rex Reed is quoted on the package, citing it as "harrowing" and "bloody"--based on that, he may have actually sat through it all the way up to the halfway mark.


THE GATEKEEPERS (Sony Home Entertainment. $30.99)

KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE (Shout! Factory. $19.97)

THE LIFE OF OHARU (The Criterion Collection. $39.95)

THE PRODUCERS (Shout! Factory. $29.93)

THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (Universal Home Entertainment. $29.98)

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originally posted: 07/17/13 08:06:58
last updated: 07/22/13 06:57:03
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