MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
ZILLA AND ZOE (Indican Pictures): This bittersweet effort marks a winning feature debut for writer/producer/director Jessica Scalise, a modern-day screwball comedy populated by neurotic but likable characters.
The titular characters are sisters: Newcomer Sam Kamerman plays Zilla, unexpectedly returned home from college with a fiancee (Mia Allen) in tow, bent on getting married that weekend. Aida Valentine is her precocious little sister Zoe, a budding filmmaker bent on winning an independent horror competition.
To this end, having been chosen to film the wedding, she and best friend Francis (Holden Goyette) decide to surreptitiously make the event the backdrop for their werewolf movie – which, not unexpectedly, causes untold chaos. In the middle of everything, rapidly coming unglued, is Zilla and Zoe’s single father Sal (Greg James, channeling Franklin Pangborn), who simply can’t get control of the situation.
The nods to low-budget, do-it-yourself filmmaking are inspired, the actors – especially Valentine and Goyette – performs with gusto, and the film makes good use of its Portland locations. All told, a charming little gem with definite cult possibilities.
The DVD retails for $24.99. ***
“BROAD CITY”: SEASON 5 (Comedy Central Home Entertainment/Paramount): Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson are back on the prowl in the Big Apple, looking for love in all the wrong places, in all 10 episodes from the 2019 (and final) season of the award-winning Comedy Central series, which they originally created as a web series, available on DVD ($26.98 retail), replete with bonus features. Comedy Central Home Entertainment is also releasing the self-explanatory “Broad City: The Complete Series,” which includes all 50 episodes plus bonus features, and is available on DVD for $55.98.
“THE BUREAU”: SEASON 4 (Federation Entertainment/Kino Lorber): A three-DVD collection ($29.95 retail) of all 18 episodes from the 2018 season of the award-winning French-language espionage series (originally titled Le Bureau des Legendes), created by Eric Rochant and starring Mathieu Kassovitz as a French intelligence agent enmeshed in dark doings that could impact the world at large – and destroy him in the process.
CANAL STREET (Cinedigm): Writer/producer/director Rhyan LaMarr’s PG-13-rated, faith-based courtroom drama stars Bryshere Y. Gray as a black teenager accused of murdering a classmate, Mykelti Williamson as Gray’s lawyer father, who defends him, and a star-studded cast including Mekhi Phifer, Kevin Quinn, Woody McClain, William R. Moses, Nora Dunn, Harry Lennix, Jon Seda, and Lance Reddick, available on DVD ($9.96 retail), replete with bonus features.
CLARENCE CLEMONS: WHO DO I THINK I AM? (Virgil Films/MVD Entertainment Group) Producer/director Nick Mead’s self-explanatory documentary details the finals years of acclaimed saxophonist Clarence Clemons (1942-2011), when Clemons embarked to China following the E Street Band’s 2003 “Rising Tour,” featuring interviews with friends, family members, and such admirers as Bill Clinton, Joe Walsh, Nils Lofgren, nephew (and E Street Band successor) Jake Clemons, and others. The DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $24.95.
“DC’S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW”: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): The superheroes of DC Comics continue their battle against evil in all 16 episodes from the 2018-’19 season of the award-winning CW fantasy series, featuring an ensemble cast including Caity Lotz, Dominic Purcell, Amy Louise Pemberton, Courtney Ford, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Nick Zano, and former big-screen Superman Brandon Routh, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail) – both boasting bonus features.
DOUBLECROSS (Juno Films Selects/MVD Entertainment Group): Director Anthony Squire’s noir-ish 1956 adaptation of Kem Bennett’s story The Queer Fish (scripted by Squire and Bennett) stars Donald Houston as a fisherman who agrees to smuggle a pair of enemy agents (Anton Diffring and Allan Cuthbertson) and their female accomplice (Fay Compton) across the English Channel. Atmospheric but draggy, especially when Houston predictably falls for Compton. Look fast for a young Robert Shaw. **
THE FRONT PAGE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): The Blu-ray bow ($29.95 retail) of Billy Wilder’s splashy, award-winning 1974 version of the classic Ben Hecht/Charles MacArthur newspaper comedy, teaming the dynamic duo of Jack Lemmon as crusading reporter Hildy Johnson and Walter Matthau as manipulative editor Walter Burns, with star-studded support from Carol Burnett, Susan Sarandon, Charles Durning, Vincent Gardenia, David Wayne, Austin Pendleton, Harold Gould, Allen Garfield, Herb Edelman, Dick O’Neill, and Martin Gabel. Not the best version of the old chestnut, but entertaining nevertheless. Special features include audio commentary, retrospective interviews, and theatrical trailer. Rated PG. ***
“THE GODFATHER TRILOGY: CORLEONE LEGACY” (Paramount Home Entertainment): The title tells all in this four-disc Blu-ray collection ($59.98 retail) of Francis Ford Coppola’s acclaimed adaptation of Mario Puzo’s best-seller and its sequels (all R-rated), plus bonus features: The Godfather (1972) won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Coppola and Puzo), with additional nominations for Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall), Best Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, and Best Score; The Godfather Part II (1974) earned Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro), Best Adapted Screenplay (Coppola and Puzo), Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, and Best Score, with additional nominations for Best Actor (Pacino), Best Supporting Actor (Michael V. Gazzo, Lee Strasberg), Best Supporting Actress (Talia Shire), and Best Costume Design; and The Godfather Part III (1990) earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Andy Garcia), Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Art Direction/Set Direction, and Best Original Song (“Promise Me You’ll Remember”).
“THE GOOD FIGHT”: SEASON THREE (CBS DVD/Paramount): Christine Baranski takes center stage, reprising her role as high-powered attorney Diane Lockhart as she attempts to rebuild her life and career in all 10 episodes from the 2019 season of the CBS All Access drama series spun off from The Good Wife, with Rose Leslie, Justin Bartha, Delroy Lindo, Audra McDonald, Michael Boatman, Michael Sheen, and fellow Good Wife graduate Cush Jumbo also aboard, available in a three-DVD collection ($39.98 retail), replete with special features.
“HAWAII FIVE-O”: THE NINTH SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount): Surf’s up – and so is crime – in all 25 episodes from the 2018-’19 season of the award-winning CBS crime series based on the popular ’60s series, starring Alex O’Loughlin as Steve McGarrett and Scott Caan as Danny “Danno” Williams, with Chi McBride, Jorge Garcia, Meaghan Rath, and Beaulah Koale in support, and guest appearances by Louis Gossett Jr., Gladys Knight, Duane “Dog” Chapman, and Joey Lawrence. The six-DVD collection ($55.98 retail) boasts bonus features for Five-O fans.
KEOMA (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): Widely considered the last spaghetti Western, Enzo G. Castellari’s appropriately dusty and gritty 1976 saga stars Franco Nero in the title role of a taciturn Civil War veteran who wages war against corrupt tycoon Donald O’Brian, aided and abetted by his grizzled father (William Berger) and an ex-slave (the always-welcome Woody Strode). The special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews, English and Italian (with English subtitles) audio options, trailers, and more. Rated R. ***
MIRAGE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Director Edward Dmytryk’s Hitchcockian 1965 thriller stars Gregory Peck as an amnesiac whose attempts to uncover his true identity ensnare him in a Cold War-era web of deception and murder. Glossy but convoluted, although the star-studded supporting cast is a big plus: Walter Matthau (as a bumbling private eye), Diane Baker, Kevin McCarthy, George Kennedy, Jack Weston, Leif Erickson, Walter Abel, Robert H. Harris, and Hari Rhodes. The special-edition Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interview (with Baker), theatrical trailer, and more. **½
ROOM 37: THE MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF JOHNNY THUNDERS (Cleopatra Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): Sibling filmmakers Vicente and Fernando Cordero co-wrote and co-directed this speculative, surreal character study depicting the last days of the titular punk rocker during his final, fateful visit to New Orleans, where he died on April 23, 1991 in Room 37 of the St. Peter’s Guest House Hotel. This rambling, nightmarish docu-drama doesn’t clear much up about the mystery, but there’s no denying the utter conviction that Leo Ramsey brings to the role of the doomed Thunders. The three-disc DVD/Blu-ray/CD combo ($34.95) includes bonus features. **½
“SUPERGIRL”: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Melissa Benoist soars in the title role of the DC Comics superhero, battling the forces of evil in all 22 episodes from the 2018-’19 season of the award-winning CBS fantasy/adventure series, with Mehcad Brooks (as “James” Olson), Chyler Leigh, Katie McGrath, Jesse Rath, Nicole Maines, Sam Witwer, April Parker Jones, and Dorian Harewood in support, available on DVD ($39.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($44.98 retail), both boasting bonus features.
TEDDY PENDERGRASS – IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME (MVD Entertainment Group): Producer/director Olivia Lichtenstein’s award-winning feature documentary, originally aired on Showtime, explores the life of the legendary, Grammy-nominated soul singer Teddy Pendergrass (1950-2010), whose meteoric career was derailed by a 1982 car accident that left him paralyzed, yet made a memorable comeback during the 1985 Live Aid concert in his home town of Philadelphia, and continued performing and recording until his 2006 retirement, available on Blu-ray ($24.95 retail), replete with bonus features.
UNCLE TOM’S CABIN (Kino Classics): Director/screenwriter Harry Pollard’s silent, 1927 adaptation of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s classic novel dramatizes the impact of slavery on a black family in pre-Civil War Kentucky, with James B. Lowe (in his final film) in the title role, Margarita Fischer (Pollard’s real-life wife, in her final film), Virginia Grey (in her screen debut), Mona Ray (in her screen debut), Arthur Edmund Carewe, Mona Ray, Eulalie Jensen, and George Siegmann. One of the most expensive movies of its day (costing a reported $2 million!). Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include the fully restored version of the film, the complete 1958 reissue version (narrated by Raymond Massey), the 1914 silent version, audio commentary, and more.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2019, Mark Burger)