DVDs for Oct. 9 by Boo Allen
This week, we begin with Hitch:
Dial M For Murder—3D (****), Strangers on a Train (****)
Warner Home Video has polished and re-mastered for 3D and Blu-ray two Alfred Hitchcock classics. The 1954 Dial M (rated PG, 105 minutes) was originally filmed for 3D, but when the fad faded, it became better known in regular 2D. The suspenseful film, based on Frederic Knott’s hit Broadway stage play and starring Ray Milland as a jealous husband who plots to murder his philandering wife (Grace Kelly), received “a 4K scan of the original camera negative, and a full restoration of the two ‘eyes,’ as well as convergence fixes to ensure perfect alignment.” The 1951 Strangers (rated PG, 101 minutes), making a Blu-ray debut, remains a favorite of Hitchcock fans, with a script co-written by mystery writer Raymond Chandler from a novel from Ft. Worth-born Patricia Highsmith. Robert Walker became legendary for his role here, as Bruno, a deliciously unhinged young man who thinks he has struck a deal for mutual murder with Guy (Farley Granger). Bruno, a stranger on a train, believes each will murder each others’ biggest pains—Bruno’s meddling mother and Guy’s estranged wife. Guy objects, but Bruno blithely plows ahead, causing escalating disasters, and, naturally for Hitchcock, suspense.
Dial M: contains both the 3D and 2D versions, as well as the 22 minute featurette “Hitchcock and Dial M.”
Strangers: includes commentary, an excellent 37 minute “making of” featurette, three brief featurettes, and a 13 minute featurette with M. Night Shyamalan. Plus, the disc holds the slightly longer (103 minutes) preview version of the film.
The Lady (***1/2)
Michelle Yeoh plays Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as director Luc Besson chronicles her story from her early days in Rangoon to her marriage in London to an Englishman (David Thewlis). Eventually, she falls into an extended house arrest, unintentionally achieving international notoriety and acclaim, which leads to a Nobel Peace Prize. Even today, her fight for Burmese democracy continues.
Rated R, 132 minutes. The DVD includes a 27 minute making of” featurette
The Samaritan (***)
This moderately successful crime-thriller can be enjoyed by focusing entirely on Samuel L. Jackson. He has been so omnipresent in the last decade, he could be taken for granted. But here, he turns in a powerful performance as Foley, a recently paroled convict who somehow finds himself being forced back into pulling a con job. The son (Luke Kirby) of a man Foley murdered sets up an elaborate grift for them and another woman (Ruth Negga). Things don’t turn out as planned, not surprisingly, but not before director David Weaver mixes in violence, double-crosses, and even some incest.
Rated R, 93 minutes.
A family goes to their usual ice fishing hole on a lake in Maine. An obnoxious man and his son pull up nearby with similar fishing plans. Before long, the two groups encounter what initially seems to be a big fish, but actually turns out to be a monster. This effective minor thriller would garner more respect if it weren’t for a monster that looks like a rubber suit topped off with left-over dentures. With Michael Rooker, Blanche Baker.
Not rated, 72 minutes. The DVD includes a 21 minute “making of” featurette, an 11 minute segment on ice fishing, and a brief visual on rod fishing.
The Courier (**1/2)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the title character, a shady sort who draws big bucks to deliver various packages. He finds himself running against the clock when he has a certain time limit to find and then deliver a suitcase to the mysterious Evil Sivle, played by the back of Mickey Rourke’s head until he finally turns around near the end. Some decent action sequences fail to surpass the often over-wrought melodrama from director Hany Abu-Assad.
Rated R, 95 minutes. The DVD holds a 23 minute “behind-the-scenes” featurette and 18 minutes of extended and deleted scenes.
Iron Sky (**1/2)
In what could be the best ever Nazis-on-the-moon-attacking-earth movie, the world is under siege. An army of Nazis resettled on the moon after World War II, and now they return to earth to take over, a plot discovered by an American moon landing. But first the Germans need an iPhone to help propel their computers. This shamefully enjoyable loopy film sports special effects from the impressive to the laughable. Supposedly the film enjoyed a worldwide success.
Rated R, 93 minutes. The DVD contains commentary, a 17 minute “making of” featurette, 18 minutes of “behind-the-scenes” footage, teasers and a trailer.
Vincent D’Onofrio stars in this creepy torture-porn about Bob, a taxi-driving serial killer who abducts a mother (Julia Ormand) and her son, called Rabbit (Evan Bird and then, when older, Eamon Farren). Rabbit grows up chained in Bob’s house, working as a slave and learning the tricks of killing young women and then burying them. Director Jennifer Lynch (Boxing Helena) makes it as perverse as it sounds in this pointless exercise.
Rated R, 94 minutes. The DVD includes a brief alternate version of one of the grisly scenes.
The Clintons: An American Odyssey
Using archival footage and a few interviews, writer-director Robert Kline pieces together a broad picture of the lives and careers of Bill and Hilary Clinton. Klein begins in their college years, gradually progressing to a series of Bill’s pivotal events: his presidency, the Lewinsky scandal, his later position as a world leader. Kline also examines Hilary’s career highlights, including her term as First Lady, as senator, and then as Secretary of State.
Not rated, 101 minutes.
Paul Rodriguez: Just for the Record
The stand-up comedian, actor, and an original “Latino King of Comedy” performs his one man show by recounting his life growing up in Mexico and California, as well as his work in over forty films.
Not rated, 83 minutes.
We Are the Hartmans (**)
When a favorite local establishment owned by a popular old-timer (Richard Chamberlain) looks like it will be foreclosed upon, friends, family, and fans gather together to save it. Overly broad comedy quickly wears thin.
Not rated, 84 minutes. The DVD includes a four minute featurette on the film’s eviction scene and a music video.
And finally, something for the youngsters:
Happiness Is . . . Peanuts: Go, Snoopy, Go!
The world’s best known beagle (but only the fourth best) returns in an offering of select TV specials. In It’s Spring Training, Charlie Brown, Charlie’s team prepares for the new baseball season. Also included are five episodes from The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show.
Not rated, 46 minutes.
Fireman Sam and Thomas and Friends return in, respectively, Holiday Heroes and A Very Thomas Christmas.
Heroes (not rated, 55 minutes) contains five episodes and an extra Christmas music video. Thomas Christmas (not rated, 49 minutes) includes four episodes, a bonus digital episode, a game, and a puzzle.
Also on DVD: Bedevilled, Bones—season seven, Raven, Rock of Ages.