Tales of Canadian gangster, Liszt, other notables hit DVD
This week, we begin in Canada: Citizen Gangster (***) Not rated, 105 minutes. Available Tuesday on DVD. Available now in streaming formats.
Scott Speedman turns in a spirited performance as Edwin Boyd, a true-life Canadian bank robber during the 1950s. Boyd robbed banks with a flamboyant style, becoming a media sensation by being captured and then repeatedly breaking out of jail. Brian Cox plays his ex-cop father, and Kelly Reilly will break your heart as his suffering wife.
The disc also holds 26 minutes of interviews with cast and crew.
The Warner Archive Collection releases a trio of entertaining yet vastly different films from the decade of 1965 to 1975:
Young Cassidy (***1/2) John Ford began as director on 1965’s Young Cassidy, an adaptation of revered Irish playwright Sean O’Casey’s autobiography (O’Casey often called himself Jack Cassidy). But Ford fell ill and was replaced by visual craftsman Jack Cardiff, with the results being an entertaining rendition of O’Casey’s rise from manual laborer in Dublin’s slums to Ireland’s most revered playwright.
Rod Taylor plays Cassidy with gusto, making him an approachable, lusty man of the people. Julie Christie takes a small role as a local lass, Michael Redgrave makes an exuberant W.B. Yeats, and Maggie Smith (still my all-time favorite actress) is Cassidy’s love interest, sacrificed for his artistic passions. Not rated, 110 minutes.
Lisztomania (**1/2) Reliably unhinged Ken Russell directed Lisztomania (1975), one in his series of biopics on musical figures. And, as expected, his stylized look at the life of Hungarian composer Franz Liszt goes completely overboard. Philip Harrison’s wildly extravagant production designs and Shirley Russell’s costumes help the director build a surreal interpretation of Liszt, played by rock musician Roger Daltrey.
Ken Russell follows, more or less, some of the facts of the composer’s life, but he does it by creating a dreamlike world. Rated R, 103 minutes.
Portnoy’s Complaint (**1/2) By 1972, any film of Philip Roth’s highly successful novel Portnoy’s Complaint was going to be eagerly anticipated to see how filmmakers would handle the novel’s preoccupation with the touchy (ha ha) subject of masturbation. Veteran screenwriter Ernest Lehman (North by Northwest) wrote the screenplay and directed, with varying results.
Richard Benjamin plays Alexander Portnoy, Roth’s self-based character who grows up in a hovering Jewish household only to become an adult with serious sexual problems, all of which are played for broad laughs. Poor Karen Black plays “The Monkey,” Portnoy’s love object and the target of his abuse. Rated R, 101 minutes.
Piranha DD (**1/2) This uber-silly guilty pleasure has a few bright moments, even if it goes to extremes from the start. At a new water park, which has a section for adults, the owner (David Koechner) cuts corners by using water from a local source.
Despite warnings from his stepdaughter and co-owner (Danielle Panabaker), the water is filled with deadly man-eating piranha, all waiting to jump into the screen for 3-D formats, when the film becomes Piranha 3DD.
Rated R, 83 minutes. The DVD, in all formats and various combo packs, offers commentary, three deleted scenes, an eight-minute “making of” featurette, a four-minute short starring John McEnroe, two brief segments with Gary Busey and David Hasselhoff, and more.
Titanic: 100 Years in 3D More 3D images are on tap in this exploration of the wreck of the Titanic. Artifacts are retrieved which are then linked to a survivor, whose story is then related in voice-over. Not rated, 45 minutes.
My Sucky Teen Romance (**1/2) The best thing about this raw comedy-horror blend is the bright future it augurs for 19-year-old writer-director Emily Hagins. The film revolves around a 17-year-old (Elaine Hurt) traveling to a sci-fi convention who meets a cute boy (Patrick Delgado) who turns out to be a vampire. Problems arise.
Not rated, 77 minutes. The disc holds commentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette, a deleted scene, a short film by Hagins, and bloopers.
Mia and the Migoo This brightly colored, hand-painted French animated film tells the story of a girl’s cross-continental quest for her father. Mia encounters the ever-changing Migoo, who guards the Tree of Life, which, along with the planet, stands in peril. The English version includes voices by Whoopi Goldberg, John DiMaggio and Matthew Modine.
Rated PG, 91 minutes. The disc includes a “making of” featurette and a separate segment with director Jacques-Remy Girerd.
And, finally, from this week’s TV arrivals:
Homeland: The Complete First Season This new series garnered universally positive reviews, not only for Claire Danes’ performance but for an involving, twisting plot filled with terror and menace.
Danes plays Carrie Mathison, a CIA agent/operative who fights to hide her mental problems while also battling terrorism, particularly in the form of Marine Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis). He has returned to the U.S. after eight years as a prisoner of war, and Mathison believes he’s secretly turned into an al-Qaida operative.
The series revolves around the cat-and-mouse game of the two principals, all deftly orchestrated each week for maximum suspense.
Not rated, 664 minutes. The collection of 12 episodes on three discs also holds commentary on the pilot, about eight minutes of deleted scenes, a four-minute peek at the second season, and a comprehensive 34-minute “making of” featurette, “Under Surveillance.”
Grey’s Anatomy: Complete Eighth Season This latest eventful season about the interns, residents and staff at Seattle’s Grace Hospital begins with Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) being fired, Cristina (Sandra Oh) scheduling an abortion, and a social worker calling Meredith and Derek’s (Patrick Dempsey) adoption into question.
From there, fans can enjoy the weekly vicissitudes in this engaging comedy-drama created by Shonda Rhimes.
Rated TV-14, DLSV. The six discs hold 24 episodes, totaling more than 17 hours. The collection includes eight deleted scenes, three minutes of outtakes and the 14-minute featurette “A Journey Home With Kevin McKidd.”
Haven: The Complete Second Season The cryptic sophomore season of this hit Syfy series saw Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) initially faced with her doppelganger, just one of the many instances of the “troubles” affecting the bucolic Maine village of Haven.
Based on Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid, the series delves into the mysteries that everyone in town seems to harbor, including the town sheriff (Lucas Bryant) and a local renegade (Eric Balfour). Four discs hold the 13 episodes, including the out-of-season Christmas program “Silent Night.”
Not rated, 572 minutes. The well-filled set offers 10 commentaries, six “making of” featurettes totaling 38 minutes, five behind-the-scenes featurettes totaling 25 minutes, an eight-minute interview with guest star Adam Copeland, and more.
Also available Tuesday on DVD: The Five-Year Engagement, The Office: Season Eight, Safe.