Unsettling ‘End of the Road’ among odd flicks on DVD
This week, we begin in rural Massachusetts:
End of the Road
Rated R, 110 minutes.
Available Tuesday on DVD.
Making its long awaited DVD and Blu-ray debut is this notorious 1968 feature based on John Barth’s novel.
Co-written for the screen by Terry Southern (Dr. Strangelove) and photographed by Gordon Willis (the Godfather films), in his film debut, the film marks the rare directing effort from renowned editor Aram Avakian. He taps into a 1960s rebellious mindset while delivering a film defying conventional narrative techniques.
College professor Jacob Horner (Stacy Keach) suffers from catatonia and receives unorthodox medical help from a local doctor (James Earl Jones). Horner also befriends another professor (Harris Yulin) and then becomes involved with his wife (Dorothy Tristan), which eventually leads to the film’s scandalous abortion sequence. This disturbing film still retains the power to shock.
The disc includes a 34-minute companion documentary directed by Stephen Soderbergh in which many connected to the film are interviewed: Keach, Yulin, Jones, Tristan, Willis and other crew members.
Goats (**1/2) Fifteen-year-old Ellis (Graham Phillips) leaves his Tucson home, his New Age mother (Vera Farmiga) and their friend the Goat Man (David Duchovny) to attend a prestigious boys’ school near Washington, D.C. Once there, Ellis encounters the usual teen angst while reconnecting with his long absent father (Ty Burrell). Although never boring, the rambling, disjointed coming-of-age story just sort of runs out of any place to go.
Rated R, 94 minutes. The disc offers a few brief deleted scenes, an 11-minute “making of” featurette, and short segments titled “The Mailman’s Lament” and “Home Movies.”
Southside 1-1000 (***1/2) This no-nonsense, low-budget 1950 crime drama is indicative of the small jewels often found on the Warner Archive Collection’s manufactured-on-demand discs.
Don Defore plays a Treasury agent on the trail of counterfeit money. He follows clues given him by a jailed forger (Morris Ankrum) to a gang running bogus bills. There, he infiltrates the group, uncovering a few surprises. Tightly scripted and filled with gritty atmospherics. Not rated, 79 minutes.
Born to be Bad (***) and A Woman’s Secret (**1/2) The Warner Archive Collection is also releasing two of the first films from noted director Nicholas Ray, made while he still worked at RKO Studios. Together, they show Ray’s budding penchant for exploiting human weakness for dramatic effect.
Joan Fontaine is pure evil in Born to Be Bad (1950) as Christabel, an Eve Harrington-like snake who joins the household of her friend Donna (Joan Leslie), seduces Nick (Robert Ryan), and then steals Donna’s rich fiance, Curtis (Zachary Scott). Not satisfied, Christabel then again misbehaves with Nick. Ray accentuates Christabel’s duplicitous nature while Fontaine gleefully embodies her character. Not rated, 90 minutes.
A Woman’s Secret (1949) is told mostly in flashback: Susan (Gloria Grahame, one of Ray’s favorites) lies in a coma after Marian (Maureen O’Hara) is accused of shooting her supposed friend and singing protege. Their mutual friend Luke (Melvyn Douglas) knows that Marian would never shoot Susan, so, with more flashbacks, he works to uncover the surprising truth. Not rated, 84 minutes.
Gone Hollywood (**1/2) Al (Fernando Carrillo), a former TV star, has gone without work for several years when his father dies, leaving him possession of his bar in tiny Elsa, Texas — but with a catch. He can’t sell the bar or change anything for a month, and he must work there.
Al eventually hopes to sell, but naturally, he becomes enamored of the community, and of a particular woman. Not rated, 79 minutes.
The Victim (**) Michael Biehn wrote, directed and stars in this crime-thriller about two law enforcement types who entertain two “dancers” in the forest, but one dies accidentally. The other flees, eventually finding her way to a cabin belonging to a recluse, Kyle (Biehn). Before long comes the inevitable standoff, with the various factions gaining the advantage until the expected bloody finale.
Rated R, 83 minutes. The disc includes a 25-minute “behind-the-scenes” featurette.
Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva La Fiesta Feisty chihuahua Papi (voiced by George Lopez) returns with his significant other Chloe (Odette Annable), now parents to five puppies. They move into a ritzy hotel, but the runt of the litter, Rosa (Kay Panabaker), feels neglected, forcing Papi and Chloe to use their best parenting skills.
Rated G, 89 minutes. The DVD comes in all available formats and combo packs. Supplements include the featurette “Hanging With Papi,” the music video “Living Your Dreams” by Raini Rodriguez and more.
And, finally, our weekly TV arrivals:
Body of Proof: The Complete Second Season Dana Delany returned to prime-time network drama as Dr. Megan Hunt, a Philadelphia medical examiner with attitude.
In this season of 20 episodes on four discs, Hunt examines deaths caused in a fire, a hunting accident, a rave and others. She even has a corpse walk out on her. Plus, her relationship with daughter Lacey (Mary Mouser) evolves. With Jeri Ryan and Nicholas Bishop.
Rated TV-14-DLSV, more than 14 hours. The collection contains four minutes of bloopers, several webisodes, and six featurettes totaling about an hour on various topics, including the show’s fashion, stunts and devotion to authenticity.
Army Wives: Season Six, Part One Kim Delaney stars in this Lifetime series that takes place at Fort Marshall, S.C. Growing together while their partners and spouses are gone are a group of women (Catherine Bell, Sally Pressman, Brigid Brannagh and Wendy Davis) and a few men (Sterling K. Brown and Jeremy Davidson). In these 13 episodes on three discs, a few new faces arrive in the area, while some of the wives prepare to leave.
Rated TV-PG-DLSV, 13 hours. The set offers deleted scenes and bloopers.
Cable channel History offers some varied fare:
Secret Access: The Presidency These three separate programs examine rarely explored presidential topics: “Air Force One,” “The President’s Book of Secrets” and “The White House: Behind Closed Doors,” in which George and Barbara Bush escort viewers for a tour. Among those interviewed are Dan Quayle, Newt Gingrich, Dan Rather and former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff. Not rated, 208 minutes.
Best of Ancient Aliens Making their Blu-ray debut are these four episodes, on two discs, examining the possibility of visits to this planet from the titled ancient aliens. The film crew travels the globe to investigate, going from Egypt to the western U.S. and elsewhere. Not rated, 226 minutes.
James Bond Gadgets This single disc holds a pair of programs examining many of the fancy tools and gadgets used by Agent 007 in his novels and movies. Also included is the 45-minute feature, as seen on Biography, of Bond creator Ian Fleming. Rated G, about 133 minutes total.
Cajun Pawn Stars: Season One Las Vegas pawn shops have nothing on Cajun counterpart Jimmie “Big Daddy” DeRamus and his Silver Dollar Pawn in Alexandria, La. His brother and daughter help him ply their trade in his cavernous building in these eight episodes. Not rated, 176 minutes.
Also available Tuesday on DVD: Modern Family: The Complete Third Season, Supernatural: The Complete Seventh Season.