April 06, 2020

DVD Corner

“Broken Trail”: Based on Alan Geoffrion’s novel, a Western miniseries that takes the genre seriously, with Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church as two estranged ranchers driving horses from Oregon to Wyoming when, along the way, they come upon five Chinese girls sold into prostitution. What ignites from this is a tale of survival for all involved. Duvall is especially good, with Church and Gwendoline Yeo as Sun Foy not far behind. Grade: B

“Click”: Presents an irresistible fantasy. What if a remote control could alter the real-life events unfolding around you? Fun premise, but “Click” doesn’t take it far enough. It’s yet another Adam Sandler movie that should have been sent to bed without a budget since it was, after all, sent to the studio without a script. The idea behind the film isn’t new – we’ve seen a version of it before in “Bruce Almighty,” in which Jim Carrey played God to the point that he wished he hadn’t meddled at all. Echoes of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Back to the Future” also abound. This pilfering from the Hollywood backlot isn’t new for Sandler, nor is the idea that he has mined yet another film in which raunch eventually is consumed by sap. Rated PG-13. Grade: C-

“The Dirty Dozen”: Newly released on DVD and HD DVD, “The Dirty Dozen” is one of those movies in which you ask yourself, “So, who isn’t in this movie?” The answer? Not many. Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Ernest Borgnine, Trini Lopez, Telly Savalas, George Kennedy, Donald Sutherland, Thick Wilson and John Cassavetes are just a few of those who show up to support this World War II movie’s tagline – “Train them! Excite them! Arm them! Then turn them loose on the Nazis!” Such chutzpah shouldn’t be ignored – after all, it generated a classic. Grade: A-

“The Fugitive”: One of Harrison Ford’s finest thrillers, a remake of the 1960s television show, with an Academy Award-winning supporting performance by Tommy Lee Jones that seals it. As Dr. Richard Kimble, a man falsely accused of killing his wife (Sela Ward), Ford is nearly as heated as the script. He’s on the run, with Jones never better as the cunning U.S. marshal determined to capture him. Within their imaginative game of cat-and-mouse, the action brims, with the highlights including a spectacular train wreck and one rather dramatic leap from a dam. Rated PG-13. Grade: A

“The Jeffersons: Complete Fifth Season”: Dirty laundry. This fifth season of “The Jeffersons” found George and Louise mixing it up more than usual, which goes hand-in-hand with a television show that, at this point in the series, had long since shaken the dew from its lily. The focus turned to the extended family, which sapped the show of some of its zip. Still, the electric mix of main characters remains, with the indispensable Marla Gibbs as maid Florence a no-nonsense delight. Grade: B

“Lethal Weapon 2”: This second film in the franchise introduced Joe Pesci, whose manic energy gave the movie a scattershot boost. He is uncontainable here, with his character, Leo Getz, thankfully never knowing when to shut up. Now on HD DVD, the action in this second outing remains swift, with director Richard Donner shrewdly balancing the stunts with the key relationships between Riggs (Mel Gibson), Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and their unwanted pet, Getz. Rated R. Grade: B+

“A Prairie Home Companion”: Prairie dog. From Robert Altman, the movie is set within the closed world of radio performed via the stage, with the audience in attendance watching what will be the last performance of a long-running radio show. Given the ripe possibilities for real theater to explode at such an event, the movie sounds as if might offer the juice of, say, Altman’s “Gosford Park.” It doesn’t. Sometimes you appreciate it for Altman’s typical breezy looseness and disregard for structure. Other times you wish a snake would cut across this “Prairie” and bite somebody on the ankle, if only to liven up a movie seriously in need of dramatic tension. Based on Garrison Keillor’s popular public radio program, with Keillor co-starring opposite the film’s virtue – Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, John C. Reilly, Woody Harrelson and Lindsay Lohan. Kevin Kline, Tommy Lee Jones and an expressionless Virginia Madsen, on the other hand, do the film no favors. Rated PG-13. Grade: C

“Tough Guys Collection”: From Warner, a collection of six films, all dipped in noir and featuring some of the major players of the genre. The standouts are 1940’s “City for Conquest,” with James Cagney, Ann Sheridan and even Elia Kazan before he turned to directing; 1936’s “Bullets or Ballots,” with Edward G. Robinson paired opposite Humphrey Bogart; 1935’s “G Men,” again with Cagney; and the 1938 gangster comedy, “A Slight Case of Murder,” with Robinson awash in farce and corpses. Less effective are Bogart’s underwhelming turn in 1937’s “San Quentin” and Cagney in the 1939 prison drama, “Each Dawn I Die.” Still, for the value, the excellent commentaries and the extensive extras alone, it’s a solid set. Grade: B+

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