discs OPERATION PETTICOAT

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Discs Section: Pick of the Week

operation petticoat discOperation Petticoat

The USS Sea Tiger has seen better days as a Navy sub during World War II, but it hasn’t seen any action. Commander Sherman (Cary Grant) would like the chance to rectify that before the boat is sent to a watery grave, and with the help of a shifty junior officer (Tony Curtis) he sets out to give the Sea Tiger one last shot at glory. Who knew it would come with an assist from five Army nurses in need of a lift?

This 1959 comedy classic has been on my list of shame for far too long so it was great to not only finally see it but also to discover just how fantastic it truly is. Grant is as charming as ever here playing a wonderful combination of suave and frazzled as he deals with one catastrophe after another, and the whole supporting cast reciprocates with energetic performances and top notch comic timing and delivery. It’s a subtler comedy than director Blake Edwards would go on to make, but it’s also one of his best.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

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afflicted discAfflicted

Derek (Derek Lee) and Clif (Clif Prowse) have been best friends for years, and together they’ve planned an epic trip around the world that they plan to document via online video blogs with footage recorded from various cameras. They don’t get far before Derek is attacked by a strange woman and begins exhibiting strange symptoms. Then things get really scary.

Lee and Prowse, actual best friends, also wrote and directed this found footage gem that invigorates the format energy, style and creativity that’s absent from so many others. It plays like a feature-length version of a V/H/S/2 short as it blends personality and humor with scares and impressive POV accomplishments. Simply put it’s a fun, fast-moving horror film that surprises and delights in equal measure.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Behind the scenes, featurette, deleted scenes]

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The Final Terror

A group of hopeful campers are stalked and terrorized by a murderous wacko in the woods. The plot may not be all that memorable, but it’s directed by Andrew Davis and stars Rachel Ward, Daryl Hannah and Joe Pantoliano making it a bit of an oddball in the slasher pantheon. Also different from the norm is the lack of nudity, the paucity of kills and the third act Rambo-izing of the survivors.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, trailer, photo gallery]

Helix: Season 1

An off-the-grid research center into the Arctic is hit wit an outbreak of unknown origin, and a team from the CDC is sent in to contain and investigate the situation. This makes two Syfy Original Series that are far better than the name brand implies. (Continuum is the other one.) There are script issues throughout still, but the show does a great job with the tight confines and character interactions. Ronald D. Moore is on-board as an executive producer which probably helps in the quality department, and the show’s mix of Outbreak, The Thing and 28 Weeks Later offers up lot of opportunity for fun thrills.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, featurettes, outtakes, deleted scenes]

Infliction

Two brothers kill people, and this is the footage they themselves record of their deeds! I feel like every filmmaker who sets out to do this in the found footage format think they’re the first to come up with the idea, but just a little bit of research on their part would reveal dozens of films that beat them to it. It would also reveal that the resulting film is never all that thrilling. And why do none of these movies — ones claiming to be the “actual footage” — ever tell us who edited all that footage into a compact, ninety-minute narrative? I guess what I’m saying is, a few solid moments of gore aside, this is neither a good nor an interesting movie.

[DVD extras: None]

Lucky Bastard

An online porn series known for selecting lucky losers to come have sex with an actual porn star hits a bit of a snag when their latest bastard arrives with a bit of a psychotic agenda. It may be a found footage film, but it’s also a surprisingly effective little thriller that entertains with laughs, nudity, and a third act bloodletting that feels a bit like Beyond the Valley of the Dolls as a house of sin falls victim to a different kind of sinner. This is more grounded, obviously, and it builds to a final shot that hints to a bit more under the hood too. (My full review.)

[DVD extras: None]

Once Upon a Time in Vietnam

Dao (Dustin Nguyen) is a commanding enforcer in a grand military, but he begins to question his loyalty when faced with targets he doesn’t feel deserve to feel the tip of his mighty blade. Nguyen writes, directs and stars in this ambitious mix of fantasy, martial arts and magic, but that ambition doesn’t always pay off. Seriously, if  you give your film the well-pedigreed title Once Upon a Time in… you better be prepared to deliver. But there’s entirely too much CGI on display, much of it fairly shoddy, leaving the action an underwhelming mix of visual effects and wire work.

[DVD extras: Behind the scenes, trailer]

Scavenger Killers

A judge and a defense attorney get in on psycho-style as they begin a killing spree by picking occupations out of a bag. It’s a sad state of affairs when not even the presence of Dustin “Screech” Diamond as a psychic FBI agent with Tourettes can save your movie, but that’s the mess we have here. (That was sarcasm by the way.) There are actual talents here including Charles Durning, Robert Loggia and Eric Roberts — all of whom coincidentally enough are past honorees of a Hamptons Film Festival created by the guy who wrote and produced this terrible, terrible film — but their roles are minimal and they apparently forgot to bring their talent to set.

[DVD extras: None]

The Unknown Known

Errol Morris sits down with Donald Rumsfeld to discuss his government career up to and including his memorable time in the Bush White House, and the result is an occasionally candid look into the man’s head. Unlike Cheney, Rumsfeld is more than simply evil. Instead he’s charismatic, playful and fiercely intelligent, and much of that is on display here. Sadly though, and strangely, Morris repeatedly avoids opportunities to confront the man on various topics and points of interest where Rumsfeld’s take just doesn’t jive with the truth.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, interview, video, op-ed]

Vinyl

The Weapons of Happiness were a big deal once upon a time, but decades later their desire to stage a comeback with a surefire hit hits a wall because middle-aged rockers don’t fit a demographic. So they hire a quartet of teens to lip-sync their song… what could go wrong? This UK comedy (based on a true story) offers up some laughs, but there’s not much else to it. Bill Nighy’s character from Love Actually gets more laughs and heart out of the over the hill rocker scenario.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Discs Section: Also

Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and/or review material was unavailable:

Hinterland: Series 1
The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits
Like Father Like Son
The Lunchbox
No Vacancy
The Twilight Zone: Essential Episodes
A Young Doctor’s Notebook


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