MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka Dretzka@moviecitynews.com

The DVD Wrapup: Margin Call, Dolphin Tale, Midnight in Paris, Glee, Warrior, Burke & Hare, Milestones, Old Fashioned Orgy, Bobby Fischer, Colin Quinn, Hunters, Todd-Margaret, Apollo 18 …

Margin Call
Add “Margin Call” to the list of dramatizations and documentaries — “Too Big to Fail” and “Inside Job,” among them – that have attempted to make sense of the 2008 financial crisis and identify those executives who ignored the red flags waved in advance of the collapse. J.C. Chandor’s freshman project is distinguished by an ensemble cast of veteran actors in Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore and Simon Baker, and an energetic group of fresh faces that includes Paul Bettany, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley and Ashley Williams. It is set during a 24-hour period immediately preceding the collapse, when a major investment-banking firm realizes that it’s sitting on so much bad paper that it will take a Herculean effort to unload it on unsuspecting saps in other Wall Street offices. Jeremy Irons is the firm’s boss, who orders the emergency sell-off fully understanding its potentially disastrous ramifications. Moore plays an analyst who raised the first red flag, a year earlier, but was ignored. Tucci is laid off just as he’s about to put the pieces of the puzzle together for himself and hands off the data to an assistant as he’s being escorted out the door. Spacey and Baker portray senior executives caught in the middle between loyalty and personal ruin. The younger employees, who’ve done most of the computer grunt work, also are the ones required to burn their bridges with other firms before getting laid off.

“Margin Call” has all the qualities associated with a tick-tock thriller, as well as a narrative that makes sense out of a complicated situation. The acting is superb and the high-rise setting is as compelling a backdrop for drama as any in New York. To Chandor’s credit, just when the story begins to feel stagebound, he takes the characters out of the boardroom and lets them stew in their own juices until the ringing of the opening bell and the blood begins to flow. Their pain and/or hypocrisy ar palpable. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two of the actors nominated for Oscars for their work here. The bonus material includes commentary with Chandor and producer Neal Dodson; the featurette, “Revolving Door: Making ‘Margin Call’”; deleted scenes and outtakes; and a photo gallery. – Gary Dretzka

Dolphin Tale: Blu-ray
Knowing that “Dolphin Tale” not only is based on a true story, but also stars the heroic dolphin upon which it’s based, elevates it above most other movies in the against-all-odds category. Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) is the boy called upon to help the beached dolphin, caught in a rope attached to a crab trap, and keep it from panicking before volunteers from the animal shelter arrive. Sadly, the rope has already done its damage by cutting off blood to Winter’s tail, requiring amputation. Sawyer is allowed to participate in the rehabilitation effort, which is complicated by Winter’s having re-learned to swim in a side-to-side manner hazardous to its spine. In order to get the dolphin to flap its tail vertically, Sawyer convinces a doctor (Morgan Freeman) at a military rehabilitation facility to experiment with prosthesis capable of sticking to the stump and withstanding the pressure. Conveniently, Sawyer’s cousin (Austin Stowell) is being treated at the same hospital for his wounds and the depression that comes with knowing he didn’t come back from Iraq in the same athletic form as when he left Florida. You can probably guess the rest, but it’s worth knowing that Sawyer is cured of his own malady — painful shyness – with the help of cute a volunteer (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) his age and her marine-biologist dad  (Harry Connick Jr.). Meanwhile, the research facility is facing foreclosure and sale to a developer. That’s a lot of bad mojo for one movie and it requires the support of actors Kris Kristofferson, Francis Sternhagen and Ashley Judd in supporting roles.

For all the problem-solving involved, “Dolphin Tale” is light on real drama (or anything that would warrant a PG rating, instead of a “G,” either). It’s most interesting when Freeman is on screen, developing the prosthesis and attempting to figure out why Winter keeps rejecting it. Decidedly family-friendly, in the best sense of the term, the movie likely will appeal to kids, younger tweens and their parents, instead of teenagers who likely consider themselves too hip for this sort of thing. It’s interesting to recall that director Charles Martin Smith (Toad, in “American Graffiti”) starred in and co-wrote Carroll Ballard’s marvelous adaptation of Farley Mowat’s 1983 survival thriller, “Never Cry Wolf.” It was hailed as one of the first nature movies to appeal to adults, attracted to the beautiful cinematography and Arctic locations, as much as kids. The Blu-ray package adds a making-of piece and scene breakdown, describing how the opening sequence was constructed with CGI dolphins and real underwater footage; a bio of the real Winter and her recovery; a deleted scene and gag reel; and a pair animated shorts. – Gary Dretzka

Midnight in Paris
It would be unfair to Woody Allen to call “Midnight in Paris” a return to form, simply because it’s sweet, funny and appeals to audiences in flyover country. If it made more money than several of Allen’s most recent titles, combined, it’s probably because the story was irresistibly buzz-worthy. “Midnight in Paris” succeeded for the same reason big-city art museums routinely schedule blockbuster shows featuring the works of leading Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. People simply can’t get enough of the art, the people who made it, the romantic lore and, of course, Paris. Allen’s surrogate here, Gil (Owen Wilson), is an extremely likeable writer for whom a night in the company of Ernest Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude and Alice, Picasso, Dali, Cole Porter, T.S. Eliot and a dozen other diners at the movable feast that was Paris in the 1920s would be the equivalent of dying and going immediately to heaven. I’m pretty sure that tens of thousands of other onetime English majors share Gil’s dream. Allen understands that allure almost as well as he knows what makes New York tick and the city couldn’t shine any brighter.

Gil is at the point in his creative life where he’s begun to hate doing the screenwriting that’s made him rich and famous. He would much prefer renting a garret apartment on the Left Bank and knocking out a couple of novels. He’s committed to marrying a pretty, if materialistic blond (Rachel McAdams) whose obnoxious parents are financing the trip to Paris. They aren’t thrilled with Gil and would love to find a way to head off their engagement. Just such an opportunity arises when Inez takes a shine to an old friend (Michael Sheen) they run into a social function. He’s a pompous ass who thinks he knows everything about art, wine and culture, but tends to get key facts wrong in his pontificating. One night, when Inez goes out on the town with her parents, Gil takes a stroll through the darkened streets of the City of Lights. At the stroke of midnight, a vintage limousine pulls up next to him and the people inside invite him to join them for a late night on the town. Before the limo turns back into a pumpkin, Gil is introduced to the bohemian demi-monde of Paris in the ’20s. They accept him into their company and welcome his opinions. The next night, Gil finds an excuse to return to the same place, where he’ll once again be asked to join the floating party. Any more information here would spoil too many delightful surprises for viewers.

As in any Allen movie the actors have been perfectly cast from a list that combines stars and newcomers. It includes Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy as Inez’ parents; France’s First Lady, Carla Bruni, in a funny turn as a guide at the Rodin Museum; Marion Cotillard, as Gil’s dream girl; and Adrien Brody, Kathy Bates, Tom Hiddleston, Corey Stoll and Alison Pill as the revelers. He also introduces viewers to a dozen more European actors who likely will surface here in the near future. In any case, “Midnight in Paris” is a perfectly charming, smart and entertaining movie. Sadly, Allen has always been reluctant to share his thoughts and memories in making-of featurettes and the only one here is material from the Cannes premiere. – Gary Dretzka

Glee: The 3D Concert Movie: Blu-ray
Looking for a last-second gift for the Gleeks on your shopping list? Twentieth Century Fox must have had you in mind when it decided to release “Glee: The Concert Movie” in Blu-ray and 3D on December 20. I don’t know anyone who owns a 3D-ready television, but there must be a few people out there who do. If not, the 2D Blu-ray shouldn’t disappoint fans looking for an extension of the TV experience. The elaborately staged concert took place earlier this year at the Continental Airlines Arena, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It features all of the show’s regular talent, along with introductions by Sue Sylvester. The Blu-ray adds performances of “Dog Days Are Over” and “Friday,” which weren’t included in the theatrical film; extended versions of “Ain’t No Way” and “Happy Days Are Here Again”/“Get Happy”; the sketch, “Kurt’s Proposal”; and backstage material. I’m not sure how “Glee” plays out of context, but loyal fans will dig it. – Gary Dretzka

Warrior: Blu-ray
Not since David Mamet’s foray into the world of mixed martial arts, in “Redbelt,” has so much talent and money been invested in a genre film about guys beating the crap out of each other in the octagon ring. Considering the limited audience for even the most publicized events of MMA and UFC fighting, bringing in “Warrior” at an estimated $30 million must have seemed a risky proposition. For the most part, the movies have shared a niche in the straight-to-DVD market with the flood of martial-arts flicks from Asia, while also serving as a teaser for pay-per-view championships and other ancillary products. Despite its pedigree, “Redbelt” only managed to squeeze $2.5 million from audiences thought to be interested in Mamet’s current fixation, jiu-jitsu. That underachiever only cost $7 million to produce, however. “Warrior” returned only about half of its allotted budget in theaters, but should do better in DVD and Blu-ray. It benefits from a story by writer/director Gavin O’Connor that’s nearly biblical in its scope, yet offers fans plenty of action.

At the center of the drama is Nick Nolte, who, for most of the picture resembles the mug shots we’ve seen of him. His ornery character raised his two sons to become champions in the no-holds-barred world of mixed martial arts. Alcoholism ruined his life and marriage, while also driving a wedge between him and his sons. Fourteen years later, the prodigal son, Tommy (Tom Hardy), returns to Pittsburgh in the wake of his mother’s death and after being booted out of the marines. He reluctantly visits the old man, Paddy Condon, to request his help in training for a financially lucrative competition. After some rough patches early on, the process proves to be redemptive for both men. Younger brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is working as a science teacher and isn’t exactly thrilled to learn of his brother’s return. He’s drawn back to the ring, as well, but to make the money needed to save his house from foreclosure. When all is said and done, will Tommy and Brendan meet in the finals? How could they not? Before that can happen, though, O’Connor livens up the proceedings with exciting preliminary bouts and foes that border on superhuman. The Blu-ray supplements add commentary, a deleted scene, gag reel, feature-length Enhanced Viewing Mode, and several featurettes on the sport and Tapout history. – Gary Dretzka

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy
Ever since “The Big Chill” struck a chord with Boomers in 1983, all sorts of filmmakers have tried and failed to recapture the same lightning in bottle. “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy” is a variation on the theme, in that the characters have been friends since high school and regularly attending geeky theme parties together for the last several years. Faced with the likelihood that everyone will be going separate ways after Labor Day, Eric (Jason Sudeikis) suggests that the final party should be one no one will forget. An orgy would serve that purpose, at least for the guys, who are several times less attractive than the gals. The conceit tends to work best when the characters have secretly lusted for each other for years and it’s caused sexual tension that’s as fragile as spring ice over a gorged river. Unless one is a swinger and is familiar with the rules of the game, it’s impossible to schedule a group grope and expect everyone to show up ready to play. For viewers, though, the biggest problem comes in knowing that the only actors likely to put their naughty bits on display are extras. Up-and-coming actors generally won’t take the risk. While personable, there’s not a sharp edge in the entire cast, which includes Michelle Borth, Nick Kroll, Tyler Labine, Angela Sarafyan, Lindsay Sloane, Martin Starr and Lake Bell, who put more skin on display getting out of bed in “How to Make It in America” than anything seen here. They do appear to be having a good time, though, and it’s occasionally contagious. The DVD adds deleted scenes, bloopers, commentary and “How to Film an Orgy.” – Gary Dretzka

Catch .44: Blu-ray
Bruce Willis isn’t the only thing writer/director Aaron Harvey borrowed from “Pulp Fiction” in the creation of his Tarantino-esque “Catch .44.” The dialogue echoes the rhythm, tone and raw vulgarity of the characters in “Pulp Fiction”; the violence is of the hyper- variety; and the story flashes backwards and forward as many times as there are recognizable faces in the cast. Unlike “Pulp Fiction,” however, the narrative threads all look as if they were frayed from the same piece of cloth.  The device is intended to give viewers alternative perspectives on the same event, but the characters’ stories are practically indiscernible from each other. “Catch .44” opens with a botched ambush in a nearly empty diner in the middle of nowhere. At least three people are killed in the initial flurry. Every time we return to the same spot, more people die.

Malin Akerman, who looks pretty hot with a gun in her hand, is the leader of a trio of women sent to rural Louisiana on the orders of “Uncle Mel” (Willis) to retrieve a parcel of drugs or cash or something perceived to be equally valuable. Or, maybe it’s a setup. Everyone else has been lured there for the same reason as the stripper and her mates (Nikki Reed, Deborah Ann Woll). They will be joined for various stretches of time by Brad Dourif, Forest Whitaker and Shea Whigham. What’s inside the mysterious box is left as mysterious as the one suitcase in “Real Fiction.”  Tarantino completists may want to check out “Catch .44,” but others won’t be impressed. – Gary Dretzka

Burke & Hare
John Landis hasn’t had a certified hit movie for at least two decades. The director of “Animal House,” “Blues Brothers” and “Trading Places” has spent most of the last dozen or so years working on the small screen or making documentaries, the best of which has been “Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project.” “Burke & Hare” may not make anyone forget those successes, but the inky-black comedy inarguably is the best movie Landis has made in a long, long time. Set in Edinburgh, it is based on the same series of murders that inspired the Robert Louis Stevenson short story, “The Body Snatcher,” Robert Wise’s adaptation of the same title and Dylan Thomas’ 1953 screenplay, “The Doctor and the Devils,” which was turned into a film in 1985 by Freddie Francis.  Here, the ghoulish fiends William Burke and William Hare are played by Simon Pegg (“Shaun of the Dead”) and Andy Serkis (“Lord of the Rings”), respectively. Before committing the 17 murders attributed to them from November 1827 to October 31, 1828, the Irish transplants made their living robbing graves and selling cadavers to anatomy instructor Dr. Robert Knox (Tom Wilkinson) at the Edinburgh Medical College. After the public hanging of criminals had been drastically limited by Scottish law, it had become difficult for the colleges to attain cadavers for study. So, when the lads began showing up with fresh specimens, Knox stopped asking questions.

Landis’ movie accentuates the humor in the bickering between Burke and Hare, while also creating funny situations at home and in local brothels. He does a nice job re-creating the college classrooms, where students use the bodies to study musculature, organs and the impact of diseases and violence on humans.  It isn’t until the students recognize one of the corpses that the police begin zeroing in on the culprits. In addition to the leads, Isla Fisher (“Wedding Crashers”) does a nice job as the prostitute who gets one of the men to finance her stage debut, while avoiding his attempts to get time in the sack in return for his kindness. – Gary Dretzka

Milestones/Ice
Guns and Weed: The Road to Freedom
Now that the Occupy movement has rekindled memories of the protests and activism of the 1960s, it’s probably a good time for a reality check. “Milestones” was finished in 1975 at approximately the same moment as North Vietnamese troops were marching into Saigon and being drafted no longer drove college-age men into the streets. As members of the unabashedly left-wing Newsreel collective, John Douglas and Robert Kramer had chronicled anti-war and civil-rights protests here and abroad, while also promoting liberation movements and condemning imperialism in former European colonies and emerging nations. Like so many other leftists of the period, these guys truly believed that “the revolution” was right around the corner. They might as well have been waiting for Godot or the Easter bunny. Even before the communist victory in Vietnam, fair-weather radicals had begun to get back to their studies or, as they do here, move to the country, where they could grow vegetables organically and shape pottery. The frequently mindless violence perpetrated by the Weather Underground and SLA – alongside news of communist atrocities in Cambodia and elsewhere — convinced almost everyone else to call a time out. “Milestones” is a docudrama about some of the people who hung unto their utopian ideals long after it was fashionable.

Among the 50 individual characters and stories are people ranging in age from pre-natal to nearly dead. Some are radical, others aren’t. They include former street-level activists, communards, unabashed hippies, radicals imprisoned for transporting explosives and crooks at even looser ends. For the most part, they’re all suffering from withdrawal caused by the lack of intensity in their lives and their failure in convincing Americans to smash the state. “Milestones” will appeal mostly to Boomers who went through the period and wax nostalgic over the possibility that the Occupy Wall Street participants might convince someone that things won’t be right with this country until the people guilty of causing the economic collapse are punished. The companion film, “Ice,” describes how fictional militants might go about attacking institutions here, in solidarity with a Mexican revolutionary organization. From what we’ve learned about the Weather Underground, the characters in “Ice” are every bit as delusional, argumentative and isolated as the radicals who, by going underground, separated themselves from reality.

By contrast, “Guns and Weed: The Road to Freedom” presents an amateurish argument for core libertarian ideals. Beyond pointing out the hypocrisy in this country’s restrictions on medicinal marijuana and other drugs, the documentary argues that gun-control advocates are victims of AmeriKKKa, too. This is the case, even though no significant gun-control legislation has advanced beyond the Supreme Court in memory. It suggests that open-carry advocates are as wrong-headed about marijuana-related reforms as the legal-pot boosters are about gun control. The Constitution, they believe, protects the individual liberties of all otherwise law-abiding citizens who choose to own and display weapons or ingest any herb that grows freely and naturally in nature. Like Prohibition, the restrictions on gun ownership and pot smoking have their roots in good-old-fashioned American racism, corporate greed and conservative fuddy-duddies. Their case may be inelegantly presented, but this is the face of American libertarianism in 2011, not what passes for it in the Iowa caucuses. – Gary Dretzka

If You Are the One: Love & Marriage
A Beautiful Life

The latest additions to the growing list of releases from China Lion are representative of the trend in Chinese movies to feature contemporary themes, fashions and settings, as well as western-style romance. Instead of bustling Shanghai, they take place in booming Beijing among middle-class professionals and party-hardy scenesters. Politics are avoided, at least in the movies exported west, and distinctly Chinese elements are limited to food, architecture and bicycles. The common denominator in “Love & Marriage” and “A Beautiful Life” is Shu Qi, an expressive young actress adept at playing both comedic and dramatic parts, even within the same movie. Indeed, her characters in both pictures start out as dedicated professional women by day and party animals by night. They learn hard lessons about love on the way to overly maudlin conclusions. In “A Beautiful Life,” Shu Qi becomes close friends with a cop after he rescues her from an embarrassing situation in a nightclub. For his trouble, she pukes on his back. In “Love & Marriage,” Shu Qi is a flight attendant who moves in with a wealthy retiree who dotes on her but is unable to win her unbridled enthusiasm and loyalty. In both cases, the young women ultimately discover that the greener pastures they’re seeking simply don’t exist. Too long by at least 15 minutes each, the melodramas remind me of very well made Lifetime movies. In addition to moving briskly between comedy, romance and tragedy, they avoid nudity and coarse language, while not holding back on the tear-jerking. Much of Feng Xiaogang’s “Love & Marriage” is set on the beautiful island of Hainan in the South China Sea. Andy Lau’s “A Beautiful Life” surveys the high-rise and nightclub districts, before moving to a decidedly working-class neighborhood. They are in Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles. – Gary Dretzka

Bobby Fischer Against the World
Monica & David

HBO’s documentaries may not get paid the same attention as the premium-cable network’s other programming, but they’re often are as compelling as anything else on the schedule. Instead of a 93-minute documentary, Liz Garbus’ “Bobby Fischer Against the World” could easily have translated into a mini-series, with thinly fictionalized depictions of the key elements in the life of the screw-loose genius. Way back in 1972, Fischer was as compelling a character as anyone in professional sports or show business. His dedication to the game bordered on fanaticism and his antics, while self-destructive helped make chess as popular a pastime in the U.S. as it’s ever been. Just as the media glommed onto Dennis Connor’s yacht, Stars and Stripes, in the elite America’s Cup competition in the 1980s and ’90s, Fischer’s pursuit of the world chess crown was covered with more fervor than the World Series. Today, chess and yachting are routinely ignored by the media and people who once were glued to the TV for results. Fischer’s victory was the greater story, if only because it was staged as an extension of the Cold War and he was as complex a figure as anyone in the history of any sport. “Bobby Fischer Against the World” re-creates the exciting buildup to the 1972 matches against Russian Boris Spassky, as well as the move-by-move intrigue of each game. It then tries to make sense of Fischer’s post-championship behavior and descent into madness and paranoia. All of it is fascinating. The extras include “A History of Chess” and “The Fight for Fischer s Estate.”

Monica & David” describes the love story of two adults with Down syndrome, who have benefitted from a change in perception among the general public and more enlightened treatment. No longer are people with the syndrome routinely shoved into a corner and hidden from view. Among other things, life spans have more than doubled, from 25 in the early 1980s to around 55 today. The social stigma has largely disappeared, as well, thanks to such programs as the Special Olympics and the increased visibility of actors with Down syndrome. Still, for families who’ve spent 20 or more years sheltering and protecting their children, the thought of watching them leave the nest must be hugely traumatic. Their anxiety over the proposed marriage of two young people with Down syndrome is documented in “Monica & David,” a life-affirming film that follows the couple as they enthusiastically embark on a journey that’s difficult enough to undertake for men and women without disabilities. It’s a miracle no one has built a reality series around them … or, have they? The documentary was directed and produced by Monica’s cousin, first-time filmmaker Alexandra Codina. The DVD adds five deleted scenes and “Employment in the Community,” – Gary Dretzka

Colin Quinn: Long Story Short
The very funny observational comic Colin Quinn accomplishes by himself, on stage, what Mel Brooks’ “History of the World, Part 1” and Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life” did with dozens of characters and diverse locations. Quinn encapsulates the history of human life on Earth from the ancient civilizations to the cacophony of noises emanating from every capital of today’s world. Directed by Jerry Seinfeld, Quinn’s one-man show was taped before a live audience at the Helen Hayes Theatre in New York City. The premise of “Long Story Short” is that history isn’t nearly as complicated as college professors make it out to be, because all of the stereotypes essentially are true and they’re built into our genetic codes. Empires may rise and fall, but they ultimately are represented by store-front restaurants and canteen trucks in midtown Manhattan. (In Queens, alone, 150 different languages are spoken and cuisines represented.) The show is smart, funny and, apart from some naughty words, accessible to everyone who’s ever taken a history course. The Blu-ray adds material from rehearsals, with Seinfeld, and press conference Q&A. – Gary Dretzka

NFL: Two Minutes to Glory
The rap against the NBA is that the only part of the game worth watching is the fourth quarter and, then, only in the first and last month of the season. Similarly, professional hockey doesn’t get good until the Stanley Cup playoffs and the number of senseless fights is reduced by half, at least. And, of course, the opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings. Apart from the occasional punt and kick-off return, the most exciting moments in an NFL game almost always take place during its final two minutes.  Indeed, the two-minute drill is as precisely rehearsed as any single play or formation. Time outs are saved for use in the final two minutes and the sidelines themselves become as allies or foes, depending on who’s trying to hold a lead or break a tie. Denver’s Tim Tebow has become a sensation for being able to perform markedly better in the final two minutes than in the previous 58. “Two Minutes to Glory” recalls 50 years of the most memorable two-minute drills in NFL history. They include last-second Super Bowl victories and drives as methodical as surgery. Being from Wisconsin, my favorite is the drive that led to victory in the Ice Bowl, when Bart Starr snuck into the end zone and broke the frozen hearts of the Cowboys, who couldn’t imagine anything could be a cold as Green Bay in January. There’s also plenty of bonus footage in the overtime featurettes. – Gary Dretzka

Into the Lion’s Den
I Want to Get Married

Hold Your Peace

One of the staples of contemporary horror is the unexpected brush with pure sadism in a seemingly normal environment. In “Into the Lion’s Den,” three gay buddies stop at a small-town honky-tonk for a quick drink, or three, while on a road trip from L.A. to New York. Of all the bars in the Midwest they could have entered, this probably was the worst choice possible. Michael, Johnny and Ted believe that one out of five men they meet is gay, whether they know it or not. And, sure enough, the Lion’s Den’s muscular bartender does admit to having the odd gay dalliance, with the permission of his wife. After two of the guys have gone back to the hotel to crash, the remaining friend is slipped a mickey and, after he wakes up, accidentally killed by a crossbow-wielding barmaid. Lured back to the bar to retrieve their friend, the other two guys are beaten up. One awakens in the back of truck heading toward a makeshift burial ground, while the other quickly realizes he’s being held in restraints by the couple and is being viciously raped. The horror that ensues would be considered generic if the three friends had been a mixed bag of heterosexual teens looking for a nightcap. Instead, director Dan Lantz dials up the horror by employing plot devices specific to the trio’s sexuality.  Stars Jesse Archer, Ronnie Kroel, Michael McFadden and Kristen-Alexzander Griffith aren’t world-beaters in the acting department, but, considering the budget, get the job done. The disc includes a behind-the-scenes featurette, blooper reel, deleted and extended scenes, and commentary.

All of the hope, glee, disappointment and confusion surrounding California’s Proposition 8 debate are reflected in “I Want to Get Married,” a romantic dramedy about a geeky young man who wants to find a husband before the vote takes place. After all, defeat could possibly wipe out all gay marriages in the state. Not only does writer/director William Clift find Paul an appropriate husband, albeit a couple of days too late for it to be legal, but he also throws in a kitchen sink’s worth of subplots and other distractions. None of them hurts much, but, at 118 minutes, “Married” does overstay its welcome a bit. What’s best is the material leading up to Election Day. When he isn’t husband hunting, Paul is a struggling advertising executive who accepts a last-minute gig with a group promoting the referendum’s passage. His ditzy mother also inadvertently contributes to the cause while lost somewhere in the desert with drag performer, Miss Piggy B. His father also gets lost in the desert after being mugged by a local goat-roper who claims to know his wife’s whereabouts. “I Want to Get Married” succeeds in being a movie that should appeal to gays, lesbians and straights. It adds commentary, deleted scenes and bloopers.

Also from Breaking Glass Pictures’ QC Cinema line is “Hold Your Peace,” another melodrama about love and marriage in a world in which both things are possible for gays and lesbians. Aiden has been asked to be the best man at his ex-boyfriend Max’s wedding. They were childhood friends before becoming lovers, so the request isn’t as ludicrous as it might sound. Fearing that he’ll look hopelessly single, Aiden has a month to find an appropriate date. This leads, of course, leads to a succession of lunch dates with men who don’t appeal to him. There’s also the matter of unresolved issues between Aiden and the soon-to-be groom. Before you can say, “Dermot Mulroney,” Aiden decides he’ll bring a ringer to the wedding as his date. His roommate, Janice, agrees to share her “twink” BFF, Lance, with Aiden. It isn’t exactly a match made in gay heaven. Freshman writer/director Wade McDonald has populated “Hold Your Peace” with likable characters and the rom-com conceit easily translates as gay cinema. The supplemental material adds commentary, outtakes, interviews and a making-of featurette. — Gary Dretzka

The Hunters
If viewers were required to drink a shot of booze every time “The Hunters” stopped making any logical sense or there was an error in continuity, they would be unconscious before the end of the second reel. Even the description on the box is inaccurate. Taking advantage of the presence of Diane Agron (“Glee), the blurb wants us to believe “Hunters” is about a group of recent high school graduates who decide to explore an off-limits fort on the outskirts of town and are stunned to discover it is the staging area for a serial killer. In fact, the teens don’t trespass on the forested property until the picture is nearly complete. By then, a cop played by director/star Chris Briant has stumbled upon the carnage and is engaged in a bloody game of hide-and-seek with the maniacal locals who consider the property to be their personal playground. The heads of people who dared trek across it or enter the fort are stashed at an altar deep inside its labyrinthine corridors. Briant’s character is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, but speaks with a heavy French accent. His fellow police officers all seem to be American or non-French Canadians, while Agron is the quintessential blond cheerleader. Even though the cop is outgunned by the hunters, all of whom are Special Forces types – he manages to escape their clutches with seeming ease and hold them off with a pistol.

All that said, however, “The Hunters” is far from being a total disaster. The forest and fort provide a wonderfully sinister background for homicidal action and Briant does a nice job exploiting the atmospherics. (The film was shot in France and Luxembourg in late fall or winter.) As the hunters, Tony Becker, Terence Knox, Jay Brown, Xavier Delambre and Steven Waddington are suitably frightening in their camo gear. Tolerant genre buffs should find something to like in “The Hunters.” The making-of featurette is pretty entertaining. – Gary Dretzka

The Pool Boys: Blu-ray
Relying on one of the hoariest of sexploitative conventions, “The Pool Boys” imagines a scenario in which a pair of recent high-school graduates attempts to finance their entrance into Harvard by running a high-end brothel. Raise your hands if this setup reminds you of “Risky Business.” Here, the setting is Beverly Hills, where swimming pools are as commonplace as ice-fishing shacks in Minnesota. Genre veteran Matthew Lillard, 41, plays the Harvard dropout, Roger, who’s killing time cleaning pools belonging to rich people. The more age-appropriate Brett Davern plays his younger cousin, Alex, whose job as a Capitol Hill intern ended abruptly – his boss was busted for being a pervert – and forced him to seek employment in L.A. while working on a scholarship. After moving in with Roger, Alex finds himself attracted to a pretty redheaded roommate, he learns is employed as an escort. After getting over his shock and disappointment, Alex decides to take Roger and Laura (Rachelle Lefevre) up on their offer to expand both of their businesses. Roger has been given access to an expensive mansion while the owners are on vacation and Laura rounds up a bevy of babes to fill the rooms.

Naturally, the brothel is an overnight success. It isn’t until the house’s owner returns unexpectedly and confiscates their money that Alex begins to panic. If they could round up paying guests for one last party, however … well, you know how that goes. Typically, the hookers are extremely beautiful, overflowing with charm and integrity, and sexually prolific. There’s not a crack whore, pick-pocket or extortionist among them. The poolside party is raunchy, without actually being particularly erotic or sexy. (Typically, too, the only escort most viewers will want to see to topless, Laura, is the one who keeps everything buttoned up.) As lame as the production is, I’m sure there are countless high school sophomores out there who might dig the ladies’ inflated breasts and ham-handed acting of Tom Arnold. Also along for the ride are George Takei and Playboy models Jennifer Walcott and Sheena Lee. The Blu-ray extras include cast and crew interviews and an alarmingly discrete “virtual lapdance.” – Gary Dretzka

Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret: Season 1
Jersey Shore: Season Four: Uncensored

David Cross may not be a household name, but his face and voice are instantly recognized by fans of “Arrested Development,” “Oliver Beene,” “The Colbert Report,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “Freak Show,” “Running Wilde,” “Archer,” “Mister Show With Bob and David” and a couple dozen other comedies. With IFC Originals’ “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret,” Cross finds himself in the rare position of being lead character and primary reason for anyone to tune into the show. In it, he plays a doofus from an American beverage company who moves to London to promote the new energy drink, Thunder Muscle. Totally inept and a liar to boot, Todd Margaret would be America’s answer to Mr. Bean, if that beloved character were venal and egotistical, in addition to being a clueless bumbler. Fortunately, Todd-Margaret is surrounded by Brits who are required to take him seriously, but keep him out of real trouble, anyway. Among the actors are Blake Harrison (“The Inbetweeners”), John Fortune (“Bremer, Bird and Fortune”) and Sharon Horgan (“Pulling”) and Yanks Will Arnett, Amber Tamblyn, Spike Jonze and Janeane Garofalo.  Amber’s dad, Russ Tamblyn (“West Side Story”) has also appeared in it. A new season begins soon on IFC. The DVD includes commentaries, interviews, bloopers, deleted scenes and an extended version of the first episode.

The cast of the MTV sensation, “Jersey Shore,” spent Season 4 in Florence, as a way of saying thank you to Italy for being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. Naturally, the best job MTV could find for the gang was working in a pizzeria. Other highlights include Mike being taken to a hospital after hitting his head on a wall (obviously, no brain damage); Snooki and Deena hook up; Snookie and Deena hit a police car and get hauled off to jail; and a visit to the Accademia Gallery to check out the junk and hair of Michelangelo’s David. The package also includes the reunion and “After Hours” specials; the featurettes, “Jersey Shore: From the First Fist Pump” and “Louie & Joey”; deleted scenes; and confessionals.  The uncensored material mostly involves cursing. – Gary Dretzka

Game Time
Although “Game Time” doesn’t break any new ground in the subgenre of films in which teenage boys come of age through sports, it is unquestionably entertaining and well made. First-timers Diego Hallivis and Alberto Veloso do almost everything right in crafting a story about basketball player from Wisconsin who moves to New York with his mom to get away from an abusive father. His dad taught him the game, but, in doing so, beat him black and blue when he made a mistake. Naturally, as almost the only white kid in a school comprised primarily of black and Hispanic kids, Vance gets pushed around a bit and trash-talked. That changes when he stands up to one of the toughest kids in school and demonstrates he can play ball with anyone. The girls seem to like him, too. Instead of joining the school’s team, which he normally would be expected to do, a classmate introduces him to dueling, which is an occasionally violent two-on-two competition staged on the city’s playgrounds. They do pretty well, but get shellacked by the same bully he confronted in school. This time, however, the guy is doubly pissed off at Vance because he’s dating a girl he considers to be his property. There are other traumatic incidents on the way to a final showdown. Some are predictable, others not. For a freshman director, Hallivis keeps the action flowing pretty well and the tension dialed up throughout. Although most of the actors are new to the business, too, no one embarrasses themselves. – Gary Dretzka

Apollo 18: Blu-ray
Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego’s paranoid sci-fi thriller, “Apollo 18,” didn’t get much love from critics when it opened theatrically. Expecting some hostility, its distributors decided not to screen it for them. Surprisingly, perhaps, the low-budget project managed to make back its allotted budget and then some. Marketed creatively on the Internet, “Apollo 18” is based on the premise that a top-secret lunar mission was undertaken by NASA and the Defense Department two years after the program officially ended. We only know this because of previously unseen footage that mysteriously appeared on an unsanctioned website several decades later and was cobbled together as “Apollo 18.” Not to spoil anyone’s surprise, let’s just say that the footage reveals the real reason why the Apollo program ended at No. 17. It involves dead cosmonauts and creepy crawlers. There’s more. The knock on “Apollo 18” is that it’s not particularly scary and astronauts aren’t inherently charismatic. Viewers more interested in sci-fi than terror will find more to like here than those who require narrative thrust. The Blu-ray adds quite a few deleted scenes, commentary and several alternate endings. – Gary Dretzka

The David Susskind Show: ‘Open End’ Interview With Jerry Lewis
Once upon a time on television, talk shows weren’t used exclusively to plug upcoming movies, TV shows, records and appearances on the cover of magazines. Interesting questions were asked of interesting personalities by interesting men (women had yet to break through that barrier). The guests were interviewed for more than five minutes and the questions weren’t screened ahead of time by their publicists. David Susskind was one of the most prominent of talk-show hosts and his forum was the “Open End” show, which could run as long as two hours with a single subject. This DVD includes a 90-minute interview with Jerry Lewis, who was a boyish-looking 39 at the time and one of the highest-paid entertainers on the planet. On any other show, Lewis might have felt obligated to entertain the audience with sight and voice gags. Here, Lewis is candid with his memories and opinions and absolutely straight-faced. Susskind asks questions that are deeply personal and no celebrity would be asked or answer today, even on a show hosted Barbara Walters. In any case, Lewis isn’t going to be with us forever and, when he goes, the newspapers will be full of articles containing information about him we already know. It would be nice to see more of Susskind’s interviews released in the future. – Gary Dretzka

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“We don’t have any idea what the universe is. Wise people have always told us that this is proof you shouldn’t think, because thinking leads you nowhere. You just build over this huge construction of misunderstanding, which is culture. The history of culture is the history of the misunderstandings of great thinkers. So we always have to go back to zero and begin differently. And maybe in that way you have a chance not to understand but at least not to have further misunderstandings. Because this is the other side of this question—Am I really so brave to cancel all human culture? To stop admiring the beauty in human production? It’s very difficult to say no.”
~ László Krasznahorkai

“I have a license to carry in New York. Can you believe that? Nobody knows that, [Applause] somebody attacks, somebody attacks me, oh, they’re gonna be shot. Can you imagine? Somebody says, oh, it is Trump, he’s easy pickings what do you say? Right? Oh, boy. What was the famous movie? No. Remember, no remember where he went around and he sort of after his wife was hurt so badly and kill. What?  I — Honestly, Yeah, right, it’s true, but you have many of them. Famous movie. Somebody. You have many of them. Charles Bronson right the late great Charles Bronson name of the movie come on.  , remember that? Ah, we’re gonna cut you up, sir, we’re gonna cut you up, uh-huh.

Bing!

One of the great movies. Charles Bronson, great, Charles Bronson. Great movies. Today you can’t make that movie because it’s not politically correct, right? It’s not politically correct. But could you imagine with Trump? Somebody says, oh, all these big monsters aren’t around he’s easy pickings and then shoot.”
~ Donald Trump