MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka

The DVD Wrap: Unstoppable, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, All the President’s Men, Network, William S. Burroughs: A Man Within …

Unstoppable: Blu-ray
Few directors and producers are as adept at making high-octane thrillers as Tony Scott. Like Goose and Maverick in Scott’s first blockbuster, Top Gun, the 66-year-old Brit has a chronic need for speed, and Unstoppable nicely fills the bill, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Deja Vu, Days of Thunder and Enemy of the State. “Unstoppable” is based on an real-life incident, nine years ago, in which a locomotive hauling 47 cars left a Toledo rail yard without an engineer and wasn’t stopped until it had run 66 miles. Anyone who’s seen Andrey Konchalovsky’s exciting 1985 escape flick, Runaway Train, might think they’re watching a remake of that fine film, however, albeit set in far more pleasant conditions. I don’t know what kind of cargo the Toledo rattler was hauling, but Scott loaded his train with tankers carrying enough toxic polysyllabic compounds to wipe out half of Pennsylvania.

Here, in order to meet a strict deadline, a bumbling engineer instructs his brakeman not to connect the air hoses for the brake line. In the time it takes for the driver to exit the locomotive and attempt to shift tracks manually, its throttle slips and the train begins moving forward on its own power. Even though the train has yet to build up any real speed, the engineer is too fat to catch up with it. Meanwhile, in a locomotive miles away, veteran engineer Frank (Denzel Washington) is putting an unwanted rookie assistant, Will (Chris Pine), through the paces of a stern basic-training regimen. Frank’s pissed because the company has begun laying off old-timers and Will represents the kind of underpaid, undertrained and underappreciative laborers hired to steal their livelihoods. For his part, Will’s distracted by serious legal and marital troubles. Before the movie’s run its course, Frank and Will will be given an opportunity to bond by stopping the runaway freight train and saving the residents of their home town from being burned to a crisp

“Unstoppable” overflows with tick-tock suspense and breakneck action. The personal dilemmas may be superfluous to what’s happening out on the mainline, but none threatens to disrupt the film’s thrilling pace. What does grate, however, is the play-by-play provided by a Greek chorus of hyperventilating reporters, who somehow are privy to details that normally wouldn’t be revealed to the public until the resolution of the potential disaster. Neither are the residents of the city most likely to be obliterated evacuated. I’d complain about all the plugs for Hooters, where Frank’s kids work, but, apparently, the daughters of one of the film’s technical advisers labor there and, well, that easily qualifies for verisimilitude these days.

Scott and Washington have collaborated four times previously and they enjoy an on-screen rapport that’s palpable. It’s interesting that they’d come together, again, so soon after shooting “Pelham 1 2 3” in the subway tunnels of New York. In another welcome touch, Rosario Dawson is assigned the role of operations-room dispatcher, a task normally reserved for crusty male actors. The Blu-ray package includes several features that explain how Scott and his team were able to make “Unstoppable” as entertaining as it is, without buying their own railroad and, in due course, destroying it. The featurettes include, “The Fastest Track: Unleashing ‘Unstoppable,'” “Derailed: Anatomy of a Scene,” “Hanging Off the Train: Stunt Work,” “On the Rails With the Director and Cast” and “Tracking the Story: Unstoppable Script Development,” as well as deleted scenes and commentary. — Gary Dretzka

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
Anyone who’s felt shortchanged by the romantic comedies inspired by Woody Allen’s embrace of European settings and characters probably won’t be tempted to rush out and rent You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. London ain’t New York and never will be. It was staged in some of London’s tonier precincts and features characters who spend far more time dining and having their fortunes read than earning a living. Meanwhile, those characters who do work are accorded plenty of time to flirt, shop and sip champagne. I don’t suppose Allen has to tax his imagination much for inspiration. No matter where he’s spending his time these days, Allen’s European friends breathe far more rarefied air than most of us do.

To Allen’s credit, though, he tends not to stay in one place for very long, and a new movie is always right around the next corner. Ever since the 1977 release of Annie Hall, he’s written, shot and released at least one picture annually. As long as Allen enjoys a faithful international following and distributors don’t demand blockbuster returns, he’ll keep us guessing as to what to expect next. If that means only one in three films will be set in New York and feature characters whose hang-ups resemble those of the author, well, so be it.

“Stranger” is as different from Whatever Works, as Anthony Hopkins is from Larry David. Each, though, has been accorded the honor of playing a familiar Allen surrogate. Instead of the stammering Jewish neurotic who defends himself against the Philistines with strategically placed barbs and wisecracks, Hopkins’ Alfie Shebritch embodies another Allen archetype: the accomplished older gentleman who attempts to stave off the ravages of age in the arms of a much younger babe. Here, that woman is a tall blond prostitute, Charmaine (Lucy Punch), who could be the British cousin of Mira Sorvino’s ditzy Linda Ash, in Mighty Aphrodite. Alfie has recently separated from his longtime wife, Helena (Gemma Jones), who can’t cross the street or go to the bathroom without first consulting a clairvoyant. Helena’s daughter, Sally (Naomi Watts), is unhappily married to a once-published author (Josh Brolin), whose bitterness at being supported by his wife grows deeper with each new rejection letter. Everyone in the movie finds comfort in the company of other partners (Antonia Banderas, Freida Pinto), willing to flatter them and prop up their egos.

Typically, “Stranger” is an extremely handsome movie, distinguished by excellent performances and smart, if not hilarious dialogue. Allen captures the pace and surface sheen of trendy London very well, too. Also typical, the DVD arrives without any extras. — Gary Dretzka

All the President’s Men: Blu-ray
Network: Blu-ray

Two of the essential films of the 1970s arrive on Blu-ray this week, accompanied by a generous helping of bonus features. All the President’s Men and Network both captured the spirit of the time and lingering effects of the upheaval that rocked mainstream America in ’60s. A truly decent chap, Jimmy Carter, was about to take up residence in the White House and, for a while, all things seemed possible.

As was the case with The Social Network, few people could imagine how a movie could be cobbled together from a series of newspaper articles, which, two years earlier, had led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon. Contrary to popular myth, investigative reporting has never been the most exciting of pursuits and those who excel in it more often resembled Oscar Madison than Robert Redford. It took the combined genius of screenwriter William Goldman and director Alan Pakula to re-imagine Watergate as a noir-informed struggle between the forces of darkness and light. In their updating of the David-vs.-Goliath parable, a pair of young Washington Post reporters doggedly follow the crumbs left behind by a team of intelligence operatives, caught breaking into national Democratic headquarters, to a path that led them to the front door of the White House. It took several meetings with a mysterious informant, nicknamed “Deep Throat,” for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to gather sufficient evidence to convince their editors that what they reporting was accurate. Once the reporters won the trust of their editors, they still were required to counter a massive propaganda campaign and the skepticism of competing newspapers. Although the ending of the movie was never in doubt, “All the President’s Men” worked marvelously as both a mystery and study in heroism. The Blu-ray release takes on added significance, knowing that, before his death in 2008, former FBI official Mark Felt revealed himself to be Deep Throat.

The Blu-ray package includes Redford’s commentary, as well as the featurettes “Telling the Truth About Lies: The Making of ‘All the President’s Men,'” “Woodward and Bernstein: Lighting the Fire,” “Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat,” “Pressure and the Press: The Making of ‘All the President’s Men,'” an interview with Jason Robards taken from Dinah Shore’s talk show and a trailer gallery of films by Pakula. Gordon Willis’ cinematography, which brilliantly captured both the darkness of the Deep Throat encounters and glaring light of the Post newsroom, shines through in hi-def.

Also released in 1976, “Network” seemed then to be more an example of extreme liberal paranoia than a prophesy of a broadcast industry gone mad. Budget cuts had yet to devastate entire network news operations, CNN was still a twinkle in Ted Turner’s eyes, Rupert Murdoch had yet to sink his fangs into the American media and “reality television” was pretty much limited to “Candid Camera.” Paddy Chayefsky and Sidney Lumet’s satire anticipated the day when television commentators would directly influence the course of events, instead of simply reporting them. It also delivered a message about predatory capitalism that rings far truer today than it did 35 years ago. Peter Finch, who played “mad as hell” Howard Beale, won an Academy Award for his unforgettable performance, as did Faye Dunaway and Beatrice Straight. (William Holden lost out to Finch in the Best Actor category.) It’s nearly impossible to list all of the outstanding moments in “Network,” although every American citizen out to be required to listen to Ned Beatty’s admonishment of Beale in the boardroom of the network’s corporate parent. Owen Roizman’s Oscar-nominated cinematography looks terrific in Blu-ray, as well. The package includes commentary by Lumet; a six-part making-of documentary; the featurette, “How a Movie Landmark Caught Media Lightning,” which includes the thoughts of the late Walter Cronkite; and a episode of TCM’s “Private Screenings,” during which Lumet is interviewed by Robert Osborne.

Oh, by the way, both “All the President’s Men” and “Network” were beaten out for the Best Picture Oscar that year by Rocky. That crowd-pleaser’s director, John G. Avilden, not only topped Lumet and Pakula, but also Ingmar Bergman and Lina Wertmuller, the first woman to be nominated in the category. — Gary Dretzka

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within
It’s interesting that Yony Leyser’s loving portrait of 20th Century renaissance man William S. Burroughs would arrive so quickly on the heels of Howl, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s salute to Allen Ginsberg, and ahead of Walter Salles’ long-awaited adaptation of On the Road.Despite their huge influence on at least two generations of readers around the world, it’s become fashionable to mock the work of “beat” writers, the best known of whom are Jack Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs. William S. Burroughs: A Man Within reminds us that the gravelly voiced, fedora-wearing son of the founder of the Burroughs Adding Machine fortune not only served as friend, older brother and muse to Kerouac, Ginsberg, Neal Cassidy and poet Gregory Corso, among others, but his creative period didn’t end with the publication of “Naked Lunch,” “Queer” and “Junkie.” His writing would embrace such avant-garde methodology as “cut-up,” in which a text is cut up and rearranged to create a new text.” Burroughs’ stories, characters, music, paintings and ideas would result in collaborations with such artists as Kurt Cobain, Laurie Anderson, Patti Smith, Ministry and U2. He also played a character very much like himself in Drugstore Cowboy.

If Burrough’s non-literary career is distinguished by a single event, it was shooting death of his wife, Joan Vollmer, in an ill-advised game of “William Tell,” during a party in Mexico City. He avoided a prison sentence, but would live in self-imposed exile outside the U.S. for several years, until the dust cleared. Even so, Burrough’s fascination with guns lasted until his death in 1997, at 83, in a rural artist’s compound outside Lawrence, Kansas. Among the people testifying in Burrough’s defense in “A Man Within” are writers Amiri Baraka, Diane DiPrima and Anne Waldman; filmmakers Gus Van Sant, John Waters, David Cronenberg and Hal Wilner; musicians Smith, Anderson, Jello Biafra, Iggy Pop, Thurston Moore and Genesis P’Orridge; and actor Peter Weller, who played Bill Lee in Naked Lunch.Gary Dretzka

The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu
As the leading 20th Century practitioner of “weird fiction” — stories that combine horror, science fiction and fantasy — American novelist H.P. Lovecraft remains better-known than widely read. His influence, though, can be found in the work of such genre specialists as Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Mike Mignola, as well as directors John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, and Guillermo Del Toro. Jorge Luis Borges wrote the short story, “There Are More Things,” in memory of Lovecraft. In his inventive, if quite silly freshman feature The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu, Henry Saine imagines a scenario in which the author’s last living descendant inherits half of an ancient relic associated with the Cthulhu Mythos. With it comes the fearsome knowledge that whoever is able to combine the halves holds in his hands the power to destroy humanity. Fortunately, the dweeb entrusted with the relic is friendly with someone who’s actually read Lovecraft and can combine clues hidden in the texts to keep it out of the tentacles of the Starspawn. Naturally, their search leads to a decrepit trailer in the Mojave Desert, inhabited by an old salt named Captain Olaf. In one of the movie’s funnier bits, the geezer introduces the lads to the concept of “fish rape.” Otherwise, “The Last Lovecraft” only occasionally rises above its station as nerdy, micro-budgeted confection for fanboys and genre completists. — Gary Dretzka

Ultimate Jordan: Deluxe Edition
With the NBA All-Star Game set to take place in Los Angeles this weekend, what better time for the participants to be reminded of their continued inferiority — in some people’s minds, anyway — to Michael Jordan. With all due respect to the former Bulls great, if Jordan had come along at a time when the league and its network-television benefactors weren’t in such dire need of a hero, his media exposure might have been limited to that lavished on Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, all of whom were accorded household-name status. In addition to the NBA and Bulls organization, Jordan’s celebrity was enhanced with the sale and/or theft of every obscenely overpriced Air Jordan sneaker, the purchase of every ticket to Space Jam and wearing of a red No. 23 jersey. If he sometimes strutted like a peacock in awe of his own feathers, Jordan backed up his vanity with amazing displays of athletic prowess, a palpable will to win and the precise timing of a Breguet watch. For those who need a reminder of Jordan’s skills, the “Deluxe Limited Edition” of “Ultimate Jordan” includes the original five highlight compilations, “Come Fly With Me,” “Michael Jordan’s Playground,” “Airtime,” “Above and Beyond” and “His Airness,” plus these essential games in their entirety: 1986 Playoffs: Chicago vs. Boston; 1990 Playoffs: Chicago vs. Cleveland; 1993 Finals Game 4: Chicago vs. Phoenix; 1997 Finals Game 5: Chicago vs. Utah; and 1998 Finals Game 6: Chicago vs. Utah. There’s also the 2009 Hall of Fame induction speech, highlights from the Slam Dunk Contests and “The Making of ‘Michael Jordan’s Playground.'” And, yes, His Airness looks even better in hi-def. Imagine the film’s next incarnation, in 3D. — Gary Dretzka

Storm Warriors
It’s probably just me, but, for all of its neat fighting scenes and cool costumes, Storm Warriors pushed me well beyond the point of caring about Chinese warlords and their efforts to keep their country pure from foreign influences. Or, maybe, I’m simply too old to take seriously any movie — albeit one based on comic-book characters — whose characters are named Cloud, Wind, Earth, Sky, Nameless, Second Dream, Lord Godless, Lord Wicked and Piggy King. I wouldn’t have been surprised if teams of unicorns were entrusted with bringing loads of bricks to the construction site where the Great Wall was being built.

“Storm Warriors” is the second installment in a trilogy launched 12 years ago with Storm Riders, also based on Wing-Shing Ma’s comic book and directed by Oxide and Danny Pang. As one might imagine, considering the characters’ names, the battles often are set against a background of disruptive natural and metrological forces. This time around, the impeccably trained Wind and Cloud (Ekin Cheng, Aaron Kwok) brace themselves for the invasion by immersing themselves in tactics of evil warriors and fighting the temptation to go over to the dark side. There are plenty of extras for fans of the series and comic book to enjoy. — Gary Dretzka

Game of Death: Blu-ray
In Giorgio Serafini’s hyperviolent Game of Death, Wesley Snipes builds on his reputation as one of the leading practitioners of non-stop, straight-to-DVD action. He plays a deep-cover CIA agent, Marcus, pretending to be in cahoots with a wealthy arms dealer, Smith, portrayed by fellow genre specialist Robert Davi. Just as Marcus is about to close the door on nefarious operation, however, a team of rogue CIA agents ambushes their limousine, inadvertently sending Smith to a Detroit hospital with an unscheduled heart attack. Before the surgeon can even sterilize his hands, the intensive-care unit is turned into a battle zone, with Marcus forced to engage his former friends and teammates. The ensuing chase covers most of the hospital, including the ward housing mental patients. The rogue agents and various other assassins hope to eliminate Smith and split his fortune between them. Only Marcus stands between them and his target’s horde of cash. That’s it, really. Lots of people get killed and some semblance of movie justice prevails. The only truly interesting character is the icy blond CIA agent, played by Kiwi stunt double Zoe Bell. She’s super tough and enjoys taunting her former partner. I’d ask why so many CIA agents are involved in a case of domestic terrorism, but, why bother? — Gary Dretzka

National Lampoon’s Dirty Movie
Despite the title and much gratuitous nudity, this latest edition to the National Lampoon movie canon isn’t a dirty movie, per se. It is, instead, a movie about a couple of lamebrain producers who hope to make a movie in which the narrative thread is woven from a litany of sexually perverse and racially offensive jokes. Imagine The Aristocrats not as a documentary, but as a work of fiction, and you might get a picture of what’s happening in Dirty Movie. Christopher Meloni (“L&O: SVU”) is unrecognizable as the bargain-basement producer, Charlie LaRue, whose office doubles as an elevator car. As auditions proceed, it becomes apparent that Charlie is partial to topless twins, tap-dancing midgets (again, topless) and, well, any woman willing to tell a dirty joke wearing half a bikini. Co-directors Meloni and Jerry Daigle open the movie up a bit, by setting the joke-telling in several different locations outside the audition room and returning to them every so often. The good news, for me, anyway, was that half of the jokes were sufficiently funny and/or crass enough to make me laugh. Other folks could just as easily find all or none of the material particularly amusing. In his commentary, Daigle admits to recruiting most of the actors from Craig’s List, which, if nothing else, ensured coming in under budget. They’re not bad, either. “Dirty Movie” may not make anyone forget National Lampoon’s Animal House,but it’s a lot funnier than most of the company’s recent output. — Gary Dretzka

Love at First Kill
A Kiss of Chaos

Margot Kidder, once one of Hollywood’s most bankable female leads, seems to have reached the same point in her career as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, when they starred in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Sadly, although Kidder is plenty scary in the role of a psycho-mom, the title of the straight-to-DVD thriller doesn’t even belong in the same sentence as Robert Aldrich’s diva demolition derby. In Love at First Kill (a.k.a., “The Box Collector”), Kidder plays Beth, the intensely jealous mother of a socially inept young artist who specializes in painting boxes. When a beautiful and overtly sexy single mother moves in next-door, Beth decides that the woman is sent there by Satan to seduce her son and take him away from her. This, she won’t abide. When the inevitable coupling does happen, Mommy Dearist takes action.

If John Daly had followed this storyline to its logical scary conclusion, “Love at First Kill” might have had a fighting chance of opening in theaters. Instead, viewers are asked to digest several red herrings — including subplots involving a snake wrangler and his demented wife. a horny cop and vicious ex-husband — that push the plot sideways whenever it begins to gain momentum. Too bad, it would have been nice to see Kidder re-gain some momentum of her own.

If atmosphere and texture were all that was required of a movie for it to be successful, A Kiss of Chaos might also have had a shot at a theatrical run, however limited. Simply put, this is one claustrophobic crime thriller that simply can’t decide where it wants to go or what it wants to be. What begins as drug scam gone bad, turns into a chase through a hi-rise maze and finally mutates into an intense family drama. It’s in the cramped apartment of a young Puerto Rican painter that the truly interesting stuff takes place. It’s where the artist’s dimwitted ex-boyfriend takes shelter after being wounded in a shootout with a heroin dealer and her freaked-out HIV-positive sister lands after one of her adventures. It’s also where the dealer comes to exact his justice. Judy Marte, so good in Raising Victor Vargas and On the Outs, provides the one really good reason to rent “A Kiss of Chaos,” as the artist named Phoenix. — Gary Dretzka

Glorious 39: Blu-ray
Fans of period movies, set in the mansions of upper-crust British twits, should find something interesting in Glorious 39. Set during the summer before the start of World War II, Stephen Poliakoff’s intricately plotted story concerns a young woman who stumbles upon a plot that essentially would hand control of Britain to Hitler, without the messiness of an invasion or dismantling of the established social order. Anne Keyes (Romola Garai) senses she’s discovered something of significance to someone, although she doesn’t know quite what it is. The more questions Anne asks, the closer she comes to sealing her own doom. I didn’t know that the proponents of appeasement carried that much sway in England, at least in the months before Germany took dead aim on British institutions and allies. Instead of playing it straight, however, Poliakoff laddles a thick layer of supernatural hocus-pocus on what already is a reasonably intriguing story. Typically, the English countryside provides a swell background for the treasonous behavior of the Keyes family and their cronies. “Glorious 39” is further enhanced by the fine acting of Bill Nighy, Julie Christie, Christopher Lee, Eddie Redmayne, Juno Temple, Jeremy Northam, Jenny Agutter and Hugh Bonneville. — Gary Dretzka

Before Respire is more than 10 minutes old, writer/director David Cross does his audience a favor by neatly summing up everything we need to know about the mysterious vial of stale human breath so coveted by the characters we are about to meet. Usually, this takes an hour or more. In the 1930s, Dr. David Kaminsky discovered a means to cure disease and prolong life, based on the ancient Roman belief that the soul escapes one’s body with the last breath. After being shot by an unseen assailant, a wooden box containing Kaminsky’s discovery begins its unlikely journey around the world. The box currently is in the possession of Susan Jordan, a shop owner who liked its look. When she puts it up for sale on an Internet auction site, the box attracts the attention of bidders willing to pay a suspiciously large price for its contents. Their interest piques Jordan’s curiosity to the point wheres she decides to sample the goods. As it turns out, Jordan is suffering from a seemingly incurable disease and the vial inside the box provides a miracle cure. It also makes her the target of some bad dudes who believe she double-crossed them. When the truth about the source of the life-extending breath is revealed, the real horror show begins. “Respire” is making its premiere on DVD, but that shouldn’t prevent horror fans from taking a chance on it. — Gary Dretzka

Still Life
Avant-garde filmmaker and theorist Harun Farocki never seems to tire of testing viewers’ perceptions of art and commerce, politics and culture. Still Life, from Facets Video, requires viewers to consider the similarities between the art of 17th Century Flemish painters and magazine ads shot by contemporary photographers. In both, objects are positioned in almost identical ways, but, ostensibly, for completely different motivations. During the course of the documentary’s 58 minutes, Farocki compares the still-life paintings of the Dutch masters with nearly identical advertisements he creates using beer glasses, a cheeseboard and a watch. The resemblance is uncanny, even if the modern context borders on the banal. I’d love to see “Still Life” become part of the curriculum in high school art classes. The perspective it provides would do aspiring artists a world of good. — Gary Dretzka

Doctor Who: The Movie: Special Edition
The Twilight Zone: Season 3: Blu-ray
Johnny Test: Complete First & Second Seasons
He-Man & the MOTU: Volume 1 & 2

Not being a diehard fan of Doctor Who, I was under the mistaken impression that the BBC series has been a fixture of British television since its debut, in 1963. I knew that the actor who played the original doctor (William Hartnell) wasn’t the same one holding the position today (Matt Smith), but I couldn’t tell you how many “regenerations” the character had experienced in between. Nor was I aware of the genesis of Doctor Who: The Movie, a project that was intended to jump-start the series after a seven-year hiatus, with an assist from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, Universal and Fox. I learned all of this and more from the DVD set’s making-of featurette, which is nearly feature length. In the movie, itself, Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor is transporting the remains of the Master to Gallifrey, when the redesigned Tardis is diverted to San Francisco on the eve of the new Millenniun. Here, the seriously wounded Doctor is regenerated in the form of actor Paul McGann. Along with heart surgeon Dr. Grace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook), he endeavors to stop the reinvigorated Master (Eric Roberts) from destroying the world.

Also new this week is the all-new Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol, starring Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. Here, Amy and Rory are trapped on a doomed space liner, and the only way the Doctor can rescue them is to save the soul of a lonely old miser, Kazran Sardick. According to writer/executive producer Stephen Moffat, the special is “all your favorite Christmas movies at once, in an hour, with monsters.” Guest stars include Michael Gambon and Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins. Also included are “Doctor Who Confidential” and “Doctor Who at the Proms,” a concert performance of music from the show, recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall.

The hi-def edition of The Twilight Zone: Season 3 includes all 37 episodes of the original series, and such Blu-ray exclusives as 19 new commentaries; an interview with actor Edson Stroll; the original laugh track for “Cavender Is Coming”; an interview with director of photography George T. Clemens’ 19 radio dramas, featuring Don Johnson, Blair Underwood, Ernie Hudson, Morgan Brittany, Adam West, Ed Begley, Jr., Jason Alexander, Shelley Berman, Michael York and Bruno Kirby; and scores for all 37 episodes, featuring the work of such composers of Bernard Herrmann, Van Cleave and Fred Steiner. Other extras include commentaries by actors Bill Mumy, Lois Nettleton, William Windom, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Cornthwaite, Cliff Robertson and Jonathan Winters, who reads the alternate ending for “A Game of Pool”; clips from the 1989 remake of “A Game of Pool” and 1985 remake of “Dead Man’s Shoes,” featuring Helen Mirren; recollections with Buzz Kulik, Buck Houghton, Richard L. Bare, Lamont Johnson and Earl Hamner; rare Rod Serling appearances as a guest on “The Garry Moore Show,” “Tell It to Groucho” and as host of the game show, “Liar’s Club.”

The first two seasons of the Cartoon Network hit series “Johnny Test” have been compiled by the folks at Mill Creek Entertainment. The animated show follows the exploits of the fearless 11-year-old boy, as well as his genetically engineered super dog, Dukey, and brilliant 13-year-old twin sisters, who use Johnny as their guinea pig for scientific experiments.

Mill Creek also has sent out compilations of episodes from the landmark series, “He-Man and Masters of the Universe.” They chronicle the superheroes’ efforts to save the planet Eternia and protect the secrets of Castle Grayskull from Skeletor. Special features include English & Spanish audio tracks; five scripts; profiles of 50 characters, creatures and artifacts; and documentaries. — Gary Dretzka

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2 Responses to “The DVD Wrap: Unstoppable, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, All the President’s Men, Network, William S. Burroughs: A Man Within …”

  1. Resan says:

    hm… sorry for being a bit dull however i believe your blog would look a little bit better plus a bit more easy to the eyes if it got more of a brown feel to it, however that’s only me. great post anyhow! 🙂 Best regards, Resan

  2. army mos says:

    Interesting read , I am going to spend more time reading about this topic


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon