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New on Disc: 'Ed Wood' on Blu-ray and more …

8 Oct, 2012 By: Mike Clark

Ed Wood (Blu-ray)

Disney, Comedy, $20 Blu-ray, ‘R’ for some strong language.
Stars Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette, Jeffrey Jones, Bill Murray, George ‘The Animal’ Steele.
The supreme irony of an Edward D. Wood Jr. biopic making its way to Blu-ray is too savory to escape mention, but the truth is that this is probably Tim Burton’s best movie, with Pee-wee’s Big Adventure being the one other possible contender for that crown. Besides, Ed Wood got Martin Landau a most deserved supporting Oscar for his portrayal of the twilight Bela Lugosi, whose best working hours were, of course, just a tad beyond twilight. Wood, generally regarded as history’s worst filmmaker, was also an auteur in his own way. This producer-writer-director befriended narcotic-addicted horror legend Lugosi all the way to the end, including his shooting of footage (a couple days before Lugosi’s death) that found its way into Woods’ “masterpiece” Plan 9 From Outer Space when filming of the project started for real a couple years later. The combination of dialogue, casting and remastering of Stefan Czapsky’s black-and-white photography with Howard Shore’s aptly bongo-ridden score makes this an upgrade (with many extras carried over from the DVD) I’ll watch again and again — more, perhaps, than even Plan 9, which is worth cranking up every few years when all else in life seems lost.
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Olive, Drama, $24.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Gerard Depardieu, Sophie Marceau. Sandrine Bonnaire.
What begins as a police procedural drama that’s halfway along the lines of, say, William Wyler’s Detective Story eventually evolves into something of a lonely guy or at least foiled-romance saga involving a garrulous cop played by Gerard Depardieu. Director Maurice Pialat’s film opens with an interrogation: Mangin, the widowed cop that Depardieu plays, is grilling various hoods in a Tunisian drug ring. The gang isn’t exactly big time but definitely is capable of mischief that must be abated, and amid Mangin’s professional travels he comes across the pouty Arab girlfriend of one member played by Sophie Marceau. This is a movie where you end up wondering what the future will hold for its characters after the end credits roll, and these would include the smiling prostitute of 19 played by Sandrine Bonnaire. Police’s screenwriter was Catherine Breillat (Criterion’s Fat Girl), who by this time already had begun to direct films sometimes known for their sexually provocative slants.
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Mr. Ricco

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $18.95 DVD-R, ‘PG.’
Stars Dean Martin, Eugene Roche, Thalmus Rasulala, Cindy Williams.
Dean Martin’s final lead (and final big-screen drama) was the stuff that waning drive-ins were made of. At 58, Martin had aged a lot since even the smash-dom of Airport just five years earlier. Whatever the next level is above “improbably cast” is what Martin is here: playing a criminal attorney in San Francisco (hardly a city synched to the Dino milieu) who has sprung a Black Power local on a murder rap when, in fact, this defendant may have merited legal retribution. Predominantly TV director Paul Bogart directs with one of the most peripatetic zoom lenses (to no avail) of the era, and the script was by Robert Hoban for his only screen credit. Cindy Williams, in that window between American Graffiti and “Laverne & Shirley,” plays Martin’s assistant, while Eugene Roche gets to bellow a lot as an intermittently friendly cop/exec once shootings and other retributions get out of hand.
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