DVD Releases – Week of January 10 2021

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

Omari Hardwick in “Spell”

“SPELL”: Sort of “Misery” in the wilderness, with a solid dose of the occult added in, this melodrama (denied a theatrical release because of the coronavirus pandemic) casts Omari Hardwick as a man who encounters very bad weather while flying his family to his father’s funeral. He’s separated from his relatives after the plane crashes, making him the injured captive of a woman (Loretta Devine) who’s determined to heal him mystically by using a figure she created … having used her prisoner as the source of the materials for it. With time of the essence before her questionable brand of magic kicks in, he desperately tries to escape. The screenplay is by Kurt Wimmer (“Law Abiding Citizen,” “Salt”); Lorraine Burroughs also stars. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“THE TWILIGHT ZONE: SEASON TWO”: The CBS All Access reboot of Rod Serling’s classic suspense anthology series fared well enough in Season 1 to rate this second round. Hosted by Oscar winner Jordan Peele (“Get Out”) — who’s also an executive producer and one of the writers here — the program, in its fourth incarnation here, offers largely original stories while maintaining the eerie and frequently ironic spirit of the Serling-fronted edition. A good example of the first tale, “Meet in the Middle,” in which a man (played by Jimmi Simpson) unadvisedly follows the guidance of the woman’s voice that’s in his head. Morena Baccarin (“Gotham”), Tony Hale (“Veep”), Billy Porter (“Pose”), Jenna Elfman, Topher Grace, Kylie Bunbury (“Big Sky”), Gretchen  Mol and ”Star Trek” Icon George Takei are among the stars of other segments. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)

“JONATHAN SCOTT’S POWER TRIP”: Popular as one of HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” Scott goes his own way as producer, director, co-writer and star of this documentary (shown recently on the PBS series “Independent Lens”) about his crusade as an energy-choice advocate. That role began for him several years ago while he was putting solar panels on his Las Vegas home, and discovering local government rules that seemed to dissuade such power alternatives — and finding that wasn’t the only geographical area in America where those applied. Scott then set out on his “power trip” to find beneficial uses of the solar resource, which he details here. *** (Not rated) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“BURIED ALIVE”: Directed by Frank Darabont, of “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Walking Dead” fame, this 1990 melodrama was a particularly edgy cable movie for its time. The variation on the premise of “Double Indemnity” and “Body Heat” stars Tim Matheson as a man targeted for wrongdoing by his wife and her lover (Jennifer Jason Leigh, William Atherton), who want to claim the insurance money yielded by his death. They think they commit the perfect crime … meaning they haven’t, of course, which they learn the hard way upon realizing the supposedly fatal drug overdose they administered before burying him wasn’t strong enough. Country-music star turned actor Hoyt Axton (“Gremlins”) plays the local sheriff. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)

“SUDDEN FEAR”: Current circumstances have made this a time for studios and video companies to make a deep dive into titles that haven’t gotten much attention on disc — and the release of this 1952 Joan Crawford vehicle is an example. She stars as a wealthy playwright understandably distressed to discover that an actor (Jack Palance) married her only for her money — and that he and his lover (Gloria Grahame) are planning to do away with her (it’s a big week for that on home video). Crawford, Palance, cinematographer Charles Lang Jr. and costume designer Sheila O’Brien all earned Oscar nominations for their work here, and the score is by movie veteran Elmer Bernstein. Also in the cast is later “Mannix” star Mike Connors, in his first significant role and billed here as Touch Connors (alluding to his skills in basketball). *** (Not rated: AS, V)

“SCARY MOVIE”/”DANCE FLICK”: Two of the comedies that have benefited most from the premise of spoofing popular genres are paired now in the same DVD release. In 2000’s “Scream”-targeting “Scary Movie,” which launched a franchise, Anna Faris plays the heroine who has many reasons to fear for the safety of her friends and herself when a disguised killer strikes again and again; co-stars include siblings Marlon and Shawn Wayans (who were cast in the film by another of their brothers, director Keenen Ivory Wayans) and Regina Hall. The 2009 “Dance Flick” also is largely a Wayans-family venture, with Damon Wayans Jr. as a natural dance talent trying to get out from under a hoodlum’s thumb while finding a partner in choreography and romance (Shoshana Bush). *** (R and PG-13, varying with each movie: AS, P, V)

FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):

“Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese”



“FATMAN” (Jan. 26)




Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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