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Published: 5/22/2013 - Updated: 10 months ago

Out on DVD

Mel Brooks, action movies lead the pack

BY RICH HELDENFELS
AKRON BEACON JOURNAL
Mel Brooks from 'American Masters: Mel Brooks: Make a Noise" as he directed 'Life Stinks' in 1991. Mel Brooks from 'American Masters: Mel Brooks: Make a Noise" as he directed 'Life Stinks' in 1991.
PBS/COURTESY BROOKSFILMS LTD Enlarge

The outpouring of affection for Mel Brooks (and of items from his considerable catalogue) has included TV specials, box sets of his film and TV work, and an American Masters documentary premiering on PBS on Monday.

And, by the way, out on DVD this week, Mel Brooks: Make a Noise (Shout! Factory, $19.97) includes the 85-minute special featuring interviews with Brooks and fans and collaborators such as Nathan Lane and Cloris Leachman. 

It calls itself “career spanning,” and that has been quite a career, including writing for TV, films such as Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, commercial voicing, standup with Carl Reiner and some unforgettable talk-show appearances.

The DVD also adds 16 minutes of deleted footage. And it sets the stage for another Brooks release from Shout!, a collector’s edition DVD and Blu-ray of the 1968 comedy classic The Producers.

It’s a busy week for action movies, albeit ones that were not always well received. Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez star in Parker (Sony, $30.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray), based on a hard-boiled novel by Richard Stark, a pen name for the great Donald Westlake. Reviews were not great — only 40 percent were positive, according to Rotten Tomatoes — and the box-office returns poor. Extras include commentary by director Taylor Hackford and making-of segments.

Things weren’t much better for Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Last Stand (Lionsgate, $29.95 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray / DVD / digital combo), where he played a former Los Angeles cop turned small-town sheriff — only to see that small town become the “last stand” in a battle with a fugitive drug lord. It fared even more poorly at the U.S. box office, according to Box Office Mojo, even after somewhat positive reviews (59 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). Extras include featurettes and deleted scenes.

You might expect a movie with Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin to have fared better with critics and viewers than the above titles. And your expectations would be wrong. Stand Up Guys (Lionsgate, $27.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray / DVD / digital combo) went almost unnoticed in theaters and was largely panned by critics. But I liked large portions of the film, if only because it was fun to watch Pacino and Walken work together (and with Arkin, although less often).

Pacino plays a gangster just out of prison after decades inside; Walken is an old friend and colleague who rejoins him for a night of revelry and conversation. But other agendas are at work, and it might not end well for either man. It’s not a great movie, but the performances are fine, and it deserved to be seen more. Extras include several featurettes and commentary by director Fisher Stevens.

On the TV side of things, you might have caught the Canadian medical-drama-with-an-eerie-twist Saving Hope (Entertainment One, 13 episodes, $39.98) during its run on NBC, but you did not see it all. The network pulled the show without airing two episodes included in this set; there may also be more, at least on DVD, since a second season was ordered for Canadian television. DVD extras include interviews with cast members and behind-the-scenes footage.

True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season (HBO, 12 episodes, $59.99 DVD, $79.98 Blu-ray / DVD / digital combo) adds behind-the-scenes elements, audio commentaries and — on the Blu-ray — an extended discussion of the season’s sixth episode to the latest doings in the vampire drama. Perception: The First Season (ABC Video, 10 episodes, $29.99) offers no extras with the tales of a crime-solving neuroscientist (Eric McCormack) with some mental problems of his own.

Glee fans can take note of Struck by Lightning ($26.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray), written by the show’s Chris Colfer and starring him; the cast also includes Rebel Wilson and Christina Hendricks.

Down video road

If you have been following the FX series Wilfred, you might want to check out the original Australian series of the same name; it comes to DVD on June 4. That same date brings The Mad Max Trilogy, with Mel Gibson, to Blu-ray. Southland: The Complete Fifth and Final Season comes to DVD on Aug. 13. Also on Aug. 13 is the second season of Girls, on DVD and Blu-ray.



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