DVDs Nuts!

Lesser-seen OW approved titles

The Electric Chair

Here’s a change for this column: I’m recommending a film I haven’t seen. Recently “unearthed” by Wild Eye Releasing, 1985’s The Electric Chair stars Victor Argo (Taxi Driver) as a failed stand-up comic who’s now a shoe-store manager. One day, he finds himself at a mysterious club performing his routine around an equally mysterious, but fully functional, electric chair. His audience: his younger self, his family and various people from his life gone by. Those releasing the film claim the role was originally slated to be played by Argo’s friend Harvey Keitel. The film was recently screened before an audience of cinéaste at the famous 92nd Street Y in New York. Although I was unable to secure a copy prior to this issue going to print, the curiosity factor for this one is pretty high, so see it if you can get your hands on it. (available now)

Special Features: Director commentary, featurette, trailer

Holy Rollers

It must be an odd and discomfiting feeling for an actor when he or she is lucky enough to strike Hollywood gold with a plum role in a widely acclaimed movie. Because the next thing they know, their never-released, little-known, possibly embarrassing roles are suddenly on the shelves proclaiming their involvement in the stars’ current success. (Remember when Total Eclipse reared its ugly head in the wake of Leonardo DiCaprio’s ascent?) Although it was made recently, Social Network star Jesse Eisenberg’s turn as a Brooklyn Hasid seduced by the world of ecstasy-pill smuggling – “inspired by” a true story – fits into the coattail category nicely, if not as tidily as his newly released-on-DVD 2007 misfire The Living Wake. (Now that was calculated.) Surprisingly, it’s not a terrible Eisenberg B-side; first-time director Kevin Asch shows minor promise with his confident framing and competent period nuance. Still, I’m sure Eisenberg is double-checking his filmography closet about now for any more pesky skeletons. 
(available now)

Special Features: Deleted scenes, commentary, interviews

Passenger Side

Offbeat and casual, this road-tripping indie film starring Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation), who should be a much bigger star than he is right now, is occasionally touching and funny in short bursts, which is about all it aspires to. Scott plays Michael, an anti-social slacker whose brother, Tobey (the likable Joel Bissonnette) asks for a ride around town so he can run various errands. The long-suffering Michael believes it’s a ploy for addict Tobey to score, but he agrees anyway and the brothers’ banter takes on a cautious subtext that’s never hammered into the ground. It’s nothing new – nor is its soundtrack, fashion and everything else that screams 1990s – but it’s comfortably aimless just like the era it emulates. (available now)

Special Features: none

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