“Happening” happening better on small screen
â€˜The Happeningâ€ is not quite the morbid slog it was on the big screen.
Itâ€™s still loonier than a box of Jujubes. And M. Night Shyamalan jackhammers his green theme with the subtlety of a whoopee cushion.
But the oft-inane dialogue and story inconsistencies notwithstanding, the directorâ€™s first R-rated film plays better on the small screen. Smaller expectations, I guess.
One fine day in New Yorkâ€™s Central Park, all the people stop moving and some kill themselves. (Why they all donâ€™t is inconsistency No. 1.)
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, a science teacher (Mark Wahlberg) finishes a lecture on the strange disappearance of honeybees. (Hmm.) Anticipating the spread of the New York event, the teacher, his troubled but appealingly screwy wife (Zooey Deschanel) and gaggles of others exit the city for the sanctuary of the countryside.
Only there is no sanctuary in â€œThe Happening,â€ just lengthy jaunts through green fields, more death, bursts of violence, haunting visuals and close-ups of Deschanelâ€™s clear blue eyes.
Extras: Deschanelâ€™s comic talent shines on the first of four deleted scenes; educational anatomy of a scene; worthless gag reel; making-of doc where Shyamalan says he wanted this to be a great Grade-B film.
Coming of middle-age
â€œThe Visitorâ€ was an art-house fixture for months, and deservedly so. The life-affirming character piece resonates with emotional complexities.
Acting vet Richard Jenkins (â€œSix Feet Underâ€) makes the most of his leading role as a lonely, widowed New England professor barely going through the motions when heâ€™s sent to New York to present a paper.
Entering his apartment for the first time in ages, he finds two immigrants settled in Ââ€” a lively young Syrian drummer (Haaz Sleiman) and his wary Nigerian girlfriend (Danai Gurira).
The lonely widower lets the couple stay, and as they become friends, he gradually squeezes out of his shell.
With an assist from the boyâ€™s mother (Hiam Abbass), he also becomes involved in post-9/11 immigration politics. Written and directed by Tom McCarthy (â€œThe Station Agentâ€).
Extras: Upbeat bit on playing the Djembe (hour-glass-shaped drum prounounced JEM-bay); short on cast members; commentary; more.
The classic opening shot of â€œTouch of Evilâ€ â€” a big man slowly drives a car carrying explosives through a seamy Mexican town toward the border gate â€” still mesmerizes after countless viewings.
That sets the ominous tone for director-star Orson Wellesâ€™ unsettling black-and-white noir saga about a corrupt, border-town police chief (Welles), a strait-laced Mexican narcotics officer (Charlton Heston with darkened skin), his harassed new bride (Janet Leigh) and murder.
â€œTouch of Evil: 50th Anniversary Editionâ€ contains three versions of the film â€“ restored 1998 cut re-edited from Wellesâ€™ detailed memo; 1958 theatrical version; preview version created before the â€™58 cut. Thatâ€™s a tasty package for film students or collectors. Otherwise, itâ€™s a bit much.
The restored version, out since 2000, is a better bet for most.
Extras: Best bonus is a reproduction of Wellesâ€™ 58-page memo to the studio after he saw Universalâ€™s rough cut; commentaries; much more.
Also on DVD
â€œThe Alice Faye Collection, Vol. 2â€: â€œHollywood Cavalcadeâ€; â€œThe Great American Broadcastâ€; â€œFour Jills in a Jeepâ€; â€œRose of Washington Squareâ€; â€œHello, Frisco, Hello.â€ Giddy musical fun.
â€œBody Heatâ€: Lawrence Kasdanâ€™s first was this noir classic that keys to a very steamy affair between married Kathleen Turner and lawyer William Hurt; on Blu-ray. A good one.
â€œBoy Aâ€: Ex-convict, forced to take the name Boy A, tries to adjust to society after 14 years in a juvenile prison; with Andrew Garfield.
â€œFeast IIâ€: Creatures from the original gore fest chomp on survivors and nearby townies; downbeat, not much fun, but cool female biker gang.
â€œHalloweenâ€: Recent Rob Zombie version with 4Â½ hours of extras (on Blu-ray Oct. 21).
â€œJoy Ride 2: Dead Aheadâ€: Sadistic trucker pursues four young travelers; torture and gruesomeness ensue.
â€œNormalâ€: Two years after a teen is killed by a drunken driver, all the people touched by incident deal with the emotional fallout.
â€œRay Harryhausen Collectible DVD Setâ€: â€œIt Came From Beneath the Sea,â€ â€œEarth vs. the Flying Saucersâ€ and â€œ20 Million Miles to Earth: 50th Anniversary Editionâ€; on DVD and Blu-ray.
â€œRest Stop: Donâ€™t Look Back (Uncut)â€: Proud to be bloodier and more gruesome than its predecessor, the film looks at three young travelers as they encounter a brutal killer, living corpses and revenge-minded ghosts; also on Blu-ray.
â€œThe 7th Voyage of Sinbad: 50th Anniversary Editionâ€: Colorful, exciting, fun fantasy, with battling skeletons, a miniature princess and other Ray Harryhausen stop-motion effects; also on Blu-ray.
â€œSleeping Beauty 50th Anniversary Platinum Editionâ€: Handsome, restored, with a never-before-seen expanded edition of Disneyâ€™s animated classic; alternate opening; deleted songs; also on Blu-ray.
â€œSolidbodies, the 50 Year Guitar Warâ€: Five-decade competition between the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul.
â€œSpirit of Marathonâ€: Shot over four years as six runners prepare for the Chicago Marathon.
â€œA Very British Gangsterâ€: About the U.K.â€™s notorious Noonan crime family.
â€œYou Donâ€™t Mess With the Zohanâ€: Super Mossad agent Adam Sandler fakes his death to realize his dream of becoming a New York City hairtsylist.
TV on DVD
â€œThe Beverly Hillbillies: The Official Second Seasonâ€
â€œBrotherhood: The Complete Second Seasonâ€
â€œCesar Millan: Mastering Leadershipâ€
â€œA Charlie Brown Christmas Deluxe Editionâ€
â€œA Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Deluxe Editionâ€
â€œHow I Met Your Mother: Season 3â€
â€œKeeping Up With the Kardashians: Season Oneâ€
â€œMartin: The Complete Fifth Seasonâ€
â€œMidsomer Murders, Set Elevenâ€
â€œMission: Impossible: The Fifth TV Seasonâ€