On DVD: Gang film packs punch with gritty scenes

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 1:00am
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Among the many productions that made a big splash during this year’s Nashville Film Festival, none generated more visual impact or power than Stacy Peralta’s Crips and Bloods: Made in America.

A gritty, often stunning and disturbing look at a conflict that’s raged over three decades in South Central Los Angeles and claimed more than 15,000 lives, it also contained interviews that were candid, stark and deeply troubling from former and current members.

These commentaries were equal parts invective, pleas for change and calls to action, even though other parts of the documentary revealed the role that poor choices and governmental inaction played in the situation.

Crips and Bloods: Made in America (New Video) will be released on DVD Tuesday. It doesn’t need the usual array of glossy extras like deleted scenes, making-of documentaries or photo reels to make its point.

Just its story of unrelenting violence, death and despair more than make it worthwhile, though there’s a little air of optimism from such figures as former NFL great Jim Brown. The football star spent many years trying to find alternatives for youth to gangs and even helping some former Crips and/or Bloods turn their lives around.

‘Valkyrie’

The resurrection of Tom Cruise’s career continued last year with the release of Valkyrie, a film based on the true story of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who was behind an unsuccessful campaign to assassinate Hitler. Cruise was quite effective in his portrayal, though the entire cast (especially Kenneth Branagh, Terence Stamp and Tom Wilkinson) was excellent.

Plus, director Bryan Singer and company an excellent good job generating as much drama and suspense as could be reasonably expected in a production where the outcome is pre-destined.

Valkyrie (Two-Disc Special Edition + Digital Copy) (United Artists) will be released Tuesday. This version includes an additional digital file that allows fans to (legally) transfer the file to either their computer or portable media player. And, there’s a second disc loaded with such things as cast interviews, background on the story, director’s perspective, etc.

For those uninterested in the extra material, there’s a bare-bones single edition copy available.

TV on DVD

By today’s standards, the events depicted on the 1960’s nighttime soap opera Peyton Place are quite tame, but they were considered quite scandalous in their time.

After the film (which pops up periodically on the Fox movie channel) earned an Oscar nomination, the TV show debuted in 1964 and was an immediate sensation. It ran for two nights weekly and continued over five seasons, helping to make stars of Ryan O’Neal, Barbara Parkins and Mia Farrow among others, while being one of the programs that transformed ABC from perennial third-place losers into challengers for prime-time glory.

Peyton Place: Part One (Shout! Factory), a five-disc set, will be released Tuesday. It covers the show’s first 31 episodes, many of which were widely discussed and critiqued the day after they aired. Between affairs, incidents of domestic abuse, teen pregnancy (something you just didn’t see then on TV), plus a single mother (Oscar winning actress Dorothy Malone, whose presence provided the show some instant credibility) who enjoyed a dominant position in the community.

While far from a fan of daytime or nighttime soap opera, watching these episodes is like talking a pleasant trip down memory lane. Peyton Place laid the foundation for everything from Dallas and Dynasty to Grey's Anatomy and Melrose Place. This is an excellent package, and there are more episodes coming down the line.

 

'Crips and Bloods: Made in America,' which comes out on DVD Tuesday, gives a stunning and disturbing look at a conflict that’s raged over three decades in South Central Los Angeles.