Dog (Warner Bros., Blu-ray or DVD, PG-13, 101 min.). In this film for animal lovers, two former Army Rangers are paired, against their will, on a road trip from Oregon to Arizona to attend a funeral of a third. One is Lulu, a Belgium Malinois dog, whose partner is the one being buried; the other is Jackson Briggs (the always appealing Channing Tatum), who is a bit of a hound dog himself, as we see in early scenes when he tries to pick up women during their trip down the Pacific Coast. Naturally, the two will bond along the way, as they encounter various people, get into scrapes and scams, and break a couple of laws.

Lulu is so severely traumatized from being in a war zone that no one can go near her and don’t you dare touch her ears. She is deemed unsalvageable and is scheduled to be put down after the funeral. On the trip, she is often muzzled, and several times runs off.

The film’s tone is uneven, shifting often, with the aforementioned female companion scenes making it unsuitable for small children and, while it does touch upon the toll that combat service can have on marriages and soldiers’ mental stability, including suicide, it does not go in depth there. Briggs himself, despite having suffered some brain injuries in a previous deployment, is anxious to get back on duty in Syria. The scene that gets you is one of the dog’s devotion to its former partner. There are no bonus features for the film, which was co-directed by Reid Carolin and Channing. Grade: 3 stars
Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

The Carey Treatment (1972, Warner Archive, Blu-ray, R, 100 min.). This medical “murder” mystery, directed by Blake Edwards (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” five “Pink Panther” films) and based on a book written by Michael Crichton (“The Andromeda Strain,” “Jurassic Park”) under the pseudonym Jeffrey Hudson, has suddenly become much more relevant with the Supreme Court about to void Roe v. Wade. The film is set in Boston — bringing up marvelous memories for this one, who was raised there — at a time before that 1973 court case made abortions legal throughout the country. The setting is a time when it still was illegal to perform abortions, so most were done on the sly.

James Coburn (“The Magnificent Seven,” “Our Man Flint”) plays pathologist Dr. Peter Carey, newly hired at a large Boston hospital. However, he hardly puts any time into his job, as he decides to investigate the death of Karen, the 15-year-old daughter of J.D. Randall (Alex Dreier), the hospital’s chief doctor. Karen died of a botched abortion and a $300 check made out to Dr. David Tao (James Hong), Carey’s friend, leads to his arrest. Carey is convinced Tao is innocent, even though he does perform abortions (but only charges $25).
Having little to do with the main story is Carey’s newfound love interest with dietician Georgia Hightower (Jennifer O’Neill). Carey does prove an able tracker, although ruffling some feathers along the way, and his search leads him to a most unusual massage at the hands of a seedy masseur (Michael Blodgett as Roger Hudson). The other highlight is Carey’s wild driving to make a terrified passenger talk. There are no bonus features. Grade: film 2.75 stars

Pushing Hands (Taiwan, 1991, Film Movement Classics, NR, 105 min.). This is a new 2K restoration of the debut film from Ang Lee (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Brokeback Mountain”). While the film was made for a Taiwanese company, it was filmed in Westchester and New York City. The story concerns the relationships between Mr. Chu (Sihung Lung), a recently retired tai chi master who relocates from Beijing, his Americanized son Alex (Bo Z. Wang) and Alex’s disapproving wife Martha (Dee Snyder). There is a grandson too, Jeremy, played by the director’s son, Haan Lee.

The film goes 12 minutes without a conversation. The very first scene is an illustration of the title as Chu practices tai chi in one room, while Martha struggles to write her next book in an adjacent room. Without words, one can tell the discord between the two, which goes beyond language (neither speaks the other’s) as Martha later tells a friend she has been unable to write a word since Chu moved in a month ago. Alex is caught between the two and especially the strong custom of Chinese children taking care of their parents. He finally cracks one night after Chu gets lost during a walk.

Very nicely done is the developing friendship between Chu, who has begun teaching tai chi to adults at the local school, and Mrs. Chen (Lai Wang), twice widowed, who teaches Chinese cooking at the school.

Chu finally realizes he has to leave his son’s and he moves into Chinatown, getting a job as a restaurant dishwasher, which he is particularly slow at. This leads to one of the film’s most fun scenes as, after refusing to leave when fired, he uses pushing hands resistance to stay immobile. A similar, more amiable scene takes place when the tai chi and cooking classes share the same room.

The sole extra is a solid conversation (62:32) with the film’s editor, Tim Squyres, and producers Ted Hope and James Schamus (also served as assistant director and did some work on the script). Squyres has edited all but one of Lee’s films. Grade: film 3.75 stars; extra 3 stars

Mr. Klein (France, 1976, Criterion Collection, Blu-ray, NR, 123 min.). In this noteworthy film, Alain Delon plays a Parisian who discovers he apparently has a double, only a Jewish Robert Klein (never seen), when the other Klein’s Jewish newspaper is delivered to his address. When it is never stated as being so, there are some indications that the other Klein may be setting up Delon’s Klein on purpose.

The year is 1942, midway through the Vichy government and the German occupation of France (1940-44). The non-Jewish Klein is an art dealer who has been buying art works at below value from Jews who are anxious to leave France due to the Nazi presence. In trying to track the other Klein down, Klein takes a train to the country estate of Florence (Jeanne Moreau), a wealthy Jewess whose family is getting ready to leave.

As the film, directed by Joseph Losey (“The Servant,” “The Go-Between”), who was blacklisted due to the House Un-American Activities Committee led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy, progresses, Klein becomes more human, treating people less as objects, although his girlfriend does break up with him. The film, which is a bit understated, set a precedent in its portrayal of the shameful Val d’Hev Roundup, in which French police officials gathered up 13,152 Jews, including entire families, on July 16-17, 1942, to be sent to two internment camps before being shipped in rail cattle cars to the Auschwitz death camp. Losey shows the authorities planning the roundup and then the roundup itself during the final 10 minutes.

The film won three French Academy Awards, including best picture and best director. Extras include good interviews with critic Michel Ciment 48:45; new) and Losey (33:39; 1976, audio only); a 1976 interview with Delon and Losey (12:59); a new interview with editor Henri Lanoi (26:13); and the 1986 documentary “Story of a Day: The Val d’Hev Roundup” (83 min.), with interviews of survivors. Grade: film 3.5 stars; extras 3.25 stars

Year of the Jellyfish (France, 1984, Cohen Film Collection, Blu-ray, NR, 110 min.). Written and directed by Christopher Frank, based on his own novel, the film is set mid-summer on a sunny beach in Saint Tropez. The coming-of-age story stars Valerie Kaprisky as Chris, 16, on vacation at an upscale beach resort with her mother Claude (Caroline Cellier). Chris, who some believe is secretly pregnant, lusts after local pimp Romain (Bernard Giraudeau), but he has eyes on Claude, who finally succumbs. Meanwhile, the obsessive Chris is having an affair with married man Vic (Jacques Perrin), who she treats horribly, and seduces a visiting German couple, managing to break up their relationship. Chris even causes a death — by the jellyfish of the title.

The film is considered a French Eurotrash cult classic, in part because most of the women are topless on the beach. What I like about the film is it features three songs by Nina Hagen: the aggressive opening “Zarah” (a club hit in the U.S.), the cool “African Reggae” at the nightclub and “Autoworld.” There are no bonus features. Grade: film 2.5 stars

Tom Von Malder of Owls Head has reviewed music since 1972, just after graduation from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He has reviewed videos/DVDs since 1988.

filed under: