New to DVD: 'Living Dead' memories

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"Birth of the Living Dead" 3stars

"Birth of the Living Dead," written, produced, directed and edited by Rob Kuhns, assembles the backstory of "NOLD" in one place and allows other filmmakers and critics to weigh in on the cultural significance. As one marvels, "It was this tiny little movie in Pittsburgh that seemed to have no chance and it changed the world."

Made for $114,000 and shot in black and white with a cast of unknowns, "Night of the Living Dead" turned George A. Romero into the godfather of ghouls and spawned an eerie empire of movies, television shows, comic books, novels, video games and conventions.

"Birth of the Living Dead" recounts Mr. Romero's early work producing commercials for Duke and Iron City beer, borrowing from "Fantastic Voyage" to make "The Calgon Story" and shooting short films for "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," including a dramatization of Rogers having his tonsils removed in an effort to show children what it would be like and allay their fears.

Mr. Kuhns, a co-director and editor of two PBS documentaries, shot "Birth" in New York, Toronto (where Mr. Romero lives) and Los Angeles between late 2006 and summer 2011.

Some of the tidbits in the documentary may be familiar to Pittsburghers who have been hearing about "NOLD" for nearly half a century, but some are fresh.

In addition to Mr. Romero, he interviews producers Gale Ann Hurd and Chiz Schultz, filmmaker Larry Fessenden along with nationally known writers or film critics who recount what "NOLD" meant to them and why it was so distinctively different.

No MPAA rating but has some mature language and disturbing images from "Night of the Living Dead."

-- Post-Gazette

"Closed Circuit" 2.5stars

"Closed Circuit" opens at London's Borough Market with a deadly explosion that kills, stops or stuns all in their tracks. Smoke rises from the skyline, and Turkish husband and father Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto) is arrested and branded the "Borough Bomber."

When Erdogan's defense attorney suddenly dies, colleague and friend Martin Rose (Eric Bana) is asked to step in. He's fresh from a nasty divorce and custody fight for his son, and darned if the other government-appointed barrister -- a Special Advocate also on the side of Erdogan -- isn't a woman. Turns out he and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall) had an affair that ended badly.

If they are to continue on the case, they will have to lie about their past involvement -- which they do -- and steer clear of each other -- which they don't. As they burrow into the case, they begin to suspect they are being watched more than usual given the prevalence of security cameras, and that things and people are not what they seem.

The stakes are high and so, too, is the body count in "Closed Circuit," a movie for our time. One of the flaws in this film from director John Crowley is that it spends far too much time explaining how the legal system works. Or trying to.

Rated R for language and brief violence.

-- Post-Gazette

"I'm So Excited" 3.5stars

Airplane-disaster parodies may not seem quite so hilarious as they once did, but the sheer raunchy audacity of Pedro Almodovar's outrageously funny "I'm So Excited" must be seen (especially by the gay) to be appreciated (by the open-minded of all erotic persuasions).

With its impending catastrophic landing-gear failure in sight, flight 2549 to Mexico City is flying circles around Toledo while the pilots beg the control tower for an emergency runway. The stewards, meanwhile, devote themselves to deceiving and making things cozy for their doomed passengers -- most of them sound asleep in economy class, thanks to muscle relaxers in their spiked drinks.

The problem is in business class, where slightly sharper passengers include a fugitive financier-embezzler (Jose Luis Torrijo), an Oprah-like media queen (Cecila Roth) -- formerly a dominatrix porn star called Miss Take -- and a psychic virgin (Carmen Machi). All of whom have a secret!

Pity -- and savor -- the crew: fabulously fey Fajas (Carlos Areces), chief steward/alcoholic Joserra (Javier Camara) and joint-smoking Ulloa (Raul Arevalo), who has a thing going with the bisexual co-pilot, who has a thing going with the heterosexual pilot.

It's a cockpit confidential rundown of everybody's sex lives and infidelities, on and off the ground, involving somnambulistic copulation and the most constantly and noisily "occupied" lavatory in aviation history.

This sex farce-spoof is based on Mr. Almodovar favorite theme: sexuality as motivational device. This one is not among the greatest. But it is a wildly entertaining satire and great trashy fun, a bawdy comedy requiring a high tolerance for high camp.

In Spanish with English subtitles.

Rated R for strong sexual content, crude language and drug use.

-- Post-Gazette


■ "Runner, Runner": Justin Timberlake stars as a Richie, a Princeton student who gambles online to pay for school tuition. He bottoms out and sets off for Costa Rica to confront a supposed swindler played by Ben Affleck.

■ "Thanks for Sharing": From Stuart Blumberg, a look at a new kind of modern family, as a group of friends in recovery learns to face life together. Stars Tim Robbins, Joely Richardson, Josh Gad.

■ "House of Lies: Season Two": Don Cheadle stars in the Showtime series.

■ "Being Human: Complete Third Season": Syfy series about very weird housemates.

 "Linsanity": Portrait of NBA player Jeremy Lin.

 "Copper: Season 2": BBC America crime drama set in the 19th century.

■ "Archer: The Complete Season Four": FX's animated spy series.

■ "In Sickness and in Health": The perfect bride is hiding a serious secret about her health.

 "The Act of Killing": Filmmakers examine a country where Indonesian death squad leaders are celebrated as heroes.

 "The Virginian": Trace Adkins stars in this made-for-TV Western.

■ "The Unstoppable, Unpoppable Bubble!": Second release in the "Tickety Toc" series.

■ "Pit Stop": Two gay men searching for love cross paths at the local gas station.

■ "Duck Dynasty: Season 4": More adventures of the Robertsons.

■ Badges of Fury": When a series of eerie murders erupt in Hong Kong, two trouble-making cops get the case.

■ "Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales: For the Love of Snack!": Thirteen escapades centering on food.

-- From wire reports


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