‘HEAT’ and ‘SERIAL MOM’ get the home releases they deserve


Preston Barta // Features Editor

Rated R, 170 minutes.
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val KilmerJon VoightTom SizemoreDiane VenoraAmy BrennemanAshley JuddMykelti WilliamsonWes StudiTed LevineDennis HaysbertWilliam Fichtner and Natalie Portman
Available today on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

It’s truly remarkable how much of an impact this expertly directed, written and acted crime-thriller made. HEAT — starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Val Kilmer in a story of cops and robbers — released over two decades ago, but remains a better and more inventive feature than most of today’s releases.

It’s about as perfect as movies come and is a timeless experience to behold, not only for its gripping narrative (clocking in at a near three hours) but also to see how much of an influence it has made on today’s greatest filmmakers, such as Christopher Nolan with INCEPTION and Ben Affleck with THE TOWN.

The legendary diner scene alone, where acting-heavyweights De Niro and Pacino face off for the first time in cinema history (only starring together in THE GODFATHER: PART II before) is enough to call HEAT the ultimate game of cat and mouse. It’s only icing on the cake that the rest is just as dark, human and thoroughly engaging.

Grade: A+

Extras: The Director’s Definitive Edition of HEAT comes loaded with bonus content. The two-disc release includes audio commentary with writer-director Michael Mann, filmmakers’ panels (one with Christopher Nolan moderating a Q&A with the cast and filmmakers is especially fascinating — even though some do not provide deep answers to Nolan’s deep questions), a three-part making-of, deleted scenes, a conversation with Pacino and De Niro, and a special featurette on revisiting the film after 22 years.

Rated R, 94 minutes.
Director: John Waters
Cast: Kathleen Turner, Sam Waterston, Ricki LakeMatthew LillardJustin WhalinMink Stole and Mary Jo Catlett
Available today on Blu-ray through shoutfactory.com.

What if June Cleaver was a serial murderer? This is the idea behind John Waters’ kooky, ridiculously charming and fun SERIAL MOM.

Kathleen Turner turns in one of her best performances as Beverly Sutphin, a Betty Crocker-like suburban housewife who smiles her way through the day, only to drop those who mess with her or her own (Sam Waterston, Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard) like flies.

Best known for making the original HAIRSPRAY and CRY BABY, Waters has an offbeat style that works flawlessly for ’90s filmmaking. His tongue-in-cheek portrayal of conventional gender roles, suburban life and the media is delightfully subversive. And for a movie that didn’t receive the credit it so deserved in 1994, it’s nice to have a collector’s edition packaging from Scream Factory to make up for it.

Grade: B+

Extras: Scream Factory’s release features a new conversation with Waters, Turner and Mink Stole; “SERIAL MOM: Surreal Moments;” “The King of Gore: Herschell Gordon Lewis and David Friedman;” a making-of; audio commentary with Waters and Turner; and a theatrical trailer.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.