"The Vault" stars Freddie Highmore, Astrid Berges-Frisbey and Sam Riley.
"The Vault" stars Freddie Highmore, Astrid Berges-Frisbey and Sam Riley.

The Vault (Spain, Paramount, DVD, R, 118 min.). While “The Vault” may not offer characters with a lot of depth, the execution of their robbery of a bank in Madrid is loaded with clever details and enough suspense to make the film worth watching. Plus, it stars Freddie Highmore (TV’s “Bates Motel,” “The Good Doctor”), who is always watchable and adds immediate sympathy to his characters.

The film starts with a prologue, with salvage expert Walter (Liam Cunningham of TV’s “Domina,” “Game of Thrones”) and helper/diver James (Sam Riley of “Control,” “Maleficent”) searching off the coast of Spain for the wreck of the Virgin of Guadalupe galleon. What is important to Walter are three coins that were supposedly carried on the ship, coins that lead to where Sir Francis Drake had hidden a treasure he stole from Spain and refused to turn offer to British Queen Elizabeth I. As soon as James comes up with the coins’ container, however, Spanish authorities show up in boats and seize the findings. Shortly thereafter, a court in The Hague refuses Walter’s claim of salvage and the several recovered trunks of artifacts are stored in the vault underneath the Bank of Spain in Madrid.

Walter now has only a few days to plan and execute a theft of the coins from the bank, which is across the street from a Spanish army garrison. Also, the vault dates back some 80 years and it is unknown how it is secured, only that the manner must be physical as no electronics were available when it was built. To help solve the problem of the unknown, Walter recruits 22-year-old college student Thom (Highmore), who has offers to go to work for eight major oil companies, as he has solved a problem in oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, but he would rather do innovative work that is not for big corporations.

Used as a conduit between Walter and Thom is Lorraine (Astrid Berges-Frisbey of “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword), who is part of the heist crew, along with computer expert Klaus (Axel Stein of TV’s “Einstein”) and Simon (Luis Tosar), who acquires whatever equipment they need.

The film, directed by Jaume Balaguero (“Rec”) is given some extra juice by being set during Spain’s run for the World Cup soccer title, with a few thousand fans packed into the plaza outside the bank to watch the games on a huge TV screen. An added twist is that near the execution of the final stage of the heist, the bank’s head of security (Jose Coronado as Gustavo) learns that someone is going after the salvage items in the vault.

There are no bonus features, but the film does set up the possibility of a fun sequel. Grade: film 3 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Shoplifters of the World (RLJE, Blu-ray or DVD, NR, 90 min.). Written and directed by Stephen Kijak (“If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd”), from a story by Lorianne Hall, what sounds like a very British story is actually set in 1987 Denver, on the day a group of friends and devoted fans of The Smiths learn that their favorite Morrissey-led band has broken up. The film, which takes its name from The Smiths’ song “Shoplifters of the World Unite,” features 20 of the band’s songs as well as newsreel footage and recorded interviews with the band in four segments.

The film also takes place the day before one of the group of friends – Nick Krause of “Boyhood” as Billy – is going into the Army. Cleo (Helena Howard of Amazon’s  “The Wilds”), the driving force behind the group, already had made plans to take Billy out and get him drunk. Coming along are two friends who date but do not have sex: Patrick (James Bloor of “Less Than Zero,” looking rather gay in his new wave fashion); and Sheila (Elena Kampouris of TV’s “Jupiter’s Legacy,” who dresses like Madonna).

When Cleo first hears the breakup news, she heads to the record store where love-struck Dean (Ellar Coltrane of “Boyhood,” TV’s “The Good Lord Bird”) allows her to shoplift cassettes. In order to impress Cleo, Dean takes the store’s gun and a suitcase full of Smiths records – the four albums, plus 12-inch singles – and hijacks the airwaves of hard rock station KISS 101, forcing DJ Full Metal Mickey (Joe Manganiello of “Magic Mike XXL,” TV’s “True Blood”) to play only The Smiths’ songs all night. Mickey actually is the most developed character in the film – and played by the actor with the most experience – as Mickey comes to respect Dean’s viewpoint as they share stories and musical likes.

The Smiths’ music, as always, is great, but a lot of the relationship material in the film is very predictable. It was a hoot though to see the bouncer at the gay club dressed up as Grace Jones. There are two short bonus features on the story and inspiration and the film’s look and feel. Due to technical problems, neither was available for viewing. Grade: film 2.5 stars

The Final Countdown (1980, Blue Underground, 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + soundtrack, PG, 102 min.). Even though it is about time travel, this is more grounded than the similarly themed “Philadelphia Experiment” that come four years later and had sailors going into the future. Here, the U.S.S. Nimitz aircraft carrier goes through a “time whirlpool” and ends up near Hawaii the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the U.S. into the war against Japan. The film naturally brings up the whole do we interfere with history questioning, with the ship’s captain saying the Nimitz would be declaring war against Japan if they struck at the incoming attack fleet.

Capt. Matt Yelland is that man, played by Kirk Douglas, whose son Peter produced the film. On board the ship as an efficiency expert and observer is Warren Lasky, played by Martin Sheen, who was just finishing up work in “Apocalypse Now” at the same time. Among the ship’s officers are Ron O’Neal (the two “Super Fly” films) as Cmdr. Dan Thurman and James Farentino (“Bulletproof,” “Jesus of Nazareth”) as Cmdr. Richard Owens, who just so happens is writing a book about the Pearl Harbor attack. Lasky sneaks a peek at that manuscript, which makes him realize just how important is a person they have just rescued.

That person is Sen. Sam Chapman (Charles Durning of “Dog Day Afternoon,” “The Muppet Movie”), who, according to the film’s made-up history, went missing of Dec. 6, 1941. The fictional senator is important because he would have become Franklin D. Roosevelt’s running mate and become president upon Roosevelt’s death. Instead, the Nimitz crew has rescued Chapman and his secretary (Katherine Ross of “The Graduate,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” as Laurel Scott) after two Japanese Zero planes shoot up Chapman’s yacht, destroying it.

The film, which shows a lot of the day-to-day life aboard the Nimitz, including the launching and landing of planes, one of who’s “hook” is not working, was actually filmed on the Nimitz, as the Navy thought the film would be a good recruitment tool.

Other than the usual paradoxes – ultimately, we learn one character is alive in two different bodies of different ages at the same time -- some very strange decisions are made in the film. Much of the time, the film’s action actually is quite slow, but the daily life on the ship is interesting and the aerial scenes are well done.

Archival extras include an audio commentary by director of photography Victor J. Kemper; an entertaining interview with associate producer Lloyd Kaufman who was just starting up Troma Team films at the time (14 min.); a group interview with six members of The Jolly Rogers F-14 Fighter Squadron, who flew in the film (31 min.); and poster and still galleries. A new bonus is a CD with John Scott’s film score (53:35), while the 20-page booklet features “The Zero Pilot Journal” by one who flew the Japanese side in the film. Also, the first pressing comes with a lenticular slipcover that moves the Nimitz through the whirlpool. Grade: film 2.75 stars; extras 3.5 stars

History Is Made at Night (1937, Criterion Collection, Blu-ray, NR, 97 min.). A new romance is threatened by a jealous almost-divorced husband, a potential murder rap and a disaster at sea in this entertaining film that helped introduce Charles Boyer to American audiences. Boyer, who played Napoleon in “Conquest” the same year, plays Paul Dumond, one of the top headwaiters in Paris, working with Chef Cesare (Leo Carrillo of TV’s “The Cisco Kid”) at the Chateau Bleu club.

The woman half of this romance is Irene Vail (Jean Arthur of “Only Angels Have Wings,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”), who has finally decided to divorce her wealthy, but uber-jealous husband, who continually accuses her of having affairs even though she never has. While Irene gets the divorce in London, it will not be final for six months, so her controlling ex (Colin Clive of “Frankenstein,” “The Bride of Frankenstein,” “Christopher Strong” as Bruce Vail) pays his chauffeur (Ivan Lebedeff as Michael Browsky) to seduce Irene in Paris, with the intent that they would be interrupted and her “betrayal”

would nullify the divorce. Luckily for Irene, Paul is in the next room and hears her distress. He comes in, knocks Michael unconscious and the two go off in a taxi to Chateau Bleu.

The two almost immediately fall for each other, while back at the hotel, Bruce kills Michael, planning to blame Irene’s rescuer for the act so he will die by guillotine. Irene and Paul had pretended that Irene’s jewels were stolen, but Bruce notices she is still wearing the pearl necklace and thus forces her to accompanying him back to America. Learning of this, Paul also goes to New York City, accompanied by Cesare, and they take over running a restaurant there in hopes Irene will hear about it and come check it out.

When another man is arrested for the murder, Bruce flies back to Paris to testify, but Irene, having found Paul again, refuses to go, until Paul says he cannot let another man take the fall. The two take the maiden voyage of Bruce’s new ocean liner to France, with an inevitable meeting with an iceberg ahead.

The film is directed by Frank Borzage (“No Greater Glory,” “Street Angel”) and has musical direction by the great Alfred Newman, a nine-time Oscar winner, including for “Camelot,” “The King and I” and “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing.” The film is presented in a new, restored 4K digital transfer, and one of the extras looks at the restoration process (9 min.).

Other extras include a 2018 conversation between Herve Dumont (author of “Frank Borzage: The Life and Films of a Hollywood Romantic”) and film critic Peter Cowie, who talk about how only 50 percent of the script was written when filming started and the new ending meant changes and reshoots for the beginning of the film (24 min.); a 2019 interview with critic Farran Smith Nehme, who discusses the director’s obsession with romantic love (14 min.); audio excerpts of a 1958 interview with Borzage (31 min.); and a 1940 radio adaptation of the film that stars Boyer (28 min.). The pamphlet contains an essay by critic Dan Callahan. Grade: film 3.75 stars; extras 3.5 stars

Masculin Feminine (France, 1966, Criterion Collection, Blu-ray, NR, 104 min.). In this film, writer-director Jean-Luc Godard presents the story of the love between 21-year-old Paul (Jean-Pierre Leaud of “The 400 Blows,” “Stolen Kisses”) and aspiring pop singer Madeleine Zimmer (Chantal Goya of “Absolutely Fabulous”) in 15 segments of varying lengths, each with a somewhat bizarre interstitial title, the most famous of which reads, “We are the children of Marx and Coca-Cola.”

Paul is very naïve and flits from job to job, having just finished 16 months of mandatory military training and working at a chemical company when we first meet him. After encountering Madeleine in a café, her friend helps him get a job at the magazine where she works, but by the film’s end he is a pollster, interviewing people on the street about their opinions. Madeleine actually releases a successful single in Japan, but she seems inconsistent about their relationship.

In some ways, Paul’s behavior at times mimics that of actor Jean-Paul Belmondo in Godard’s first film, “Breathless,” which helped launch the French New Wave. For that matter, it has been noted that Goya looks like a younger version of Anna Karina, Godard’s ex-wife and star of several of his films. Madeleine sits around for hours in cafes as did Karina’s character in “A Woman Is a Woman.”

Here, Paul and his male friend, who also hangs out in cafes, protest against the war in Vietnam, walk around Paris, dance and make love, but it all seems superficial. There is one long scene in which a magazine beauty contest winner sits on a windowsill and answers a long string of questions, presumedly asked by Paul. Madeleine spends a lot of time fussing with her hair during a scene with Paul in a bathroom at the magazine. (In a bonus interview, Goya, who had never acted before, says she was told to act natural and just react to what Leaud was saying, while Leaud was making up his own lines, with subject input via an ear mic from Godard.)

There also is a sense of randomness to events, especially when it comes to violence. As Paul and Madeleine are having their initial chat in the café – and here Godard uses ambient noises from the street outside, as if the scene were captured on the sly – the camera suddenly shifts to a couple having a loud argument at another table. As the man leaves the café, the woman follows and shoots him. While Paul is traveling by train, another random argument erupts, this time between a white woman and two black men. She too has a gun and it sounds like gunshots as the scene pulls back to the outside and noise of the train. Later, Paul approaches a man playing pool, who then comes at Paul with a knife before stabbing himself in the stomach. However, the most emotionally devastating act of violence is done completely off camera and only mentioned afterwards.

Continuing with the randomness of the film, actress Brigette Bardot shows up briefly having a conversation in a café. Paul comes across two men kissing in a movie theater bathroom. And there are references to American culture and to previous Godard films. It has been said that Paul tries to act like Belmondo, whom he has seen in movies, but never quite gets it right and thus is totally unprepared when he actually lands the girl.

Bonus features include two interviews, in French, with Goya, one from 1966 (4:50) and one from 2005 for Criterion (15 min.), the later about making the film and how Godard was going for naturalism. There also is a 2004 interview, in English, with cinematographer Willy Kurant (12 min.); another interview in English with Jean-Pierre Gorin, who made seven films with Godard (15:30); and a 2004 discussion of the film by critics Freddy Buache and Dominique Paini in French (24:50). There is a segment from Swedish television of Godard filming the film-within-the-film – a parody of Ingmar Bergman’s “The Silence” (4:08). The 24-page booklet includes stills from the film, an essay by film critic Adrian Martin and a 1966 report from the set by French journalist Philippe Labro. Grade: film and extras 3.25 stars

Giants and Toys (Japan, 1958, Arrow, Blu-ray, NR, 95 min.). Yasuzo Masumura’s film is a satirical look at the rise of a capitalist mentality in post-war Japan and the accompanying loss of values. In the film, there is a fierce competition between three caramel companies – Apollo, Giant Caramel and World Confectionery – with each going the contest route to build up sales and win the economic competition.

The film centers on Ryuji Goda (Hideo Takamatsu) of World, who has his eyes on his father-in-law’s job as head of publicity. Goda sends out underling Yosuke Nishi (Hiroshi Kawaguchi) to spy on the other two companies and find out what prizes they are offering the public to boost sales. Through a long-standing friend, Nishi learns Giant is offering live animal prizes, but it takes forever for him to learn from Masami Kurahashi (Michiko Ono) that their grand prize is a subsidized life from cradle to grave. Meanwhile, Nishi falls in love with Masami.

Goda’s idea is space toys and to promote them and the caramel he hires a young girl – with bad teeth! – who works for a taxi company. She is 18-year-old Kyoko Shima (Hitomi Nozoe), who unexpectedly becomes a big hit and soon is even singing on TV shows and on stage. (I think by then her teeth have been fixed, although this never is mentioned.) Her bright personality and soon her new business acumen helps her become a star, while Goda seems to succumb to the same ulcers that plague his father-in-law.

 Extras include a new audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Irene González-López; a video introduction by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns, who notes the similarities to “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” and the several layers of betrayal (10:27); and a video essay “In the Realm of the Publicist” by Asian film expert Earl Jackson, who discusses the film’s themes of corporate drive and celebrity culture, as well as how it puts down the Bushido Code of samurai values (20:35). Certainly, the satire of celebrity culture is every bit as valid today. The first pressing also comes with a booklet essay by Michael Raine. Grade: film 3.5 stars; extras 3 stars

My Fair Lady (1964, Paramount, 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray, G, 172 min.). Arriving on 4K Ultra HD for the first time is this beloved musical, which won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Rex Harrison, who plays Professor Higgins, who is tasked with turning sassy, working class London street vendor Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) into a sophisticated lady through his tutoring. George Cukor won an Oscar for Best Director, while supporting players Stanley Holloway (Alfred P. Doolittle) and Gladys Cooper (Mrs. Higgins) earned nominations. The film was adapted from the Broadway stage hit. The film is present from a recent 8K film transfer.

The accompanying Blu-ray disc contains more than two hours of previously available bonus content, including a making-of feature (57:58), the 1963 production kick-off dinner (23:20), brief looks at the Los Angeles and British premieres, five production tests, alternate Hepburn vocals for “Show Me” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?”, and looks at the production design (8:22) and the play’s worldwide success (5:05), among others. Grade: film 5 stars; extras 3.5 stars