Last Week in Home Video
Pick of the Week
You’re the Worst: The Complete Second Season
What is it? Gretchen and Jimmy are not nice people. They’re not nice to strangers, they’re not nice to their friends ‐ Lindsay and Edgar ‐ and they’re not always that nice to each other, but that doesn’t stop them from falling in love. The honeymoon period ends eventually though as they come to reveal more of themselves and get to know more of each other.
Why see it? Season one of this FXX series has its moments but always felt like little more than unlikable people occasionally being funny. Season two continues that trend but makes great strides in exploring the foursome’s humanity beneath the barbs. Lindsay remains my favorite character for both her details and the laughs, but the season’s great strength is evident in its look at Edgar’s war-related PTSD and Gretchen’s bout with depression. The latter gets cleaned up a bit too much by the end, but hopefully season three continues to acknowledge the harsh, unpredictable nature of her issues. It all sounds bleak, I know, but even with these heavy topics the season delivers a lot of big laughs.
[DVD extras: None?]
Chimes at Midnight [Criterion Collection]
What is it? Sir John Falstaff (Orson Welles) is more than just a part-time sidekick to King Henry IV’s son, Prince Hal. He’s also a full-time rabble-rouser who spends his time drinking, cavorting, and philosophizing on the state of the kingdom. Hal is his friend and his ticket to the top, but he soon finds how tenuous both of those things can be.
Why see it? Welles’ love of William Shakespeare’s work is evident throughout his career, but it’s most visible in this original creation that moves Falstaff through events from a handful of the Bard’s plays. It’s a humorous journey at times, but Falstaff’s tale is a tragic one, and Welles gives the character weight beyond the obvious. Criterion’s new release offers a new hd restoration and numerous extras and should be mandatory viewing for fans of both Welles and Shakespeare.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, interviews]
What is it? Jimmy is a brilliant band manager, and he could prove it too if only he had a band worth managing. He sets out in search of one, but the pickings are slim in 1980’s Dublin… especially if you’re looking to start a soul band.
Why see it? Alan Parker’s early ’90s ode to music and musicians is beloved by audiences and critics alike, and for good reason. It’s a fun, energetic romp filled with lively musical performances and more than a few laughs. It’s a refreshing film free of artificial conflict too ‐ the group hits some stumbling blocks along the way, but the feel like natural developments ‐ and the end result is a casually entertaining musical delight.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview, commentary, featurettes]
The Jungle Book
What is it? Young Mowgli was just a baby when fate left him alone and defenseless in the middle of the jungle. Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley), the black panther, takes pity on the man-cub and passes him off to the wolf pack to be raised as one of their own. Life finds a way until the much-feared tiger, Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), returns to the area and sets his carnivorous sights on the child. He warns the other jungle denizens that Mowgli is an intruder destined to become a man ‐ and they all know that men bring destruction, death, and fire. It’s decided that the boy will be better off back with his own kind, so Bagheera and a begrudging Mowgli set off for the nearest village.
Why see it? The world of director Jon Favreau’s latest may be constructed from CG and materials from the Disney vault, but it’s one he imbues with real weight. There’s death here alongside decisions based as much on morality as survival, and Favreau ensures that the emotional/narrative value is paired with a tangible physicality. We feel the pull of gravity, we see the result of jungle living in Mowgli’s bruised and scratched skin, and we hear the symphony of wildlife, wind, and John Debney’s rousing score. You’re a part of this world (regardless of whether or not you’re watching in 3-D).
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary]
What is it? Walter Blunt (Patrick Stewart) is a straight-talking news man who’s brought his tough British demeanor and talk show to Los Angeles, but both his life and his show are in something of a rough patch.
Why see it? This ten-episode series (season?) is worth watching on the power of Stewart alone. There are plenty of laughs throughout thanks to occasionally sharp writing, but it’s Stewart’s performance/delivery that make for some wickedly entertaining exchanges.
[DVD extras: Featurettes]
The Immortal Story [Criterion Collection]
What is it? Mr. Clay (Orson Welles) is a wealthy man with no heir to his vast fortune. With no better option presenting itself he decides to make a tall tale come true by hiring a sailor to impregnate his wife ‐ but first he needs a wife.
Why see it? Welles’ final fictional film, an adaptation of an Isak Dinesen story, was produced as a television special in France, but while it has more than its share of admirers the tale never quite gels for me. Production value is part of it, but the characters and narrative just feel light in their direction and execution. Criterion’s new release is their typically beautiful job though.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, documentary, interviews]
Me Before You
What is it? Louisa (Emilia Clarke) is a happy-go-lucky young woman in need of a job to help support her family, and she finds it in an unlikely place. Will (Sam Claflin) is a young man whose life has taken a sharp turn after an accident leaves him a paraplegic. Together they find love or something like it.
Why see it? The film’s ending received a fair amount of (deserved) scorn upon release, but the bigger issue here is Clarke. Her performance here is… not good. She’s great on Game of Thrones, but she has no clue how to play a bubbly, “normal” girl. It’s almost painful to watch at times. And then there’s that ending.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, outtakes, deleted scenes]
What is it? Hopper (Johnny Simmons) has dreamed about becoming a major league baseball pitcher since he was a little boy, but just as he grows closer to achieving that goal he has a breakdown that threatens it all. Torn between the pressure from his father (Ethan Hawke) and the help of a therapist (Paul Giamatti) he struggles to recover his aim.
Why see it? Think The King’s Speech but about parental pressure and America’s favorite past time, and you’ll have an idea of what to expect here. The focus is on the relationship between patient and doctor, and both the journey and destination are familiar. The joy though comes from the trio of lead performances as both the veterans and young Simmons engage us in the story about what it takes it to believe in yourself.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview]
Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two
What is it? Darth Vader is on the warpath. He’s hunting for rebels and Jedi alike, and as he moves closer to his targets they move closer to truths of their own. Good thing the Jedi have Darth Maul on their side.
Why see it? Disney’s animated Star Wars series is set between episodes III and IV and introduces all manner of new characters and stories that exist alongside the main narratives we already know so well. I’m still not the biggest fan of the animation style, but the writing and action sequences remain compelling and exciting for fans of the Star Wars universe.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Also Out This Week:
Arrow ‐ The Complete Fourth Season, Chicago Fire ‐ Season Four, Chicago Med ‐ Season One, Citizen Soldier, Criminal Minds ‐ The Eleventh Season, Grey’s Anatomy ‐ Complete Twelfth Season, Jane Wants a Boyfriend, NCIS: Los Angeles ‐ The Seventh Season, The Night Manager, Shameless ‐ The Complete Sixth Season, What Happened Miss Simone?
Related Topics: Home Video