Robin Williams at his best
The Fisher King
Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95
The late Robin Williams gave one his best performances in Terry Gilliam’s moody 1991 dramedy, playing a mentally ill homeless man named Parry who believes he’s on a quest to find the Holy Grail. Jeff Bridges plays a formerly cynical DJ named Jack who’s been trying to be a better person since an on-air incident that ruined several people’s lives — including Parry’s. These broken people heal each other in a film that became a surprise hit for the usually uncommercial Gilliam. Here he approaches Richard LaGravenese’s script fairly straightforwardly, delivering a tale of redemption that resonates with audiences. Criterion’s new Blu-ray edition includes a Gilliam commentary track plus deleted scenes, behindthe-scenes
A Jury Prize-winner at 2014’s Tribeca Film Festival, Israeli writer-director Talya Lavie’s laconic comedy tracks the daily drudgery and petty rebellions among female soldiers doing their mandatory national service in a military office where they can’t be fired but also can’t be inspired to try. Mildly satirical but more funny and personal, this film translates the common experiences of many young Israeli women into a universal story about boredom, bureaucracy and how to deal with different kinds of bosses and co-workers. The DVD helps solidify Lavie’s reputation as amajor talent by adding a couple of her shorts — including “The Substitute,” the 2006 film
If You Build It
Fans of Patrick Creadon’s uplifting crossword puzzle documentary, “Wordplay,” and his terrifying consumer-debt critique, “I.O.U.S.A.,” should get a lot out of his latest, which sort of splits the difference between the hope and hand-wringing of his earlier work. Set in a poor North Carolina county over the course of a single school year, “If You Build It” follows a pair of radical educators/ designers who show how a high school class can learn math, science, literacy, history, art, business, craftsmanship and self-esteem just by taking ona long-term project — in this case, conceiving and constructing a farmer’s market pavilion. Unlike so many depressing “What’s wrong with our schools?” docs, this film suggests
NELLY TAGAR, alternative ways to teach and learn, offering a possible blueprint for a better future.
Alchemy, $19.99; Blu-ray, $24.99
It’s never a good sign when a movie with stars as reputable as Pierce Brosnan and Milla Jovovich and a director as solid as James “V for Vendetta” McTeigue gets dumped onto VOD and then released on DVD and Bluray a month later. And sure enough, “Survivor” is a real disappointment, telling a dully generic story about an anti-terrorist agent (played by Jovovich) who tries to outwit a criminal mastermind (Brosnan). Oddly lacking in style or energy, “Survivor” is flat pulp with little reason to exist. Those who’ve enjoyed McTeigue’s past collaborations with his mentors the Wachowskis would be better off watching their new Netflix series “Sense8,” which is at least memorably bizarre.
Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray
Lionsgate, $19.98; Blu-ray, $19.99
Pound of Flesh
E1, $29.99; Blu-ray, $29.99
left, and Dana Ivgy in the Israeli comedy “Zero Motivation.”