‘Beauty’ casts its own spell

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Noel Mur­ray around a cas­tle. This is by no means a mas­ter­piece, but for any­one who’s never seen the ’91 movie, the new one works. VOD Find­ing Kim Avail­able Tues­day Aaron Bear’s documentary is cal­en­dar@la­times.com

New on Blu-ray Beauty and the Beast (2017) Dis­ney/Buena Vista DVD/Blu-ray, $39.99

Given that di­rec­tor Bill Con­don’s live-ac­tion re­make of the Dis­ney an­i­mated clas­sic “Beauty and the Beast” car­ries over the songs, story and a lot of the dia­logue from the 1991 film, it’s fair to ask whether there’s any rea­son for it to ex­ist. (Well, be­sides money; the movie has al­ready grossed more than a bil­lion dol­lars.) But judged on its own mer­its, this “Beauty” is quite en­chant­ing, with win­ning per­for­mances by Emma Wat­son as a plucky book­worm and Dan Stevens as the furry prince cursed by his self­ish­ness. Plus, Con­don brings some of his own vis­ual panache to scenes of an­thro­po­mor­phic fur­ni­ture danc­ing Spe­cial fea­tures: Deleted scenes, a “songs only” op­tion, and hours of de­tailed be­hind-the-scenes ma­te­rial an en­light­en­ing and mov­ing in­tro­duc­tion to what some find to be a con­fus­ing is­sue: what it means to be trans­gen­der. While fol­low­ing the fe­male-to-male tran­si­tion of a mid­dle-aged Seat­tle res­i­dent (and deal­ing with the med­i­cal as­pects of the change as well as the cul­tural), Bear cuts in in­ter­views with well­known LGBTQ per­son­al­i­ties Dan Sav­age, Car­men Car­rera and Buck An­gel, who put what Kim’s go­ing through in a larger con­text. The re­sult is a film as in­for­ma­tive as it is per­sonal.

TV set of the week The Young Pope HBO DVD, $49.99; Blu-ray, $59.99

So­cial me­dia had fun with the baroque im­agery and weird premise of HBO’s pres­tige drama, but while the show’s 10-episode first sea­son isn’t seam­less, Jude Law is con­sis­tently riv­et­ing as the ti­tle char­ac­ter: a gruff, re­ac­tionary New Yorker who’s elected to the pa­pacy and im­me­di­ately starts push­ing back against pro­gres­sivism. Writer-di­rec­tor Paolo Sor­rentino rev­els in the Ital­ian op­u­lence (much as he did in his Os­car-win­ning film “The Great Beauty”), and in be­tween the eye-pop­ping spec­ta­cle, he and Law bring a lot of nu­ance to a study of faith, cul­ture, and the lim­its of what even the most pow­er­ful man in the Catholic Church can ac­com­plish. Spe­cial fea­tures: Sev­eral be­hind-the-scenes fea­turettes

From the ar­chives Bambi: The Sig­na­ture Col­lec­tion Dis­ney/Buena Vista DVD/Blu-ray combo, $39.99

Dur­ing the first five years that Walt Dis­ney pro­duced an­i­mated fea­tures, the stu­dio ex­per­i­mented with dif­fer­ent ways of us­ing the medium, look­ing for sto­ries and char­ac­ters that would jus­tify the ex­pense and ef­fort of a full-length film. Back in 1942, crit­ics weren’t sure that Dis­ney’s adap­ta­tion of Felix Sal­ten’s book “Bambi” fit the bill, be­cause it was grim, plot­less, and re­lied on images from the nat­u­ral world that could’ve just as eas­ily been pho­tographed. But time has been kind to the pri­mal pull of “Bambi,” with its cute, rounded wood­land an­i­mals and its vi­sion of a breath­tak­ing but dan­ger­ous wilder­ness. To­day, the lav­ish re-creations of rain­storms, bliz­zards, and for­est fires — cou­pled with a sim­ple, of­ten harsh comin­gof-age story — mark this movie as one of Dis­ney’s pre­miere achieve­ments. Spe­cial fea­tures: Ex­ten­sive fea­turettes and an in­no­va­tive com­men­tary track in which ac­tors re-cre­ate one of Walt Dis­ney’s old story meet­ings Three more to see Af­ter­math Lion­s­gate DVD, $19.99; Blu-ray, $24.99; also avail­able on VOD A Cure for Well­ness 20th Cen­tury Fox DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99; also avail­able on VOD Land of Mine Sony, $26.99; also avail­able on VOD


DAN STEVENS and Emma Wat­son in “Beauty and the Beast,” which has the fa­mil­iar story and songs from the 1991 film.

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