Oscar-nominated ‘Arrival’ lands on DVD
The rare science-fiction film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, “Arrival” (2016, Paramount, PG-13, $30) has a hushed, cerebral quality which beautifully dovetails with its themes of peace and unity.
Amy Adams delivers a quietly intense turn as a linguist who’s hired by the U.S. government to try to communicate with aliens who have touched down in 12 spots around the globe. There’s surprisingly little action as Adams enters into the creatures’ pod with hopes of uncovering their mission.
But despite a saggy second act – and a lack of emotional heat – “Arrival” keeps you watching with a story that probes what it means to be human. Extras: featurettes.
Also New To DVD
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016, Sony, R, $30): The latest from visionary helmer Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain”) is set almost entirely at a superbowl game attended by members of the heroic Bravo Squad who are being paraded around on a PR tour before being shipped back to Iraq. As Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) juggles calls from his sister (Kristen Stewart) and movie offers from a wealthy team owner (Steve Martin), he flashes back to what really happened on the day his commanding officer (Vin Diesel) was killed by the enemy. While “Billy Lynn” doesn’t quite hit you as hard as it should, it’s still an effective satire of American excess as well as a surprisingly earnest look at a young man in the process of becoming an adult. Extras: feauturettes. King Cobra (2016, Shout Factory, $25): Back in 2007, rural Pennsylvania porn producer Bryan Kocis was killed in his suburban home by rival producers Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes. This riveting thriller spins out the whole sordid saga beginning with Kocis’ (Christian Slater) decision to take under his wing a 17-year-old named Brent Corrigan (Garrett Clayton ). When Corrigan tries to leave Kocis’ stable and go work with Cuadra (Keegan Allen) and Kerekes (an unhinged James Franco), Kocis forbids it and, essentially, seals his fate. A cautionary tale about living beyond your means and spending too much time on the dark side, “King Cobra” has plenty of sting in its tail. Extras: none. The Eagle Huntress (2016, Sony, G, $30): A surprise hit during its theatrical run, this saga centers on a teenage girl from Mongolia named Aisholpan who is preparing to become the first female in twelve generations of her Kazakh family to train eagles to hunt prey. While Aisholpan’s personal journey is fascinating, what really distinguishes the doc is filmmaker Orin Bell’s decision to give us a window into a culture rarely seen outside of National Geographic programs. Sure, certain scenes feel staged but “The Eagle Huntress” has an infectious spirit. Extras: featurette and commentary by Bell. Look At Us Now, Mother! (2016, Virgil, unrated, $25): Emmy-winning producer Gayle Kirschenbaum had a tough time as a teenager thanks to her controlling mother Mildred. The Hangman: Shepherds and Butchers (2016, Fox, R, $22): Inspired by true events, this gripping courtroom thriller pivots on a seemingly open-and-shut case in which a 19-yearold prison guard named Leon (Garion Dowds) opens fire and kills a van full of complete strangers. But his court-appointed lawyer (Steve Coogan) instantly realizes that Leon has been warped by his job as a hangman and decides to put South Africa’s capital punishment system on trial. Compellingly acted and fast on its feet, “The Hangman” is an old-fashioned thriller that clings bravely to the integrity of its storytelling . Extras: none. One Of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942, Olive, unrated, $30): Directed by the great Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (“The Red Shoes”), this taut spy saga works as both a thriller and a tribute to the Dutch resistance fighters who assisted the Allies during World War II. After being shot down over Germanoccupied Netherlands, members of an RAF bomber crew (Hugh Burden, Eric Portman) are forced to make their way home by relying on a network of brave souls, including a woman (Googie Withers) so commanding she gives the Nazis a fright. Shot in the midst of the war, there’s too many speeches about evil Fascists but there’s also lots of beautifully directed sequences involving the pilots being hidden in a church, passing through checkpoints and dodging bullets as they row out to sea. Extras: none. Graves: Season One (2016, Lionsgate, unrated, $25): The first scripted series from Epix features Nick Nolte as a former Republican president who, 25 years after leaving the White House, realizes he was a terrible leader and needs to right some of the wrongs of his administration. In addition to being a sharp political satire, “Graves” also works as a character study of a man who’s grown tired of being put out to pasture. Nolte is particularly good at capturing President Graves’ determination to fight against the fading of the light. Occasionally, “Graves” slips into lazy sitcom territory but, at its best, it’s playfully tricky and ethically complex. Extras: featurettes and gag reel.
But Kirschenbaum is determined to forgive before its too late. So, aided by years of home movies, personal letters and intimate footage, she decides to use this documentary as a means of defusing emotional landmines. “Look At Us” is a bit too touchy-feely but it’s still fascinating to watch this mother and daughter journey from resentment to love. Extras: none.