‘Deepwater Horizon’ is an oil-soaked stunner
Based on the experiences of chief electronics technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), “Deepwater Horizon” (2016, Lionsgate, PG13, $30) chronicles an oil rig explosion which claimed 11 lives before becoming the worst ecological disaster in American history.
To his credit, director Peter Berg isn’t shy about laying the blame at the feet of a greedy BP exec (John Malkovich) who insists on moving forward over the protests of workers (Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Ethan Supplee) who know better.
As you might imagine, the movie is a special-effects stunner but it’s also emotionally satisfying and life-affirming. Extras: featurettes. Also New To DVD The People Vs. Fritz Bauer (2016, Cohen, R, $25): From Germany comes an engrossing spy saga which unearths a little-known chapter in the story of Adolph Eichmann’s capture. While it has been well documented that Mossad agents ambushed the Nazi in Argentina and smuggled him back to Israel where he was forced to stand trial, it was a German Jew named Fritz Bauer who set the whole mission in motion. As played by Burghart Klaussner, Bauer is a fascinating man who, as Germany’s attorney general, struggles against his apathetic bosses to prosecute Third Reich crimes. When he gets the tip about Eichmann, he risks his career – and his freedom – to go behind his government’s back and contact the Israeli agents. Extras: featurettes and deleted scenes. *** The Birth of a Nation (2016, Fox, R, $28): With this button-pushing drama, first-time director Nate Parker captures what it must have been like to live with a boot heel on your back. Stripped of nearly all human rights, slave preacher Nat Turner (Parker) suffers one humiliation after another until he’s had enough and fights back. How hard this based-on-a-true-story tale hits you is likely to depend on whether or not you can separate the art from the artist. Parker is, after all, a controversial figure who was accused of raping a classmate in 1999 while a student at Penn State. If you can accept “Birth of a Nation” on its own merits, you will discover a powerful film about the seeds of rebellion. Extras: deleted scenes, featurettes and Parker commentary. *** His Girl Friday (1940, Criterion, unrated, $30): Looking and sounding better than ever on Blu-ray, Howard Hawks’ romantic comedy revolves around a fast-talking newspaperman (Cary Grant) who uses every trick in the book to ensure that his ex-wife (Rosalind Russell), who’s also a “newspaperman,” doesn’t go off and marry her new beau (Ralph Bellamy). Everything about this masterpiece works like a charm from the mischievous dialogue to the charismatic performances to Hawks’ insistence that Grant and Russell are bound not only by their love for each other but by their love for their jobs. “His Girl Friday” ranks as one of the best movies of the 1940s. Extras: featurettes, radio adaptation and a newly discovered cut of “The Front Page” (1931). *** The Keys of the Kingdom (1944, Twilight Time, unrated, $30): After the surprise success of the religious epic “Song of Bernadette,” 20th Century Fox gathered together some of the same filmmakers for this new-to-Blu celebration of the life of a Scots Catholic missionary (Gregory Peck) stationed in a remote village in China. Co-written by the great Joseph L. Mankiewicz (“All About Eve”), “Keys” has a lot to say about tolerance and godliness but it mostly resists preachiness, preferring instead to offer up a portrait of a humble man of faith. There’s no plot, which causes pacing problems, but Peck and the supporting players (Rosa Stradner, Anne Revere, Edmund Gwenn) give the film the jolts of feeling it needs. Extras: commentary tracks. *** Dead of Winter (1987, Shout Factory, R $30): Here’s the best thriller from the 1980s that you never heard of! The plot sounds like something out of a Brian DePalma movie but Arthur Penn (“Bonnie and Clyde”) directs with a much lighter, more playful touch. Mary Steenburgen stars as an out-of-work actress who accepts a dodgy offer that lands her in an isolated Upstate New York mansion in the midst of a raging snowstorm. When she arrives to shoot the video audition, she discovers that the “producers” (Roddy McDowall, Jan Rubes) are not who they seem to be. There’s a blizzard of blackmail, betrayals and murder as Steenburgen struggles to turn the tables on her captors. Extras: featurette. *** Cornbread, Earl and Me (1974, Olive, PG, $25): In his film debut, Laurence Fishburne is terrific as a teenager from Chicago’s projects who is forced to grow up fast after his idol – the titular Cornbread (Keith Wilkes) – is shot by a police officer (Bernie Casey) in a case of mistaken identity. After Cornbread’s murder, corrupt cops begin to put pressure on members of the community, including Fishburne, to change their stories about the slaying. Boasting a funky score by Donald Byrd as well some deeply-felt performances by Atlantic City’s Rosalind Cash, Moses Gunn and Madge Sinclair, “Cornbread” is a bittersweet look at coming-of-age in the midst of tough times. Extras: none. *** Broad City: Season Three (2016, Paramount, unrated, $26): Still great fun, the latest season of the New York-set comedy continues to focus on the friendship between screw-ups Abbi (Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana (Ilana Glazer). Whether wrecking havoc at a gallery opening, getting stuck in a porta-potty or experimenting with hair-removal crème, the pair’s shenanigans are both instantly relatable and gut-bustingly hilarious. And, best of all, the show deepens when you least expect it to, thanks, in part, to the extremes to which the friends will go to protect each other. Extras: featurettes and deleted scenes. *** Homeland: The Complete Fifth Season (2016, Fox, unrated, $40): Nearly as good as the first explosive batch of episodes, the gripping fifth season finally puts the mess surrounding Nicholas Brody in the rearview mirror and dispatches Carrie (Claire Danes) to Germany for some high-stakes spy games. Danes is such a talented performer that no matter what Carrie gets herself into, you are riveted. And this season she’s once again involved in the war on terror while dealing with double agents, security hacks and the fallout from going off her meds. Among the new characters, Miranda Otto’s station agent and Sebastian Koch’s German philanthropist leave the biggest impressions. Extras: featurettes.
Mark Wahlberg (“Mike Williams”) stars in “Deepwater Horizon.”