DVD Releases (for week of Dec. 8)

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

Brad Pitt in “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

“ONCE UPON A TIME … IN HOLLYWOOD”: Quentin Tarantino makes relatively few movies, so when he does, you can expect that you’re in for something unique. This surely is a prime example, a lengthy and rewarding whirlwind of late-1960s pop culture as seen largely through the eyes of a has-been television Western star and his former stunt double. In those roles respectively, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt bring all the watchability they’re known for, helpful as they play a couple of pals who live on society’s fringe — a lifestyle that puts them on a course to meet Charles Manson, and the movie then takes an off-ramp into an exploration of one of the 20th century’s most infamous cults and heinous crimes. Entertainment connoisseur Tarantino vividly satisfies his nostalgic passions by revisiting them in his own way, and if you have a soft spot for TV’s “The Green Hornet” or Dean Martin‘s Matt Helm movies, you’ll find nods to them (the latter because the last of those spy adventures involved actress Sharon Tate, played here by Margot Robbie). The parade of featured stars also includes Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern, and Luke Perry in what turned out to be one of his final roles – and if you’re a devotee of the pop music of the ‘60s, you’ll appreciate how Tarantino chose his soundtrack. DVD extras: deleted scenes. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“IT CHAPTER TWO”: What “It” is, this time, is about three hours long … which is maybe about an hour longer than it needs to be. This sequel anticipates the desire for more by viewers who made the movie of Stephen King’s novel such a huge box-office hit a couple of years ago, but there’s a difference between “more” and “too much.” In part, the length is to service the excellent young cast from the first movie that reappears in flashbacks, plus bigger-named stars who come aboard as their older incarnations. Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader and Jay Ryan (“Beauty and the Beast”) are in the new group; collectively, they don’t achieve the same repartee as their younger counterparts, but Hader is a standout on a singular basis here. Of course, the terrifying clown Pennywise (returnee Bill Skarsgard) is still around, prompting a years-later reunion of the friends who have to revisit fears they thought they’d long left behind. In a Stephen King story? Who’s kidding who? King fans should be satisfied, but by the time this reaches its loud and expected climax, you might feel like you’ve been through chapters three and four, too. DVD extras: four “making-of” documentaries. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“HUSTLERS”: This drama boasts an impressive, principally female cast, but there’s little doubt who you’ll remember the most from it. Also a producer of the fact-based tale, Jennifer Lopez gives herself a terrific role as the ringleader of a group of strippers who come up with a scheme to profit quite beautifully from practicing their profession. It has to do with bilking the wealthy men they coerce, but this also is a story of true sisterhood and of surviving tough financial times, especially when you’re a single parent who also has to fend for your child. Constance Wu (“Fresh Off the Boat”) plays a newcomer to the group; Lili Reinhart of “Riverdale” also is on board, as is Keke Palmer, who’s now a daytime talk-show co-host as part of “Strahan & Sara & Keke.” Julia Stiles appears as the reporter who wrote the story that inspired the movie, written and directed by actress turned filmmaker Lorene Scafaria, but it’s Lopez who really sells the picture by displaying a wise and natural expertise that really is a treat to watch. *** (R: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“THE LOUDEST VOICE”: It’s not the only dramatization of troubles that wracked Fox News in recent years, but the limited Showtime series – based in Gabriel Sherman’s best-selling account “The Loudest Voice in the Room” — surely pours on the star power, starting with Russell Crowe’s portrayal of the late Roger Ailes, who was the famously bombastic chief of the division at the time. Thanks to the project’s makeup team, the actor bears a stunning resemblance to the real-life Ailes, whose dealings with others such as news anchor Gretchen Carlson (played by Naomi Watts) and News Corporation titan Rupert Murdoch (Simon McBurney) are covered … as are Ailes’ many political connections, which played into his professional life and the controversies ultimately generated by it. Sienna Miller, Seth MacFarlane, Annabelle Wallis and Josh Charles (“The Good Wife”) also are prominent in the cast. *** (Not rated: AS, P)

“SUITS: SEASON NINE – THE FINAL SEASON”: The USA Network law drama recently came to a close with episodes that found those in the New York firm on edge more than ever, thanks to the presence of a stern controller (Denise Crosby) with something to say — mostly to others’ displeasure – about every aspect of the operation. Harvey (Gabriel Macht) applies his wits to trying to oust her, but his mind also is on his advancing personal relationship with Donna (Sarah Rafferty), and also on an unexpected tragedy that throws him for a loop. Patrick J. Adams, who left the show at the same time as Meghan Markle (who had pressing business in England), makes a return as Mike. Rick Hoffman, Amanda Schull, Dule Hill and Katherine Heigl also wrap up their roles; a “Complete Series” set is available. *** (Not rated: AS, P)

“THE ANNE BANCROFT COLLECTION”: A unique, Oscar-winning talent is recalled in this Blu-ray gathering of five of her films, one of them boasting a role with which she’s immediately identified – Mrs. Robinson, the wily seductress of perpetually nervous Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) in director Mike Nichols’ comedy-drama classic “The Graduate.” Though she’s not featured in any of the supplementary interviews for it, Hoffman, Nichols, Katharine Ross and screenwriter and co-star Buck Henry are. Also included here are Bancroft’s movie acting debut (opposite Marilyn Monroe) in “Don’t Bother to Knock” and the only full-length feature written and directed by Bancroft, the Dom DeLuise-starring “Fatso.” The quintet of titles is rounded out by “The Pumpkin Eater” (also starring Peter Finch) and the remake of “To Be or Not to Be” that was done by Bancroft’s husband, Mel Brooks. **** (PG or unrated, per title: AS, P, V)

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):

“Downton Abbey”


“AD ASTRA” (Dec. 17)



“JUDY” (Dec. 24)


Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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