DVD Releases (for week of Feb. 17)

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

Bradley Cooper in “A Star is Born”

“A STAR IS BORN”: One of the most durable stories in Hollywood history became a hit all over again recently, with Bradley Cooper making his directing debut (and revealing hugely impressive confidence in doing that job) while also starring as a superstar singer-songwriter whose career downslide coincides with his discovery of an aspiring talent … played by someone who really was born for the role, Lady Gaga. While Andrew Dice Clay and Dave Chappelle also are in the supporting cast, the standout performer in that realm clearly is acting veteran Sam Elliott as Cooper’s brother. Cooper and Gaga translated their teamwork into the real music world with the success of the soundtrack album, whose hit single “Shallow” accounts for one of the film’s eight current Oscar nominations. DVD extras: “making-of” documentary; four music videos; “Jam Sessions and Rarities.” *** (R: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?”: Oscar-nominated performances by Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant spark this fact-inspired drama, with McCarthy playing Lee Israel, a celebrity-biography writer desperate to retain her standing in her field. In a bid to do so, she takes a cue while doing research on “Funny Girl” subject Fanny Brice and starts to forge letters by actors and writers who have died – creatively enhancing them to be able to charge more for selling them. Cast members also include Dolly Wells, Jane Curtin, Anna Deavere Smith and McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone. The screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty also is up for an Oscar. DVD extras: four “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by McCarthy and director Marielle Heller; deleted scenes; galleries. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on On Demand)

“DOCTOR WHO: RESOLUTION”: An annual television tradition, it’s interesting that the Christmas episode of the legendary sci-fi show still was billed as such, since it actually was shown after Christmas this latest time. The first such edition to involve Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor, the tale actually was presented on New Year’s Day in both England and the United States (thus making the title rather appropriate), with the heroine and her friends facing a threat to Earth that has crossed the boundaries of history. Series regulars Tosin Cole, Bradley Walsh and Mandip Gill also appear. *** (Not rated) (Also on Blu-ray)

“ROBIN HOOD”: This latest version of the famous saga of about He Who Robs from the Rich to Give to the Poor plays around with tradition, using such effects as slow-motion in action sequences – and since Taron Egerton has the title role, maybe it’s trying to capitalize on the same techniques used in his successful “Kingsman” adventures. The basics stay the same as Robin returns home to enlist his somewhat Merry Men – including a decidedly not-merry Jamie Foxx as a variation on Little John – in opposing the Sheriff of Nottingham, played by Ben Mendelsohn. Eve Hewson and the “Fifty Shades” franchise’s Jamie Dornan also are in the film that counts Leonardo DiCaprio among its producers, but there have been better visits to Sherwood Forest over the course of film history. DVD extras: “making-of” documentary; deleted scenes; outtakes. ** (PG-13: AS, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“AMERICAN MASTERS: SAMMY DAVIS JR. – I’VE GOTTA BE ME”: The dynamic, barrier-busting actor-singer-dancer is recalled in this PBS profile, being televised the same week it debuts on home video. Davis’ career spanned every entertainment medium, as reflected by the interviewees who comment in director Sam Pollard’s clip-laden documentary that takes its title from one of the subject’s most popular records. Among them: Billy Crystal, who was an opening act in Davis’ live performances and later portrayed him on “Saturday Night Live”; the late Jerry Lewis, a Davis friend who directed him in the movie “One More Time”; songwriter Leslie Bricusse, whose “The Candy Man” became another Davis hit; television producer Norman Lear, whose “All in the Family” featured a legendary guest appearance by Davis; and Broadway composer Charles Strouse, in whose “Golden Boy” Davis starred. Whoopi Goldberg, Kim Novak, Quincy Jones, Chita Rivera and political veteran Donald Rumsfeld also share their recollections of Davis. *** (Not rated: AS)

“BACKTRACE”: It hasn’t all been about “Creed” in recent years for Sylvester Stallone, as proven by his role as a detective who’s after an escaped inmate (Matthew Modine) with quite a history in this melodrama. The criminal suffers from amnesia after being injured when a bank robbery went awry, but others conspire to get a share of the loot by medically restoring his memory and helping him break out to get the money. An FBI man (Christopher McDonald) also is very interested in the situation. Ryan Guzman, Meadow Williams and Colin Egglesfield also appear. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):

“Mary Queen of Scots”




“CREED II” (March 5)


“GREEN BOOK” (March 12)

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.

jbobbin has 1874 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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