DVD Releases (for week of March 31)

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

Christian Bale in “Vice”

“VICE”: Recent history can be dicey to deal with in a movie if it’s not a documentary, since memories of the real-life players and situations tend to be strong. Writer-director Adam McKay – a comedy specialist – takes that gamble with this largely bemused view of the rise of Dick Cheney, who would make a mark as the vice president serving under George W. Bush. Especially remarkable is the transformation of star Christian Bale into Cheney, clearly with a major assist from the film’s makeup and hair artists (who won Oscars for it), but also in his playing of the demeanor that takes Cheney through his courtship with wife Lynne (Amy Adams, also fine) and to the heights of political power. Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell and Tyler Perry also are notable as (respectively) President George W. Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell. DVD extras: two “making-of” documentaries; deleted scenes; photo gallery. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“BUMBLEBEE”: The “Transformers” series gets a new iteration with this sci-fi adventure focused in the title character (voiced by Dylan O’Brien), which looks like a Volkswagen but actually is … well, something else. It gets a new owner in a troubled teen (Hailee Steinfeld) who, in reactivating the vehicle, unwittingly helps lure enemy Decepticons to Earth and causes the familiar “Transformers” brand of mayhem to ensue again. Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”) plays the girl’s mother, with John Cena and John Ortiz as government agents. Familiar faces Len Cariou (“Blue Bloods”) and Fred Dryer (“Hunter”) also are in the cast, but as usual with a venture like this, the members of the special-effects team are the real stars here. *** (PG-13: P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“THE MULE”: Also this drama’s director, Clint Eastwood gives himself another great character as he plays a senior citizen whose personal life is on the ropes. He finds surprising redemption and financial success in becoming a drug transporter – or a “mule” – for a Mexican cartel, but he still has regrets, especially where his long-neglected ex-wife and daughter are concerned. The daughter is played by Eastwood’s own offspring Alison, and Dianne Wiest has some heartbreaking moments as the former spouse. Earlier Eastwood colleagues Laurence Fishburne and Bradley Cooper resurface as DEA agents who eventually get clued into the old-timer’s activities, but there’s no doubt that this picture ultimately belongs to Eastwood himself. DVD extra: “making-of” documentary. *** (R: AS. N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“RUST CREEK”: Good reviews met director Jen McGowan’s bare-bones thriller, casting newcomer Hermione Corfield as a college student who gets lost on her way to a job interview – landing her in cold Kentucky woodlands, where she has to evade fiends who have nothing good in mind for her as she struggles to survive the elements. Filmed on location, the melodrama also features Jay Paulson as a stranger with ties to her pursuers; he may be the young woman’s only hope of staying alive, especially since the local sheriff (Sean O’Bryan) doesn’t seem prone to help after her abandoned car is found. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“MY BRILLIANT FRIEND: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON”: The drama series based on Elena Ferrante’s novel is a unique HBO venture for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s being shown in America in its original Italian language. The saga ultimately spans 60 years in the relationship of two women in Naples – and the show may get the opportunity to explore much of that period, since it has been renewed for a second season. Though their connection is destined to take darker turns, the ladies’ burgeoning friendship as children fuels the early episodes, with Elisa Del Genio and Ludovica Nasti playing the central roles. The show is a co-production with Italy’s RAI network. *** (Not rated: AS, P)

“ARCHER: DANGER ISLAND – THE COMPLETE SEASON NINE”: As suggested by the title, the animated FXX series undergoes a big switch from its usual secret agent theme with this round of the show. Here, Archer (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) is a drink-loving aviator in the South Pacific in the era of World War II, where all sorts of perils await him and his co-pilot Pam (voice of Amber Nash). Series creator Adam Reed – who’s also in the voice cast here – has said the season was inspired heavily by the 1980s series “Tales of the Gold Monkey.” Judy Greer, Jessica Walter, Aisha Tyler and Chris Parnell also are heard. DVD extras: two “making-of” documentaries. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):

“A Dog’s Way Home”

“A DOG’S WAY HOME” (April 9)

“HOLMES & WATSON” (April 9)



“GLASS” (April 16)

“REPLICAS” (April 16)

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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