DVD Releases – Week of November 22 2020

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

“THE IRISHMAN”: Martin Scorsese made big news for Netflix last year by going to the streaming service with this epic drama, also newsworthy for its reteaming of two Oscar-winning acting icons, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. The film is based on the true story of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a trucker turned underworld underling who develops a friendship with union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). In the tradition of such other crime-driven Scorsese works as “GoodFellas,” “Casino” and “The Departed,” the alliance becomes complicated when Sheeran’s boss — crime-family kingpin Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci, another longtime Scorsese associate and Academy Award owner) — orders Hoffa’s demise, and Sheeran to be the person to get it done. Clocking in at 3-1/2 hours and being released on home video as part of The Criterion Collection, the project also earned attention for its visual effects in sequences that make De Niro and Pacino appear younger. Nominated for 10 Oscars (though it didn’t win any), the picture also includes Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin, Ray Romano, Jack Huston and Bobby Cannavale in its impressive cast. DVD extras: theatrical trailers; four “making-of” documentaries; roundtable conversation with Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci; interview excerpts of Sheeran and Hoffa. **** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)

“BETTER CALL SAUL: SEASON FIVE”: As a round of AMC’s acclaimed “Breaking Bad” spinoff that earned seven Emmy nominations begins, a certain amount of time-jumping finds Gene (Bob Odenkirk) getting panicky about his past possibly being revealed, while Jimmy (also Odenkirk) makes a major revelation himself to Kim (Rhea Seehorn). Also, devious business dealings that involve Mike (Jonathan Banks) continue. In what would be among his final performances, Robert Forster — to whom the first episode here, shown after his passing, is dedicated — reappears in his “Breaking Bad” role, as do Norbert Weisser and Laura Fraser; Ed Begley Jr. returns from earlier in this series. A sixth, final season has been ordered. DVD extras: two “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by cast and crew members; outtakes. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)

“AVA”: Also a producer of the film, Jessica Chastain went the direct-to-streaming route recently with this melodrama that reteamed her with “The Help” director Tate Taylor. She plays a professional assassin trying to balance her job obligations and her Boston-based personal life, which encompasses an estranged sister (Jess Weixler) and a hospitalized mother (Geena Davis). Her own existence becomes imperiled when her supervisor (Colin Farrell) starts to question her methods, including her making contact with her targets before executing — literally — her assignments. The globetrotting tale also features John Malkovich, Common, Diana Silvers (of “Ma,” also made by Taylor), Ioan Gruffudd and Joan Chen. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY”: After the initial success of the “Star Wars” franchise gave a new sheen to space stories, every studio looked for any property it had that might fit that mold … and Universal dusted off the 1920s-originated saga of a then-modern pilot sent off course and into suspended animation, then revived several centuries later and seen either as a resource or a threat, depending on who was doing the seeing. Gil Gerard has the title part, with Erin Gray as his futuristic ally Col. Wilma Deering and Pamela Hensley as the ever-scheming Princess Ardala. Also notable is robotic sidekick Twiki, with Felix Silla inside the metallic outfit and cartoon legend Mel Blanc supplying the voice. Also starring Henry Silva and “Dr. No’s” Joseph Wiseman, this pilot film (which received a theatrical release) for the NBC series is available on its own, though a complete-collection set also is being issued — and a lot of the sets and props were borrowed from “Battlestar Galactica.” *** (PG: AS, V) (Also on Blu-ray)

“FRONTLINE: POLICING THE POLICE 2020”: With the PBS public-affairs series’ aim of examining timely topics, it’s no surprise that this episode — a follow-up to a similarly titled and themed program also done by reporter Jelani Cobb several years ago — probes the controversial situations involving police departments in a number of U.S. cities lately. Certainly, the deaths of George Floyd and others while being apprehended have been among the most prominent of those matters, reinforcing an entire social movement and calling into question the funding of police in certain localities. Along with officers, some of them at a precinct Cobb also visited in his earlier edition, community leaders and politicians are among the interviewees here. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)

“THE BEST OF BOB DYLAN”: One of music history’s most unique singer-songwriters is showcased in this compilation — and though he already was the subject of a classic example of the dociumentary genre (“Bob Dylan”), the material here encompasses tunes that followed that project, such as “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (composed for the 1973 movie “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,” in which the musician also acted). Still, no Dylan profile would be complete without a nod to the songs that first brought him to prominence, including “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Featured music also includes “Hurricane” and “Oh, Sister.” *** (Not rated: AS)

FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):







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 2549 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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