This week on DVD/Blu-ray: One of the most divisive movies to play at Sundance in ages; a documentary sure to infuriate and enlighten in equal measure; Andrew Dominik’s long-awaited follow-up to “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”; one of last year’s big success stories on the foreign film front; and a period pic starring Elizabeth McGovern sure to appeal to all her “Downton Abbey” fans.
1. “The Comedy”
There was no film more love-it-or-hate-it at Sundance last year than
“The Comedy.” Indiewire’s Eric Kohn, for one, loves it. In his glowing review
from Park City, he wrote: “There’s little conventionally funny about
‘The Comedy,’ but its status as a provocation is a grand joke. Director
Rick Alverson (‘New Jerusalem’) has made a one-of-a-kind portrait of
pathologically insecure and over-priviledged hipsters, crafting the
finest awkward-bizarre character study since Ronald Bronstein’s
‘Frownland.’ The first brilliant maneuver is its casting of Tim
Heidecker as the supremely unlikable lead. Best known as one half of the
irreverent comedy duo from ‘Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!,’
Heidecker embodies a supremely obnoxious Williamsburg resident committed
to wisecracks, regardless of whether or not anyone laughs. Usually,
they don’t — and neither do we. That’s the point.”
Extras: Commentary with Alverson (via Skype) and Heidecker; 20-minutes of deleted scenes; and the theatrical trailer.
2. “The Revisionaries”
You might find it hard to believe (we sure do), but in Austin, TX, 15 people are deemed responsible for what is taught to the next generation of American children. As Scott Thurman’s topical documentary “The Revisionaries” recounts, once every decade, the highly politicized Texas State Board of Education rewrites the teaching and textbook standards for its nearly five million schoolchildren. When it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas affects the nation as a hole. In his review from the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, Eric Kohn called the documentary an “enthralling look
at the resistance to the theory of evolution among prominent members of
the Texas Board of Education.” It went on to win a Special Jury Prize
for Best Documentary at the event.
3. “Killing Them Softly”
“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” writer-director Andrew Dominik is back with a heavily stylized adaptation of George V. Higgins’ 1974
crime novel “Cogan’s Trade” that centers on a mob enforcer (Brad Pitt) sent to
Boston to take out of a couple of small-time hoods who robbed a poker
game. “The screenplay is a treatise on why the tough guys always win in a
society invariably set against itself,” wrote Kohn in his review
out of Cannes, where the film world premiered last year.
“Dominik has constructed a provocative revisionist history that beats
the original Obama election message of hope and progress to a bloody
Extras: A five-minute making-of featurette; four deleted scenes; and a bonus DVD (and downloadable iTunes copy) with the Blu-ray package.
4. “A Royal Affair”
A huge hit in Denmark, “A Royal Affair” was one of the standout period films of last year, culminating in an Oscar-nomination for Best Foreign Language Feature (it lost out to “Amour”). The lush romance, directed by Nikolaj Arcel, dramatizes a chapter of 17th century history known throughout Denmark, but new to many others. The in-demand Alicia Vikander (“Anna Karenina”) plays a British-born royal betrothed to King Christian VII of Denmark, who is said to be mentally ill. “Casino Royale” baddie Mads Mikkelsen stars as the monarch’s confidante who takes too strong a liking to the new Queen.
Extras: A trio of interviews with the film’s director and two main stars (Mikkelsen and Vikander); historical portraits and brief biographies of Christian VII, Caroline Mathilde and Johann Struensee; a complete family tree showing the ties between the English and Danish monarchies from 1760 to present day; and the theatrical trailer.
5. “Cheerful Weather for the Wedding”
Set in 1932, this droll period dramedy centers on Dolly (Felicity
Jones), a bride-to-be who locks herself in her bedroom with a jug of rum
on the morning of her wedding. Understandably, Dolly’s exasperated
mother (played by “Downton Abbey” star Elizabeth McGovern) doesn’t take the
turn of events so well, but soldiers on by putting on a brave face when
family and friends start gossiping about her daughter’s whereabouts.
Extras: A nine-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, and commentary with writer-director Donal Rice, writer Mary Henely-Magill and editor Stephen Haren.