This week on DVD/Blu-ray: Michael Fassbender's NC-17-rated reunion with Steve McQueen; an apocalyptic thriller that's as grim as they come; a horror oldie that deserves cult status; a drama that finally puts veteran character actor Dennis Farina center stage; and a moody French drama sure to push a few buttons.
#1. Critic's Pick: "Shame"
Michael Fassbender received the best notices of his career (and some raised eyebrows) for his soul- and flesh-baring turn in the NC-17-rated drama "Shame," directed by his "Hunger" helmer Steve McQueen, and penned by Abi Morgan ("The Iron Lady"). Although robbed of an Oscar nomination for his searing portrayal of a troubled sex addict, Fassbender did snag a Golden Globe nod, and won Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival, where the film made its world premiere.
In "Shame," Fassbender plays Brandon Sullivan, a well-off New Yorker who leads a solitary life that permits him indulge his addition to sex. When his wayward sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) arrives on his doorstep with nowhere else to go, Brandon finds himself struggling to keep his noctural activities under wraps.
"While 'Hunger' contained an extensive monologue explaining the character's behavior, 'Shame' leaves much of Brandon open for interpretation," wrote Eric Kohn in his review. "As a result, Fassbender's revealing and compelling performance doesn't just dominate 'Shame;' he defines it."
Extras: Included are a handful of well-produced featurettes that profile Fassbender and McQueen, as well as one that explains how the plot came to be. The Blu-ray release also includes a bonus DVD.
#2. "The Divide"
New Yorkers who braced for last year's Hurricane Irene will no doubt relate to "The Divide," a violent post-apocalyptic thriller about nine strangers -- all tenants of a New York high-rise apartment building -- who escape a nuclear attack by hiding out in the bunker-like basement. As supplies dwindle and tension mounts, things get ugly (like we didn't see that coming).
"Even when 'The Divide' faceplants with its performances and dialogue, it maintains a stark outlook that elevates the material from its shortcomings," wrote Kohn in his review. "Xavier Gens' dystopian narrative begins with absolute mayhem and never slows down; the end of the world marks the beginning of a far scarier one."
Extras: Director Xavier Gens and actors Michael Biehn, Michael Eklund and Milo Ventimiglia take part in an informative audio commentary. Also included is the film's trailer and a DVD copy on disc two.