'La La Land' sings and dances its way to Blu-ray and DVD
Posted April 27
“La La Land,” the surprise hit musical that earned six Academy Awards, is on Blu-ray, DVD and on-demand sites this week.
“La La Land” (Summit, 2016, PG-13, audio commentary, featurettes, song selection). Ryan Gosling and Oscar-winner Emma Stone won’t make you forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but they’re not bad in this aggressively old-fashioned musical.
Gosling is particularly good on the piano and Stone demonstrates a lovely voice in this story of two aspiring show-biz wannabes and their on-again, off-again romance. The film opens with a great, stalled-in-traffic, dancing-on-a-freeway-overpass sequence that sets the stage for some joyous set pieces and surprisingly memorable songs.
But the question is, does a deliberately traditional musical for the 21st century have to be laced with periodic crass moments? No — though they’re here, of course. But if you can overlook those brief interruptions you’re in for a treat with this unabashed throwback to beloved movies in which characters break out in song and dance at the drop of a hat. And yes, there’s a hat.
“Story Tellers: An Evening With Colorful Characters” (Covenant, 2017, not rated/probable PG). An interesting 67-minute “what if?” comedy-drama, this stagey, three-way monologue brings together a trio of famed 19th-century figures known for spinning tall tales. A young J. Golden Kimball (Cameron Asay) and a grizzled Porter Rockwell (Jasen Wade) build a campfire, and who should stumble into their midst but Mark Twain (Joshua Michael French).
Some of their shared stories will be familiar to students of Twain and Mormon history, sandwiched between platitudes and dialogue that sometimes feels too contemporary. Still, it’s a watchable exercise, though French’s befuddled Twain seems a misguided take on the author (all the more surprising since French also wrote the screenplay).
“Those Left Behind” (Random, 2017, not rated/probable PG-13). A middle-aged doctor (Daphne Zuniga) spends time with her loving mother (Debra Mooney), who’s recovering from heart surgery, and her remote father (Michael Hogan) at the family lake house. But the visit triggers memories of her brother’s suicide there some 25 years earlier, which neither she nor her father have been able to get over. This is a nicely modulated, deliberately paced treatise on grief.
“Underworld: Blood Wars” (Sony, 2017, R for violence and sex, featurettes, digital graphic novel). The allegedly final installment of this five-film franchise finds Selene (Kate Beckinsale) pursued by the vampires who betrayed her and the Lycans who want her blood to create vampire-werewolf super soldiers.
“Before the Flood” (National Geographic, 2017, PG, deleted scenes, featurette). Actor/filmmaker Fisher Stevens directed this documentary, which follows Leonardo DiCaprio, the Oscar-winning actor who is also an official United Nations messenger of peace, on his globetrotting efforts to build awareness of climate change, with scientists and world leaders weighing in.
“We Are X” (Magnet, 2017, R for language, deleted scenes/interviews, two songs, fan video). This is a documentary about X Japan, a Japanese heavy-metal band that is one of the most successful music groups in the world under the leadership of composer, classically trained pianist, drummer and all-round creative force Yoshiki. Interviewees include Gene Simmons, Marilyn Manson, Stan Lee and George Martin.
“The Girl with All the Gifts” (Lionsgate, 2017, R for violence and language, featurette). This is yet another zombie horror yarn, but this one has an unexpected pedigree — it stars Glenn Close! She plays a doctor with a cure that involves a young girl with flesh-eating tendencies but a good heart. More or less. This British film co-stars Paddy Constantine.
“Catfight” (Dark Sky, 2017, not rated/probable R for violence and language, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, trailer). This is a very dark satire about two former college rivals (Sandra Oh, Anne Heche) who meet years later at a cocktail party and begin to argue until it escalates into an all-out brawl. One of them ends up in a coma, which lasts two years — but that’s just the beginning. This is an angry, crazy and cynical social commentary with two fierce performances at its center. Alicia Silverstone co-stars.
“Detour” (Magnet, 2017; R for violence, sex, nudity, drugs, language; deleted scenes, featurettes, trailer). After his stepdad causes a car crash that puts his mother into a coma, law student Harper (Tye Sheridan) drowns his sorrows at a local bar, where he runs into a tough guy (Emory Cohen) who offers to help him out. The light of the next day clears Harper’s head, but he’s already signed up for crazy town.
“The Marine 5 Battleground” (Sony, 2017, R for violence and language, featurettes). A bevy of WWE “superstars” put their fake-fight expertise to the test in this punch-’em, shoot-’em action yarn, led by Mike “The Miz” Mizanin as a former Marine, now an EMT, who takes on a vengeful biker gang.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.