Oscar-winner 'The Salesman' on Blu-ray, DVD, on-demand this week
Posted May 3
Foreign films “The Salesman” and “The Red Turtle” lead new movies on Blu-ray, DVD and on-demand websites.
“The Salesman” (Sony, 2016, PG-13, in Farsi with English subtitles, featurette). Chilling and heartbreaking, this Iranian film — winner of the Oscar for best foreign language picture — tells the tragic story of a married couple, a schoolteacher and his wife who are also both theater actors in a local production of “Death of a Salesman.” When their apartment building literally starts to fall apart, they are forced to move and a theater friend recommends a new place.
But he neglects to tell them that the previous tenant was a hooker, and one night, when the wife is home alone, she is assaulted, and afterward becomes fearful and inconsolable, while the husband is intent on finding the perpetrator. But this isn’t a revenge film. It’s much more complex and deeply felt than “Death Wish” or the hundreds of clones that followed in its wake. What happens here is unexpected and moving, tragic and sad.
“The Red Turtle” (Sony Classics, 2017, PG, audio commentary, featurettes). A castaway is stranded alone on a desert island and his attempts to escape are thwarted by a giant red turtle. Initially, this begins a war between man and beast but eventually changes when a woman magically appears and his life takes an unexpected turn. Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit earned an Oscar nomination for his leisurely, enchanting and gorgeous watercolor-style allegory about the cycle of life, produced in association with Japan’s renowned Studio Ghibli (“Spirited Away,” “Princess Mononoke,” etc.).
“The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” (Universal, 2017, PG, deleted scenes, featurettes). Brett Dalton (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) stars in this faith film as the title character, a hard-partying, narcissistic D-list actor who is court ordered to perform 200 hours of community service at a church. But when he sees people auditioning for a church play, he pretends to be a Christian so he can land the lead role of Jesus and get out of real work. No surprises, but this one is better than most faith films, with a sense of humor and a solid cast that includes Neil Flynn (“The Middle”) and D.B. Sweeney.
“A Dog’s Purpose” (Universal, 2017, PG, deleted scenes, featurettes, bloopers). Canine reincarnation is the subject here, as a pooch lives, dies and lives again, going through several owners, beginning in the 1950s and concluding in the present day. The mutt (voiced by Josh Gad) narrates his own story and in the end he is reunited with his original owner (played as an adult by Dennis Quaid). It is a bit saccharine but cute and family friendly.
“I Am Not Your Negro” (Magnolia, 2016, color and b/w, PG-13, featurettes, photo gallery). This is a fascinating documentary about racism in America from the viewpoint of writer and social critic James Baldwin (1924-87). The narrative is built around Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, “Remember This House,” which was intended to be a personal account of the lives and assassinations of his friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. It is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.
“The Free Man” (Universal, 2017, not rated/probable PG-13, featurettes). Adrenalin junkies will enjoy this scary and fascinating documentary about the ultimate risk-takers, Olympic freestyle skier Jossi Wells and the Flying Frenchies, daredevils who risk death on a regular basis by jumping and diving from the highest mountains of New Zealand and France, when they aren’t walking a tightrope between peaks. It is beautifully photographed.
“$aving Banksy” (Regime, 2017, not rated/probable R for language, deleted scenes, featurettes). This is an interesting documentary about what sets street artist Banksy apart from others, posing larger questions about so-called “graffiti artists.” Legal or illegal? Art or vandalism? And what about the removal of Banksy’s paintings from building walls to sell at auction?
“The Age of Shadows” (CJ, 2016, not rated/probable R for violence; in Korean, Japanese and Mandarin with English subtitles; featurettes, trailers). In the late 1920s, resistance fighters smuggle explosives from Shanghai into Korea to destroy key Japanese facilities in Seoul during the occupation. This is an exciting action epic, which owes something to Hollywood war films — or perhaps Hollywood Westerns.
“Tunnel” (Well Go, 2017, not rated/probable PG-13, in Korean with English subtitles). A Korean car dealer closes a major deal, picks up a birthday cake for his daughter and heads home, driving through a new, very long tunnel. Bad idea. The shoddily built edifice (and half the mountain above it) collapses, triggering an inept rescue mission and reluctant government intervention. This is an entertaining, offbeat, over-the-top disaster flick.
“Gold” (Anchor Bay, 2016; R for language, sex, nudity; deleted sequence, audio commentary, featurettes). The names have been changed to protect the guilty in this story of a down-on-his-luck prospector (Matthew McConaughey with an unpleasant makeover) who links up with a geologist (Édgar Ramírez) to find gold in uncharted Indonesia. It is loosely based on the Bre-Ex mining scandal. Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Stacy Keach and Craig T. Nelson co-star.
“Rings” (Paramount, 2017, PG-13, deleted/extended/alternate scenes, featurettes). Johnny Galecki (“The Big Bang Theory”) is a college professor who finds a rumored videotape that kills viewers seven days after they watch it. Then it goes viral. This is a reboot/sequel to “The Ring” (2002) and “The Ring 2” (2005), an American franchise based on a Japanese film series. Vincent D’Onofrio co-stars.
“MindGamers” (Universal, 2017; R for violence, language, sex, drugs; featurette). Sam Neill has a role in this sci-fi thriller about young students who create a wireless neural network, linking their minds and transferring motor skills. But, of course, after they share it freely a sinister plot emerges.
“The Comedian” (Sony Classics, 2016, R for language, deleted scenes, featurettes). Robert De Niro stars in this comedy-drama as an over-the-hill stand-up comic trying to kick-start his career when he lashes out at a heckling nightclub patron, for which he’s sentenced to community service. Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito and Patti LuPone co-star.
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.