New to DVD and On Demand Releases for December 21-27
Releasing this week:
"The Trip to Italy": "The Trip" was just the beginning for British humorists Steve Coogan ("Philomena") and Rob Brydon, who reunite for another journey in this largely improvised comedy, though director Michael Winterbottom did provide them with the outline of a script. The duo travels along the coast of Italy, conversing about a broad variety of subjects while sampling food and lodging for columns they're meant to write ... and trying to keep from getting on each other's nerves. The film is excerpted from a longer series that was televised by England's BBC. (Also on Blu-ray)
"The Good Lie": Reese Witherspoon spent this movie year in different types of roles, one example being this moving, fact-inspired drama about the Lost Boys, youths from Sudan who fled their country's civil war to seek safe refuge. It was found by the young people at this story's heart in Kansas, where an emotionally guarded social worker (Witherspoon) tries to place them in jobs, though their skills and knowledge of the outside world are extremely limited. Corey Stoll ("House of Cards") plays her boss, and the cast also includes several of the real-life Lost Boys. The screenplay is by Margaret Nagle, who also developed television's current "Red Band Society." DVD extras: 'making-of' documentary; deleted scenes. (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"The Pride": A remarkable show of support -- which occurred in real life -- is spotlighted in this tale of a group of gay activists that took definite, demonstrable action to help striking miners and their families in the United Kingdom of the mid-1980s. They raised money for some of those affected, then traveled from London to Wales to present the funds. Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Dominic West ("The Affair") are in the cast. DVD extras: 'making-of' documentary; deleted and extended scenes. (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray)
Also Releasing this week:
New releases are on the light side this holiday week, so here's a look at several seasonal classics:
"It's a Wonderful Life": Upon its release, this Frank Capra-directed 1946 classic had a lukewarm box-office performance upon its release that gave no indication it would become as popular as it long as it has been ... its plentiful television exposure being a huge factor. James Stewart makes the perfect George Bailey, the hapless Bedford Falls citizen whose experience of seeing how life would be without him has been echoed by countless TV-series episodes. Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and -- as wing-earning angel Clarence -- Henry Travers lend great support. DVD extras: theatrical trailer; ``making-of'' documentary. (Not rated) (Also on Blu-ray)
"White Christmas": As comfortable as an active fireplace on a cold winter's night, this tuneful 1954 retooling of the 12-years-earlier "Holiday Inn" -- now available in a "Diamond Anniversary Edition" -- makes great use of its Irving Berlin score. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye make an ideal team as military veterans who become successful entertainment partners, then use their talents to help their former commander (Dean Jagger) re-energize his failing resort. Rosemary Clooney -- aunt of George -- and Vera-Ellen are charmers as the siblings who distract the guys. DVD extras ("Anniversary Edition"): two theatrical trailers; audio commentary by Clooney; seven 'making-of' documentaries; Christmas television-show appearances by Crosby and Kaye; photo galleries. (Not rated) (Also on Blu-ray)
"A Christmas Story": There's never a doubt this holiday favorite will come back around, thanks to its annual 24-hour marathon on television. Anyone who ever desired that one special holiday gift can empathize with Ralphie (Peter Billingsley), author-narrator Jean Shepherd's young alias who desperately wants a Red Ryder BB gun -- the one his mother (Melinda Dillon) warns will "shoot your eye out." Always deserving of citing is Darren McGavin as the gruff dad who never actually curses, though it sure sounds like it. DVD extras: theatrical trailer; three 'making-of' documentaries; audio commentary by Billingsley and director and co-writer Bob Clark. (PG: P) (Also on Blu-ray)
"The Equalizer" (Dec. 30): Denzel Washington reinvents Edward Woowdard's television role as Robert McCall, a former government agent who uses his skills to help people in trouble. (R: AS, P, V)
"Get On Up" (Jan. 6): Chadwick Boseman plays James Brown, the music icon who channeled his energy and ambition to become known as ``the hardest working man in show business.'' (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"No Good Deed" (Jan. 6): A family woman (Taraji P. Henson) comes to regret giving assistance to a stranger (Idris Elba) who turns out to be an escaped convict. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"A Walk Among Tombstones" (Jan. 13): A former cop turned private detective (Liam Neeson) becomes involved in a drug dealer's (Dan Stevens) plight. (R: AS, N, P, V)
"Annabelle" (Jan. 20): The spirit within a vintage doll makes things tough for the cultists who invade its new owners' (Annabelle Wallis, John Gordon) home. (R: AS, P, V)
"The Box Trolls" (Jan. 20): An orphan tries to protect the trash collectors who raised him from an exterminator in this animated fantasy; Ben Kingsley is in the voice cast. (PG: AS)
"Lucy" (Jan. 20): A innocent (Scarlett Johansson) is transformed into a furious warrior by an untested drug in writer-director Luc Besson's sci-fi-adventure; Morgan Freeman also stars. (R: AS, P, V)
TOP 10 DVD RENTALS (week ending Nov.16, courtesy of Rentrak)
1) "X-Men: Days of Future Past"
3) "Edge of Tomorrow"
6) "Sex Tape"
7) "A Million Ways to Die in the West"
8) "Mr. Peabody and Sherman"
9) "The Fault in our Stars"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.
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