DVDs and streaming for Oct. 27 by Boo Allen
This week, we begin in England:
Mr. Holmes (***)
Ian McKellen stars as ninety-something year old Sherlock Holmes in this reunion with his Gods and Monsters director Bill Condon. In post World War II England, Holmes enjoys the status of a celebrity but spends most of his time reflecting on his last case, a frustrating affair concluded some thirty years previous. In addition, much screen time is given to his interactions with his housekeeper Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her young son Roger (Milo Parker). The plaintive Holmes only seems to find solace while working with his bee hives with Roger. During various flashbacks, Condon fleshes out screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher’s story, based on Mitch Cullen’s novel, about Holmes’ nagging lack of resolve. Astute observers (whom we thank) have pointed out that Holmes’ lengthy diversion to Japan serves several functions essential to the plot and to understanding Holmes’ faltering state of mind.
Rated PG, 104 minutes.
Extras: the three minute “making of” featurette “Mr. Holmes: The Icon,” and the three minute “making of” featurette “Mr. Holmes: The Story.”
Anyone used to Hollywood extravaganzas filled with large, garish special effects might not appreciate this no-budget science fiction fantasy from writer-director Miguel Llansó. In a bleak, barren part of Ethiopia, Gagano (Daniel Tadesse) travels the post-apocalyptic landscape in his vaguely-explained odyssey. He leaves his sanctuary inside an abandoned bowling alley where his love, Birdy (Selam Tesfaye), remains praying to a photograph of Michael Jordan. Really. But Gagano ventures out to encounter a wide variety of oddities, including Santa Clause, a bizarre pawn shop, and a man touring the area wearing what looks to be a gas mask. And meanwhile, a giant spacecraft hovers over everything. Making sense of all this proves challenging, but Llansó’s rich imagination makes it interesting, however baffling.
Not rated, 68 minutes.
Extras: two short films of director Llansó also starring Daniel Tadesse and six minutes of “Crumbs” anecdotes.
From this week’s TV arrivals:
Black Sails—second season
The ten episodes of the sophomore season of the best ripping yarn on TV now arrive on three discs. This nine-time Emmy nominated Starz series has become an unlikely universal hit, with its constant action, beautiful scenery, complex plots, and a roster of nefarious characters (maybe people just like their pirates). Set in New Providence, Nassau, 20 years before Robert Lewis Stevenson penned “Treasure Island,” the series revolves mostly around Captain Flint (Toby Stephens), a one-time servant to Her Majesty but now a pirate seeking redemption more than gold. But, in the meantime, the gold serves as the catalyst for Flint and erstwhile partner John (not yet “Long John”) Silver, played by Luke Arnold. The season revolves around the taking of Spanish gold but also with the machinations on land of Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New), the scheming ruler of the island. Between Flint’s and Guthrie’s intrigues, every episode delivers confrontations, action, and even unexpected sexual adventures. Arrrgggh.
Not rated, 555 minutes.
Extras: a 23 minute “making of” featurette, four minutes on the series’ main ship “The Man O’War,” four minutes on “Expanding Worlds,” and two, five minute featurettes: “High Seas Action” and “History’s Influence.”
The Great American Dream Machine
This highly entertaining four disc set offers a collection of the title TV program, a high energy variety show that only ran from 1971 to 1972. And, surprisingly, it showed on public television. Its talent was first rank, with regular comedy sketches, skits, and even some musical performances. But it also featured some barbed political commentary, which eventually helped its demise after only two years. Among many talents seen in this early program were Albert Brooks and his hilarious “School for Comedians,” Chevy Chase’s debut TV performance, as well as appearances from future sit-com stars Marshall Efron, Penny Marshall, Martin Mull and Henry Winkler. Andy Rooney offers commentary before he became a weekly institution on “60 Minutes.” Others who appeared during the series’ brief run were Studs Terkel, Linda Lavin, “The Velvet Fog” Mel Tormé, and Evil Knievel. Kurt Vonnegut stops by to chat, and Elaine Stritch belts out her famous “Here’s to the Ladies Who Lunch” from Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Company.”
Not rated, 777 minutes.
Also on DVD and streaming: Max, Pixels, Sunset Edge, Tu Dors Nicole.