This week on home video, we kick things off with TV, since most of the film releases are relatively small. Specifically, we start with one of Netflix’s Emmy-winning flagship series, followed by a historical drama starring Helen Mirren and a handful of indies, including a zombie drama starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and a western with Kodi Smit-McPhee and Michael Fassbender. Read on for details:
Netflix officially entered the prestige drama arena in February of 2013 with House of Cards, the David Fincher-helmed adaptation of the eponymous BBC miniseries. Starring Kevin Spacey as a ruthless, power-hungry US congressman on the rise and Robin Wright as his equally savvy wife, the series immediately garnered widespread acclaim, winning three Emmys and a Golden Globe. Certified Fresh at 77 percent, the third season continues to chart the tumultuous political career of Frank Underwood, who struggles to hold on to his power amid threats from Russia and dissatisfaction with a domestic jobs program he has initiated. Those of you who don’t have Netflix subscriptions can now pick up the latest season on DVD and Blu-ray, which contain a behind-the-scenes look at the season and, exclusively on Blu-ray, a second featurette detailing the events of the season finale.
More often than not, Hollywood tends to spice up true stories to make them more broadly palatable. Director Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn), however, sort of did the opposite with Woman in Gold, which earned it a middling 53 percent on the Tomatometer. Thankfully, the film was elevated by a solid cast: Helen Mirren plays Maria Altmann, the Jewish refugee who took the Austrian government to the supreme court in order to retrieve a famous Gustav Klimt portrait of her aunt that was seized by Nazis before World War II. Ryan Reynolds co-stars as Altmann’s attorney, while Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany plays the young Altmann, and the supporting cast is rounded out by Daniel Bruhl, Charles Dance, Katie Holmes, Jonathan Pryce, and more. It all might feel a bit watered down, but there’s a fascinating story at its core, and the actors all acquit themselves nicely. Extras on the Blu-ray include a making-of featurette and the film’s New York press conference, in addition to a commentary track.
’71 (2015) (97 percent), starring Jack O’Connell as a soldier in Belfast who is separated from his unit and must navigate the riots to safety, is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Slow West (2015) (91 percent), starring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Michael Fassbender in a western about a teenager crossing the American frontier with a mysterious stranger in tow and an outlaw on their heels, is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Merchants of Doubt (2015) (85 percent), a Certified Fresh documentary that wryly sheds light on disingenuous scientific spin doctors for hire, is available in a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack.
5 Flights Up (54 percent), starring Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman in a romantic comedy about an aging couple trying to sell their Brooklyn apartment, is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Maggie (52 percent), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin in a drama about a father trying to save his daughter from a rapidly spreading zombie infection, is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
And finally, a collector’s set dual release of both the 1946 adaptation (100 percent) and the 1964 adaptation (80 percent) of Ernest Hemingway’s short story The Killers from the Criterion Collection. The former stars Burt Lancaster (in his screen debut) and Ava Gardner, while the latter stars Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson (with a supporting role from Ronald Reagan).