This week on home video, we’ve got four films that were based on real events or real people, and two of them are up for Oscars in a couple weeks. Then, we’ve also got a pair of HBO shows and a pair of new releases from the Criterion Collection. Read on for details:
Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet star in Danny Boyle‘s Certified Fresh biopic of the Apple founder, which focuses on three of his major product launches, as well as his sometimes rocky interpersonal relations. A making-of doc and two audio commentary tracks are included.
This Certified Fresh drama profiles the life of notorious Irish mobster Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp), who collaborates with the FBI to bring down the Italian mafia. Special features include a collection of interviews with the cast, a featurette on Depp’s transformation into Bulger, and an hourlong profile of the real life manhunt for Bulger.
Bryan Cranston stars in this drama about the prolific Hollywood writer who, along with several others, was jailed for his political beliefs and fought against the notion of the “blacklist.” Only two extras are listed for the release: a short collection of anecdotes about Trumbo and a look at Cranston’s makeup process.
Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche star in this retelling of the heroic 2010 rescue of 33 Chilean miners who became trapped underground when their mine collapsed. Bonus features include a look back at the collapse and the worldwide media attention it received.
Mark Duplass (who produces the series alongside brother Jay) and Amanda Peet star in HBO’s Certified Fresh series about a struggling married couple who take in the husband’s friend and the wife’s sister when they fall on hard times. Each disc comes with behind-the-scenes material for every episode and deleted scenes.
Another one of HBO’s popular comedies, Girls centers on four young women (Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, and Zosia Mamet) trying to navigate life and love in New York City. The Certified Fresh fourth season set comes with lots of extras, including gag reels, deleted scenes, extended scenes, a making-0f doc, episode recaps, and more.
And lastly, the first of two Criterion releases is Charlie Chaplin’s 1921 feature debut, which centers on his “tramp” character as he finds and adopts a kidnapped baby and raises it as his own. Special features include a new video essay, footage of Chaplin conducting the score for the film, a silent short film featuring Chaplin and his co-star, Jackie Coogan, and lot of other goodies.
Criterion’s second release this week is a rather underseen social satire by Japan’s Nagisa Oshima, about a Korean man set to hang for murder who survives the execution but contracts amnesia, forcing the authorities to reenact the crime to jog his memory. The new Blu-ray comes with a new interview with critic Tony Rayns and a hi-def transfer of a 1965 experimental short documentary that Oshima filmed.
February is a great month for curling up in front of the TV with a warm fleece blanket, a hot cup of cocoa, and a good show, especially if you’re snowed in. Plus, we’ve got a bunch of great series returning later in the month (and in early March), so it’s the perfect time to get caught up, and there are a couple of brand new shows that will be available to stream right away. With that in mind, here are ten shows you should definitely consider binge-watching in February.
What it is: A wily and ambitious congressman utilizes his considerable influence to climb his way up the political ladder, manipulating colleagues along the way and leaving unsuspecting victims in his wake.
Why you should watch it: Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey, who just won a SAG award on Saturday) is not a nice man, but he is, for better or worse, the show’s central figure. He manipulates, wheedles, gladhands, seethes, rants, negotiates, and plots behind closed doors, all to fulfill his personal vendettas. His wife, Claire (in an award-winning performance by Robin Wright) is his formidable ally through it all. Use February to get caught up on the Underwoods’ shenanigans, so you’re ready for the season four premiere on Netflix on March 4th.
Commitment: 36 hours.
What it is: In this contemporary Psycho prequel series, a bizarre mother-son relationship between Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) and the infamous Norman (Freddie Highmore) leads to violence and mental turbulence after moving to a small town in Oregon and opening a creepy motel.
Why you should watch it: This is one of those rare prequels that actually works. Fans of the Psycho franchise can enjoy along with folks who aren’t familiar; it works as a standalone story line. The top-notch cast effectively takes stabs at subtle — and not-so-subtle — intricacies in delivery, ultimately perfecting characters designed to disturb. With season four premiering on March 7, now is an ideal time to catch up on this exploration of lives so warped, they can’t help but delight.
Commitment: 25 hours.
What it is: HBO’s hit comedy about four twenty-something female friends (Lena Dunham, Jemima Kirke, Allison Williams, and Zosia Mamet) navigating life, and all it throws at them, while living in the Big Apple.
Why you should watch it: For one person to executive produce, write, and star in a show is almost reason enough to give it a chance to win you over. Dunham wears almost all the hats behind the scenes, and drew from her own real-life experiences as she poured her blood, sweat, and tears into Girls. So far, every season of Girls has been Certified Fresh, which is no small feat. Dive in now, and you’ll be ready for the season five premiere on HBO on February 21st.
Commitment: 21 hours.
What it is: Inspired by real life events and based on the nonfiction book of the same name, Show Me a Hero tells the story of the vitriolic dispute over a federally mandated order to build public housing in the middle class neighborhoods of Yonkers, NY.
Why you should watch it: David Simon wrote, produced and created this series with Wire alum and journalist William F. Zorzi. There is no doubt Simon is amply skilled at bringing to light those things we need to see, hear and feel — and his most recent miniseries for HBO reminds us just how lucky we are to have him telling such stories. Under the direction of Paul Haggis, and anchored by an immensely talented cast lead by Oscar Isaac, Show Me a Hero is bingeworthy material of the highest caliber.
Commitment: About 6 hours.
Why you should watch it: An homage to the Leslie Nielsen school of deadpan farce, Angie Tribeca satisfies with its drop-dead serious devotion to ridiculous humor. Whether it’s fake grandparents being assigned to detectives who go deep, deep under cover (with deep voices), or an officer puking upon his every entrance to a crime scene, no matter the level of the crime, fans of the silly-funny will be amused, especially with guest appearances from folks like Lisa Kudrow, Danny Trejo, and Gene Simmons. The series is currently airing on TBS, but the first season is also available to stream in its entirety, for your binge-watching pleasure.
Commitment: 5 hours.
What it is: Ilana and Abbi are twenty somethings navigating life in the big apple. Their voyages lead to an array of awkward, charmingly weird, sometimes cringeworthy and oftentimes out-right hysterical tomfoolery.
Why you should watch it: Created by UCB comedian alums Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer and Executive Produced by Amy Poehler, Broad City has some seriously funny, talented women behind the show. Ilana and Abbi have dynamic chemistry and a unique humanizing brand of comedy. It’s no wonder the show has amassed loyal fans, the praise of critics — and Comedy Central’s recent order for a season four and five.
Commitment: About 4 hours.
What it is: This BBC drama, available in the US as a Netflix Original, follows the rise of the notorious Peaky Blinders gang in post-WWI England.
Why you should watch it: Come for the lush production design and pulsating score — stay for the badass performances. Cillian Murphy delivers as the icy-stared leader of the hardscrabble family gang. Helen McCrory is stellar as the hard as nails matriarch and — TOM HARDY. Although you’ll have to wait for season two for it, Hardy’s turn as baker-cum-vicious gang leader Alfie Solomons is a gift from the television gods.
Commitment: 12 hours.
What it is: A married couple struggling with relationship issues take on two new tenants: the husband’s recently evicted buddy and the wife’s recently dumped sister.
Why you should watch it: This is the first television series created by Jay and Mark Duplass, who have worked both together and independently on a number of critically acclaimed films and TV series, ranging from Baghead and Cyrus to Transparent and The League. If you’re a fan of their typically understated, frequently poignant brand of comedy, Togetherness will feel just right. The show’s simple premise also allows its characters to breathe and behave like real people, which makes it all feel authentic and hit home harder. With its second season premiering on February 21, now’s the perfect time for HBO subscribers to catch up if they missed it the first time around.
Where to watch: HBO GO
Commitment: About 3.5 hours.
Why you should watch it: There isn’t a whole lot of information available about Love at the moment, but we do know that it was co-created by Judd Apatow (alongside star Rust) and stars Gillian Jacobs, who proved her impeccable comic timing on the recent cult favorite NBC comedy Community. We also know that it will be dropping on Netflix, which has an excellent track record with original programming, and they’ve tackled similar material in Aziz Ansari’s Master of None with spectacular results. In other words, when the entire first season of Love becomes available on Netflix on February 19, you should check it out because all indications are pointing to another solid hit.
Where to watch: Season one will become available on Netflix on February 19.
Commitment: 5 hours.
What it is: Suddenly widowed dad Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) enlists brother-in-law Jesse (John Stamos) and childhood friend Joey (Dave Coulier) to move in and help raise his three daughters. D.J.(Candace Cameron) is the oldest at 10, followed by 5-year old Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and toddler Michelle (played interchangeably by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen).
Why you should watch it: The first season has the most balanced comedy, emphasizing the adult tribulations of three bachelors who grapple with the logistics of raising young girls and coming to terms with a family death. As the Olsens matured, the show played up their tubular cuteness and the humor became more slapstick and broad as the seasons wore on, though there were also frequent arcs on dating and marriage. Netflix’s Fuller House sequel, set to premiere on February 26, parallels the original with D.J., now a suddenly widowed mother of three sons, moving into her childhood home with the help of Stephanie and original series next door neighbor Kimmy Gibbler.
Commitment: 70 hours.
Appropriate Behavior, a comedy about a film teacher trying to pick up the pieces after being dumped by her girlfriend, is at 94 percent.
Gangs of Wasseypur, a drama about the rise and fall of an Indian crime family over the course of several decades, is at 93 percent.
Human Capital, a thriller about two prominent Italian families whose fortunes take an unfortunate turn after a devastating car accident, is at 76 percent.
Joy of Man’s Desiring, a cinéma vérité portrait of factory workers and their feelings about their jobs, is at 71 percent.
TV’s most divisive twenty-somethings are back. With Hannah (Lena Dunham) away at grad school, Marnie (Allison Williams) doing her music thing, Shosh (Zosia Mamet) navigating her first real-world job, and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) getting into trouble (as usual), it looks like we’re in for yet another crazy season of HBO’s Girls. Season four returns to HBO on January 11 at 9:00 pm. Check out the first trailer.
Will you be watching?
Remember when Disney made two "Tim Allen as Santa Claus" comedies? Unfortunately, so do I. And oh joy: They made a third one! And they got Martin Short to co-star! Click here for the trailer, after which you can head on over to Tylenol.com.
"Santa, aka Scott Calvin, is faced with double-duty: how to keep his new family happy, and how to stop Jack Frost from taking over Christmas." There’s your plot.