The Academy Award-nominated films "Hacksaw Ridge" and "Manchester by the Sea" are on Blu-ray and DVD this week. (The Oscars will be presented Sunday, Feb. 26; the show will air locally on ABC Ch. 4.)
(Summit, 2016, R for violence, deleted scenes, featurettes, trailer). Andrew Garfield delivers an excellent performance in this powerful biographical film as real-life World War II hero Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector on religious grounds who would not carry a weapon. Yet, as a medic during the Battle of Okinawa, Doss braved Japanese firepower to save the lives of 75 infantrymen while muttering a prayer: "Please Lord, help me get one more."
Mel Gibson, who won an Oscar for directing "Braveheart" in 1995, still has a sure hand as a director — but be warned that he loves to depict violence as graphically as possible, which accounts for the final third or so of this film being devoted to the gut-wrenching assault on Okinawa in no uncertain terms. It is nominated for six Oscars, including best picture, Garfield as best actor and Gibson as best director.
(Lionsgate, 2016, R for language and sex, deleted scenes, featurettes). A handyman (Casey Affleck) who is already grieving over a very personal loss, learns that his brother (Kyle Chandler) has passed away suddenly. But he gets another shock when he discovers that he has been named guardian of his brother's teenage son (Lucas Hedges).
This is a deeply felt exploration of our emotional reactions to tragedy and the responsibilities we have difficulty accepting. Affleck delivers a sterling performance, as does Michelle Williams, and writer-director Kenneth Lonergan shows a sure hand. It is nominated for six Oscars: best picture, Affleck as best actor, Hedges and Williams as supporting actors and Lonergan for both his direction and his screenplay.
(Music Box, 2017, PG, in French with English subtitles, featurettes, animation gallery). Documentary filmmakers Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud, who made the Oscar-nominated "Winged Migration," use stunning cinematography to chronicle wildlife in forests of Europe as they explore man's relationship with nature and the cycle of the seasons.
(Lionsgate, 2016, not rated, probable G). An unhappy married couple can't seem to get past unresolved issues: Maire (Marley Shelton) wants a divorce but Billy (Christian Kane) doesn't. And while she's praying that he will let go, he's praying that she will change her mind. When a bright-eyed little girl (charmer Mallory James Mahoney) shows up out of the blue and moves in, attempting to bring them together, she's revealed as an angel that only Maire and Billy can see. And why not? After all, it's set during Christmas.
(Shout!, 2014, PG-13, in English and in French with English subtitles, featurette, trailer). This is yet another live-action rendition of the beloved French fairy tale (there are some 20-plus and counting, according to various movie websites), this time co-written and directed by French filmmaker Christophe Gans, with French stars Léa Seydoux as Beauty and Vincent Cassel as the Beast. This one was a hit in France but in the United States played only in a few limited, big-city engagements.
(Monarch, 2016, not rated/probable PG-13). This is a cross-cultural romantic comedy about an American woman (Tara Reid) who travels to Mumbai to escape her overbearing mother and is befriended by an Indian woman (Karishma Ahluwalia) whose own overbearing mother doesn't respect her work as a doctor in the United States and wants to arrange a marriage for her.
(Universal, 2016; R for violence, nudity, language; featurettes). An art gallery owner (Amy Adams) receives a manuscript of a novel written by her estranged ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) and becomes consumed with reading what turns out to be a violent revenge thriller he has dedicated to her. The film alternates between the real world, the action of the novel and flashbacks to their earlier life together. Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Michael Shannon and Isla Fisher co-star.
(Candy Factory, 2017, not rated/probable R for language). This is a gritty, atmospheric, semi-comic look at an aging New Orleans cabbie and the variety of eccentric passengers he picks up, along with the friends he hangs out with and his tenuous friendship with a young, self-absorbed Harvard dropout.
(Monarch, 2014, not rated/probable R for violence and sex). Los Angeles detectives pursue a serial killer while dealing with their own soapy personal problems, which heat up when fingers of suspicion begin to point toward one detective's brother.