Several recent theatrical films have made their way this week to Blu-ray, DVD and various streaming platforms.
(Magnolia, 2017, not rated/probable R for language, featurettes, trailer). Harry Dean Stanton, who died in September at age 91, has a rare leading role in this engaging, low-key character study as an old coot in a Southwest desert town whose daily routines are what they are and will likely never change. In episodic fashion, the film chronicles a series of little moments in his life, the small revelations that spring from them — and Stanton, both cranky and lovable, is perfect. His co-stars include filmmaker David Lynch ("Twin Peaks"), Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr. and Stanton's 1979 "Alien" co-star Tom Skerritt.
(Fox, 2017, PG-13, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). With actors of a lesser caliber, this would be just one more mediocre entry in the survival-in-the-wilderness genre. But Idris Elba and Kate Winslet make the forced camaraderie of their prickly characters more believable than it has any right to be, as they struggle to survive after their small plane crashes on a remote snow-covered mountain. Elba and Winslet are great; the script needed more work. With Beau Bridges.
(Universal, 2017; R for language, sex, nudity, violence; deleted scenes, featurettes). This gritty true story takes advantage of Tom Cruise's 1,000-watt charm to tell the true story of TWA pilot Barry Seal, who became a drug mule for both the CIA and the South American cartel, a relationship eventually exposed in the Iran-Contra scandal. The film is witty, funny and exciting, but after a while you may wonder why you're expected to root for someone who helped lay the groundwork for America's opioid crisis.
(Universal, 2017, R for language, featurettes). Middle-aged Brad (Ben Stiller) lives a comfortable life but on the night before he takes his music-prodigy son on a tour of Eastern universities he becomes consumed with self-doubt while pondering the enormous successes of his over-achieving college peers. Mike White ("School of Rock") wrote and directed this low-key comedy-drama about midlife angst, with Stiller cast in a familiar role that I found somewhat identifiable but mostly annoying. With Jenna Fischer and Luke Wilson.
(Music Box, 2017, audio commentary, featurettes, concert performance). Legendary Mexican singer — and thorny personality — Isabel Vargas Lizano, aka "Chavela" Vargas, is profiled in this affectionate documentary. Included are her early days of stardom, her battles with alcoholism, her 1991 comeback and her 2003 debut at Carnegie Hall, when she was 83. Vargas died in 2012 at age 93. Among the interviewees is Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar.
(Film Movement, 2017, deleted scenes). Street artist Richard Hambleton, an influential New York art-world fixture of the 1980s, is the subject of this straightforward documentary. He made a name for himself with eerie shadow figures on city walls, landed on the cover of Life magazine and then disappeared for 20 years while addicted to heroin, until he re-emerged and demonstrated that he had lost none of his unique creativity.
(Universal, 2017, not rated/probable PG-13, featurette). This New Zealand "western" stars Alice Eve as a British settler in the South Island, circa the 1860s. When her husband is murdered and her baby son kidnapped, she is forced to toughen up in order to brave the elements and the rough-and-tumble miners she must navigate to rescue her son. This one's earnest enough but goes awry at the midway point and becomes increasingly implausible.
(Cinedigm, 2017, not rated/probable R for violence, in Cantonese and Mandarin with English subtitles, featurette). In his third collaboration with writer-director Herman Yau, Andy Lau stars as a bomb-disposal expert for the Hong Kong police. The plot has Lau confronted by an old enemy who seeks revenge by taking hostages in the busy Cross-Harbour underwater tunnel.
(Well Go, 2017, not rated/probable R for violence, in Mandarin with English subtitles, featurette, trailer). In this Hong Kong thriller, Andy Lau plays a retired thief called back into action to pull off a heist, but the gang soon finds itself pursued across Europe by a tenacious French detective (Jean Reno).