New Releases, Selma, Ava DuVernay, David Oyelowo, Last Five Years, Richard LaGravenese, Anna Kendrick, Mr. Turner, Mike Leigh, Timothy Spall, Winter Sleep, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Black or White, Black Sea, Fifty Shades of Grey, Goodfellas, Lost River, Mad Max
Paramount, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99
After all the controversy over whether director Ava DuVernay's historical drama received enough awards attention — not to mention the pointed questions about whether her dramatization of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Alabama voting rights march is slanted against white Americans' involvement — what remains is an excellent film, which people will be watching decades from now. Eschewing bland biopic form, DuVernay creates an impressionistic, intimate piece that captures the texture and the emotion of the times rather than merely recounting a series of facts and well-known incidents. With David Oyelowo giving a richly humane performance as King, "Selma" looks beyond the iconography of the civil rights movement to the personalities and their sense of urgency, insisting that this struggle is both personal and ongoing. DuVernay and Oyelowo provide a commentary track to the DVD and Blu-ray, which also contain vintage newsreels, deleted scenes and featurettes.
The Last Five Years
Starz/Anchor Bay, $22.98; Blu-ray, $26.99
Available now on VOD.
Jason Robert Brown's cult stage musical "The Last Five Years" has a great gimmick — telling the story of two young lovers via alternating songs, revealing each one's perspective — but the actual music varies wildly in quality, from funny and catchy to tuneless and generic. The staging in Richard LaGravenese's movie adaptation neither improves nor diminishes Brown's score, but at least the writer-director is smart enough to stay out of the way of Anna Kendrick, who gives a best-of-the-year-level performance as a struggling New York actress dealing with feelings of abandonment when her writer-husband's career takes off. Kendrick doesn't miss any of the beats of her character, playing hopeful, scorned and frustrated with the right mix of naturalism and theatricality. The DVD and Blu-ray have a Brown interview and a "sing-along" version of the film.
Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $34.99
In the magnificent "Mr. Turner," the life of the aesthetically adventurous 19th century British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner gets filtered through the style of filmmaker Mike Leigh, who as always is more interested in small moments of human behavior than in grand statements about art or history. Leigh regular Timothy Spall plays the gruff-but-sensitive title character, who risked his reputation when he started exploring abstraction with his line-work and coloring. "Mr. Turner" meanders, especially in its second hour, but thanks primarily to cinematographer Dick Pope, it looks as beautiful as a Turner canvas. This film is ultimately a vivid and well-shaded portrait of the era when fine art was popular culture. The DVD and Blu-ray add featurettes and a Leigh commentary.
Kino/Adopt, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95
Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan won the Palme d'Or at Cannes last year for this talky drama about a wealthy, opinionated hotel owner who spends most of his time arguing with his family and neighbors. As with earlier Ceylan films, like "Climates" and "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia," the new film puts serious people against beautiful landscapes and watches as they poke at one another's weak spots while revealing their own. With its three-hour running-time, "Winter Sleep" does drag in places, but it also recalls some of the classics of the theater — like the works of Ibsen and O'Neill.
Black or White
20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99
Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98
Fifty Shades of Grey
Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98
Goodfellas: 25th Anniversary Edition
Warner Bros. Blu-ray, $34.99
Warner Bros., $28.98; Blu-ray, $29.98
Mad Max: Collector's Edition
Scream! Factory Blu-ray
20th Century Fox, $22.98; Blu-ray, $29.99