'Bridge of Spies' is a hugely entertaining Cold War tale

Bridge of Spies

Walt Disney, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD on Tuesday

With this low-key, gripping best picture nominee, Steven Spielberg joins the ranks of veteran Hollywood directors who favor a quieter, craftier kind of filmmaking as they get older. Based on a true story of an early 1960s spy swap between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the movie stars Tom Hanks as real-life lawyer James B. Donovan, who suffered public scorn for defending an enemy agent (played by an Oscar-nominated Mark Rylance) but then used that experience to help get back downed U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. Screenwriter Matt Charman — whose script was polished by Joel and Ethan Coen — focuses on the humor and tension inherent in international diplomacy, which results in a film that's as hugely entertaining as it is educational. The DVD and Blu-ray keep that education going, via extensive featurettes that provide more historical context.

Show Me a Hero

HBO, $39.98; Blu-ray, $49.99

Oscar Isaac continues his phenomenal post-"Inside Llewyn Davis" run with his lead performance in this outstanding HBO miniseries. The "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" star plays Nick Wasicsko, who in 1987 became the 28-year-old mayor of Yonkers, N.Y., just in time for an ugly crisis concerning affordable public housing. Isaac frames the young politician as a well-meaning opportunist, who loses his optimism as he gets more and more mired in racially charged policy debates. Meanwhile, director Paul Haggis and writer-producer David Simon (collaborating with journalist William F. Zorzi) turn court orders and city council meetings into grand theater, illustrating how playing to voters' worst fears and biases can be a dangerous game, with real consequences. Any resemblance to the current state of American politics is entirely intentional. The DVD and Blu-ray include a brief promotional featurette.

The Keeping Room

Cinedigm, $14.93; Blu-ray, $19.97

Available now on VOD

British director Daniel Barber and screenwriter Julia Hart take an unusual approach to the home-invasion thriller with this film set in Civil War-era Georgia on a remote plantation besieged by a pair of Union soldiers who are carrying out Gen. William T. Sherman's mission to terrorize the South. Sam Worthington and Kyle Soller play the scouts, while Brit Marling and Hailee Steinfeld play two young women who've been keeping their family's farm going with the help of their one remaining slave (played by Muna Otaru). Partly a look at America's dark past, and partly an arty spin on a violent suspense picture, "The Keeping Room" is definitely memorable, albeit too self-serious. The DVD and Blu-ray add a Marling/Hart commentary track and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Some of today's most exciting animators collaborated with actress-producer Salma Hayek on her dream project: an adaptation of Kahlil Gibran's inspirational book of essays and parables. Tomm Moore ("The Secret of Kells"), Nina Paley ("Sita Sings the Blues"), Joann Sfar ("The Rabbi's Cat") and Bill Plympton are among those who tackled segments, with the voices of Liam Neeson, John Krasinski, Frank Langella, Alfred Molina and Quvenzhané Wallis helping to bring to life the story of a wise man whose simple life lessons comfort the weak and threaten the powerful. Visually splendid and moving, the film is something special, for animation fans and spiritual seekers alike. The DVD and Blu-ray include a couple of featurettes.


Batman: Bad Blood

Warner Bros., $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.98

Falling Skies: The Complete Series

Warner Bros., $129.98; Blu-ray, $139.99


Summit, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available now on VOD

The Last Witch Hunter

Lionsgate, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD on Tuesday

Man Up

Lionsgate, $19.98; Blu-ray, $19.99

Available on VOD on Tuesday

Mercy Street

PBS, $39.99; Blu-ray, $44.99

Our Brand Is Crisis

Warner Brothers, $28.98; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD on Tuesday

Rock the Kasbah

Universal, $22.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Available on VOD on Tuesday


Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD on Tuesday


Sony, $26.99; Blu-ray, $34.99

Available on VOD on Tuesday



Review: Tom Hanks shines in the Cold War thriller 'Bridge of Spies'

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A version of this article appeared in print on February 02, 2016, in the Arts + Entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Home theater - Title Synopsis" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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