'Brooklyn' charms and enchants with beautiful photography and acting


20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD Tuesday

It's almost impossible to describe this period romance without using the word "lovely," even though the word makes the movie sound more lightweight than it is. Director John Crowley and screenwriter Nick Hornby hold fast to the simplicity of Colm Tóibín's novel, not overplaying the story of a meek shopgirl (played by an Oscar-nominated Saoirse Ronan) who emigrates to 1950s New York, gets acclimated to America, then she chases bad news back to her native Ireland. Beautifully shot and acted — with vivid characters and snappy dialogue — "Brooklyn" is a crowd-pleaser with unexpected depth, using one woman's dilemma to illustrate the daunting freedom of choice. It's destined to be beloved for decades to come. The DVD and Blu-ray include a Crowley commentary track, deleted scenes and featurettes.

The Big Short

Paramount, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD Tuesday

Though the film didn't win best picture, its adapted screenplay Oscar is an apt testament to how writer-director Adam McKay squeezed an entertaining, informative box-office hit out of Michael Lewis' complicated book about the global financial crisis. The all-star cast helps too, with the likes of Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Steve Carell putting a human face on the money-managers who got rich off the crash. McKay and his co-writer, Charles Randolph, make their mission look almost righteous, as these men expose flaws in the system by exploiting them for their own gain. "The Big Short" gets overly cutesy with its illustrations, but even when it's trying to make the audience laugh it stays focused on the ordinary people steamrolled by the chicanery of millionaires. The DVD and Blu-ray add deleted scenes and featurettes.


Starz/Anchor Bay, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.99

Available on VOD Tuesday

Director Todd Haynes' Oscar-nominated 2002 melodrama "Far from Heaven" was a semi-ironic pastiche of classic Hollywood melodramas, but his similarly retro romance "Carol" takes a more straightforward approach in adapting Patricia Highsmith's boldly gay-friendly 1952 novel "The Price of Salt." Oscar nominees Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara costar as women who unexpectedly fall in love with each other, then struggle to find a way to be together in a culture where their relationship is taboo. The luminous look and colorful costumes recall the cinema of 60 years ago, but "Carol" is so attuned to the emotional texture of its time that it brings the past to life, beautifully and heartbreakingly. The DVD and Blu-ray feature a Q&A with Haynes and his cast.

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The Manchurian Candidate

Criterion Blu-ray, $39.95

Director John Frankenheimer and screenwriter George Axelrod's 1962 adaptation of Richard Condon's novel "The Manchurian Candidate" isn't just the sharpest American political thriller of its era; it'd be the best of 2016 if it were released today. The new Criterion Blu-ray edition does justice to a classic, packing in vintage and fresh featurettes, an old Frankenheimer commentary and a new interview with Angela Lansbury (who's so memorable in the movie as a Communist puppet master, manipulating her politician husband and war-hero son). "The Manchurian Candidate" is packed with stars and ideas very much of their time — right down to Frank Sinatra playing a frazzled Army officer who uncovers a conspiracy — but the skewed camera angles and poetic dialogue combine to create a vision of America that's as effectively nightmarish as ever.


Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD Tuesday

Band of Robbers

FilmRise, $24.95; Blu-ray, $29.95

Available on VOD Tuesday

Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season

HBO, $59.99; Blu-ray, $79.98


Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD Tuesday

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Available on VOD Tuesday

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A version of this article appeared in print on March 15, 2016, in the Arts + Entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Home theater" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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