Penelope Spheeris' 'Decline of Western Civilization Collection' explores music, youth culture

Penelope Spheeris focuses on punk, heavy metal and youth culture in her 'Decline' trilogy

The Decline of Western Civilization Collection

Shout! Factory, $39.98; Blu-ray, $59.98

Documentary fans and rock 'n' roll scholars alike have been waiting years for Penelope Spheeris' trilogy to get a DVD and/or Blu-ray release, and after a lot of wrangling over rights, Spheeris and Shout! Factory are finally able to present two of the best docs of the 1980s — plus their fascinating 1998 companion piece — as a thoughtfully assembled box set. Bonus interviews and performances, along with commentary tracks by Spheeris and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, accompany new 2K transfers of 1981's "Decline" (about the early Los Angeles punk scene of X, the Germs and Black Flag), 1987's "Decline II" (about the heavy metal superstars and wannabes nurtured on the Sunset Strip) and "Decline III" (about the hardcore punk ethos of homeless teens). In addition to recording powerhouse bands in their prime, Spheeris also used these films to explore youth culture, the unifying power of music and the varying conceptions of "success." Her work here is outstanding, and it's great to have it available again.

While We're Young

Lionsgate, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99

Available now on VOD

For fans of acerbic writer-director Noah Baumbach, the good news about his latest comedy is that it's bright, funny and accessible. Ben Stiller plays a procrastinating middle-age documentary filmmaker whose life changes dramatically when he and his wife (Naomi Watts) start hanging out with a free-spirited, fun-loving young hipster couple (played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried). Baumbach gets off a lot of good jokes at the expense of both millennials and Gen-X-ers, and the movie as a whole is a real crowd-pleaser. But it also gets disappointingly preachy down the stretch, showing a sourness of spirit toward the younger generation that was absent in Baumbach's previous film, the wonderful "Frances Ha." The DVD and Blu-ray include six short featurettes.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

Starz/Anchor Bay; Blu-ray, $34.99

Available now on VOD

Film buffs will want to see David and Nathan Zellner's picture just for its plot, which sees a lonely Japanese woman (played by Rinko Kikuchi) traveling to Minnesota in search of the suitcase full of money buried in the snow in the Coen brothers' movie "Fargo." But even beyond its wholly original premise, the film is remarkable, with the Zellners taking the abstracted, deadpan style of Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismäki and making it their own. What starts as an offbeat fish-out-of-water story becomes an eerily beautiful contemplation of how we look for meaning in pop culture that we can't find in our own lives.

Danny Collins

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD on June 30

Accomplished screenwriter and TV producer Dan Fogelman makes his feature directing debut with this slight but sweet film starring Al Pacino as an aged millionaire rock star who decides to overcome a crisis of confidence by reconnecting with his estranged son (played by Bobby Cannavale). The "poor little rich man" premise is hackneyed, but Fogelman doesn't try to oversell its importance. And he has such a gift for dialogue that this film is a pleasure to watch even at its most predictable. It helps that Pacino gives one of his best performances in years, playing his dandyish rocker as a decent guy who's been trapped in the celebrity machine too long. The DVD and Blu-ray come with a pair of paltry featurettes.

And…

Get Hard

Warner Bros., $28.98; Blu-ray, $44.95

Available on VOD on Tuesday

The Gunman

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD on Tuesday

Hard to Be a God

Kino Lorber, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95

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