New video: 'American Honey' is a sprawling, sometimes successful, road picture

New on Blu-ray

“American Honey” (Lionsgate DVD, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99; also available on VOD)

There are two movies happening at once in writer-director Andrea Arnold’s sprawling road picture “American Honey.” One is a half-hearted exposé of “magazine crews,” those pods of underclass youngsters who get contracted to go door to door in suburban subdivisions, to lie their way into selling subscriptions. The more poignant parts of the film though stick close to the heroine, Star (played by newcomer Sasha Lane) as she joins up with the successful-looking leaders of one of those crews (played by Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough), and then ends up spending all her time among the same kinds of people and places that she grew up with, all across the middle of the country. At its best, “American Honey” stays attuned to the cycles of exploitation and low expectations that keep some mired in poverty, even when they are trying hard to better themselves.

Special features: Interview with Lane and Keough

VOD

“Road to the Well” (available Dec. 27)

Laurence Fuller plays a directionless young man having a very bad weekend in “Road to the Well,” a low-budget neo-noir distinguished by strong characters and a skewed perspective. Fuller is Frank, a corporate drone who catches his girlfriend cheating on him with his boss. While in the middle of drowning his sorrows with an old buddy (played by Micah Parker), Frank ends up getting saddled with a dead body that he has to get rid of. A road trip up the California coast to dump the corpse brings the boys into the path of old friends and eccentric criminals, who all challenge the hero to rethink what he’s done with his life. Though a little meandering, “Road to the Well” has flavorful dialogue, and a sense of scope that’s rare for a movie about betrayal and murder.

TV set of the week

“Close to the Enemy” (Acorn DVD, $59.99; Blu-ray, $59.99)

Stalwart BBC writer-director Stephen Poliakoff takes a look at the London of 1946 in his latest miniseries, “Close to the Enemy,” a star-studded tale of Brits, Americans, Russians, and Germans navigating a ravaged, anxious city in the wake of World War II. A first-rate cast that includes Freddie Highmore, Alfred Molina, Angela Bassett and Jim Sturgess brings a lot of snap to a plot that could’ve been grim and dreary. The result is a fast-paced history-play, depicting a time when Europeans were uncertain about whether they should still be angry with each other or if it was time to forgive and move ahead.

Special features: Behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews

From the archives

“Fellini’s Roma” (Criterion DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95)

One of Federico Fellini’s most unusual and yet most accessible films, 1972’s “Roma” is essentially a series of vignettes, drawn from the director’s memories and dreams of Rome, from the ‘40s to the ‘70s. The movie has no real narrative to speak of, but its mix of wild fantasies, true-to-life anecdotes and nods to the ancient past makes a surprisingly coherent statement about the city itself. Fellini’s career-long fascination with politics, religion, celebrity and history pop up throughout this imaginative meditation on Rome as a center of classical greatness, corrupted by small-minded moderns and secret cabals.

Special features: Deleted scenes, interviews, and a scholarly commentary track

Three more to see

“Dog Eat Dog” (RLJ/Image DVD, $29.96; Blu-ray, $29.97; also available on VOD); “The Dressmaker” (Broad Green DVD, $26.99; Blu-ray, $34.99; also available on VOD); “Snowden” (Universal DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98; also available on VOD)

 

 

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