New on Blu-ray
“Song to Song” (Broad Green DVD, $26.99; Blu-ray, $29.99; also available on VOD)
Even Terrence Malick’s staunchest defenders have had trouble mustering up enthusiasm for “Song to Song,” a long-gestating project set in and around the Austin, Texas music scene. But while it hardly measures up to such Malick classics as “Days of Heaven” or “The Tree of Life,” the new movie may benefit from diminished expectations. Yes, its story of the tangled relationship between two couples (played by Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara) is choppy and befuddling; and no, there’s not enough footage from the many rock shows that Malick reportedly filmed. But the filmmaker’s eye and heart remain very much in evidence, and it’s fascinating to see them applied to a subject as murky as the music business.
[Special features: A brief look at the many musical acts featured in the film]
“Man in the Camo Jacket” (available July 4)
During the “big music” U.K. rock era, the likes of U2 and Big Country filled radios and arenas with yelping voices, booming drums and echoing guitars. The Welsh band the Alarm, led by Mike Peters, was among the movement’s most politically engaged and fiercely beloved acts. Director Russ Kendall’s documentary about Peters rushes too quickly through the ’80s to get to what happened when the singer-guitarist quit the band and started over as an acoustic troubadour, playing to audiences of hundreds in small clubs. But Peters’ story is interesting: all about a passionate musician with a pleasant disposition whose ideals sometimes put him at odds with his colleagues. And the music, vintage live footage and interviews are energetic and exciting, aimed at old Alarm fans and neophytes alike.
TV set of the week
“Homicide: Life on the Street — The Complete Series” (Shout! Factory DVD, $149.99)
The current era of “prestige television” is generally traced back to “The Sopranos,” but there was plenty of sophisticated, hard-edged, artful TV before the 21st century. One the 1990s’ best was NBC’s scrappy, long-running “Homicide: Life on the Street,” an often bleak Baltimore police drama that weathered low ratings to produce 122 episodes of frank, philosophical, masterfully acted urban crime stories. Shout! Factory does telephiles a service by bringing all seven seasons of “Homicide” back to DVD in a features-packed box set, which adds the movie that concluded the series and all the “Law & Order” episodes that crossed over with this show.
[Special features: Commentary tracks, interviews and behind-the-scenes featurettes]
From the archives
“A Shock to the System” (Shout Select Blu-ray, $27.99)
Michael Caine gives one of his best performances in the underrated 1990 black comedy playing a meek middle-aged advertising executive who one day realizes the only way to get ahead is to eliminate the competition by any means necessary. Screenwriter Andrew Klavan and director Jan Egleson turned Simon Brett’s novel into a commentary on ’80s materialism and self-aggrandizement — and not an entirely critical one. If anything, what makes this film so much fun is that Caine plays his amoral corporate-climber with conviction and gusto. He sells the sleaze, and in doing so helps explain why the business world can be so cutthroat.
[Special features: An Egleson commentary track and interview, plus an alternate ending]
Three more to see
“The Lemon Drop Kid” (Kino Lorber Blu-ray, $24.95); “Seijun Suzuki’s The Taisho Trilogy” (Arrow DVD/Blu-ray combo, $99.95); “The Zookeeper’s Wife” (Universal DVD/Blu-ray combo, $34.98; also available on VOD)