Cate Blanchett is fun to watch in the otherwise mixed ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’
New on Blu-ray
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” (20th Century Fox DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.99; also available on VOD)
In the dramedy, Cate Blanchett plays a cranky, agoraphobic architect who mysteriously disappears, leaving her precocious teenage daughter, Bee (played by Emma Nelson) to piece together the meaning of her life. Maria Semple’s bestselling novel tells Bernadette’s story via a series of found documents. For the movie, director Richard Linklater (who also cowrote the screenplay) devotes roughly the first half of the picture to a more objective, collage-like portrait of the heroine, then spends much of the second half on Bernadette’s own, more subjective impressions of her own experiences. Although the split structure doesn’t precisely replicate the experience of reading the book, Blanchett does bring a lot of spark to her portrayal of a frustrated wife and mother who’s trying to rediscover what once made her special.
[Special features: Featurettes]
“The Report” (available Nov. 29 on Amazon Prime Video)
Based on a true story, writer-director Scott Z. Burns’ engaging and informative political drama stars Adam Driver as real-life congressional investigator Daniel Jones, who was tasked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (played here by Annette Bening) to dig through classified documents to determine the extent to which the U.S. government had sanctioned torture while fighting the post-9/11 war against terrorism. Despite the heavy topic, the film moves fleetly. Burns’ smart use of flashbacks fills audiences in on what happened in some American detainment facilities overseas during the morally murky mid-2000s, although this movie is ultimately more concerned with the complicated and frustrating politics of truth-telling.
TV set of the week
“Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Gauntlet — Season 12” (Shout! Factory DVD, $44.99; Blu-ray, $59.97; also available on VOD)
The most recent season of the pop culture institution is one of the show’s most ambitious and also one of the funniest. Rather than just having host Jonah Ray and his wisecracking robot pals make fun of a random assortment of inept B-movies, the six episodes in this set tell a larger story, about Jonah and the ‘bots being forced to binge-watch half a dozen terrible films in a row. This one simple twist re-enlivens a classic concept. Plus, the use of some jaw-droppingly misbegotten motion pictures — including the all-time stinker “Mac and Me” — assures that this run is as hilarious as MST3K’s best.
[Special features: None]
From the archives
“Now, Voyager” (Criterion DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95)
“All About Eve” (Criterion DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95)
Throughout the 1930s, Bette Davis was one of the most exciting actresses in Hollywood, bringing flintiness and worldliness to punchy melodramas. But most of her best films came after her starlet years — including 1942’s “Now, Voyager,” in which she played a depressed middle-aged spinster learning to love herself, and 1950’s “All About Eve,” where she’s a dimming Broadway star in danger of being overshadowed by a sycophantic ingenue. At her best, Davis inhabited multifaceted roles with little concern for whether she might be perceived as “unlikable.” She often placed the needs of the story over her own vanity.
[Special features: Commentary tracks and new and vintage interviews]
Three more to see
“Angel Has Fallen” (Lionsgate DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99; 4K, $42,99; also available on VOD); “Hotel by the River” (Cinema Guild DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95); “Young Justice: Outsiders — Season 3” (Warner Bros. DVD, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.99; also available on VOD)
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