‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ goes beyond the legend of Mister Rogers
New on Blu-ray
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (Sony DVD/Blu-ray, $22.99; also available on VOD)
Based on a tear-jerking Tom Junod magazine article, the touching drama stars Matthew Rhys as a fictionalized version of Junod: a stressed-out, cynical journalist who gets assigned to write a short appreciation of beloved children’s show host Fred Rogers. Tom Hanks plays Mister Rogers, and he was rewarded with an Oscar nomination for a performance that captures both the deeply rooted decency of the man and the bone-weary exhaustion that comes from being welcoming and compassionate toward everyone. Hanks and director Marielle Heller work together to demystify a TV legend, depicting Rogers as grounded and detail-oriented — just an ordinary human who happens to be extraordinarily nice.
[Special features: A commentary track, deleted scenes and featurettes]
“Top End Wedding” (available Feb. 21)
Fans of broad Australian comedies like “Muriel’s Wedding” and “Strictly Ballroom” should enjoy this charmingly silly romance starring — and cowritten by — Miranda Tapsell. She plays Lauren, a busy lawyer who accepts her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, with the condition that they get hitched within 10 days in her hometown in northern Australia (the “top end”), so she can get back to work. Not long after Lauren lands, she learns that her mother has left her father. In the process of tracking down and reuniting her family, the bride-to-be learns more about her mom’s complicated past and their Tiwi Islands heritage. Though the subject matter sounds heavy, director Wayne Blair treats the story as a romp. This is an enjoyable, low-stress movie, with vivid local scenery.
TV set of the week
“The Twilight Zone: Season One” (Paramount DVD, $49.98; Blu-ray, $55.98; also available on VOD)
Produced and narrated by modern fantasy-horror master Jordan Peele, the latest iteration of Rod Serling’s classic anthology series is just slightly more overt about its social commentary than the original was. The 10 episodes here tell stories about podcasts, social media, immigration, toxic masculinity, gun control and racially biased policing, with all the eerie premises and reality-bending twists Serling fans expect. The quality of these episodes varies — that’s another “Twilight Zone” tradition — but overall, this is a fine collection of original, creepily relevant science-fiction visions.
[Special features: Select episode commentary tracks, deleted scenes and featurettes]
From the archives
“Tex Avery Screwball Classics: Volume 1” (Warner Archive Blu-ray, $21.99)
The legendary animator used to say he loved cartoons because “you can do anything,” which he proved by inventing a lot of the visual grammar people now associate with wacky animated shorts: the jaws dropping to the floor, the eyes bugging out, the frequent explosions, etc. The 19 zippy and nutty cartoons in this set are drawn from his MGM era (from the early 1940s to the mid-’50s), when he enjoyed a creative freedom he lacked in the 1930s at Warner Bros. Samplings of shorts starring Droopy and Screwy Squirrel are joined by some classic one-offs, including Avery’s masterpiece “Red Hot Riding Hood,” featuring a va-voom Little Red and a hepcat Big Bad Wolf.
[Special features: None]
Three more to see
“21 Bridges” (Universal DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98; also available on VOD); “Frankie” (Sony Pictures Classics DVD, $25.99; Blu-ray, $24.99; also available on VOD); “Jojo Rabbit” (20th Century Fox DVD, $19.96; Blu-ray, $22.96; also available on VOD)
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