Tom Cruise pairs intensity and charisma in ‘American Made’
New on Blu-ray
“American Made” (Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98; 4K, $37.98; also available on VOD)
Tom Cruise may not be the can’t-miss box-office draw he once was, but “American Made” proves he’s still one of the greatest movie stars of his generation: a legitimately fine actor who’s a joy to watch on screen. Cruise balances his intensely charismatic side with his “guy on the edge of losing everything” side in “American Made,” playing real-life mystery man Barry Seal, a pilot who in the ’70s and ’80s flew secret missions for both the CIA and the drug cartels. Director Doug Liman takes some chances with Gary Spinelli’s script, mixing “Goodfellas”-style flash with loose, docu-realistic scenes of the anti-hero’s complicated family life. The result is a lively and pointed film about a restless iconoclast who trades long-term security for a few years of living the high life.
Special features: Deleted scenes and extensive featurettes
“Blame” (available Friday)
It’s impressive enough that 22-year-old Quinn Shephard wrote, directed, produced, edited and stars in the high-school melodrama “Blame.” It’s almost a bonus that the movie’s good. Shephard plays Abigail, a psychologically disturbed teen who becomes the target of bullies when she returns to class after a stint in an institution. A drama class production of “The Crucible” — overseen by a well-meaning teacher (played by Chris Messina) who gets too close to Abigail — ends up mirroring the hypocrisies and paranoia of these teens in a measured, moody, sharp-looking film with a strong payoff.
TV set of the week
“Manhunt: Unabomber” (Lionsgate DVD, $19.98; Blu-ray, $19.99)
True-crime procedurals don’t get much better than “Manhunt: Unabomber,” a smart, well-acted look at how the FBI tracked down American terrorist Ted Kaczynski, using linguistics. Paul Bettany plays Kaczynski, while Sam Worthington plays the agent who struggles to convince his superiors to treat the printed word as evidence. History here is lightly fictionalized and not always accurately (according to some who were there). But the miniseries mostly minimizes cheesy, over-dramatized “TV movie” excess, focusing instead on the fascinating facts of the case, and the people involved.
Special features: A trio of brief featurettes
From the archives
“The Breakfast Club” (Criterion DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95)
It’s too bad John Hughes didn’t live long enough to see one of his movies become part of the the Criterion Collection canon. Though Hughes’ films were popular and critically acclaimed during his 1980s heyday, the writer-director hasn’t always gotten the credit he’s deserved for marrying Frank Capra-esque populism and visually inventive comedy in motion pictures primarily aimed at teens. “The Breakfast Club” is probably Hughes’ most enduring work because of the way it pares the high school experience down to a few timeless archetypes: the nerd (Anthony Michael Hall), the beauty (Molly Ringwald), the athlete (Emilio Estevez), the weirdo (Ally Sheedy) and the bad boy (Judd Nelson). Though mostly set in one location, over the course of one Saturday morning’s detention, “The Breakfast Club” covers a lot of ground in explaining who these kids are. And throughout, Hughes keeps finding ways to make their bland suburban school look alive.
Special features: New and vintage interviews and documentaries, deleted scenes and a Hall/Nelson commentary track
Three more to see
“Battle of the Sexes” (20th Century Fox DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.99; also available on VOD); “Brad’s Status” (Universal DVD, $19.98; Blu-ray, $26.98; also available on VOD); “Breathe” (Universal DVD, $22.98; Blu-ray, $29.98; also available on VOD)
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