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New on video: Viggo Mortensen is at his best in ‘Captain Fantastic’

‘Captain Fantastic’
Shree Crooks as Zaja, from left, Viggo Mortensen as Ben, Samantha Isler as Kielyr, Nicholas Hamilton as Rellian, Annalise Basso as Vespyr, George MacKay as Bodevan and Charlie Shotwell as Nai in “Captain Fantastic.”
(Cathy Kanavy/Bleecker Street)

New on Blu-ray

“Captain Fantastic” (Universal DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98; also available on VOD)

Viggo Mortensen gives one of the best performances of 2016 in writer-director Matt Ross’ family drama “Captain Fantastic,” playing Ben Cash, a leftist backwoods survivalist raising  half a dozen kids completely off the grid. When his wife leaves the wilderness to seek help for her mental illness — and then kills herself — Ben takes his tribe on a trip into the hostile territory of the upscale American suburbs, where he comes face-to-face with the realization that he may have done his children a disservice by sheltering them from the real world. “Captain Fantastic” is a bit too blunt with its anti-materialist message, but it’s frequently moving and funny in a crowd-pleasing way, and Mortensen carries the contradictions of his character well, showing how someone can be at once philosophically right and personally wrong.

(Special features: A featurette)

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Viggo Mortenson stars in “Captain Fantastic.”

VOD

“The Windmill” (available Oct. 25)

The original title of the European slasher “The Windmill” was “The Windmill Massacre,” which is both a more attention-getting name and one that better reflects what this picture actually is. A sort of combination of a classy Agatha Christie mystery and a gory ’80s horror picture, the film follows a group of tourists from around the world as they get dumped in the Dutch wilderness, where they’re stalked by a shadowy reaper who seems to know their darkest secrets. Ironically apt murders ensue. Structurally and stylistically, there’s not much new to “The Windmill,” but the cast is a lot more accomplished than is usual for these kinds of low-budget projects, and director Nick Jongerius keeps the pace tight and the scares steady. This is a solid movie, made for genre fans who can’t get enough of watching bad folks get slaughtered.

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TV set of the week

“Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You” (PBS DVD, $24.99; Blu-ray, $29.99)

PBS’ “American Masters” documentary “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You” is a phenomenal piece of television about one of TV’s greatest creators: the writer and producer of socially relevant 1970s sitcoms like “All in the Family,” “Maude” and “Good Times.” Through clips, interviews and creative editing, directors Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing help define Lear as a remarkable a character in and of himself, as well as a true innovator in popular culture. Lear’s comedies used the form of social realistic theater and the language of the corner bar to confront the issues of the day — from bigotry to religion to the root causes of poverty. Plus these shows were funny and populated with heroes and heroines as flawed as they were likable. This doc helps explain how some of the classics of American popular culture came to be.

(Special features: None)

 

From the archives

“Private Property” (Cinelicious DVD/Blu-ray combo, $34.99)

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Independent writer-producer-director Leslie Stevens — best-known for creating the TV series “The Outer Limits” — only made a handful of films during his career, most of which have slipped into obscurity. The newly restored version of his 1960 crime picture “Private Property” suggests that movie buffs have been missing out all these years. Warren Oates and Corey Allen play two amoral drifters who break into a ritzy Beverly Hills estate and then toy with a bored housewife (played by Kate Manx) who’s not entirely sorry to see them. Tense, grim and at times even shocking, “Private Property” was a bold film when it was originally released and is still powerful today in how it evokes the fantasy and the reality of being fabulously wealthy.

(Special features: Interviews)

 

Three more to see

“Lights Out” (Warner Bros. DVD, $28.98; Blu-ray, $29.98; also available on VOD); “Men & Chicken” (Drafthouse DVD/Blu-ray combo, $39.95); “Mr. Church” (Lionsgate DVD, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99)

 


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