New on Blu-ray
“Detroit” (20th Century Fox DVD, $29.958; Blu-ray, $34.99; also available on VOD)
Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal follow up their sprawling war movies “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” with what might initially seem like something less challenging: dramatizing an infamous historical incident of police brutality, which took place over the course of one night during a 1967 riot. But “Detroit” is actually quite complex, following multiple characters as they move toward a fateful moment of violence in a low-rent motel, and then as they deal with the aftermath. The film’s “you are there” docu-realism can be hard to watch, but it accomplishes the goal of exposing how racism and presumptions of authority combine to create a toxic situation.
[Special features: Multiple featurettes delving into the actual history of the event]
“Love and Saucers” (available 12/12)
The eerie documentary “Love and Saucers” lasts just a little over an hour, which is plenty of time to tell a story as detailed and unsettling as any horror/science-fiction epic. Director Brad Abrahams uses stock footage, oil paintings, and clips from old movies to illustrate the first-person narrative of septuagenarian David Huggins, who claims that since his teenage years he’s been interacting with — and having sex with — extraterrestrial beings. The movie doesn’t treat Huggins as a kook or a liar. Instead, Abrahams just lets him tell his story, while suggesting subtly that a love of fantasy movies and novels may have shaped his memory of real traumas. The results are both mesmerizing and provocative.
TV set of the week
“Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season” (HBO DVD, $59.99; Blu-ray, $74.99)
There was some concern before the penultimate season of “Game of Thrones” that the HBO hit might just spin its wheels for a half-dozen episodes, before moving its narrative into position for one final run. But the writers and cast chose to step on the accelerator, almost defying logic with how rapidly they bring characters and story lines together. The upside to all this zooming ahead is that scarcely an hour of “Game of Thrones” year seven passes without something astonishing happening. Big battles, dragons, zombies… the season’s so packed that the only real question that remains unanswered is what’s left for next year.
[Special features: Commentary tracks, featurettes and an animated special]
From the archives
“Election” (Criterion DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95)
There’s rarely been a more savage or incisive depiction of American politics than Alexander Payne’s adaptation of the Tom Perrotta novel “Election” (co-written by Payne and Jim Taylor), which turns one high school student government race into a metaphor for how we choose our leaders and why. Matthew Broderick plays an obnoxiously idealistic teacher, who resents one perky overachiever in his class so much that he sabotages the process, to prove a larger point. Reese Witherspoon is brilliant as the driven but shallow youngster, whose entitled sense of inevitability rubs even her peers the wrong way. The movie turns this whole election into a referendum on democracy, with America’s future resting on which dopey teen the voters indifferently choose.
[Special features: A commentary track, behind-the-scenes footage, new interviews, and an early Payne short film]
Three more to see