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New video: 'Eighth Grade' is a sublime and profound look at the world of a young teen

New video: 'Eighth Grade' is a sublime and profound look at the world of a young teen
Elsie Fisher in a scene from "Eighth Grade." (Linda Kallerus / AP)

New on Blu-ray

“Eighth Grade” (Lionsgate DVD, $14.99; Blu-ray, $24.99; also available on VOD)

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Everyday teen angst becomes the stuff of both sublime comedy and profound human drama in “Eighth Grade,” writer-director Bo Burnham’s report on what life is like for young teens these days. Elsie Fisher plays Kayla, who spends her mornings and afternoons suffering through the final week of middle school, while using her spare time to document her daily routine online, for a nonexistent audience. Then an awkward class party and an invitation to hang out with a cooler high school crowd rock Kayla’s world, pushing her to question who she is and where she’s heading over the next few years. An excellent performance by Fisher — and by Josh Hamilton as her worried single dad — captures the complex emotions and special challenges that come with being poised between childhood and adulthood.

[Special features: Deleted scenes, a featurette and a Burnham/Fisher commentary track]

VOD

“The Kindergarten Teacher” (available Oct. 12 on Netflix)

Based on an acclaimed 2014 Israeli drama, “The Kindergarten Teacher” stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as the title character: an elementary educator and aspiring poet who faces a turning point in her personal life and career when she discovers a child prodigy, capable of extemporaneously producing beautiful verse. It’s hard to tell at first where this movie’s going: Is it about a teacher nurturing a student’s gifts or exploiting them? But even before the story becomes clearer and more intense, it's a well-drawn character sketch. Gyllenhaal gives one of the best performances of her career, playing a middle-age woman tired of being underestimated by her family and peers.

TV set of the week

“POV: Dark Money” (PBS DVD, $24.99; also available on VOD)

A 2018 Sundance favorite, director Kimberly Reed’s “Dark Money” looks at how the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision upended the campaigning and election process in Montana, a state that’s always prided itself on resisting outside persuasion. The film follows a few Montana politicians and one investigative journalist, who are concerned with the ways that corporations are swaying voters without ever having to declare their real identities or intentions. Structured like a suspenseful mystery, “Dark Money” reveals the unintended consequences of a court ruling that may prevent Americans from knowing who’s really in charge of their government.

[Special features: Extensive featurettes]

From the archives

“Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day” (Criterion DVD, $39.95; Blu-ray, $49.95)

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One of the prolific German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s lesser-seen projects, the 1972 TV miniseries “Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day” aired right as the provocateur was pushing beyond avant-garde movies toward more layered and florid pictures, riffing on Hollywood melodramas. Set among a group of working-class couples and families, “Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day” uses domestic crises and labor strife as a way of exploring how ordinary people exert power, both on the job and in their homes. The series features some of Fassbinder’s most likable and down-to-earth characters, searching for a sense of satisfaction.

[Special features: Extensive cast interviews]

Three more to see

“Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” (Lionsgate DVD, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99; also available on VOD); “Hotel Transylvania 3” (Sony DVD, $30.99; Blu-ray, $38.99; 4K, $45.99; also available on VOD); “Skyscraper” (Universal DVD, $24.98; Blu-ray, $39.98; 3D, $44.98; also available on VOD)

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