New video: ‘Fences’ is a must-see for fans of master-class level acting
New on Blu-ray
“Fences” (Paramount DVD, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99; also available on VOD)
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reprise their Tony-winning roles in a big-screen adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer-winning play “Fences,” about an ornery ex-Negro League ballplayer who dominates and oppresses his Pittsburgh family with his opinions and grudges. Washington also directed the film, hewing closely to Wilson’s text by offering a black working-class spin on the kind of complicated, ordinary mid-20th century lives that Arthur Miller wrote about in “Death of a Salesman.” Davis won a well-deserved supporting actress Oscar playing a loving wife who softens her husband’s edges and appreciates his flaws, even when his selfishness and anger make her and their son miserable. All in all, this is an excellent production of a great piece of American theater and a must for fans of master-class-level acting.
Special features: Extensive featurettes about Wilson, the play, and the performances.
“Uncertain” (available March 17)
Anna Sandilands and Ewan McNicol’s documentary “Uncertain” is named for a small Texas town near the Louisiana border. Way off the beaten path, the community attracts people with shady pasts who try to eke out a living from a lake that’s slowly being overrun by an ecology-destroying weed. Reminiscent of early Errol Morris films like “Vernon, Florida” and “Gates of Heaven,” “Uncertain” is an entertaining, gorgeously shot slice-of-life, simultaneously about nothing and everything. There’s no story here, but by following a small handful of colorful characters — particularly a determined ex-con, a rootless young hustler and a wise old fisherman — the filmmakers explore what it’s like to live in a kind of limbo, in a symbiotic relationship with a community in danger of dying out.
TV set of the week
“Six: Season One” (Lionsgate DVD, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.99)
TV doesn’t air many dramas about active-duty military, in part because it’s expensive to stage full-scale combat scenes, and in part because of the tricky politics of modern warfare. The history channel series “Six” does a decent job of finessing both of those problems. The story of an ex-SEAL (played by Walton Goggins) who gets kidnapped by Boko Haram, “Six” follows the efforts of his former team to retrieve him and deals with both their pressures at home and the complexities of their mission. This is mostly a macho, two-fisted action-adventure series, but the eight episodes of Season 1 are well-acted and well-directed and make an earnest effort to deliver frontline thrills without ignoring how difficult it can be to serve your country in the 21st century.
Special features: None
From the archives
“Red Dawn: Collector’s Edition” (Shout! Select Blu-ray, $34.93)
With Russia and the Cold War back in the news, the time is right for a new Blu-ray edition of writer-director John Milius’ 1984 cult-favorite alternate-history thriller “Red Dawn.” Imagining a scenario in which NATO breaks down and the Soviet army invades Colorado, the film stars Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen as brothers who use their expertise with hunting and camping to lead a group of high school students in acts of guerrilla resistance. Stirring yet unsentimental, “Red Dawn” is an action-packed movie about kids who face hard choices and psychological damage as they’re forced to become lethal defenders of the American ideal.
Special features: New and archival featurettes
Three more to see
“Elle” (Sony DVD, $25.99; Blu-ray, $30.99); “The Love Witch” (Oscilloscope DVD, $34.99; Blu-ray, $39.99); “Passengers” (Sony DVD, $30.99; Blu-ray, $34.99; 4K, $45.99; also available on VOD)
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