New video: ‘Loving Vincent’ and ‘The Girl Without Hands’ show animation’s creative boom
New on Blu-ray
“Loving Vincent: Special Edition” (Cinedigm Blu-ray, $29.97)
“The Girl Without Hands” (Shout! Factory/GKIDS DVD/Blu-ray combo, $22.97)
Casual moviegoers may be baffled by the inclusion of “Loving Vincent” in the Oscars’ best animated feature category this year, but devotees of the medium know that Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman’s hand-painted Vincent Van Gogh biopic is part of a mini-movement of filmmakers pursuing nontraditional approaches to big-screen cartoons. Another example is Sébastien Laudenbach’s Cannes Film Festival-approved adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale “The Girl Without Hands,” about a virtuous youngster who keeps defying a cruelly persistent Devil. Like “Loving Vincent,” “The Girl Without Hands” was produced through the laborious, old-fashioned application of paint to cels, in a successful attempt to create something dreamier and more abstract than conventionally bright, clean-lined animation. Both films represent an art-form in the middle of a creative boom.
[Special features: Extensive featurettes on both and bonus Laudenbach short films on “The Girl Without Hands”]
“Half Magic” (available 2/23)
Actress Heather Graham channels some of her personal experiences with Hollywood’s screwy gender politics into “Half Magic,” a broad comedy that marks her debut as a writer-director. Graham plays Honey, a screenwriter whose strict religious upbringing warped her relationships with men and sex. When she meets two similarly messed-up women (Stephanie Beatriz and Angela Kinsey) at a female empowerment seminar, the ladies form a pact to date only good guys, which proves difficult but rewarding. The jokes in “Half Magic” are blunt and rooted in well-worn stereotypes; but the three leads are terrific, and there’s a satisfying edge to the way Graham savages ingrained showbiz sexism.
TV set of the week
“The Master: The Complete Series” (Kino Classics DVD, $49.95; Blu-ray, $59.95)
A stubbornly enduring bit of ‘80s action cheese, the short-lived TV series “The Master” has become a cult classic, in part because it features one of the last performances by legendary movie tough guy Lee Van Cleef, and in part because it’s so endearingly goofy. Van Cleef plays a knowledgeable ninja, who roams the country with his protégé (played by Timothy Van Patten), looking for good deeds to do while settling old scores with rivals. This ill-considered attempt to cash in on the martial arts craze of the era — with two awkward white dudes as the leads — is the best kind of bad TV.
[Special features: None]
From the archives
“Underground” Kino Classics DVD, $39.95; Blu-ray, $44.95)
Controversial Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica made his career-defining film with 1995’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Underground,” a semi-satirical history of Yugoslavia, from World War II to the beginning of the violent ethnic division that split the country. Miki Manojlović and Lazar Ristovski play sleazy war profiteers who have a tumultuous relationship across the decades, exacerbated by one buddy’s decision to lock the other one in his basement, feeding him lies about what’s happening out in the streets. Though it’s been criticized for its slanted perspective on what Yugoslavia used to be, “Underground” is nonetheless an absorbing and impressively ambitious piece of storytelling, filtering a complicated conflict through an amusing tall tale.
[Special features: Interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and the five-hour TV miniseries version of the film]
Three more to see
“Daddy’s Home 2” (Paramount DVD, $25.99; Blu-ray, $31.99; 4K, $34.99; also available on VOD); “Same Kind of Different As Me” (Paramount DVD, $16.99; Blu-ray, $26.99; also available on VOD); “The Star” (Sony DVD, $30.99; Blu-ray, $34.99; also available on VOD)
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