New on Blu-ray
“Manchester by the Sea” (Lionsgate DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99; also available on VOD)
Don’t be put off by all the descriptions of the multi-Oscar-nominated “Manchester by the Sea” as a melancholy tear-jerker. Yes, this picture is suffused with sadness; and yes, Casey Affleck gives an emotionally devastating performance as Lee Chandler, a surly New Englander grappling with profound grief. But writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s film is also very funny at times and filled with the stuff of life: banter, lust, familial affection and personal renewal. As Lee tries to take care of his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges) and reckon with his past (while avoiding his estranged ex-wife, played by Michelle Williams), “Manchester” deals honestly and movingly with how hard it is to overcome tragedy and how human it is to keep trying.
[Special features: A Lonergan commentary track, deleted scenes and a featurette]
“The Girl With All the Gifts” (available Feb. 24)
Based on M.R. Carey’s acclaimed post-apocalyptic science-fiction novel, “The Girl With All the Gifts” stars Gemma Arterton as a teacher and psychologist who works with children infected by a disease that turns them into ravenous cannibals. The film version — written by Carey — retains the book’s twisty plot and gripping suspense, as well as the exploration of the complicated relationship between the heroine and one particularly sympathetic monster. The result is an original and surprisingly nuanced reimagining of the zombie genre.
TV set of the week
“The Level: Series One” (Acorn DVD, $39.99; Blu-ray, $39.99)
Like the movie “The Departed” and the NBC series “Shades of Blue,” the British cop show “The Level” is about a compromised police officer trying to do her job while deflecting her colleagues’ scrutiny. Karla Crome stars as a detective who’s spent her career hiding her connection to a high-profile crook until she happens to be in a secret meeting with him when he’s assassinated. What follows over the course of the first season’s six episodes is a classic game of cat and mouse, as the heroine buries evidence of her involvement while participating in the investigation of the crime. It’s an edge-of-the-seat drama at times, as well as a pertinent character study of an authority figure who’s become accustomed to bending the law.
[Special features: Featurettes]
From the archives
“3 Classic Films by Claude Chabrol: Betty / Torment (L’Enfer) / The Swindle” (Cohen Blu-ray, $49.99)
Late French director Claude Chabrol made a wide variety of films during his 50-year career, but he’ll always be best known for his thrillers, which display a frank sexuality, a mordant wit and a sophisticated approach to tales of murder and deceit. Cohen’s “Classics of French Cinema” imprint collects three of the more delightfully nasty late-period Chabrols onto a two-disc Blu-ray set, containing “Betty” (about two women with similar weaknesses, who first support then betray each other), “Torment (L’Enfer)” (an adaptation of an infamous unfinished Henri-Georges Clouzot project, about a wealthy hotelier driven mad by romantic jealousy) and “The Swindle” (with Chabrol favorite Isabelle Huppert as a small-time con artist who takes more chances than her partner would prefer). Though different in their tones, each of these highly entertaining movies illustrates how human desire can curdle into something foul.
[Special features: Scholarly commentary tracks on “Torment” and “The Swindle,” plus a lengthy interview with “Swindle” star François Cluzet]
Three more to see
“Elle” (Sony DVD, $25.99; Blu-ray, $30.99); “Hacksaw Ridge” (Lionsgate DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99; 4K, $42.99; also available on VOD); “Nocturnal Animals” (Universal DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98; also available on VOD)