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New Video: ‘Monsters and Men’ will spark spirited discussions about race relations

New Video: ‘Monsters and Men’ will spark spirited discussions about race relations
Anthony Ramos and John David Washington in "Monsters and Men." (Sundance Institute)

New on Blu-ray

“Monsters and Men” (Universal DVD, $22.98; Blu-ray, $29.98; also available on VOD)

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In a year filled with thoughtful, pointed films about the state of race relations in America, writer-director Reinaldo Marcus Green’s fine feature filmmaking debut “Monsters and Men” flew under the radar after drawing some buzz at Sundance. Inspired by multiple recent news stories, the movie follows three characters, each affected by the police shooting of an unarmed black man. John David Washington plays a cop torn between his loyalty to the force and his sense of right and wrong, while Kelvin Harrison Jr. plays a star high school athlete considering protesting the shooting and Anthony Ramos is a family man and beloved community leader who captured the whole incident on his phone. With its unusual narrative structure and its nuanced take on hot-button issues, “Monsters and Men” is an impressive first film for Green and ought to find more of an audience — and spark some good conversations around the living room — now that it’s available to watch at home.

Special features: A bonus Green short film

VOD

“Buffalo Boys” (available Jan. 11)

Indonesian writer-director Mike Wiluan tries something bold for his feature filmmaking debut “Buffalo Boys,” making a kind of “Eastern western.” Set mostly on the island of Java circa 1860 — during a time of Dutch colonial rule — the film is about two brothers, Jamar (Ario Bayu) and Suwo (Yoshi Sudarso), who return home from America and find themselves on a mission of revenge against the vicious Capt. Van Trach (Reinout Bussemaker). Mixing historical drama, slow-mo gunfights and balletic martial arts stunts, “Buffalo Boys” takes some familiar elements of pulp and adds some Asian spice.

TV set of the week

Bill Skarsgard plays a mysterious convict at Shawshank Penitentiary in "Castle Rock."
Bill Skarsgard plays a mysterious convict at Shawshank Penitentiary in "Castle Rock." (Patrick Harbron / Hulu)

“Castle Rock: The Complete First Season” (Warner Bros. DVD, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.98; $44.98; also available on VOD)

Horror author Stephen King has often used the same fictional place-names across different books and has dropped references to characters and events from story to story. The TV series “Castle Rock” tightens King’s loose shared universe, telling an original tale set in the writer’s world of extra-dimensional monsters and murderous compulsions. In Season 1’s 10 episodes, a lawyer (André Holland) returns home to Maine to investigate a mysterious convict at Shawshank Penitentiary (Bill Skarsgård), and to help his mentally deteriorating adoptive mother (the incredible Sissy Spacek). The show doesn’t spare the scares; but as with the best of King’s work, it’s really more about ordinary people haunted by bad memories and lingering regrets.

Special features: Featurettes


From the archives

“24 Frames” (Criterion DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95)

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The final film from the late Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami — completed posthumously by his son Ahmad — is one of his simplest, and most beautiful. As the title implies, “24 Frames” consists of two-dozen static shots, immersing viewers in spare, peaceful landscapes. Kiarostami doesn’t just drop a camera artlessly in the wilderness. These images are precisely composed, then manipulated digitally to control the pace of movement within the frame. The result is something strikingly different, from a filmmaker who kept experimenting with the medium all the way to the end.

Special features: Interviews and a short documentary


Three more to see

“Let the Corpses Tan” (Kino Lorber DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95; also available on VOD); “mid90s” (Lionsgate DVD, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99; also available on VOD); “Time Freak” (Lionsgate DVD, $19.98; Blu-ray, $21.99; also available on VOD)


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