New releases: Divorce hits a child hard in ‘What Maisie Knew’

What Maisie Knew

Millennium, $28.99; Blu-ray, $29.99

Available on VOD beginning Aug. 13

It’s tough enough to have a normal childhood in the cramped bustle of the big city, but even harder when being shuttled back and forth between two parents who hate each other and are too busy with their careers to be actual guardians. In co-director Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s adaptation of Henry James’ novel “What Maisie Knew” (scripted by Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright), Onata Aprile plays a little girl who gets lost in the shuffle when her mom and dad split up and take new lovers. “What Maisie Knew” tells the story from Maisie’s point of view, capturing both the terrifying hugeness of her surroundings and the exaggerated indifference of her folks (played by Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan). The melodrama is overdone, but true to the way a child experiences the world. McGehee and Siegel provide a commentary track and a few deleted scenes to the DVD and Blu-ray.


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A Band Called Death

Image/Drafthouse, $27.97; Blu-ray, $29.97

Detroit is known as the home of Motown, but in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the city played host to a couple of seminal proto-punk bands, the Stooges and the MC5. Three African American brothers were inspired by those groups to form the band Death, shifting from funk and R&B to raging, experimental rock songs that too few people wanted to buy. The documentary “A Band Called Death” tells the story of Death’s short run, and what happened when the trio’s long-forgotten, ahead-of-its-time music was rediscovered a few years back. As with the excellent recent music docs “Searching for Sugar Man” and “Anvil: The Story of Anvil,” “A Band Called Death” is as inspiring as it is tuneful. The DVD and Blu-ray add more than two hours of featurettes and bonus footage.


The Muppet Movie

Disney/Buena Vista, $19.99; Blu-ray, $26.50

Puppeteer Jim Henson was making playfully experimental short films in the ‘60s, at the same time that he and his “Muppets” were becoming regular guests on talk and variety shows, so it’s no surprise that when the ‘70s syndicated series “The Muppet Show” became a worldwide hit, Henson leveraged that success into making a feature film. “The Muppet Movie” is as bright, smart and self-referential as everything else he did in his career. The new “Nearly 35th Anniversary” Blu-ray edition includes only a couple of brief featurettes and some interactive goofery, which doesn’t pay enough respect to one of the best films of its era. But the movie alone is worth the money; it’s a funny, good-spirited, semi-true story about showbiz puppets that travel to Hollywood to make people happy.

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The Mindy Project: Season One

Universal, $29.98

It took about half a season for comedian Mindy Kaling’s Fox sitcom, “The Mindy Project,” to find its voice, but by the end of its first year, it had become one of the most reliably funny and distinctive series on network television. The original premise had Kaling playing a New York OB/GYN whose ideas of relationships and city living had been shaped by bad romantic comedies; and although that remained at the heart of the show, it began focusing more on the heroine’s cohorts (played by Chris Messina and Ike Barinholtz), and ultimately, “The Mindy Project” became about how middle-aged urbanites adjust to the compromised version of their intended lives. The Season 1 DVD set adds deleted scenes to the original 24 episodes.



The Big Wedding

Lionsgate, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99

Available on VOD beginning Aug. 13

The Company You Keep

Sony Classics, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD beginning Aug. 13

Girls: The Complete Second Season

HBO, $39.98; Blu-ray, $49.99


Olympus Has Fallen

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $40.99

Available on VOD beginning Aug. 13

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