‘Masters of Sex’ is addictive, and its stars are terrific

Lizzy Caplan in ‘Masters of Sex’
Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson in “Masters of Sex.”
(Michael Desmond / Showtime)


Masters of Sex: Season One

Sony, $55.99; Blu-ray, $65.99

Showtime continues to steal some of the critical buzz and awards attention from HBO, FX and AMC with its original series: first with “Homeland,” and now “Masters of Sex.” Based on the lives of sex researchers William Masters (played by Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), “Masters of Sex” deals with the hang-ups and blind spots of mid-1950s Middle America, suggesting that though the private practice of sex hasn’t changed much over the centuries, public attitudes have. Creator Michelle Ashford and her writers hit the “boy, the olden days were tough” beats a little too hard in the 12 first-season episodes, but Sheen and especially Caplan are so terrific that the show is addictive regardless. The DVD and Blu-ray tack on a commentary track, deleted scenes and featurettes that dig deeper into the real story of Masters and Johnson.


300: Rise of an Empire

Warner Bros., $28.98; Blu-ray, $35.99/$44.95

Available on VOD on Tuesday

Not exactly a sequel, the film is set before, during and after the events of “300,” telling an abstracted, superhero-like version of the historical conflict between the Greeks and the Persians. As with its predecessor, “Rise of an Empire” becomes stilted and overbearing whenever the characters stand around and talk, but director Noam Murro copies the visual design of Zack Snyder’s “300" well (no real surprise, given that Snyder’s a producer and co-screenwriter), and the look of the film is integral to its appeal. When the globules of computer-generated blood fly majestically through the air, or a fleet of Athenian ships rams into Persian vessels on roiling seas, “Rise of an Empire” is legitimately awesome. The DVD and Blu-ray add featurettes.


Winter’s Tale

Warner Bros., $28.98; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD June on Tuesday

Mark Helprin’s 1983 fantasy novel has been a favorite of genre fans almost since it was published, because of the way Helprin concocts a very American spin on a story with immortals, demons, and flying guardian horses. But though writer-director Akiva Goldsman’s movie version captures the look of New York from a century ago, Goldsman can’t streamline a nearly 700-page book into two hours, and the movie’s cast — including Colin Farrell as a good-hearted thief, Russell Crowe as his nemesis and Will Smith as Lucifer — look lost. The DVD and Blu-ray are pretty skimpy when it comes to extras too, containing only deleted scenes and a couple of shallow featurettes.

A Hard Day’s Night

Criterion, $19.95; Blu-ray, $39.95

Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ landmark musical, Criterion is offering a packed DVD and Blu-ray edition, featuring hours of interviews and documentaries that look back at the early years of Beatlemania and the lively style of director Richard Lester. But it’s the movie itself that’s the main attraction here. Even now, “A Hard Day’s Night’s” free-form mix of catchy Beatles songs, wacky British comedy and documentary-like footage of John, Paul, George and Ringo is so evidently fun and energetic that it explains easily why the Beatles took over pop culture in the mid-1960s.



Blood Ties

Lionsgate, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99

The Bridge: Season One

20th Century Fox, $39.98; Blu-ray, $49.99


Lionsgate, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99


Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98


Rob the Mob

Millennium, $28.99; Blu-ray, $29.99

Available on VOD on Tuesday

Wolf Creek 2

Image, $29.96; Blu-ray, $34.97

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