This week we begin with Jean-Luc:
For Ever Mozart
Not rated, 86 minutes. Available Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD.
Not rated, 107 minutes. Available Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD.
The Cohen Film Collection releases to Blu-ray and brings back to DVD two separate, unrated features from director Jean-Luc Godard, possibly cinema’s all-time provocateur.
At 83, Godard still turns out his nearly inaccessible works, all grist for his loyal followers. These two present titles, however, represent part of Godard’s slim output of almost conventional narrative. But, as in so much of his work, the viewer still might feel either a step behind, or that Godard is playing some sneaky trick.
For Ever Mozart (1996) ostensibly follows a troupe of actors traveling to Sarajevo during the Bosnian War to produce what is essentially a frivolous 19th-century play by Alfred de Musset.
Meanwhile, a film director lurks about trying to complete his film. Is he Godard? Strange types waltz in and out, making pompous speeches, some political, others not.
Only Godard could reveal what all this means while he juggles his pawns in handsomely photographed scenes that may or may not mean anything. The disc includes commentary and four interviews totaling around 71 minutes with three former Godard crew members and a film scholar.
Hail Mary, understandably controversial at the time when it was first released in 1985, sets the biblical story of Joseph and Mary in a contemporary setting, with Mary (Myriem Roussel) a high school basketball player (Juliette Binoche plays a teammate). When Mary, a virgin, becomes pregnant after a visit from a scruffy-looking angel Gabriel (Philippe Lacoste), it naturally causes problems with her father and her doubting boyfriend, Joseph (Thierry Rode).
Godard again has his characters stop to pontificate, while also indulging in his career-long habit of erratically blaring quick snippets of classical music at odd intervals. The movie’s main idea proves more provocative than its execution as Godard succeeds in making the film about his prowess and not about biblical allegory.
The disc contains commentary, a 23-minute video diary by Godard, a short film, and three interviews totaling around 50 minutes. Both releases include a related booklet.
12 Disasters (2.5 stars) The Syfy channel starts off the year with the release of a timely disaster epic, one filled with no less than a dozen world-ending events (alas, no sharknados, however).
The Mayan prophesy looks to be coming true in a small town when Joseph (Ed Quinn) and his seemingly possessed daughter Jacey (Magda Apanowicz) witness a series of disasters, beginning with huge, and deadly, ice spears falling from the skies. From there, the race is on to uncover Jacey’s role in controlling the escalating events.
With Holly Elissa, Roark Critchlow and Greg Kean. Rated R, 90 minutes.
Murph: The Protector (2.5 stars) Hagiographical yet standard documentary tells what seems to be the complete life story of Michael Murphy, who died in 2005 during a military operation in Afghanistan.
Director Scott Mactavish includes home movies, photos and numerous uniformly positive interviews with Murphy’s friends and relatives to flesh out the story of an intelligent, lively, well-liked boy who grows up, graduates from college and becomes a Navy SEAL. Murphy proved courageous and heroic in a battle for which he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Rated PG, 76 minutes.
We Are What We Are (2 stars) When the mother (Kassie DePaiva) of two teen girls (Julia Garner and Ambyr Childers) dies, their domineering father (Bill Sage) insists they continue their creepy custom of luring people to the house, killing them and then eating them. Bon appetit. Supposedly they are following some ancient family religious tradition.
Various dramas play out about teen love, missing people and a local, Doc Barrow (Michael Parks), on the trail of those who have gone missing. Kelly McGillis plays a meddlesome neighbor who wishes she had minded her own beeswax. This slow, dreary, dark and just plain unpleasant film was written and directed by Jim Mickle, based on a 2010 Mexican film.
Rated R, 105 minutes. The DVD includes a comprehensive 55-minute “making of” featurette and 16 minutes of interviews.
And, finally, from this week’s TV arrivals:
Being Human: The Complete Third Season This Syfy series, based on a BBC series, soon returns to cable TV this month — but not before its successful third season arrives on DVD.
The four roommates who live in a Boston brownstone — werewolves Josh and Nora (Sam Huntington and Kristen Hager), vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer) and ghost Sally (Meaghan Rath) — face continuing problems living their so-called lives while trying to appear normal — that is, human.
In the third season’s 13 episodes, Aidan again appears from nowhere, Sally runs into an old friend, Nora and Josh try to save a lost teenager, and the season ends with Aidan dealing with Kenny (Connor Price) and Nora and Josh finally facing Liam (Xander Berkeley).
Not rated, 9 hours, 32 minutes on four discs. The set includes a behind-the-scenes featurette, a gag reel, a segment filmed at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con, and cast interviews.
China Beach: Season 2 The 17 episodes of the second season of this groundbreaking TV series aired in 1989. By then, the series, created by Austin native William Broyles Jr., had established itself as a gritty, naturalistic depiction of the Vietnam War.
Emmy-winning actress Dana Delany played Colleen McMurphy, an Army nurse based at an evacuation hospital. She headed a cast of characters who experienced weekly difficulties in a war zone, with the second season’s obstacles coming in the forms of visiting media, friends missing in action, smugglers, a depressing Christmas, and many other dramas — as well as a few laughs to go along with a soundtrack of the era’s ever-present music.
Not rated, 13 hours, 52 minutes on five discs. The set includes commentary on an episode, interviews with cast members Michael Boatman, Robert Picardo and Marg Helgenberger, and the featurette “Voices of War: The Real China Beach.”
Also available Tuesday on DVD: Inequality for All, Linsanity, Tiger Eyes, Thanks for Sharing.