DVD reviews: Just folk

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Guy Hamilton (Mel Gibson, left) and Pete Curtis (Michael Murphy) are foreign correspondents covering the 1965 Indonesian civil war in “The Year of Living Dangerously” (1982).
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Coens’ shaggy-dog story leads the pack in new DVD releases

This week, we begin in Greenwich Village:

Inside Llewyn Davis

3.5 stars

Rated R, 105 minutes. Available Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray and in various digital download formats.

In this sublime shaggy-dog story from the Coen brothers, Oscar Isaac plays Llewyn Davis, a mooch and a bit of a jerk. But in 1961 Greenwich Village, he also seems to be unequal parts of the many folk singers who broke on the scene about that time.

Davis’ disastrous personal life offers rich material. He seems to be homeless, and bums a couch when and where he can. Plus, he’s impregnated Jean (Carey Mulligan), the girlfriend of his good friend, Jim (Justin Timberlake).

Before long, Davis travels to Chicago, sharing time behind the wheel with the surly driver (Garrett Hedlund) for musical oddity Roland Turner (John Goodman). Once in town, Llewyn auditions for a folk club owner (F. Murray Abraham) who rejects him outright.

Then it’s back to New York, where the rest of the folk singers share various traits, as new songs blend in with some standards.

Directors-writers Ethan and Joel Coen never seem to take Llewyn or his cohorts seriously, but make an evocative, fun trip back in time with tuneful music and a deadpan hilarious line here and there.

DVD extras include a comprehensive 43-minute “making of” featurette, “Inside Inside Llewyn Davis,” with plenty of cast and crew interviews.

*

Wicked Blood (2.5 stars) Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) stars as Hannah, a teenage girl in some vague Southern town (the film was shot in Louisiana) who tries to break free of the destructive cycle she finds herself in. Hannah lives with her combative older sister, Amber (Alexa Vega), and their drug-addicted uncle Donny (Lew Temple).

Hannah wants independence and seeks it by delivering drugs on her bicycle for her so-called “Uncle” Frank (Sean Bean), a local crime boss. But trouble rises, and fingers are pointed when Hannah decides she can make even more money by diluting the drugs and setting out on her own. Bad idea, child.

Moderately entertaining but discomforting film from writer-director Mark Young. Not rated, 94 minutes. The DVD includes four cast and crew interviews.

*

The manufactured-on-demand releases from the Warner Archive Collection have become downright current with two releases from 1982-83.

The Year of Living Dangerously (3.5 stars) A young chain-smoking Mel Gibson stars in this atmospheric political drama set in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1965 as dictator Sukarno feels the first rumblings against his repressive regime.

Gibson plays Guy Hamilton, a relatively inexperienced journalist thrown into the cutthroat, competitive scramble among foreign reporters for news to send home. But Hamilton quickly becomes connected, scoring interviews and sending back scoops, mainly due to information given him by photographer Billy Kwan (played in an odd bit of casting by Linda Hunt, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress).

As the political situation escalates, Hamilton juggles his dedication to report on the dangerous uprising against his new connection with Jill Bryant (Sigourney Weaver), a British Embassy employee. Director Peter Weir subtly navigates the many personal and political threads while ratcheting up the drama, which was released in 1983. Rated PG, 115 minutes.

The World According to Garp (3.5 stars) Robin Williams stars as the title character in the sprawling 1982 social comedy-drama, based on John Irving’s mega-selling novel. George Roy Hill directed, deftly maneuvering among many themes provided by the story of a fiercely independent woman, Jenny Fields (Oscar-nominated Glenn Close, in her feature film debut), and the son she has had out of wedlock.

As Garp matures (into Williams), he aspires to be a writer, finding middling success about the time his mother writes a best-selling feminist manifesto. Garp becomes a settled family man with his wife (Mary Beth Hurt), while his mother’s shadow hangs over Garp and his family. Rated R, 136 minutes.

*

Mademoiselle C (2.5 stars) Dedicated followers of fashion might enjoy this fawning documentary from Fabien Constant. The loosely arranged work centers on former Vogue Paris editor Carine Roitfeld. Constant picks her up as Roitfeld lands in New York to create what she calls a publication “between a magazine and a book.” This enterprise eventually becomes CR Fashion Book.

Constant follows his subject to various fashion shows across the globe (Paris, New York, China) and talks to high-profile names: Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford, Donatella Versace and others. Constant chronicles enough of Roitfeld’s personal life to render a cursory biography.

Not rated, 93 minutes. The Blu-ray also holds additional footage of the film’s Paris premiere.

*

IndiePix Films returns with two dissimilar documentaries. Each is unrated and runs around an hour.

King of Chinatown (2.5 stars) Director Calvin Theobold centers on the efforts to turn video gaming into a mainstream sport. He focuses on player Justin Wong as he successfully competes in Street Fighter IV, ending with a turn in a big tournament.

Cruzin’ (3 stars) This documentary follows U.S. Olympian Tony Cruz and 13 others as they make a 12-day, 1,000-mile bike trek from North to South Vietnam, even touching on the infamous Ho Chi Minh trail. Director Scott Nguyen paints engaging portraits of the riders as well as the country.

The DVD includes commentary and a featurette on “Ms. Vy’s Cooking Class.”

*

And, finally, from this week’s TV arrivals:

Flintstone Kids: Rockin’ in Bedrock This 1986 TV series starred the well-known characters from The Flintstones — Barney, Fred, Wilma and Betty — in their youth. The series takes place when they were all children, thereby leading into high jinks such as misbehaving in school and having misadventures while playing baseball. Flintstone Kids also included many new characters not seen in the original Flintstones. Kenneth Mars served as the narrator, and the legendary Mel Blanc voices the role of Dino.

The set comes on two discs, with 10 episodes. Not rated, 239 minutes.

*

Rogue: The Complete First Season The 10 episodes of the initial season of this tough crime series — which originated on DirecTV — arrive on four discs. Thandie Newton stars as Grace Travis, an unusually stealthy undercover detective who searches for her son’s killer, mainly with the man she works for, evil mobster Jimmy Laszlo (Marton Csokas).

Similar to the plot from The Departed, Grace must pretend to be uncovering a mole while working to bring Jimmy down, thereby setting up weekly bouts of suspense.

Not rated, 500 minutes. The collection includes a behind-the-scenes feature titled “Script to Screen,” and “Rogue Files” webisodes.

*

Also available Tuesday on DVD: The Book Thief, The Broken Circle Breakdown, Homefront, Out of the Furnace and The Outsider.


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