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DVD reviews: Watching the detectives

Profile image for By Boo Allen / Film Critic
By Boo Allen / Film Critic
Jesse Williams, left, plays hot-rod racer Don “The Snake” Prudhomme in “Snake & Mongoose.”Rocky Mountain Pictures
Jesse Williams, left, plays hot-rod racer Don “The Snake” Prudhomme in “Snake & Mongoose.”
Rocky Mountain Pictures
William H. Macy plays a car salesman whose plan to have his wife kidnapped for ransom falls apart in “Fargo.” The Coen brothers’ 1996 film has been remastered for release on Blu-ray.Gramercy Pictures
William H. Macy plays a car salesman whose plan to have his wife kidnapped for ransom falls apart in “Fargo.” The Coen brothers’ 1996 film has been remastered for release on Blu-ray.
Gramercy Pictures

‘Broadchurch,’ ‘Fargo’ follow sleuths on trail

This week, we begin in Dorset:

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season

Not rated, 6 1/2 hours.

Now available on DVD and in various digital download formats.

This popular British series, broadcast here on BBC America, features esteemed Shakespearean actor David Tennant as Alec Hardy, a grumpy, disheveled detective sent to the small coastal town of Broadchurch to investigate the murder of an 11-year-old boy.

The more the viewer learns about Hardy, the more it becomes apparent how his own troubled history plays a part in the investigation. The inquiry itself helps tear the town apart, particularly since Hardy’s partner, Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman), lives in Broadchurch with her husband and young son.

Eight episodes build to the finale revealing the murderer, as various inhabitants fall aside in devious ways. The series has been renewed for a second season, but first Tennant and Anna Gunn are slated to appear in a U.S. adaptation of the series. Gripping.

DVD extras: a 27-minute “behind-the-scenes” featurette and 27 minutes of deleted scenes. On three discs.


Fargo (4 1/2 stars) As FX gets ready to premiere its television series of the same name, loosely based on brothers Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1996 classic, the original has been remastered for a new Blu-ray edition.

Roger Deakins’ glimmering cinematography perfectly captures the bleak Minnesota landscapes, as well as the hapless maneuverings of car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy).

Lundegaard hires two hit men (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife so he can finance a harebrained scheme using the ransom from his affluent father-in-law.

But things go terribly wrong. Frances McDormand nabbed a deserving Best Actress Oscar for her memorable portrayal of Marge, the pregnant police chief on the trail. This hilarious, frightening and perfect film grows better with every viewing. You betcha.

Rated R, 98 minutes.

DVD extras: Commentary with Deakins; a 28-minute “making of” featurette with extensive cast and crew interviews; a trivia track, photo gallery and abundant stills, and more.


Black Jack (3 stars) The Cohen Film Collection has rescued one of the first, rarely seen films from Scottish treasure Ken Loach for a Blu-ray debut. The early rough edges show in Black Jack (1979), but so does the director’s budding concern for social justice, even if it is seen in a time and place unusual for Loach.

In the Yorkshire district of 1750 England, a lumbering Frenchman, Jack (Jean Franval), escapes hanging through a ruse. He then abducts and joins up with young Tolly (Stephen Hirst) for a series of picaresque adventures. They give shelter to a girl sidetracked on her way to an asylum, join a traveling sideshow and even become involved in a murder.

In one of his earlier films, cinematographer Chris Menges uses mostly natural light to capture the faces of nonprofessional actors and the overgrown back roads on which they travel.

Not rated, 102 minutes. The film originally ran 109 minutes, but in his own director’s cut, Loach shortened the film.

DVD extras: Six minutes of deleted scenes.


Cavemen (2 1/2 stars) Youth is served in this predictable but erratically funny look at a subset of Los Angeles 20-somethings.

Herschel Faber directs from his own script, a wordy effort with dialogue mixing frat-house irreverence with superficial diatribes on love, relationships and the like. Skylar Astin plays Dean, an aspiring screenwriter working as a bartender. In a pinch, he baby-sits his 9-year-old nephew.

Between the bar and baby-sitting, he spends time with his close group of male friends, free-spirited cavemen who seem to have only one thing on their minds —and it’s not long-term relationships.

But Dean is different. Really. He wants true love and not just empty sex. He confides in his best friend, Tess (Camilla Belle). Once Tess is introduced, Cavemen follows a fairly formulaic route before drawing to its obvious ending. But before it does, the energetic characters and sophomoric humor make this trifle passably entertaining.

Rated R, 87 minutes.


Snake & Mongoose (2 stars) The rivalry between drag racing icons Don “The Snake” Prudhomme (Jesse Williams) and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen (Richard Blake) stands at the center of this action drama filled with racing footage. Director Wayne Holloway mixes in archival footage dating back to the 1960s of the duo’s infamous battles.

Rated PG-13, 102 minutes.

DVD extras: The featurette “Snake & Mongoose: Behind the Movie.”


Finally, for kids this week:

Barney: Happy Birthday Barney! In three episodes, the purple one celebrates his birthday with friends and then returns the favor when it is Layla’s big day.

The disc also holds two games. Not rated, 65 minutes.


Thomas and Friends: Railway Mischief and Thomas and Friends: Trouble on the Tracks Both of these new Thomas releases contain five episodes along with games, music videos and puzzles.

Railway Mischief: Not rated, 56 minutes. Trouble on the Tracks: Not rated, 57 minutes.


The Jungle Book 2 (3 stars) Following on the heels of the recent Diamond Edition of Disney’s original Jungle Book film, this 2003 sequel makes its Blu-ray debut, with the new high-definition disc giving added vibrancy to the jungle settings.

John Goodman voices Baloo the lovable bear, who misses his buddy, Mowgli (Haley Joel Osment), who has gone to live in the “man-village.” They reunite for further jungle adventures and are joined by Bagheera (Bob Joles), the not-so-frightening panther. Eventually Mowgli must confront the evil Shere Khan (Tony Jay).

Mae Whitman voices Shanti, with additional voices by Phil Collins, Jess Harnell, Baron Davis and others.

Rated G, 72 minutes. Available in downloads, combo packs and various formats.

DVD extras: Two deleted scenes, a featurette on “The Legacy of The Jungle Book,” sing-along songs, three music videos and more.

Also available Tuesday on DVD: August: Osage County, Grudge Match, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Holy Ghost People.