Documentary follows grizzly cubs through frozen landscape
This week, we begin in Alaska:
Rated G, 78 minutes. Available Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray as well as various digital download formats.
Disneynature travels to a remote Alaska island to document the birth of two bear cubs and the first year they spend with their nurturing mother, quaintly given the name Sky.
Directors Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey brave the elements and constant dangers to deliver the endless beauty of the snow-covered mountains giving way to lush green meadows. The beautifully and imaginatively photographed film moves swiftly as the bears look for food while struggling to survive.
John C. Reilly delivers the often corny narration.
DVD extras: seven-minute featurettes on “The Future for the Bears,” “A Guide to Living With Bears,” the fascinating “How Did They Film That?” and a “making of” segment. Plus: a music video with Olivia Holt.
Favorites of the Moon (3.5 stars) After a few minutes, it becomes relatively clear what director Otar Iosseliani put together in this odd yet beguiling 1984 film that introduces multiple plots and then gradually brings them all together.
Like Robert Altman, to whom he was once compared, Iosseliani challenges his viewers to stay focused on: a philandering Parisian woman who changes lovers frequently; a father-and-son burglary team; a trash collector who seems to stumble on choice rarities; an inept bomb squad; a combative couple; and other oddball Parisians.
Iosseliani uses a set of 17th century porcelain and a vintage oil painting as tropes passing through various hands to tie together the narrative.
Not rated, 105 minutes.
DVD extras: commentary and a 12-page booklet with essay from film critic Giovanni Vimercati.
Muppets Most Wanted (3 stars) An all-star comedy cast joins an all-star Muppet cast in this sequel of sorts that sees a full roster of Muppets touring the world following the success of their last film.
But they unwittingly hire shady manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), who switches the evil Constantine for Kermit.
Ty Burrell plays an Interpol agent tracking down the group, while Kermit sits in a Russian gulag with a sinister guard (Tina Fey).
The film sports such craziness as Danny Trejo and Ray Liotta singing in the gulag’s choir, Sean Combs working a Muppet dice game, Salma Hayek being forced off stage, Usher ushering and Christoph Waltz waltzing.
Ross Lynch, Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Tony Bennett, and others pop up.
Rated PG. Feature: 107 minutes. Extended-cut feature: 119 minutes.
DVD extras: a 10-minute blooper reel, three minutes on “Rizzo’s Biggest Fan,” a music video by Bret McKenzie and more.
We Won’t Grow Old Together (4 stars) No film has stripped raw a failed relationship like Maurice Pialat’s 1972 French drama.
He jumps around in time and place to document six combustible years with Catherine and Jean (Marlene Jobert and Jean Yanne). Clothes and hairstyles suggest points in time, but usually the couple’s behaviors give a better understanding.
The normal relationship progression sees an initial excess of love and attention followed by irritation, which eventually turns into discomforting abuse.
The fluctuations come naturally, making them all the more believable and painful.
No rated, 106 minutes.
On My Way (3 stars) Emmanuelle Bercot co-wrote and directed Catherine Denueve as Bettie, a forlorn lady recently abandoned by her boyfriend.
When Bettie faces insurmountable problems with her family restaurant, she takes a brief break from her troubles. But it becomes more, a quest for sanity and survival that leads her to some unexpected places.
Bercot mixes a dash of humor with a revelatory drama.
Not rated, 116 minutes.
DVD extras: deleted scenes and an interview with Deneuve.
Boredom (2.5 stars) Yawn. Wake me when this review is over.
Albert Nerenberg directed this surprisingly engaging documentary that probes boredom — what it is, why we suffer through it, and maybe even how to avoid it.
Many answers lie in our everyday environments.
Not rated. Two versions of the movie are included on one disc: 61 minutes and 55 minutes. Plus: two brief featurettes.
And now, something for the kids:
Geronimo Stilton: Going Down to Chinatown (not rated, 92 minutes) and Babar and the Adventures of Badou: Gone Wild (not rated, 88 minutes) In the first of these two entries, New Mouse journalist and book series star Geronimo Stilton sets out in four episodes to solve a mystery about a letter with an accompanying map.
In the second offering, Babar the elephant, from Jean de Brunhoff’s tales, stars in eight episodes along with his friends Chiku the monkey, Monroe the porcupine, Zawaldi the zebra and others.
Peppa Pig: The Balloon Ride and Eleanor’s Secret Preschool pig favorite Peppa (not rated, 60 minutes) holds 12 episodes of animated adventures about the title pig and her friends Suzy Sheep, Pedro Pony, Danny Dog and others.
Dominque Monfrey directed the feature-length Eleanor (not rated, 80 minutes), an animated escapade in which young Nat discovers a magic library which lets him interact with fairy tales come alive: Little Red Riding Hood, Peter Pan, Pinocchio and many others.
And, finally, from this week’s TV arrivals:
The Birthday Boys: Season One Ten episodes of this comedy show’s debut season starring the titular Los Angeles group arrive on two discs.
The sketch ensemble offers a variety of absurd episodes along with some standard stand-up acts.
Along the way, they take aim at a wide range of well known targets.
Not rated, 230 minutes.
DVD extras: commentaries, a “making of” featurette on season one, the featurette “From Stage to Screen,” bonus videos and more.
Bitten: Season One The 13 episodes, on four discs, of this new Syfy series based on Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld novels, star Laura Vandervoort as Elena Michaels, billed as the world’s only female werewolf.
Of course this singularity causes problems, many with her new boyfriend and many with her attempts to acclimate to life in a big city.
The series has been renewed for 2015.
With Steve Lund, Paul Greene, Greg Bryk and Greyston Holt.
Rated TV-14, 572 minutes.
DVD extras: commentary, a “behind-the-scenes” featurette, deleted scenes and a split-screen stunt choreography.
Low Winter Sun: The Complete Series This cable series followed HBO’s True Detective formula of presenting an opening challenge and then finishing it off within the confines of one season, here with 10 episodes on three discs.
The two lead detectives, Frank and Joe (Mark Strong and Lennie James, both intense), throw a curve by murdering a fellow cop in the first episode and then dodging their own culpability for the entire season, while also sorting through various other drug turf wars, murders and conspiracies that take place in Detroit’s seamy underbelly.
Good, gritty, dark series.
Not rated, 430 minutes.
DVD extras: a five-minute “making of” featurette, three minutes on “Detroit Grit,” five minutes on “Designing the Precinct.” Plus, each episode has its own featurette of about five minutes, along with deleted scenes on each.
Also available Tuesday on DVD: Filth, Locke, Love Streams, The Railway Man.