This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Foxcatcher, Mockingjay – Part 1, & more

This Week: The grim greatness of Foxcatcher, the end begins for Hunger Games, and a humbling state of affairs for Al Pacino.

► ‘Moneyball’ director Bennett Miller’s FOXCATCHER gets two pretty amazing (and Oscar-nominated) performances from Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo, but it’s Channing Tatum’s surprisingly great turn as naïve wrestler Mark Schultz which gives this heartbreaking true story its backbone. An Olympic wrestling champion, Schultz is recruited by wealthy weirdo John du Pont (Carell) to train at his estate in a laughable attempt to mentor him. Who du Pont really wants, though, is Schultz’s brother Dave to train the team. A truly bizarre and tragic story, and Miller’s film builds with uneasy dread for two hours. Miller deserved his best Director nomination at the Oscars, but how did this miss a Best Picture nod?

► The Hunger Games begins its final act with MOCKINGJAY – PART 1, which managed to squeak past ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ to become the biggest movie of 2014. Politics replace game play now, as Katniss comes to symbolize the rebellion after surviving two Hunger Games contests. The movie basically sets up her battle against the Capital, which will comprise the last chapter…and which pissed off more than a few moviegoers who expected more action, less table setting. Either way, Jennifer Lawrence just keeps getting better in the series, and the storyline has moved past the ‘Twilight’ angst into something far more thought-provoking. Blu-ray includes lots of deleted scenes and an eight-part making-of documentary. Comes out March 6.

► Volume One of Starz’ surprise hit OUTLANDER contains the first eight episodes. Adapted by ‘Battlestar Galactica’s Ronald Moore from Diana Gabaldon’s time travel series, it follows a World War II British combat nurse (Caitriona Balfe) who stumbles upon a rift which sends her back to 1743 Scotland, where she’s accused of being a spy and falls in love with a Highlander. The problem? She’s married back in 1945. The next slate of episodes begins April 4. Blu-ray (not the DVD) includes more then 20 deleted scenes and several featurettes.

► First-time director Susanna Fogel’s LIFE PARTNERS follows the close friendship between straight and narrow Paige (Gillian Jacobs) and lazy lesbian Sasha (Leighton Meester). When Paige starts falling for a young doctor (Adam Brody), things start getting tense. Based on the web series ‘Joni & Susanna’ which Fogel created and starred in.

► Before our current Golden Age of TV, HILL STREET BLUES was pretty much considered the greatest drama the tube ever saw. So imagine how flustered fans were when Fox released the first two seasons on DVD in 2006, then bailed. To the rescue came Shout! Factory, which put out The Complete Series last year and is now doling out the individual seasons. While modern eyes can’t help but see how tame this police classic is compared to the likes of ‘The Shield’ or ‘Southland,’ this was gritty stuff in the ‘80s and a remarkable departure from the dried-up police procedurals of the ‘70s. Season 4 notched 14 Emmy nominations, which is what it averaged over seven seasons. Season 4 features the landmark episode ‘Grace Under Pressure,’ dealing with the death of Sgt. Phil Esterhaus – actor Michael Conrad had died three months before it aired.

THE HUMBLING is a friggin’ Barry Levinson movie with Al Pacino. What would have been a big deal 20 years ago comes to blu-ray without a peep in 2015. This is only sad if you remember a time every Pacino movie – even the bad ones – had the buzz of something you just needed to see. Only a select few great ones had that kind of pull, and to now see them in stuff no one has even heard of is depressing. For some art-imitating-life, Pacino plays a has-been actor at the breaking point. The solution? An affair with a young lesbian (Greta Gerwig).

► Indie bio flick THE LAST OF ROBIN HOOD looks at a less-then-savory chapter in Errol Flynn’s life, when he started an affair with a 15-year-old starlet near the end of his life. Kevin Kline stars as the swashbuckler and Dakota Fanning stars as teen Beverly Aadland, who was with Flynn when he died of a heart attack at 50. Susan Sarandon stars as Aadland’s mom, who spilled the beans on the lurid romance.

► Season 3 looked to be the end of the road for A&E’s dusty drama LONGMIRE until Netflix swooped in and grabbed it for Season 4. Robert Taylor stars as a Wyoming sheriff running for re-election and dealing with assorted scumbags after the death of his wife. The catch is, like ‘Justified’s Raylon Givens, Taylor is a throwback to the old west with his own sense of justice. Katee Sackhoff and Lou Diamond Phillips provide solid support.

Also out this week:





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