There’s something cool about popping a disc into your home DVD player, then sitting back on the couch and hitting play. Of course, it’s a little better if you have a widescreen TV and you move that couch a little closer to it. Dozens of new and old movies, along with long-forgotten TV shows, are released every Tuesday. We took a look at what’s come out over the past couple of months, and now present a list of quirky, don’t miss or just plain rewarding titles to check out.
Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection
Seven black-and-white classics: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon (in both 2-D and 3-D), along with Phantom of the Opera, in color.
Neil Young Journeys
Jonathan Demme directs his third Neil Young concert outing. This one mixes two 2011 nights of solo performances in Toronto with scenes of Neil, behind the wheel of his ’56 Ford Crown Victoria, riding through the “town in North Ontario” where he grew up. Highlights: “After the Gold Rush” on pump organ and “Helpless” on acoustic guitar.
Bat Masterson: 24-Hour Marathon Collection
He was a real U.S. Marshal who dressed smartly, smooth-talked the ladies, won most poker games he played and whose choice of weapons leaned more toward his gold-tipped cane than hisgun. Gene Barry played him on this late ’50s TV show. Barry’s finest role (well, maybe except for Amos Burke).
It’s a love story, a thriller and a mood piece with characters set in different cities and countries whose stories slowly start to come together. There’s no straightforward narrative, and some of the people in the film never actually meet, though they’re joined via an innovative use of split screen. With Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Anthony Hopkins and many others.
Charlie Is My Darling
A documentary about the Rolling Stones’ 1965 tour of Ireland, this features concert footage of the band — early and raw — and the audience, members of which regularly leap to the stage and grab their idols. There’s also an informal look behind the scenes, on long train rides and in hotel rooms, where the Stones relaxed, often working up new material.
Writer-director Todd Solondz (Happiness, Life During Wartime) delivers his most accessible film, a tale of 30-somethings Abe (Jordan Gelber) and Miranda (Selma Blair), with nothing in common except that they’re both losers. The film has an odd charm. It also has Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken as Abe’s parents.
The Queen of Versailles
Never mind being snubbed by the Academy with no nomination, this film was supposed win the damn Oscar for feature documentary. It’s a darkly hilarious study of very rich people who lose it all, yet still have a propensity for spending freely (and stuffing dead dogs). America is wonderful!
Terry Gilliam’s tale of society being swallowed up by a business-minded police state is more relevant now than when it was released in 1985. This is funny but extremely black satire that’s also a masterpiece of cinematic invention, taking on class struggles and people’s interactions with small and gigantic spaces.
The Qatsi Trilogy
First came the stunning and wordless Koyaanisqatsi (1983), complete with haunting and dizzying Philip Glass soundtrack and a look at “life out of balance,” followed by Powaqqatsi (1988) and Naqoyqatsi (2002). You will drop your jaw, you will think about your place in our world.
My Dog Tulip
The wistful memoir by J.R. Ackerley about his relationship with his German shepherd Tulip makes a wonderful jump to film, done up in simple, hand-drawn animation style. Set in rural 1940s and 1950s England, it tells the story of a lonely man who rescues a difficult dog, and how they work things out. A rarity, this is an animated feature for adults more than for kids.