The acclaimed film “Fences,” directed by Denzel Washington, is on Blu-ray and DVD this week.
“Fences” (Paramount, 2016, PG-13, featurettes). Washington also co-stars with Viola Davis in this adaptation of August Wilson’s 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning play about race relations in the 1950s. Both reprise the roles that earned them Tony Awards for the play’s 2010 Broadway revival — and last month Davis added to her trophy case an Academy Award for her performance.
The story is told from the viewpoint of a lower middle class Pittsburgh family struggling to survive. Washington plays 50-something Troy, angry about missed opportunities, some of which were caused by his own actions and others because of the period’s racist attitudes. Davis is Rose, his long-suffering wife, caught in the middle of Troy’s volatile relationship with their son Cory (Jovan Adepo), who is up for a football scholarship until Troy gets in the way.
As a director, Washington has opened up the play quite well, although its stage roots still show through from time to time, particularly during lengthy monologues. But none of that matters thanks to Wilson’s rich dialogue and the powerhouse performances of the cast.
“Elle” (Sony Classics, 2016; R for violence, sex, nudity, language; in French with English subtitles; featurettes). Isabelle Huppert was Oscar-nominated for her portrayal of a complex sexual assault victim who, instead of calling the police, uncovers the assailant’s identity and exacts her own kind of revenge. Huppert is very good but the material is plot heavy and quite disturbing. It is directed by Paul Verhoeven (“RoboCop,” “Basic Instinct”).
“Robo-Dog: Airborne” (Lionsgate, 2017, G, featurette, “Miniscule” episodes, trailers). The title character in this family comedy is a talking/flying robot pooch, built by an inventor (Patrick Muldoon) for his son (Michael Campion) in the 2015 family film “Robo-Dog.” In this sequel, the pooch is injured in a science fair accident, loses his memory and is taken in by a scientist (Jonathan Silverman) and his young daughter.
“Solace” (Lionsgate, 2015; R for violence, sex, nudity, language; audio commentary, featurette, trailers). Anthony Hopkins seems to be channeling his Oscar-winning Hannibal Lecter role, minus the cannibalism, as a psychic helping FBI agents (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish) track down a serial killer (Colin Farrell). Cliché-ridden with far-fetched twists, this one played theatrically all over the world for a couple of years before this straight-to-video U.S. release.
“Six: Season 1” (History/Lionsgate, 2017, two discs, eight episodes). The title of this History Channel action series (informed by real-life missions) refers to SEAL Team Six, an Army counter-terrorism unit whose assignment to eliminate a Taliban leader in Afghanistan goes awry when they discover that a U.S. citizen is working with the terrorists. The cast is led by Walton Goggins (best-known as Boyd Crowder in “Justified”).
“Drunk History: Season 4” (Comedy Central/Paramount, 2016, 10 episodes, deleted/extended scenes, “Election Special”). This season’s comically inebriated retellings of historical events and ridiculous celebrity impersonations include the Roosevelt presidencies (Theodore and Franklin D.), the Wright Brothers, Alexander Hamilton, Julia Child, Al Capone and Buster Keaton, among others. The guests include Louie Anderson, Ed Helms, Kat Dennings, Liev Schreiber, Kevin Pollak, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks and Patton Oswalt.
“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel Visits the Farm” (PBS Kids, four episodes). This is an animated children’s series about Daniel Tiger, who was a puppet on “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Here, the cartoon Daniel rides a horse for the first time, helps feed ducks and plays with O the Owl.
“Super Why: Triple Feature” (PBS Kids, 2007-11, two discs, 10 episodes). This educational PBS animated series for preschoolers is about a boy and his friends learning how to conquer everyday challenges. The three episodes on the DVD box are “Humpty Dumpty,” “Hansel and Gretel: A Healthy Adventure” and “Jack and the Beanstalk,” but also here are “Pinocchio,” “Cinderella,” “The Princess and the Pea,” etc.
“Wild Kratts: Triple Feature” (PBS Kids, 2011-13, eight episodes). This save-the-animals animated educational PBS series highlights the episodes “Stuck on Sharks,” “Little Howler,” “Raptor Round-Up,” “Speaking Dolphinese” and more.