NEW ON THE SHELF
“HER,” Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams. It’s the classic tale of boy meets operating system in this typically brilliant and timely feature from director Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich”), wherein lonely writer Theodore (the ever-committed Phoenix) waylays soul-crushing divorce proceedings with his ex (Rooney Mara, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) in favor of spending time with his new gadget, an AI add-on (voiced by Scarlett Johansson, who should absolutely take over for Siri after this) for his computer that responds to his requests and conversation with alarming perception and warmth, to the point that the vulnerable man finds himself falling in love with his new purchase. Not as off the wall as it might initially appear, “Her” is a clever look at our tech-obsessed, increasingly insular society, and a surprisingly effective romance to boot. Rated R. Running time: 2:06. Suggested retail price: $28.98; Blu-ray $35.99.
“I, FRANKENSTEIN,” Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy. Really more of a reboot of “Underworld” than of Shelley’s enduring horror classic, this passable genre mash-up finds Frankenstein’s monster – here dubbed Adam and portrayed by a newly chiseled Eckhart – caught up in an ongoing battle between Gargoyles and Demons, siding with the former and taking particular issue with the actions of Naberius (an energetically check-cashing Nighy, yet another allusion to “Underworld”), the leader of the Demon warriors. Did we mention it was made by the creators of “Underworld”? Miscalculated on the whole, but not without its B-movie charms, and Eckhart makes for an enjoyably imposing monster. Special features include a commentary from co-writer/director Stuart Beattie (“Tomorrow, When the War Began”). Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:33. Suggested retail price: $29.95; Blu-ray $39.99.
“THAT AWKWARD MOMENT,” Zak Efron, Michael B. Jordan. A trio of attractive young scoundrels (Efron, Jordan of “Fruitvale Station,” and Miles Teller of “21 & Over”), fed up with relationship issues, vow to stay single and just have fun with the opposite sex for the foreseeable future, but said future appears to be coming on quicker than they’d expect and prefer when they meet women who, wouldn’t ya know it, appear to be perfect for them. Relatively harmless rom-com romp plays heavily to the millennial demographic, but the leads and their respective conquests are appealing. Special features include “more awkward moments” and a featurette on the characters. Rated R. Running time: 1:34. Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $35.99.
NEW TO DVD
“EASTBOUND & DOWN: THE COMPLETE FOURTH & FINAL SEASON,” Danny McBride, Ken Marino. Originally set to be over and done with in a tight three seasons, this apparently wasn’t enough for the many diehard fans of former baseball dynamo and all-around horrible human being Kenny Powers (McBride, in a career-defining role), and thus HBO has treated us to another nine episodes of terrible decisions and reprehensible behavior, with the ever-uncooperative Kenny reduced to working on a dismal car rental lot and being humiliated on local sports talk shows (hosted by the always welcome Marino of “Bad Milo”). A fitting, disastrously funny end for one of the decade’s most consistently comic creations. Special features include deleted scenes and commentary on all eight episodes with cast and crew. Not rated. Running time: 4:00. Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.98.
“ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK: THE COMPLETE SEASON ONE,” Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon. It’s practically impossible to make a boring show or movie about prison, but by the same token it’s arguably just as difficult to create one that stands out from the crowd, and “Orange” certainly succeeds in that regard, with “Weeds” creator Jenji Kohan offering an alternately hilarious and troubling story tailor-made for binge-watching, following pampered, financially secure Piper (Schilling, “Argo”) as she navigates prison life after being implicated in a decade-old crime by her deal-dealing ex-girlfriend (Prepon, “That ’70s Show”). An excellent cast of familiar (but of late little-seen) faces including Jason Biggs, Kate Mulgrew and Natasha Lyonne rounds out this critically acclaimed hit. Not rated. Running time: 12:10. Suggested retail price: $39.98
NEW TO BLU-RAY
“THE GODFATHER PART III,” Al Pacino, Andy Garcia. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! Far and away the least revered of director Francis Ford Coppola’s universally acclaimed, hugely influential trilogy, 1990’s “Part III” has actually aged fairly well in the meantime, revealing a beautifully shot (a fact this Blu-ray release really hammers home), largely well-acted if unquestionably flawed wrap-up. Rated R. Running time: 2:50.
Suggested retail price: $22.99.
“AFTER TILLER,” documentary. The four remaining doctors who perform late-term abortions in the United States are the subject of this unavoidably troubling doc, whose title refers to the late Dr. George Tiller, a mentor to most of the doctors profiled here who was murdered by an anti-abortion activist in 2009, a possibility that continues to bear a very real threat toward the few doctors willing to perform this controversial service for their patients, as the unsettling footage of protesters shown here easily attests. It’s a profession fraught with struggle of every imaginable stripe, finding the doctors questioning their beliefs and decisions at every turn, offering a needed but reviled procedure that has them second-guessing themselves and looking over their shoulders constantly. An eye-opening, essential doc, not to mention a great way to put the stress of your own job into proper perspective. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:28. Suggested retail price: $29.99.
“GENERATION IRON,” documentary. A “Pumping Iron” for a new generation (with Arnie himself even making an appearance). Director Vlad Yudin (“Catskill Park”) spends some enlightening time with seven prominent hopefuls in the 2012 Mr. Olympia competition, hardcore bodybuilders all from disparate backgrounds but with common goals: to become as muscular as possible and then display said muscles in front of a crowd of onlookers and judges. Interviews reveal right off the bat that the inherent craziness of their chosen profession/hobby is not lost on these men, but none can deny the inner voice that continually pushes them to take their bodies to the next level. By allowing the viewers to form their own opinions about the onscreen activity, Yudin’s doc naturally generates more fascination than scorn via simply letting the bodybuilders speak for themselves. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:47. Suggested retail price: $24.98.
– Courtesy of Videoport