New on the Shelf
“JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT,” Chris Pine, Kevin Costner. It was certainly about time for a Tom Clancy reboot, with films such as “The Hunt for Red October” and “Patriot Games” being discovered by younger fans and thankfully director/co-star Kenneth Branagh (“Thor”) and Pine (“Star Trek”) are presenting “Ryan” to the new generation of potential fans, and honoring the legacy of the recently departed Clancy in doing so. Reminiscent of the Bond reboot in its style and efficiency, “Ryan” appears primed to kickstart a new and welcome action franchise. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:45. Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99.
“NON-STOP,” Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore. A couple of decades ago, the very notion that Liam Neeson would one day develop into one of the big screen’s most bankable action stars would have earned you a polite chuckle at best, outright guffaws at worst, but here we are, and while “Non-Stop” failed to garner the same level of attention and success as “The Grey” or “Taken,” it’s a tight, crackerjack thriller, with Neeson portraying an air marshall tasked with protecting an airplane full of passengers from a murderer who has unfortunately boarded the flight along with them. The claustrophobic setting and Neeson’s customary charismatic gruffness combine for a terrifically entertaining genre flick. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:47. Suggested retail price: $29.96; Blu-ray $34.98.
NEW TO DVD
“TIM’S VERMEER,” documentary. One man’s obsession with a seemingly impossible achievement drives this thoroughly enjoyable doc, brought to you by everybody’s favorite surrealist/magician duo, Penn & Teller. Following self-made millionaire, general eccentric and close friend of P&T Tim Jenison in his dogged attempts to recreate the amazing, photo-realistic paintings of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer using only the primitive materials that would have been made available at the time (going so far as to construct a perfect re-creation of the room Vermeer originally painted), this affectionate and often funny doc is both a fascinating historical mystery and a loving portrait of a true character. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:20. Suggested retail price: $40.99.
“TRUE DETECTIVE: SEASON ONE,” Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson. Few shows generated as much buzz over the first half of 2014 as HBO’s acclaimed “True Detective,” which has the good sense to partner up McConaughey and Harrelson, here playing detectives – a cynical atheist and a God-fearing everyman, respectively – continually haunted by a serial killer case they solved back in the mid-’90s, the circumstances of which appear to be rearing their ugly head once again in present-day Louisiana. Effectively cutting between both eras, “Detective” is seriously addictive television, with rich characters and an effectively seamy atmosphere. Special features include deleted scenes and interviews with McConaughey and Harrelson. Not rated. Running time: 7:38. Suggested retail price: $59.99; Blu-ray $79.99.
“ALAN PARTRIDGE,” Steve Coogan, Colm Meany. Long a revered comedy icon in his native UK, it’s taken a surprisingly long time for audiences in the States to cotton to Steve Coogan’s deliberately off-putting but frequently uproarious brand of humor, but with recent hit “Philomena” and this big-screen adaptation of perhaps his best known character, it would appear the odds are finally turning in his favor. A terrible talk show host turned terrible DJ for a struggling local radio station, Partridge is a buffoonish blowhard with a talent for finding the worst possible thing to say in any given situation, an ego that in no way matches his questionable talent, and an utter, appalling lack of shame, a quality that leads to his involvement in a getting a fellow, far more agreeable co-worker (Meany) fired, which then of course leads to the once-agreeable co-worker taking the entire station hostage. Who better, then, to handle negotiations between the gunman and the police than Partridge, who sees this as the ultimate comeback opportunity. Thankfully for fans of the most brilliant awkward comedy imaginable, all does not go according to plan, but the fact that we root for such an idiotic character is testament to Coogan’s formidable skills. And best of all, if you like this, there’s “Knowing Me Knowing You” and “I’m Alan Partridge” waiting for you on the shelves. Rated R. Running time: 1:30. Suggested retail price: $26.98; Blu-ray $29.98.
“RAY DONOVAN: SEASON ONE,” Liev Schrieber, Jon Voight. One of Showtime’s best offerings in some time, “Ray Donovan” eschews the customary dark-humored snarkiness that makes or mars (depending on your point of view) its typical lineup in favor of a hard-hitting, pull-no-punches approach, following Hollywood “fixer” Donovan (Schrieber, in an award-worthy performance) as he gets celebrities and politicians out of potentially career-ruining hot water, in the meantime mostly failing to patch up the troubling issues running rampant in his own family, particularly as regards the reappearance of his ex-con father (a terrifying Voight) in his life. A drama that maintains a real edge without feeling the need to showboat, “Ray Donovan” is a fantastic series deserving of a larger viewership. Not rated. Running time: 10:33. Suggested retail price: $55.98; Blu-ray $76.99.
– Courtesy of Videoport