Redford, Sherlock and more on DVD and Blu-ray

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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Robert Redford stars in J.C. Chandors All is Lost. (Richard Foreman, Jr./Roadside Attractions)

Tuesday’s selections on DVD and Blu-ray include a marvelous performance by a longtime actor, an enjoyable ensemble comedy-drama, an acclaimed TV series, an iconic detective and more.

The performance comes from Robert Redford in the one-man movie All Is Lost (Lionsgate, $26.98 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray). Written and directed by J.C. Chandor, a graduate of the College of Wooster, the film puts Redford on a small boat in the middle of the ocean and then puts the boat and Redford through a series of devastating mishaps. With almost no dialogue, Redford carries the film through his subtly expressive face — and one sharply spoken word. The movie itself is more of an interesting exercise than a true thriller, but thanks to Redford it is consistently watchable. Extras include audio commentary, several featurettes and short pieces about Redford and Chandor.

The comedy-drama is The Best Man Holiday (Universal, $29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo). A sequel to 1999’s The Best Man, the new film picks up the characters’ lives more than a decade after we last saw them — some successful, some not. What follows is at times raunchy (the film is rated R), other times just funny, and more than a little sad. It can be predictable — the audience will be ahead of the characters on at least one plot point — but it was still enjoyable.

Unfortunately, while the movie did somewhat well at the box office, many moviegoers probably dismissed it as something aimed only at African-American audiences because the cast was dominated by people of color, among them Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard, Nia Long and Sanaa Lathan. But it’s a movie that could be enjoyed by all audiences.

Of course, we all have our ideas of who would like a given movie. When I mentioned to a co-worker that I liked this, she was surprised — because I’m a man.

Extras include a making-of piece, commentary by writer-director Malcolm D. Lee and a blooper reel. The Blu-ray adds an alternate ending and extended scenes.

The Americans returns for its second season on FX on Feb. 26, and you can catch up on the Cold War drama when the first season is on disc on Tuesday (Fox, $49.98 DVD, $59.99 Blu-ray).

The series stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as Soviet spies passing themselves off as ordinary folks in Reagan-era Washington. Even as they go through the motions of regular life, they are snooping and seducing and killing in the name of their cause — although those efforts often affect their arranged marriage and their family. Grim and uncompromising, the series also boasts fine performances by the likes of Noah Emmerich (as an FBI agent who is also their neighbor), Margo Martindale and Richard Thomas.

Extras include commentary on one episode, several making-of pieces, bloopers and deleted scenes.

As for the detective, who else could it be but Sherlock Holmes? Sherlock: Season Three (BBC, $29.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray) contains the three most recent productions starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a modern-dress Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson: The Empty Hearse, The Sign of Three and His Last Vow. Extras include a making-of segment and a look at the legacy of Holmes.

Also of note on Tuesday: Naomi Watts plays the famous princess in Diana (Entertainment One, $24.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray). Cormac McCarthy turns to screenwriting with awful results in the muddled, pretentious The Counselor (Fox, $29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray). Larry Hagman has his final moments as J.R. Ewing in Dallas: The Complete Second Season (Warner, 15 episodes, $39.98 DVD), which also includes cast memories and a last conversation with Hagman, who died in 2012. The complexity of Lance Armstrong is well and closely examined in the documentary The Armstrong Lie (Sony, $30.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray).

Down video road: Oscar-nominated 12 Years a Slave comes to digital sites on Feb. 18 and then on DVD and Blu-ray on March 4. Inside Llewyn Davis comes to DVD, Blu-ray and digital on March 11. King of Comedy: The 30th Anniversary will be on Blu-ray on March 25.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Twitter (@RHeldenfelsABJ) and Facebook. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.


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