Black Swan – Darren Aronofsky’s shattering ballet drama combines high art and cheesy exploitation into an overpowering dynamo. Natalie Portman turns in a devastating performance as a tortured, repressed dancer who seeks perfection at the cost of anything, including her own mental stability. Vincent Cassel is her domineering artistic director and Mila Kunis plays an up-and-comer who competes for both her job and the lurid affections of Cassel. The Blu-ray includes a digital copy, loads of interviews with the cast and filmmakers and a look at the costume and set design.
Fair Game – In this overlooked, ripped-from-the-headlines potboiler, Naomi Watts plays undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame, who was illegally outed by a politically-motivated leak that stretched all the way up to the White House, tossing her life into turmoil as she had to battle with the media and government. The Blu-ray is a barebones affair with few notable extras.
Mad Men: Season 4 – Since it’s looking as though we won’t be seeing season 5 of the impossibly excellent AMC drama for a while due to contract disputes, you may have to give the Emmy-winning fourth season another watch to pass the time. Adman Don Draper (Jon Hamm), known in the first three seasons as an ultra-confident womanizer, loses his groove after a divorce and struggles to re-establish himself personally and professionally, leading to some wild swings that take the series out of its comfort zone to spectacular results. The Blu-ray version is loaded up with extras, including several commentary tracks, a look at divorce in the 1960s, as well as an analysis of Draper’s business style and the 1964 presidential campaign.
Scream series Blu-rays – On the verge of yet another Scream film, the first three entries – the later two of which are forgettable – of the horror genre satire get their day on Blu-ray. The first film is the only one worth re-watching, but HD adds little to the experience, and the studio didn’t try very hard to inject the film with additional bonus features that would make the disc more compelling.
The Ten Commandments Blu-ray – Cecil B. DeMille’s billowing biblical adaptation, featuring a hilariously overdramatic Charlton Heston as Moses, is no easy sit, but is worthwhile as a piece of movie history as well as its luscious visuals, with look as stunning as expected in HD. If you’re a fan of the film or this era of Hollywood, you’ll eat up the extras, which include a 75-minute retrospective documentary and the earlier 1923 version of the film, as well as DeMille’s production notes.
Treme: Season 1 – HBO’s feel-good examination of plucky New Orleans residents’ efforts to recover after the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina features a powerhouse performance by John Goodman as a bitter novelist and blogger whose rants become an internet sensation. Heavily focused on music and culture, the series is much lighter than most HBO fare, and a notch below the channel’s best efforts, but still better than most of what you’ll find on the networks. A making-of doc, a look at the music and five audio commentaries round out the package.
Upstairs Downstairs: Complete Series – The seminal BBC series about the class divide between members of the pampered rich class in the early 20th century and the servants with whom they lived, is one of the landmarks in TV history. If you can get past the stuffiness and a few slow patches, you’ll probably find yourself enraptured in the tangled webbing of the drama. Extras include 24 episode commentaries, cast interviews and an alternate pilot episode.
All Good Things – Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst star as a wealthy 1980s New York couple in this mystery, which is based on a true story. Their marriage deteriorates and when Dunst disappears, Gosling is suspected of the crime, touching off a torrent of suspicion, half-truths and horror for all those involved. Background featurettes explore the real-life story and differences between it and the film. There are also deleted scenes and commentary from the filmmakers.