New DVDs for November include new TV Shows Arrow, Scandal, Major Crimes, Alphas along with the second season of popular Danish show Borgen; while films include big budget epics like World War Z and Man of Steel, and nuanced character dramas such as Mud, Disconnect and Tiny Furniture.
Arrow. The complete first season.
“After being marooned for five years on a remote island, billionaire Oliver Queen returns home with a mysterious agenda and a lethal set of new skills that he uses in a war on crime in this hard-hitting action series. After suffering unimaginable ordeals on the island, the Oliver returns to Starling City a new man — determined to right the wrongs of his father and sworn to bring justice to those who’ve corrupted his city. But Oliver finds his crusade complicated by his friends and family. Overjoyed by his miraculous return, the Queen family nevertheless still trades on secrets that conflict with the Arrow’s agenda. Oliver’s return also affects his best friend, Tommy Merlyn, who will ultimately travel down a dark path; and the love of his life, Laurel Lance, who must somehow forgive Oliver before she can ever love him again. A dark and dangerous crime procedural with edge, intrigue and action, Oliver’s story will be told from three perspectives: the Queen family, Oliver’s harrowing ordeal on the island and the Arrow’s adventures in Starling City.” (From Amazon.com description)
Man of steel.
“Man of Steel, producer Christopher Nolan’s attempt to give the hero a Dark Knight retrofit succeeds in giving the character a fresh start, courtesy of both a gargantuan sense of scale, and Henry Cavill’s winningly unironic central performance. Devotees of Christopher Reeve’s legendary mild-mannered portrayal may find themselves missing the sequences of quiet time from the previous films (the steadily escalating plot spares little time for cats stuck in trees), but this still manages to uphold the gee-whiz qualities that made people buy the comics in the first place. For all of the stunning bangs and gigantic sonic booms, its greatest achievement may be in making Superman’s fundamental squareness feel like a virtue again. Nolan and director Zack Snyder (Watchmen) have kept the basic elements of the origin story–infant survivor of an alien world comes to Earth, crash lands in Kansas, grows up big and really, really strong–while putting a spin on virtually all of the details. Bumps aside, however, this still stands as a tremendous first step in a new direction, with a final line that suggests even better things may be in store.” (Adapted from Amazon.com description)
World War Z.
“Few monsters lend themselves better to allegory than the zombie. World War Z, the mega-scale adaptation of Max Brooks’s richly detailed faux-historical novel, presents a zombie apocalypse on a ginormous level never seen before on film. Somehow, however, the sheer size of the scenario, coupled with a distinct lack of visceral explicitness, ends up blunting much of the metaphoric impact. Director Marc Forster and his team of screenwriters (including J. Michael Straczynski and Lost‘s Damon Lindelof) have kept the basic gist of the source material, in which an unexplained outbreak results in a rapidly growing army of the undead. Unlike the novel’s sprawling collection of unrelated narrators, however, the film streamlines the plot, following a retired United Nations Investigator (Brad Pitt) who must leave his family behind in order to seek out the origins of the outbreak. While the introduction of a central character does help connect some of Brooks’s cooler ideas, it also has the curious effect of narrowing the global scale of the crisis. By the time of the third act, in which Pitt finds himself under siege in a confined space, the once epic scope has decelerated into something virtually indistinguishable from any other zombie movie. Even if it’s not a genre changer, though, World War Z still has plenty to distinguish itself.” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)
Major crimes. The complete first season.
“Viewers bereft at the demise of The Closer will find plenty to like about Major Crimes, another top-notch cop drama from TNT. A significant number of the cast members from the earlier show are back, but there are notable changes as well, most notably the replacement of Kyra Sedgwick’s Brenda Johnson by Captain Sharon Raydor (Oscar nominee Mary McDonnell). Hers is not an easy transition. Coming from the Los Angeles Police Department’s dreaded “Force Investigation Division,” Raydor, who also appeared in various Closer episodes, is distrusted and outright disliked by most of her new colleagues, especially old-school lieutenant Louie Provenza. This internecine conflict is a distraction, to say the least, as Raydor is obliged to spend much of the season trying to win the others over, all while working some nasty murder cases (involving kidnapping, gunrunning, human trafficking, military veterans-turned-robbers, a serial rapist, and other unsavory business). What’s more, there’s the bigger issue of the justice system itself: with the city of Los Angeles having major money problems, the police are not-so-gently encouraged to cut deals with criminals so as to preclude expensive trials, a mandate that does not sit well with the rank and file.” (From Amazon.com description)
“Matthew McConaughey’s career trajectory has followed some strange currents, ranging from “next big dramatic thing” to “romantic comedy fixture” to, most recently, “killing supporting actor.” One of the beauties of the superb Mud is how it allows the actor to tap into every aspect of his persona, creating a figure who drifts between hero and rogue with mesmerizing irregularity. His presence, along with a slew of talented character actors (including Michael Shannon, Sam Shepard, and the great Joe Don Baker), help make this movie feel somehow both lived-in and mythic. Set deep within the Arkansas delta, the story follows two boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) exploring an island in the Mississippi river while searching for a rumored abandoned boat. Once there, they find Mud (McConaughey), a hermit who claims to be hiding out until he can be reunited with the love of his life (Reese Witherspoon). As the pair help Mud repair his boat and plan his escape, they begin to receive unsettling hints that there may be much more to the story. Writer-director Jeff Nichols, whose earlier Take Shelter offered up a terrific blend of the mystical and mundane, proves to be equally surefooted here, delivering a clear-eyed boy’s adventure story with some tantalizing hints ofh Southern Gothic creeping in around the edges.” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)
Alphas. Season one.
“Strong casting helps to set apart the science fiction series Alphas, about a crime-solving group of highly gifted individuals, from a slew of familiar pop culture antecedents, which in turn buoys the chances for a follow-up to this first-season set. The show’s core premise feels as if it was produced directly from a development session–it’s X-Men and Heroes meets the CSI franchise–but the presence of film actor David Strathairn as the Alphas’ neurologist mentor helps to anchor the series in a plausibly dramatic foundation. Ryan Cartwright, as a high-functioning autistic youth who can produce and process electronic communication with his mind, and Laura Mennell, whose psychic powers can bend others to her will, also lend considerable credence to the material, and it’s to the credit of series cocreator Zak Penn (screenwriter, X-Men: The Last Stand and The Incredible Hulk) that the effects of wielding such abilities, which are often debilitating in a variety of ways, are given equal screen time. Such elements help to retain interest in the show when episodes drift towards formulaic superhero/crime tropes, and undoubtedly helped revive network interest in a second season.” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)
Death in paradise / created by Robert Thorogood.
“A warm, light-hearted eight-part detective series set against a stunning Caribbean island backdrop. Sent to the tiny island of Saint-Marie to solve an impossible murder, quintessentially British cop Richard Poole is a total fish out of water, he hates sun, sea and sand. Awaiting Richard is a ramshackle station and a very different type of policing. His new partner, DS Camille Bordey is instinctive, feisty and brilliant, and the rest of the team certainly have their own unique way of doing things. Though Richard would never admit it, they make the perfect team. With a new mind-boggling mystery to solve every episode, Death in Paradise will intrigue and tantalise.” (From Syndetics summary)
“22-year-old Aura (Lena Dunham) returns home from university to her artist mother’s Tribeca loft with: a useless film theory degree, 357 hits on her YouTube page, a boyfriend who’s left her to find himself, a dying hamster and her tail between her legs. Luckily, her train wreck childhood best friend never left home, the restaurant down the block is hiring and ill-advised romantic options options lurk around every corner. Aura quickly careens into her old/new life. Surrounded on all sides by what she could become, Aura just wants someone to tell her who she is. Lena Dunham wrote, directed and stars in this knockout existential comedy, presenting a wildly imaginative take on romantic humiliation and post-university confusion. Tiny Furniture was shot in Dunham’s family home, starring Dunham’s mother (photographer Laurie Simmons) and her precocious sister Grace as Nadine.’ (Description from Amazon.co.uk)
Borgen. Season two.Borgen. Season 2
“Birgitte Nyborg has been Denmark s Prime Minister for two years–years that have taken their toll on her private life. She must now balance her role of PM with that of divorcée and single-mother. Politically, she has succeeded in earning the respect of both her political allies and enemies, but tensions between parties are mounting. Denmark s participation in international wars as well as certain central domestic policy issues are driving a wedge through the parliament and Birgitte is increasingly finding herself having to make shaky compromises. Season two sees the return of journalist Katrine Fønsmark who, having moved to the Ekspres, finds herself being morally and ethically challenged by the ruthless editor-in-chief, Michael Laugesen. Meanwhile, Kasper Juul, who continues to work as Birgitte Nyborg s spin doctor, struggles to suppress his inner demons as his past threatens to intrude on his relationship with new girlfriend, Lotte.” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)
Scandal. The complete first season.
“When trouble rears its ugly head, headline-making, life-ruining trouble, there’s only one person to call: the legendary Olivia Pope. With her steadfast rule of always trusting her gut, Olivia leads an expert team of crisis management consultants skilled at making even the most sordid, salacious scandals disappear. But as these self-proclaimed “gladiators in suits” begin to reveal the cracks in their armor, will the masters of damage control be able to control the damage in their own personal lives?” (From Syndetics summary)
“A couple is drawn into a dangerous situation when their secrets are exposed online. A widowed ex-cop struggles to raise a mischievous son who cyber-bullies a classmate. An ambitious journalist sees a career-making story in a teen that performs on an adult-only site. They are strangers, neighbors and colleagues and their stories collide in this riveting dramatic thriller about ordinary people struggling to connect in today’s wired world.” (From Syndetics summary)