By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
Filmmaker Oliver Stone is no stranger to taking on controversial subject matter and turning it into big screen box office success. The three-time Oscar winner has addressed in his films sensitive topics ranging from the Vietnam War to the Kennedy assassination to U.S. policy in Latin America. He’s been accused of glorifying criminal behavior and oversimplifying or giving a narrow, one-sided view of historical events.
Stone tackles the tricky subject matter of Edward Snowden, the one-time CIA computer expert and subsequent government contractor who revealed sensitive government secrets to the media in 2013, ostensibly to shed light on inappropriate information gathering. “Snowden” debuts on Blu-ray combo pack, DVD and On Demand Tuesday Dec. 27, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. It also is available on Digital HD.
Hollywood leading man Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Inception,” “(500) Days of Summer”) plays the title character. The 35-year-old actor bears more than a passing resemblance to the famous political exile. Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson and Nicolas Cage also star in the real life political drama.
The Blu-ray and DVD includes deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette and an interview with the elusive Edward Snowden, who is living in exile in Russia.
The taut and engrossing wartime drama “Close to the Enemy” debuts on Blu-ray and DVD Tuesday Dec. 27, from Acorn, an RLJ Entertainment brand. From acclaimed filmmaker Stephen Poliakoff (“Dancing on the Edge”), this Acorn TV Original Series and BBC One production features an all-star ensemble cast, including Jim Sturgess (“Across the Universe”), Alfie Allen (“Game of Thrones”), Alfred Molina (“Spider-Man 2”), Angela Bassett (“American Horror Story”), August Diehl (“Inglourious Basterds”), Lindsay Duncan (“The Honourable Woman”), Freddie Highmore (“Bates Motel”), Robert Glenister (“Prime Suspect”), Charity Wakefield (“The Player”) and Charlotte Riley (“Peaky Blinders”).
In the immediate aftermath of WWII, intelligence officer Callum Ferguson (Sturgess) must complete his last task for the British army: convince captured German scientist Dieter Koehler (Diehl) to develop a jet engine for the British government. As Callum tries to woo Dieter to his cause, he also contends with his younger brother’s (Highmore) psychological trauma from the war – and fights his attraction to his best friend’s wife (Riley). But while Callum and Dieter develop and unlikely friendship, disturbing secrets emerge that challenge each man’s loyalties at the dawn of the Cold War.
Over the course of the series, Callum encounters a number of other characters whose stories all intertwine. These characters include Harold (Molina), a Foreign Office official who reveals some startling truths about the outbreak of the war; and Kathy (Phoebe Fox, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death), a tough young woman working for the War Crimes Unit, fighting to bring war criminals who escaped prosecution to justice. Each character is trying to rebuild and move forward in the aftermath of a war that scarred them all so deeply. The DVD and Blu-ray editions feature all seven episodes on three discs plus a 30-minutes behind-the-scenes featurette, cast interviews and more ($59.99 each, AcornOnline.com). “Close to the Enemy” made its U.S. premiere in November on the Acorn.TV streaming service.
The ITV British crime drama series “Jericho of Scotland Yard” returns to DVD Tuesday December 27, also from Acorn. The series is set in a fascinating period of Britain’s social history, when London saw an explosion of color, glamour, and shifting attitudes after the Second World War. Amid the turmoil of changing times, Chief Inspector Michael Jericho (Robert Lindsay, “My Family”) is a famous Scotland Yard detective investigating high-profile murders in 1950s London. This stylish noir series contains notable guest stars, including Francesca Annis (“Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime”), Brendan Coyle (“Downton Abbey”), Laurence Fox (“Inspector Lewis”), Peter Bowles (The Irish R.M.), Claire Bloom (Brideshead Revisited), Jane Horrocks (“Absolutely Fabulous”), James Wilby (“Gosford Park”), Alfie Allen (“Game of Thrones”) and Dominic Cooper (“Mamma Mia!”).
Aided by his trusted sergeant, Clive Harvey (David Troughton, “Sharpe’s Rifles”) and the young and eager-to-please DC John Caldicott (Ciarán McMenamin, “The Sinking of the Laconia”), Jericho solves London’s most heinous crimes, whether they occur in posh homes or illegal gambling dens. Though brilliant at his job and adored by the public, Jericho hides a dark and painful past and will stop at nothing to find justice. This set features four feature-length mysteries ($49.99, AcornOnline.com) on two discs. “Jericho of Scotland Yard” made its U.S. premiere in 2006 as part of the PBS Mystery! series.
RLJ Entertainment is set to release “Dog Eat Dog” arrives Tuesday Dec. 27 on Blu-ray and DVD. Directed by legendary filmmaker Paul Schrader (“Taxi Driver”) and written by Matthew Wilder (“Your Name Here”), the action-thriller stars Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage (“Snowden”), Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe (“Platoon”) and Christopher Matthew Cook (“2 Guns”). Ex-cons Troy (Cage), Mad Dog (Dafoe) and Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook) are hired by an eccentric mob boss to kidnap a baby for a large ransom. When the abduction goes awry, the trio find themselves on the run from the mob and the cops. Vowing to stay out of prison at all costs, getting away with the crime is literally a matter of life and death.
The Blu-ray will be available for an SRP of $29.97 and on DVD for an SRP of $29.96. Bonus features on the Blu-ray and DVD include Cage’s video introduction at the Toronto International Film Festival, the BeyondFest Q&A with Cage and director Schrader, audio commentary with Schrader and a photo gallery.
A young man sets off to find author J.D. Salinger and confronts love, sex and loss in the touching coming-of-age drama “Coming Through The Rye,” arriving on DVD Tuesday Dec. 27. The film also is available on Digital HD and On Demand.
Sixteen-year-old Jamie Schwartz is not the most popular kid at his all-boys’ boarding school. Disconnected from students and teachers, he believes he is destined to play Holden Caulfield, the main character from Salinger’s classic “The Catcher in the Rye” and has adapted the book as a play. After a series of increasingly hostile altercations with the boys at school, Jamie runs away to search for the elusive author. On his way he picks up Deedee Gorlin, a quirky townie. Their odyssey to find Salinger becomes a journey of sexual awakening, the discovery of love and of the meaning of one’s life. “Coming Through the Rye” stars Academy Award winner Chris Cooper (“Adaptation) as Salinger, Alex Wolff (“The Naked Brothers Band”) and Stefania Owen (“Chance”).
Based on the bestselling book series by acclaimed author James Patterson, “Maximum Ride” is now available on DVD, from Paramount Home Media Distribution. The sci-fi thriller brings to life the extraordinary journey of six DNA-enhanced young orphans with the ability to fly that are on a mission to rescue the youngest of their flock while discovering the diabolical, scientific secrets of how they came to exist. Their leader is Max, wise beyond her years, who must summon all of her courage and acumen to outmaneuver the brutal half-human/half-wolf creations known as “Erasers,” confront her own inner demons and ultimately face a stunning betrayal.
Allie Marie Evans (“Vanity”), Patrick Johnson (“Mean Girls 2”), Lyliana Wray (“Girl Missing”), Luke Gregory Crosby, Gavin Lewis (“Just Jacques”) and Tetona Jackson (“Stolen from Suburbia”) star in this film adaptation written by Angelique Hanus and Jesse Spears and directed by Jay Martin.