New DVD releases this week offer very different looks at family life.
“Band Aid”; 3 stars: Zoe Lister-Jones proves a formidable triple threat as writer-director-star with this smart blend of comedy and drama that looks at love and marriage.
A married couple — Anna (Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) — spend more time fighting than being in love. The only peace they find is when they turn the negative energy of all their disputes into songs for the band they form.
As a writer, Lister-Jones finds a solid balance where both sides are right as much as they are wrong. She’s brave in having this couple dig deep into the emotional abyss to find what they think will hurt the other the most. Then that action gives way to a quirky comedy moment — often provided by Fred Armisen — that keeps the viewer from bailing.
As a first-time director, Lister-Jones doesn’t push too hard but this is a case where the writing is so good that all she needed to do was point the camera and let the actors do their jobs. That’s especially true with Lister-Jones and Pally, who bring a deep honesty to their performances whether it is a brutal war of words or a silly song.
“Band Aid” is an impressive effort by Lister-Jones because it deals with love in a manner that never feels artificial or forced.
“Austin Found”; 3 stars: This is a good example of how you should never judge a writer and/or director totally by their past credits. Such an evaluation of “Austin Found” director Will Raee and co-writer Brenna Graziano would offer no evidence they were capable of pulling of such a twisted tale about obsession with fame and fortune. But they turn in solid efforts.
To be fair, the director and writer get a big boost from Linda Cardellini who embraces the evil ways of Leanne Miller, a former beauty pageant contestant who’s now a beauty pageant mom determined that either by hook or crook her daughter, Patty (Ursula Parker), will be a star. It’s mostly by crook.
Raee and Graziano have put together a film that surpasses what their credits would suggest. It’s very good work but there are a few problems. The chief miscue is the lack of a consistent tone for the production. There are moments when the film looks to be headed in the direction of the irreverent “Drop Dead Gorgeous.” Then the movie turns deeply dark. It’s a moment so heavy there seems no way the movie could turn away from the dark side in time for the closing credits.
”Kevin Can Wait: Season 1”; 2.5 stars: Kevin James went back to a very familiar format for his return to network television; his new CBS comedy features him playing a character similar to his work on “King of Queens.” At least he is sticking to a blueprint he does well.
James plays a retired police officer trying to deal with financial concerns, a wife who tries to make him a better man and the impending wedding of his daughter. These elements all play out in a very familiar situation comedy style.
One of the strengths of the first season is Erinn Hayes who plays his wife. But that will change when the second season opens. Hayes will not be returning to the show and her character will have died when the season begins.
ALSO NEW ON DVD SEPT. 5
“Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series”: The DVD set includes 148 episodes of the television comedy.
“All Eyez on Me”: Newcomer Demetrius Shipp, Jr. portrays Tupac Shakur in this look at the hip-hop musician’s life.
“The Churchills”: David Starkey uncovers the links between Winston Churchill and his ancestor, John Churchill.
“Raw”: Vegetarian finds a new obsession with meat.
“Lowriders”: Street artist helps his brother win a race against their father.
“Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete First Season”: The political jokes are dated by the fast-paced nature of the variety show still generates laughs.
“Security”: Mall guard must protect a young girl. Antonio Banderas stars.
“First Kill”: Man must divert a police investigation in order to save his son’s life. Bruce Willis stars.
“Chronically Metropolitan”: Writer returns home to face some old demons.
“Narcos: Season 2”: Agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency must stop the drug business of Pablo Escobar and Mateo Moreno.
“The Wedding Plan”: Woman continues with her wedding plans despite her fiance calling off the marriage one month before the exchange of vows.
“A Dark Song”: Grieving mother (Catherine Walker) looks for a way to contact the son she has lost.
“Homeland Season 6”: Claire Danes stars in the premium cable series about the CIA’s efforts to battle terrorism.
“Flash: The Complete Third Season”: Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) continues to look for clues to the death of his mother in this network show.
“Supernatural: The Complete Twelfth Season”: The Winchester family business adds a little more family in the attest season of the network series.
“Paris Can Wait”: Diane Lane stars in this story of how a woman learns a drive from Cannes to Paris doesn’t have to be boring.
“Criminal Minds: The Twelfth Season”: Joe Mantegna stars in the CBS procedural drama about the FBI team assigned to deal with the most extreme cases.
“Rough Night”: Bachelorette party goes bad when a male entertainer dies. Kate McKinnon stars.
“Last Face”: Doctor doing humanitarian work begins to question her life. Charlize Theron stars.
“Hawaii Five-0: The Seventh Season”: The team continues to deal with an assortment of crime on the island state. Alex O’Loughlin stars.
“Megan Leavey”: Marine dealing with emotional problems finds a canine friend. Kate Mara stars.
“Mr. Mom: Collector’s Edition”: The 1983 comedy starring Michael Keaton is being released on Blu-ray.
AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL HD SEPT. 5
“The Big Sick”: Couple must deal with a clash of cultures during a major crisis. Available on DVD Sept. 19.