Flick Picks 9/3/13: Now You See Me, The Iceman, From Up On Poppy Hill

New to DVD and Blu-ray at the library this week

ENTERTAINMENT: It's the FBI vs. bank robber magicians in the extravagantly entertaining Now You See Me. There are some fantastic names in this cast, with Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine leading it up. Is Steppenwolf Theatre's Michael Shannon one of the greatest film actors working today? You can try to answer that question yourself with help from The Iceman, the based-on-a-true story of a former mob assassin now living with a family that is unaware of his former profession. Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta and David Schwimmer co-star. Goro Miyazaki, the son of Japan's greatest living animator Hayao Miyazaki, shows that filmmaking skill can run in the family as his beautiful From Up On Poppy Hill captures 1963 Yokohama. This is an animated though not kid-targeted look at the budding relationship between two high school schoolmates. Our indie pick this week is At Any Price, which stars Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron as a farming father and his son who wishes to become a race car driver. Ramin Bahrani, the director of our 2009 Monday Night at the Movies pick Goodbye Solo, brings us this film about personal relationships and the plight of the modern farmer.

SERIES: Blandings, a new comedy series from the BBC, is perhaps the flipside of Downton Abbey, as Timothy Spall tries to find peace and privacy with his pet pig in 1929 Britain. It's based on the P.G. Wodehouse Blandings Castle series and also stars Absolutely Fabulous' Jennifer Saunders. A much more dramatic British import is DCI Banks: Aftermath, which kicks off the DCI Banks crime series about a police inspector who has seen it all. Canada sends us Bomb Girls, telling the story of women working in a munitions factory during World War II. We're also adding two new selections to our growing collection of quality subtitled imports. The Italian Inspector Vivaldi Mysteries, set in the city of Trieste, follows an old-school detective who teams up with his cop son to solve crimes. The 6 episode series Frank Riva stars French superstar Alain Delon as the title character, a retired undercover cop who is called back into action when his brother is found murdered.

We also have a number of returning series this week. This bloody and sexy Spartacus series returns with Spartacus: War of the Damned (season 3) and we've got season 2 of the political thriller Scandal as well as season 2 of the crime drama Person of Interest. On the lighter side, we see season 9 of The Office and season 5 of Parks and Recreation arrive this week.

DOCUMENTARIES: In these days of social media amplified loudmouths and scandals, a guy like Morton Downey Jr. almost seems quaint! Check out Evocateur and relive his controversial 1980s peak.

SUBTITLED: Based on Angel Parra's memoirs of his mother Violeta Parra, who who helped revive traditional Chilean music, Violeta Went to Heaven is both an interesting look at Chilean history and a musical treat.

All of our new DVDs and Blu-rays can be found in Bibliocommons.

Unsung Series

Many of us are as addicted to watching tv series as you are. They are free, can give a week's worth of entertainment and, if we're lucky, they keep coming for years. We were blown away by the first season of the Sundance Channel's Rectify but we haven't been hearing a whole lot of buzz about it, despite it being one of the best reviewed shows of the last year. Rectify follows Daniel Holden who is released from prison after spending 19 years on Death Row. Here are some other great series that you might have missed.

  • Before Aaron Sorkin brought us The Newsroom he produced Sports Night, another tv show about a tv show. Don't be scared off by the setting if you're not interested in sports, since the show is mainly about personalities, relationships, fast dialogue and great performances.
  • Judd Apatow is a director whose great tv show Freaks and Geeks, about high school outcasts, only became recognized as the masterpiece that it is, years after it went off the air.
  • Modern teenager Veronica Mars solves crimes in high school and later college and also launches Kristen Bell's career. A recently completed Kickstarter means that there may be an upcoming fourth season.
  • The Larry Sanders Show was one of cable tv's early hits as Garry Shandling took on late night talk shows. Real life stars appearing as themselves, a writing team that included Apatow and a regular cast of Jeremy Piven, Janeane Garafalo and Jeffery Tambor as insecure sidekick Hank Kingsley make this show timeless.
  • Before his career-making role as Al Swearengen on Deadwood, Ian McShane portrayed Lovejoy, a British antiques dealer with a skill for determining real from fake in both items and people.
  • Another classic BBC comedy is the Father Ted, which chronicles the adventures of three priests on a fictional island off the coast of Ireland.
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