It’s a big week in home entertainment, ranging from acclaimed boldface Hollywood fare to low budget queer indies! Possible Oscar bait, Lee Daniels’ The Butler leads the charge, while that film’s star Forest Whitaker produced the moving Sundance buzz title, Fruitvale Station.
Also boasting strong performances, indie Four tracks a date between a DL married guy and teen newbie, while fellow drama Out Loud is the first gay film from Lebanon.
($39.99 Blu-ray, $29.98 DVD; Weinstein Co./Anchor Bay)
Forest Whitaker portrays Cecil Gaines, an African-American butler serving the White House for over 30 years in this historical epic from director Lee Daniels and screenwriter Danny Strong. Reportedly inspired by the exploits of real-life, late White House fixture Eugene Allen, The Butler witnesses major events including desegregation efforts and the Vietnam war, with actors like Alan Rickman, Robin Williams, and John Cusack popping up as presidents and Oprah Winfrey as Gaines’ wife. Extras include featurettes.
($24.95 DVD; Ariztical)
This drama holds the distinction of being the first gay film from the largely Islamic country of Lebanon, focusing on a clique of friends including a queer couple, Rami and Ziad. When Rami’s homosexuality comes out, shaming his intensely conservative family, his and Ziad’s lives are in danger. The film’s progressive themes made its production a dangerous affair, details of which are shared in the extras’ 50-minute making-of documentary.
($24.95 DVD; Wolfe Video)
Based on the Christopher Shinn play, director Joshua Sanchez’s feature debut charts a night in the lives of two couples: Joe, a closeted, middle-aged, African-American man on a date with a gay teen, June, and Joe’s daughter, Abigayle, who’s also out with a guy. Just maybe, the two family members will cross paths. The acting is suberb – Emory Cohen, Bradley Cooper’s delinquent son in The Place Beyond the Pines, portrays the emerging queer June, while The Wire’s Wendell Pierce took on the role of Joe, whose libido drives him as much as a sense of responsibility to steer the lad straight. Extras include a behind the scenes and audio commentary.
($39.99 Blu-ray, $29.98 DVD; Anchor Bay)
Winner of both the Grand Jury and Audience Awards at last years Sundance Film Festival, director Ryan Coogler’s debut feature dramatizes the last day in Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old African-American who was, appallingly, gunned down while restrained by Bay Area transit police officers in 2009. Actor Michael B. Jordan delivers an astonishing turn as Grant, and while the film takes some controversial artistic license, it’s a powerful piece of narrative about a really f*cked-up tragedy that shouldn’t have happened. Extras include a featurette about Grant and a filmmaker/cast Q&A.
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