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DVD: “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “Fruitvale Station,” “Four,” & More!

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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.

 

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

($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.

 

Out Loud

($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.

Four

($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.

 

 

Fruitvale Station

($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.

 

ALSO OUT:

 

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Enough Said

Where I Am

Riddick

You’re Next

+1

Blue Caprice

Khumba

 

 

By:           Lawrence Ferber
On:           Jan 14, 2014
Tagged: , , , , , ,

  • 3 Comments
    • KDub
      KDub

      “Joe, a closeted, middle-aged, African-American man on a date with a gay teen” So we’re romanticizing pedophilia now?

      Jan 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LadyL
      LadyL

      @KDub: Was that really your take on the film and the character played by Wendell Pierce? It’s supposed to be a meditation on isolation and loneliness, and how it can drive decent people to do risky, foolish things. I haven’t yet seen the movie, but I’m willing to give it the benefit.
      …And I would be careful with tossing around the “p” word so casually. It’s easy to make knee-jerk assumptions, but a teenager is not (necessarily) a child and not every intergenerational relationship is exploitative.

      Jan 14, 2014 at 7:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • frf61
      frf61

      Two things I took away from “Four”:

      1) The age of the “teen” is never mentioned and left ambiguous, I presume intentionally. Fretting over the legality of the relationship distracts from the intensity of the interaction between Joe and June.

      2) “Four,” based on a stage plate play, is a character study. None of the relationships here are romanticized. I can’t say enough good things about this movie and have been looking forward to the DVD to share with friends.

      Jan 15, 2014 at 6:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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