Home Movies/Out on Digital 11.15
n Uncle Nick
American holidays have become trying, especially family gatherings whose participants would rather not be together. It’s a subject for comedy, and has seldom been handled more provocatively than in Uncle Nick (2015). Brian Posehn stars as an obnoxiously irascible uncle who buys Christmas gifts at the convenience store, insists on smoking in his dweeby brother’s home and flirts with his teenage step niece. Nick revels in the self-deprecation of Cleveland, whose snowbound streets resemble Milwaukee in winter.
n Dead Ringers
Jeremy Irons does double-duty playing physically (but not psychologically) identical twins in Dead Ringers. The twins are partners running a high-end female fertility clinic, living together in an expensive bachelor pad, collaborating on research and swapping women (without letting the women know!). And when one twin sinks into addiction, will the other one follow? Writer-director David Cronenberg’s 1988 film is a study in convergence and differentiation, in female obsession with childbearing and perversity of all sorts.
n Leonard Bernstein’s Candide
Recorded live at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Leonard Bernstein’s comic, almost burlesque operetta features Tony Award-winners Patti LuPone and Kristin Chenoweth backed by the New York Philharmonic. The Voltaire satire is costumed but otherwise staged without sets or props, the performance depending on the comedic talents of the cast, the tongue-in-cheek narration by the irrepressibly optimistic Dr. Pangloss and Bernstein’s score with its echoes of American and European musical theater.
n George Crumb: Voice of the Whale
Robert Mugge is known for documenting American vernacular music in all its forms. But his debut film in 1976 looked at avant-garde composer George Crumb. The West Virginia-born Crumb cites the early influence of jugs, musical saws and even “revival music” on his compositions, but one might miss that if you weren’t straining for echoes of Appalachia. Often, Crumb’s music, caught here in small ensemble performances, suggests the music of lost ancient civilizations.