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Home Movies/Out on Digital: Sept. 7, 2017

Sep. 5, 2017
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Recent Blu-ray and DVD releases include: “Riverdale: The Complete First Season,” which promises David Lynch and delivers “Peyton Place” in its depiction of the shadows and scandals of small-town life with characters taken from Archie Comics; Ronin (1998) directed by a once occasionally great director, John Frankenheimer, involves mercenaries working for unseen paymasters trying to steal a case with unknown contents; Aretha Franklin: Divas Live, on this 2001 VH1 broadcast, released as a DVD/CD set, Franklin opens her concert with “I Can’t Turn You Loose” backed by a horn-powered rhythm band that echoes the excitement of past triumphs; and Heal the Living finds people with no apparent relation to one another drawn together by an accident.

 

“Riverdale: The Complete First Season”

Although the characters from the CW series are taken from Archie Comics, “Riverdale” promises David Lynch and delivers “Peyton Place” in its depiction of the shadows and scandals of small-town life. Stereotypes bump against smart dialogue and emotionally astute observations. Archie (KJ Apa), torn between playing football and recording songs, is part of a cast of high schoolers both nice and nasty. A good sense for being teenaged is maintained. Despite Facebook, some things never change.

 

Ronin

By now we’ve seen it a thousand times, but then, the international action genre, complete with kettle-drumming soundtrack, hadn’t become tiresome. Ronin (1998), directed by a once occasionally great director, John Frankenheimer, involves mercenaries working for unseen paymasters trying to steal a case with unknown contents. Robert De Niro elevates the high-speed car chases and fire fights through picturesque settings with his assured performance. Treachery abounds and tension is high, relieved only by choreographed carnage.

 

Aretha Franklin: Divas Live

Aretha Franklin made her great recordings in the 1960s but her voice was strong a quarter-century later. On this 2001 VH1 broadcast, released as a DVD/CD set, Franklin opens her concert with “I Can’t Turn You Loose” backed by a horn-powered rhythm band that echoes the excitement of past triumphs. Joining her were stars such as Mary J. Blige and Stevie Wonder. Perhaps she was ironic in bringing out The Backstreet Boys for “Chain of Fools.”

 

Heal the Living

People with no apparent relation to one another are drawn together by an accident? In a medical drama with a title like Heal the Living, the scenario could be the formula for a sermon and it almost is—except for French writer-director Katell Quillévéré’s beautiful visual transitions and the believably non-melodramatic acting by an ensemble cast playing in the key of life. The film’s structure is borrowed from it source in Maylis de Kerangal’s novel.

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