Bulworth : With his long-gestating Howard Hughes movie finally (probably, hopefully) on the way, it’s a fine time to revisit Warren Beatty’s last major effort as director/star, this political satire from 1998 (recently back on Netflix). It hasn’t all aged well — the sight of an old white guy rapping wasn’t exactly comic gold then, and it’s certainly lost its novelty in the years since — but there’s a lot to admire about the picture’s gonzo energy, its name-names bravado, and the what-if gusto of its political cynicism. Bonus: Early Don Cheadle, Wendell Pierce, and Sarah Silverman appearances! Bonus bonus: “Ghetto Superstar.”
Hostage : This Bruce Willis vehicle was ignored when it was released in 2005, and promptly forgotten thereafter. I vote for its reappraisal, now that it’s landed on Netflix; what looked at first like Willis treading in the Die Hard water is, in fact, a tightly wound and stylish riff on hostage movie tropes, featuring a finely tuned Willis performance and an efficient script that’s clever without cheating, sparked by the fluid camera and taut pacing of French director Florent Emilio Siri. Give it a spin and you’ll wonder why the hell you’ve never heard of it.
’71 : In 1971 Belfast, a British soldier (Jack O’Connell, displaying all of the charisma seemingly smothered by Unbroken ) is accidentally abandoned by his unit, finding himself in the middle of not only international but hyper-local tensions. Director Yann Demange and writer Gregory Burke spin intricate, unexpected turns out of this simple story, coiling the camera through the streets, alleys, and homes like a snake, delivering moments of sudden violence with brute force (clarifying exactly the kind of danger their protagonist is in), then wandering evocatively through their dreamlike aftermath. A moody, gripping, tense piece of work. (Includes audio commentary and trailer.)
ON BLU-RAY/DVD/AMAZON PRIME
Slow West : The Western genre is so often colorlessly “American,” and it’s thus easy to forget how much of the West was populated by immigrants and “outsiders.” Writer/director John Maclean attempts to rectify that with this story of a Scotsman (The Road’s Kodi Smit-McPhee) searching for his estranged love, with the help of an Irish “chaperone” (Michael Fassbender). Maclean’s scenes are colorful, eccentric, and surprisingly funny, though he also shows a sure hand with tense, vivid gunfights and other acts of violence. And his storytelling style is, happily, unpredictable as well; the way he unfurls McPhee’s full back story (and Fassbender’s) is a joy to behold. Throw in yet another show-stopping Ben Mendelsohn supporting turn and you’ve got one of the year’s best movies to date. (Includes featurette and deleted scenes.)
Maggie : As he closes in on 70 and finds his mainstream commercial appeal waning (even in such sure bets as the Terminator franchise), you can understand why Arnold Schwarzenegger might wanna take a shot at something a little riskier — which is presumably how he ended up fronting this low-budget indie. What’s interesting about Henry Hobson’s zombie thriller/family farm drama mash-up is how it meets him halfway; it’s still, true to the star’s style, a genre movie, just one with a bit more complexity and heart, and with more opportunities for him to act. John Scott 3’s script is clean and efficient (though the dialogue’s not entirely free of cliché); Hobson’s direction is warm and evocative, at times calling up visions of a Malick horror flick. Maggie never quite found an audience — it’s probably too slow for horror fans, and too gross for indie drama types. But hopefully it’ll find that audience via home media; it’s a surprising and moving picture, and an interesting new direction for a star who stopped surprising us quite some time ago. (Includes audio commentary, featurette, interviews, and deleted scene.)