Finding DVDs off the beaten racks

Are you caught up on the latest action-movie blockbusters, bromance comedies and episodes of “Mad Men?” Are you looking for something new (or new to you) to watch? Consider these fresh additions and screen gems from recent years in our feature film DVD collection. Here’s a list I made in Bibliocommons of 10 feature films for your playlist.

Are you delirious about “Boardwalk Empire” and waiting for new episodes airing later this year on HBO? How about another dose of the on-screen chemistry of Steve Buscemi and Michael Pitt, aka Nucky Thompson and Jimmy Darmody? Take out “Delirious,” an earlier incarnation of their odd mentor/protg relationship. Here, however, their status as Atlantic City power-brokers is flipped upside-down. Buscemi plays a third-rate New York paparazzi, barely less down on his luck than Pitt who plays his accidental apprentice. Special attraction: A nice cameo by Elivs Costello.

Another new HBO series recently riding high on the hype is “Girls,” created by and starring Lena Dunham. Fans who want more than the 30-minute weekly episodes currently airing might want to check out “Tiny Furniture.” Just like the series, this feature film stars Dunham (who also directed) as a young woman coming-of-angst in Manhattan. Or try “Pariah,” a coming-of-age story with a different New York state of mind directed by Dee Rees, another young and emerging woman filmmaker. This film’s protagonist Alike lives with her sister and parents in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood where she is quietly but firmly establishing her identify as a lesbian, and charting changing family dynamics.

Some other recent releases feature some awesome performances, like the always excellent Don Cheadle in “The Guard.” This offbeat comedy stars Cheadle as an FBI agent on a half-billion dollar drug bust in Ireland, paired up for odd-buddy chemistry with Dubliner Brian Gleeson as the local cop. And then there is Michael Shannon (another “Boardwalk Empire” alum) in an acclaimed performance as a man blessed (or cursed) with apocalyptic visions in “Take Shelter.”

Or take the visually stylish crime thriller “The Lincoln Lawyer” (based on the Michael Connelly novel with the same title) out for a spin. Directed by Brad Furman, fairly new to the game and a director-to-watch, it has a dynamite cast led by Matthew McConaughey, with the super Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe and William H. Macy. Know this: The “Lincoln” in the title has nothing to do with the U.S. president. Instead, its “Lincoln” is the Town Car that street-smart attorney McConaughey uses as his mobile office. Get the picture? The film’s smooth soundtrack is also pitch perfect.

Another dark crime story is one of my favorites from recent years, David Fincher’s amazing  “Zodiac.” Based on real events, it stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.  who are both superb as two sides of the obsession coin. Blink and you will miss the props to public libraries by Gyllenhaal’s Eagle Scout/cartoonist/amateur crime-buster, and Downey’s snarky retort! This film also features a sensational supporting cast and great soundtrack of rock songs from the 1960″s & ’70’s with some eclectic choices (like Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man”) outside the standard issue R&R jukebox.

What else? “Sugar” is a sweet, very moving and nicely paced story about a Dominican man’s immigration journey to the U.S. as a minor league baseball player – beautifully played by Algenis Prez Soto. The film is written and directed by by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, who also created the fine “Half Nelson.” Another one with a sports backdrop and not-to-be-missed is “Win Win” from New Jersey’s own Tom McCarthy, who also wrote and directed the highly acclaimed films “The Station Agent” and “The Visitor.” Paul Giamatti is winning (again) as a New Jersey attorney moonlighting as a high school wrestling coach.

And, because she’s Meryl Streep (also a Jersey girl, and let’s not forget, she’s ours!) and because she seems to be having so much fun in this one, I added “Prime” to this list. It’s kind of a funny story … Streep plays a therapist who finds herself in an awkward situation when she realizes her patient (Uma Thurman) is dating her son (Bryan Greenberg). She is conflicted (as a mother) about their differences and the challenges they present, especially in their April-November romance. Well played all around, get this one for a rainy afternoon.

Go ahead and check availability of the DVD’s on this list, and you can add them to your “shelves” in your Bibliocommons account.

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