DannyCollinsDanny Collins (Universal, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD) – “The following is kind of based on a true story a little bit.” A very little bit, it turns out, but it is a great premise. Danny Collins was a musical phenom of the seventies turned pop music legend who has spent his last decades falling back on familiar songs and greatest hits tours. A letter to Danny from John Lennon, written in 1971 but never received until now, is the plot device that shakes him out of his spiral and motivates him to reach out to the son he’s never met. That’s the “true” part of the story—real-life British folk rocker Steve Tilston discovered that Lennon wrote him a letter 40 years after it was sent—but it’s a complete fabrication from there. Danny Collins is a familiar redemption story with the novelty of making the redemptive figure a folk-rock sell-out and the even greater novelty of casting Al Pacino in the role.

Pacino’s Danny is like a lounge act version of Mick Jagger on the casino stage circuit, doing his act for the AARP demographic long after alcohol and apathy have pickled his songwriting talents and turned his voice to gravel. It’s show-biz auto-pilot and Danny slips into the role almost as easily as he numbs the monotony in lines of blow and fifths of booze. And then he gets the letter, which warns him of selling out, and he suddenly takes a long, hard look at how he’s coasted on fame for so long. It’s as cute as it is contrived, but it gets the film out of Danny’s life of rock star decadence and gets Pacino into scenes with Bobby Cannavale, who plays his progeny from a youthful fling with a backstage hookup, and Annette Benning, his not-quite-but-getting-closer-to-age appropriate love interest (“Baby steps,” he says).

Pacino has been more of a showman than an actor in too many roles of the past few decades. Danny’s a showman by nature, befriending every functionary he meets along the way with a smile, a joke, and a knack for remembering their names, which allows Pacino to explore the idea of the person behind the performance. Pacino plays it like it’s a reflexive fall back, but one that he enjoys. He likes the personal connection, even if it is just a momentary bit of banter, and that practiced charm feels oddly authentic. Since he puts that showman onstage, he is more relaxed through the rest of the film. Pacino can do this kind of thing in his sleep but he has real chemistry with Benning and Cannavale, not to mention Giselle Eisenberg, the little firecracker who plays the ADHD-charged daughter of Cannavale and Jennifer Garner. Did the producers let her loose at the donut bar before she went on camera?

Danny Collins may not ring true as existential crisis, but writer / director Dan Fogelman doesn’t really play it as such. It’s more like the tipping point in the accumulation of self-disgust and self-medicated frustration and Pacino plays it with self-effacing understatement, using the showman to cover up the anxieties underneath. While the film never really acknowledges that Danny always had a choice, neither does it beg for our sympathy. And there is enough of a sense of reality behind the rock star redemption premise to make you care. Not necessarily for Danny’s journey but for the family he becomes a part of. Pacino is lovely in the role, communicating more about the man behind the image just sitting next to Cannavale, the father determined not to let another excuse prevent him from getting to know his son and being there when he really needs it. It’s those moments that transforms Danny Collins from a Pacino greatest hits tour to a quiet comeback album with a smaller scope and a personal investment.

Blu-ray and DVD, with two featurettes and an UltraViolet Digital HD copy of the film (SD for DVD, HD for Blu-ray). The Blu-ray also features a bonus DVD copy of the film.

Downtown81Downtown 81 (Music Box, DVD) was shot in 1981 but remained unfinished until 2000 when director Edo Bertoglio resurrected and completed the project. A lark of a bohemian odyssey starring a pre-fame Jean Michel Basquiat as a free-spirited young artist, it plays like an aimless student art film remake of The Wizard of Oz with Basquiat as a funky, impoverished Dorothy, selling paintings and crashing nightclubs in the underground art scene, street life, and club scene of early eighties New York. Musical performances by the likes of Kid Creole and the Coconuts, James White and the Blacks, and the Japanese new wave band The Plastics (among others), and the dozens of artists, musicians, and street characters wandering through Basquiat’s meandering journey create a unique document of its era. Bertoglio reunited his cast to dub the film; Basquiat had already passed on (the film is dedicated to him) and his lines are read by Saul Williams.

It’s been newly remastered for its 30th Anniversary from its original 16mm elements and it features commentary by screenwriter/co-producer Glenn O’Brien and producer Maripol, new interviews with Fab Five Freddy, Maripol and Glenn O’Brien, a 1980 episode of “Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party,” rare archival footage, an expanded photo gallery featuring photos by Maripol, and a 40-page booklet with notes by the director and stills from the production.

Also new and notable: Kumiko

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray) is a sweetly offbeat indie drama inspired by an urban legend about a young Japanese woman who went in search of the money buried in the snow at the end the movie Fargo, which she believes is a true story. Rinko Kikuchi plays her in this story, a depressed, disconnected young woman who lives in a fantasy world and dives ever deeper into it when she steals from her company to fly to Minnesota and follow the clues, becoming increasingly delusional and disconnected when anyone tries to explain that it’s just a movie. Blu-ray with commentary by David and Nathan Zellner with producer Chris Ohlson and deleted and alternate scenes.

VanillaSkyVanilla Sky (with Alternate Ending) (Warner, Blu-ray) – Tom Cruise drafted his Jerry Maguire director Cameron Crowe to remake the Spanish sci-fi psychodrama Abre los Ojos/Open Your Eyes, and then brought that film’s co-star Penelope Cruz to recreate her role as the sexy girlfriend to his womanizing millionaire bachelor. Cameron Diaz plays his obsessive ex, Jason Lee his shaggy best friend, and Kurt Russell is an understanding psychologist trying to get to the bottom of a murky murder mystery. The Blu-ray debut features an alternate ending, which was Crowe’s original ending and is longer than the theatrical version with a bigger, more active role for Russell and others. It has a softer image than the theatrical version and appears to be taken from a workprint, and it includes with new commentary by Crowe. Also new to this edition is 12 alternate / deleted scenes, the “Mask Test” and “Kurt Russell Single Take,” which shows the raw footage of Russell performing a key scene, all with optional commentary by Crowe. Carried over from the earlier DVD release is commentary by Crowe with composer Nancy Wilson and a brief phone visit with Tom Cruise, two featurettes, an interview with Paul McCartney, and other supplements.

FiveEasyPiecesBDFive Easy Pieces (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD), directed by Bob Rafelson, was Jack Nicholson’s breakout. As Bobby Dupea, a guy on the run from family, commitment and himself, he offers a silent scream of alienation and narcissism in a world seemingly untouched by the sixties, and helped redefine the leading man as a guy who doesn’t have the answers but still swaggers through with the show of confidence and control of someone who does. Previously available from Criterion in one of their most substantial box sets, it’s now available individually with all the supplements of the previous release.

DeclineWesternCivBoxThe Decline of Western Civilization Collection (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray, DVD) collects all three documentaries by Penelope Spheeris about the bands and the fans of angry, loud music on margins of the mainstream. The original 1981 film explores the first American punk movement, Part II: The Metal Years (1988) looks at the heavy metal scene of the eighties, and Part II (1998) explores the punk aesthetic of the nineties through the gutterpunks of Los Angeles. All three have been newly remastered in 2K and the set features commentary, deleted scenes, new interviews, and a bonus disc with more supplements, plus a 40-page illustrated booklet with an essay by Domenic Priore.

Digital / VOD / Streaming exclusives:RobotOverlords

Available on Friday, July 3, same day as select theaters nationwide, is the science fiction invasion adventure Robot Overlords with Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson and the romantic drama Jackie and Ryan with Katherine Heigl and Ben Barnes. Both are PG-13.

52 Tuesdays, an Australian drama about a teenage girl struggling as her mother prepares for gender transition and cuts off contact but for Tuesday afternoons, is available on VOD a month before DVD.

Available for digital purchase in advance of disc:
Maggie (Lionsgate, Digital HD)
House of Cards: The Complete Third Season (Sony, Digital HD)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (Sony, Digital HD)
Kung Fu Killer (Well Go, Digital HD)
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox, Digital HD) Thursday, July 2
It Follows
(Anchor Bay, Digital HD) Friday, July 3

Classics and Cult:ValeriesWeek

Valerie and her Week of Wonders (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD)
Ghosthouse / Witchery Double Feature (Scream Factory, Blu-ray)
1990: The Bronx Warriors
(Blue Underground, Blu-ray+DVD Combo)
Escape From the Bronx (Blue Underground, Blu-ray+DVD Combo)
The New Barbarians (Blue Underground, Blu-ray+DVD Combo)

TV on disc:

Planet Ant (BBC, DVD)
A Place to Call Home: Season 2 (Acorn, DVD)
Maria Wern: Episodes 8 & 9 (MHz, DVD)
Annika Bengtzon Crime Reporter: Episodes 7 & 8 (MHz, DVD)

More releases:Gunman

The Gunman (Universal, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD)
Get Hard
(Warner, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD)
While We’re Young
(Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD)
Still (Film Movement, DVD)
Last Knights (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD)
Soldate Jeanette (Soldier Jane) (IndiePix, DVD, Digital)
I Am Evel Knievel
(Virgil, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital)
Childless (Monterey, DVD, Digital, VOD)
Hard to Be a God (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
Last Knights
(Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD)
Of Girls and Horses
(Wolfe, DVD, VOD)
Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity (Kino Lorber, DVD)

Calendar of upcoming releases on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital, and VOD