What to Watch: Feb. 11-17, 2014

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

We’re a little light on quantity at What to Watch this week but not on quality. And our newest contributor, Dave Canfield, has already handled today’s release of “All is Lost,” a film you really should add to whatever queue allows you to see quality films. When you’re done with that, pick one of these five. OK, four. Ignore “Diana.” Please.

The Returned: Season One
The Returned: Season One
Photo credit: Music Box Films

“The Returned: Season One”

Netflix landed a lot of press for the way they stormed the gates of the TV industry in 2013 but I think the story of The Sundance Channel’s evolution into a major player was under-reported. Jane Campion’s “The Top of the Lake” and the brilliant “Rectify” would have been enough but this import of a French series was actually their best program, and one of the best on TV overall. This is riveting, atmospheric, brilliant stuff; the kind of complex writing and filmmaking we don’t see on TV enough. Watch it. As soon as you can. And as you do, head over here to see my episode-by-episode recaps.

From my TV review: “The Returned” takes a very relatable “what if” scenario – we can all imagine the blend of shock, fear, and happiness that would occur if a deceased loved one rang the bell right now – but doesn’t use it purely as a “Twilight Zone”-esque twist, as would be the case with lesser writers (or, I worry, with the inevitable American remake of this one). There’s very little in this universe that’s more impactful than the death of a loved one. What if that was reversed? What emotional impact would it have in the other direction?

Synopsis:
In an idyllic French Alpine village, a seemingly random collection of people find themselves in a state of confusion as they attempt to return to their homes. What they do not yet know is that they have been dead for several years, and no one is expecting them back. Buried secrets emerge as they grapple with this miraculous and sinister new reality, struggling to reintegrate with their families and past lovers. But it seems they are not the only ones back from the dead. Their arrival coincides with a series of gruesome murders that bear a chilling resemblance to the work of a serial killer from the past…

Special Features:
o Collector’sBooklet including an introduction by producer Caroline Benjo
o Interview with director Fabrice Gobert
o Critical essay by Scott Tobias

Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, Vudu, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes

The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book
Photo credit: Disney

“The Jungle Book”

Disney’s 19th official entry in their animated canon is an interesting one because it is the film on which Walt himself worked last. In fact, he died during its production, a fact that would lead to some growing pains over the next quarter-century. In many ways, as much as I enjoy some works in those first non-Walt years like “Robin Hood” and “The Rescuers,” this is the last film of the first golden era of Disney. And even with that in mind, “Jungle Book” has always been a bit of a hit-and-miss proposition. Most people remember the songs (by the legendary Sherman brothers) and “Bare Necessities” holds a special place in animated history, but the film went through a very tumultuous production process and one can see it in the tonal imbalance in the storytelling. The film veers wildly from its original, darker incarnation to something much sillier. It’s indicative of many of the problems that the company would have after Walt passed.

Having said that, some people LOVE “Jungle Book” and they’ll be happy with a typically-strong Disney Blu-ray release. These are still the standard-bearers for animation; great HD transfers, a variety of ways to watch the film (including DVD & Digital Copy), and special features for both the casual fan and the Disney nut. The fact is that Walt Disney BD releases are so strong that even the films I love less than most fans of classic animation are must-owns. This is no exception.

Synopsis:
Now for the first time ever on Blu-ray with glorious digital high definition, Disney’s Jumpin’ Jungle Classic has never looked so lush or sounded so good! Beloved characters, swinging music and new behind-the-scenes bonus features make this Diamond Edition Blu-ray a must-have for every family’s classic collection!

Meet the most unforgettable characters and embark on a thrilling adventure with Mowgli as he journeys deep into the jungle and learns “The Bare Necessities” of life from happy-go-lucky Baloo the bear. Meet Bagheera, the wise old panther, and crazy King Louie, the orangutan. But watch out for the cunning tiger Shere Khan and Kaa, the sssssneakiest snake in the jungle!

Explore your family’s wild side as you venture into The Jungle Book for extraordinary adventures and a heartwarming tale that celebrates the true meaning of friendship.

Special Features:
o Disney Animation: Sparking Creativity
o Bear-E-Oke - Sing Along
o Recently Discovered Alternate Ending
o Music, Memories & Mowgli
o I Wanna Be Like You - Hangin’ Out At Disney’s Animal Kingdom
o Special Introductions - By Diane Disney Miller and Richard M. Sherman
o DisneyPedia: Junglemania

Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, Vudu, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes

Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth
Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth
Photo credit: HBO

“Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth”

From a French TV series to a ’60s Disney cartoon to Mike Tyson’s one-man show. You have to love the diversity this week at What to Watch. Directed by Spike Lee, this HBO broadcast of Tyson’s Broadway hit is a riveting piece of work that gives Tyson a platform that we never thought he’d have or that he’d be able to command so completely. Tyson is magnetic, emotionally going through many of the major events in history in a format that feels unrehearsed and spontaneous, even though he did it every night. Tyson has reached a fascinating point in his career, writing an acclaimed book, getting movie roles, and completely reinventing himself with this show. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Synopsis:
Raw, honest, powerful and full of humor, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth features “Iron Mike” recounting his life’s highs and lows in his signature candid style. Over the course of 90 riveting minutes, Tyson opens up about his troubled Brooklyn youth, landmark boxing career, key influences in his life, personal and professional controversies, time in prison, loss of family members and, most recently, his rehabilitation and redemption, forged by sobriety and a renewed commitment to family life.

Special Features:
o None

Where to Watch: HBO Go, Blu-ray, DVD, Vudu, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes

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