Home Video Picks & Passes 03.20.16
Brooklyn -- PICK
Coming Home -- PICK
The Peanuts Movie -- PICK
Two of my top 10 films of 2015 are new on Blu-ray, along with one of last year’s bumper crop of worthwhile family films.
“Best Picture” nominee Brooklyn was my favorite film of 2015, and I only wish there were more films like it — engrossing human stories that find moving drama not in great crises or perversity, but in the ordinary stuff of human life, love and loss.
Based on Colm Toibin’s 2009 novel, the film stars “Best Actress” nominee Saoirse Ronan as Eilis, a young Irish woman who leaves her small town in the early 1950s to seek a new life in New York. It’s an archetypal story, a small-town girl on a journey of self-discovery in a large world, learning who she is and who she wants to be — a journey of self-discovery we’re privileged to make with her.
Jim Broadbent has a small but crucial role as an Irish priest who helps Eilis find lodgings and work and puts her on the path to a better life. Brooklyn is not a Catholic film per se, but the Church is a crucial, if unobtrusive, presence, a pillar of community life — one that changes Eilis’ life in more ways than one.
Like Brooklyn, Zhang Yimou’s Coming Home (my No. 6 film of 2015) is a tremendously moving love story — if one that does rely on a terrible crisis. Set in the wake of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, it tells the story of a political prisoner, Lu Yanshi, who returns home after the revolution only to discover that his traumatized wife, Feng Wanyu (Gong Li), is unable to recognize him.
What does love look like under such circumstances? In the answer to that question is Coming Home’s shattering power. The film’s final shot is one of the most haunting images of marital love I have ever seen in any film.
Finally, The Peanuts Movie comes billed as “from the imagination of Charles Schulz,” and, almost astonishingly, it pretty much is. Somehow the sketchy soul of Schulz’s work makes the leap to 3-D computer animation, persuasively returning us to the old neighborhood of the classic TV specials.
Caveat Spectator: Brooklyn: A brief, nonexplicit bedroom scene; limited foul language. Older teens and up. Coming Home: A brief, bloody injury; intensely stressful family situations; a reference to sexual violence. Teens and up. The Peanuts Movie: Nothing problematic. Kids and up.