He did seize the day — goodbye, Robin
By Peter Covino
A&E Editor/Film Critic
Before moving on to this week’s movie/DVD column, I have to say a few words about the tragic passing of Robin Williams.
Williams, who I guess was always a troubled figure, will now, unfortunately, be added to Hollywood’s growing list of tragic stars like Elvis, Marilyn, James Dean and Judy Garland.
Whether his flame will burn as bright as those now long-gone legends remains to be seen, but he left behind a long, satisfying body of work that includes everything from the TV series Mork and Mindy to Academy Award nominated performances in Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society and The Fisher King, and one Oscar-winning role, opposite Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting.
Williams still has a few more films “in the can” including another stint as Teddy Roosevelt in the fourth Night at the Museum, and a holiday comedy called Merry Friggin’ Christmas. He has one “voice over” role as Dennis the Dog in Absolutely Anything, slated for release next year. He also has an independent film, Boulevard, that has yet to see wid e distribution, a dramatic-turn for the actor, playing a middle-aged man, who after more than 25 years of marriage, opens the door to his secret desires and picks up a young male street hustler. We never will get to see a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire, which never got passsed the planning stages.
My favorite Williams’ memory will always be the frenetic, and frenzied “Mr. Happy” show he did on a fall evening in the 1980s in front of some 80,000 people at the University of Florida. It took years before the stodgy school adminestration recovered from that one.
I get kind of sad when a favorite series comes to a close, and more often than not it seems like the series is on HBO.
It was like losing family members when The Sopranos signed off, likewise, Six Feet Under.
And now, Boardwalk Empire returns for a fifth and final season, Sept. 7.
Don’t get out the handkerchiefs just yet. Season four of Boardwalk Empire has just arrived on Blu-ray DVD.
You would think it would be hard to get warm and fuzzy over a bunch of hoods and gangsters. But Boardwalk Empire has made it pretty simple over the past (so far) 48 episodes.
Season four offered more turmoil for Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), as the corrupt political king of Atlantic City (based on the real-life Enoch Johnson) faces the usual dangers and calamities over the course of 12 episodes.
As usual, characters are killed, including one important one who has been around since season one, and Nucky expands his dealings to the Sunshine State, which looks to be even hotter and more humid in the 1920s than 2014. How could anyone live here before air conditioning?
There are family problems as well Nucky’s nephew (son of brother Eli) enters the family business, at considerable risk.
If you don’t have HBO, you really need to get in on this series. If you do subscribe to the premium channel and have HBO Go (the app that lets you watch every episode of almost every series the network has produced) do you really need spend the cash for the DVD or Blu-ray set?
It’s an emphatic yes, if you are a fan.
HBO sets are always nicely packaged, but it is all those bonus features that makes fans keep coming back for more. And season 4 of Boardwalk Empire is no exception.
I have had the Blu-ray boxed set for a few weeks now, and still haven’t made it through all the extras offered here
Exclusive to the Blu-ray edition:
Boardwalk Chronicle – an interactive, in-feature guide which offers character and location info as well as historical facts that are woven into each episode.
Scouting the Boardwalk – hear how the locations manager of Boardwalk Empire finds the unique buildings and neighborhoods that bring the 1920s to life in each episode.
PaleyFest: Made in NY Boardwalk Empire Panel – a question and answer session with creator/executive producer/writer Terence Winter, executive producer/writer Howard Korder and cast members of Boardwalk Empire after a screening of episode five, “Erlkönig” – courtesy of The Paley Center for Media.
The Blu-ray set also incluldes a digital copy of the entire series for viewing on your your phone, tablet or computer.
DVD Features (also featured in the Blu-ray edition):
The Onyx Club: A Step Back In Time – an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the creation of, and historical inspiration for, the massive new set in Season 4.
Becoming Harrow – actor Jack Huston details the origins, story arc, and evolution of fan-favorite character Richard Harrow.
New Characters – meet the new faces of season four: Dr. Valentin Narcisse, Roy Phillips, Agent Knox, Sally Wheet, Frank and Ralph Capone and Daughter Maitland.
Season 3: Revisited – get reacquainted with season 3 of Boardwalk Empire with this recap featuring creator/executive producer/writer Terence Winter.
Audio Commentaries – six commentaries with the cast and crew including Terence Winter, Steve Buscemi, Michael Kenneth Williams, Gretchen Mol and more.
Not surprisingly, Boardwalk Empire features a really large cast (many characters from seasons 1-3 are no longer with us. The cast four season four includes:
Buscemi as Nucky Thompson; Kelly Macdonald as Margaret, Nucky’s estranged wife; Michael Shannon as former Federal Agent Nelson Van Alden, caught up in gangland conflicts; Shea Whigham as Nucky’s brother Elias, whose attempt to steer his son clear of Nucky’s influence sparks fraternal tensions; Jack Huston as disfigured war veteran Richard Harrow, who is searching for a new purpose in life; Stephen Graham as gangster Al Capone; Michael Stuhlbarg as gangster Arnold Rothstein, who’s newly wary of Nucky; Vincent Piazza as gangster Lucky Luciano; Paul Sparks as Mickey Doyle, head of Nucky’s bootlegging operation; Michael Kenneth Williams as Nucky’s ally Chalky White, leader of the city’s African-American community; Gretchen Mol as Gillian, battling demons from her past as she seeks custody of her grandson; and Anthony Laciura as Eddie Kessler, Nucky’s longtime valet. New cast members in season four include Jeffrey Wright as Valentin Narcisse, a violent Harlem power broker who tries to muscle in on Chalky’s action; Ron Livingston as Roy Phillips, a business and romantic prospect of Gillian’s; Patricia Arquette as Sally Wheet, a Florida speakeasy owner; Brian Geraghty as Federal Agent Warren Knox; and Domenick Lombardozzi and Morgan Spector as Al Capone’s brothers, Ralph and Frank.
Silicon Valley, HBO’s comedy series about a group of computer engineers in the 1980’s (inspired partially by Mike Judge’s own experiences as an engineer) is now available on digital HD.
The series created by Judge(“Office Space,” “Beavis & Butt-head”), in a collaboration with Alec Berg (“Seinfeld”), has been nominated for five upcoming Emmy Awarrds., including Best Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing (Berg) and Outstanding Directing (Judge). The Digital HD release features all eight episodes from Season 1, along with an extensive, behind-the-scenes feature exploring the making of the show (available at select retailers with a complete season purchase).
In Silicon Valley, Richard (Thomas Middleditch) is an introverted computer programmer living in the Hacker Hostel start-up incubator along with his best friend, Big Head (Josh Brener), pompous Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) and dry-witted Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani). These social misfits live under the watch of Erlich (T.J. Miller), a self-satisfied dotcom millionaire who lets them stay in his house for free – as long as he gets a ten percent stake in their projects. After a failed pitch to billionaire venture capitalist Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch), Richard seems destined to remain at his job at the tech company Hooli, founded by the megalomaniacal Gavin Belson (Matt Ross). When Monica (Amanda Crew), Gregory’s head of operations, and Jared (Zach Woods), a Hooli executive, realize the value of the site’s compression algorithm, a bidding war erupts between Belson and Gregory, with Richard caught in the middle.
Details for the Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season Blu-ray with Digital HD and DVD release will be announced soon.