Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
Available on VOD beginning Thursday
Drew DeNicola's documentary tries to explain how a Memphis rock 'n' roll band that toiled in obscurity in the early 1970s went on to become so beloved and influential. DeNicola has a tough time wrangling all the pieces of the Big Star story, which includes personal turmoil, substance abuse, music industry corruption, the Southern fine-arts scene and more, and it doesn't help that many of the Big Star principals are dead, including co-founders and creative forces Alex Chilton and Chris Bell. But DeNicola has interviews with many of the critics and musicians who figure in the band's legend, and the movie explains how these guys came up with such a unique sound, fusing Beatle-esque melodies, loud guitars and a danceable Memphis beat. Big Star fans won't want to miss it.
Available on VOD beginning Tuesday
For the first time since 1994's "Interview With the Vampire," director Neil Jordan returns to the realm of undead bloodsuckers, working with playwright Moira Buffini to tell the story of young-looking, melancholy vampire named Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) who has spent centuries reluctantly accompanying her prostitute mother, Clara (Gemma Arterton). When the family flees to an ocean resort, Clara opens a brothel in a local hotel while Eleanor uses her creative writing class as an excuse to share the story of her life with a cancer-ridden boy named Frank (Caleb Landry Jones). Jordan and Buffini don't do enough to freshen up vampire mythology, but Ronan and Arterton are both sympathetic, and the film has an interesting take on storytelling, using a nested narrative structure to explore the past and the present of two women doing their best to defy the roles the patriarchy has staked out for them.
56 Up/The Up Series
First Run, $29.95/$79.95
In 1964, the British documentary TV series "World in Action" aired the short film "Seven Up!," following 14 children from different social classes to get "a glimpse of England in the year 2000." Michael Apted was a researcher on that episode and has helmed a new installment every seven years since, tracking the subjects — and their homeland — as they've gone through changes both dramatic and subtle. The latest in the series finds the remaining participants settling into their grandparenting years and reflecting on whether Apted and his crew have really said anything substantive about their lives and times. Each "Up" supersedes its predecessor in a way, in that each contains footage from all the films, so newcomers can start with "56 Up" (the DVD of which adds an interview between Apted and the late Roger Ebert, a longtime supporter), while fans can get "The Up Series" box set, which includes all eight docs.
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis: The Complete Series
Shout! Factory, $139.99
Max Shulman's short stories about lovesick teen Dobie Gillis were first adapted into a quirky MGM musical and then one of the smartest sitcoms of the late '50s and early '60s, with Dwayne Hickman playing the boy of a thousand schemes, each meant to win the heart of a girl. "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" complete series box set contains all four seasons of the show, spanning 147 half-hour episodes of high school and college high jinks, featuring Dobie and his beatnik pal, Maynard G. Krebs (played by a pre-"Gilligan's Island" Bob Denver). Between the hero's fourth-wall-breaking addresses to the audience and the sharp commentary on teenage caste systems and popular culture, the TV "Dobie" was one of the rare sitcoms of its era to take kids seriously.
The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu
Kino Lorber, $29.95
The Curtis Harrington Short Film Collection
Flicker Alley, $39.95
The Kentucky Fried Movie
Shout! Factory Blu-ray