This week on home video, we’ve got a couple of Oscar-winning films, another that received a couple nominations of its own, and an Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated HBO sitcom. Then we’ve got a few other notable films, including two more from the Criterion Collection. Read on for details:


Interstellar (2014) 72%

Christopher Nolan was coming off the completion of a critically and commercially successful Batman trilogy, and Matthew McConaughey was still riding high from the praise he got for True Detective and Dallas Buyers Club. There’s no question Interstellar was going to be a hit. The mindbending outer space tale wasn’t for everyone, though, and it earned Nolan the lowest Tomatometer score of his directorial career at 72 percent. Of course, that’s still not too shabby, and when you consider his flair for visual spectacle and a supporting cast that included Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, and Michael Caine, it’s a little difficult to say this isn’t worth at least a look. It might not blow your mind, but then again, it just might.


The Imitation Game (2014) 89%

This is the Best Picture nominee about the scientist who wasn’t Stephen Hawking. To be fair, The Imitation Game was quite different from The Theory of Everything, its spiritual cousin in this year’s Best Picture race. While Theory focused more on the story of the individual (and earned its lead a Best Actor win), Imitation was much more plot-driven, unfolding a bit like a spy thriller with a handful of obligatory biopic plot developments and Alan Turing at its center. Lest we make it sound like it’s an inferior film, we’ll just point out that it earned a Certified Fresh 89 percent on the Tomatometer, over $200 million at the box office, and nominations in eight Oscar categories, taking home the trophy for Best Adapted Screenplay. This film is no slouch; if you want to see a solid drama about how one of the smartest men of the last century helped defeat the Nazis in WWII by essentially inventing the world’s first digital computer, give this a watch.


Wild (2014) 90%

How about another Oscar nominee? This film might be considered the capstone to Reese Witherspoon’s recent resurgence, following roles in Mud and The Good Lie. After all, it was her portrayal of Cheryl Strayed on an introspective 1,000-mile hike that earned her her second Best Actress nomination at this year’s Academy Awards. Co-star Laura Dern also got a nod in the Supporting Actress category, so even if you’re not especially into nomadic, soul-searching journeys, you know the performances are top notch. As for Witherspoon, she’s due next in a couple of comedies, so if you want her more serious side, this may be your last chance to see it for at least a little while, and since it’s Certified Fresh at 90 percent, it’s a fair bet it won’t be a waste of your time.


Silicon Valley – Season One (2014) 94%

Mike Judge and social satire go together like baseball bats and office printers, so everyone was naturally geeked to see how the man behind Beavis and Butt-head, Idiocracy, and Office Space would skewer millennial entrepreneurs in the tech sector. And it looks like everyone was right to be excited; Silicon Valley‘s first season, which follows a handful of hopeful programmers as they launch a potentially lucrative startup, is Certified Fresh at 94 percent, and it’s all set to return for its second season on HBO on April 12. If you haven’t seen the show yet, that gives you a little less than two weeks to get caught up, but it’s only eight episodes, so you’ll be in good shape if you pick up the DVD or Blu-ray set when it hits shelves this week.


 

ALSO AVAILABLE THIS WEEK:

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar (2014) (79 percent), a documentary about the quirky primates narrated by Morgan Freeman.
The Rewrite (2014) (64 percent), starring Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei in a romantic comedy about a washed up screenwriter who takes up teaching at a university and falls for one of his students.
Meet the Mormons (2014) (11 percent), a documentary following six average Mormons in various corners of the world, going about their daily routines.
Veep – Season Three (2014) (100 percent), starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice President Selina Meyer in HBO’s hugely popular Emmy-winning comedy series.
Cries and Whispers (1972) (89 percent), Ingmar Bergman’s Oscar-winning meditation on death as experienced by three sisters, is the first of two Criterion releases, available in a new Blu-ray transfer.
Hoop Dreams (1994) (98 percent), Steve James’ powerful documentary that follows two young boys over five years as they pursue their dreams of playing professional basketball, is the second Criterion release available in a new Blu-ray.

With the passing of Ingmar Bergman Monday, the world of cinema lost one of its most unique and important voices. Thus, we at Rotten Tomatoes decided to pick our favorite Bergman films as a tribute to the man who contributed so much to the art of movies.

From dark allegory (The Seventh Seal) to light(er) comedy (Smiles of a Summer Night), from emotionally wrenching period drama (Sawdust and Tinsel, Cries and Whispers) to musical theater (The Magic Flute), Bergman contributed a depth of feeling and intelligence to the cinema seldom seen before. The great Swedish director confronted the mysteries of human existence head-on, and, in doing so, carved out a niche that casts a long shadow over the medium.

Bergman’s work has influenced everything from The Break-Up to Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey; Wes Craven utilized The Virgin Spring as the basis for Last House on the Left, while Woody Allen and Robert Altman cited him as a key influence.

With a filmography as rich and potent as Bergman’s, it’s hard to know where to start. If you’re a beginner to Bergman’s oeuvre, here are some of our favorites.

Wild Strawberries

A lyrical and sometimes surreal film about a man in the twilight of his life, Wild Strawberries explores Bergman’s recurrent themes of innocent children subjected to dishonorable elders. The old man in Wild Strawberries realizes too late that he’s failed to create meaningful relationships with those near to him and remembers, with some dishonesty, his often painful past.

Fanny and Alexander

A broadly autobiographical film about Bergman’s own upbringing, Fanny and Alexander was made for Swedish TV and re-edited from 300 minutes down to 168 for release in American theaters. Bergman’s most popular film in the states, Fanny and Alexander deals again with Bergman’s issues of innocence and knowledge and displays in, sometimes depraved ways, how children don’t lose their innocence so much as have it stolen from them.

— Sara Schieron

Winter Light

Best known as the middle entry of Bergman’s “faith trilogy,” Winter Light revolves around a pastor’s crisis of faith after he’s unable to console one of his congregation. It’s an emotionally direct film — no dream sequences, no parlor games with Death — and Bergman skillfully draws tension from this simplicity. The film essentially ends the same way it begins, but everything that transpires in between gives the film’s final moment a shot of existential horror Bergman is legendary for.

— Alex Vo

Persona

A deeply unsettling, hypnotic work, Persona explores the fluidity of human existence. Liv Ullman plays Elizabeth, an actress who has suffered an onstage breakdown; she refuses to speak, and is cared for by Alma (Bibi Andersson). What follows is a disquieting journey into the depths of the soul; as Alma reveals her deepest secrets to Elizabeth, she finds herself in an emotional tug-of-war with her patient. Persona is Bergman at his most formally experimental, and his obsession with the poetry of the human face is at its apex in this mysterious, rewarding film.

Monika

One of Bergman’s earliest films, Monika is about the fleeting nature and naiveté of youthful passions. A free-spirited teenager named Monika (Harriet Andersson) and her reserved boyfriend Harry (Lars Ekborg) spend an idyllic summer on a remote island — before reality and responsibility set in. Monika may lack the existential probing and Big Questions of Bergman’s later films, but as an examination of the messiness of teenage emotions, it has a delicate beauty all its own.

— Tim Ryan

Ingmar Bergman, the “poet with a camera,” died in his sleep at his home in Faro, Sweden Monday at the age of 89. The director of such influential films as The Seventh Seal, Persona, Cries and Whispers, and Fanny and Alexander, Bergman was known for his literary sensibilities and existential ruminations. The director’s work has exerted a profound influence on filmmakers as disparate as Woody Allen, Lars Von Trier, and Wes Craven.

Bergman’s childhood and early career is outlined in potent detail in his autobiography The Magic Lantern. A precursor to the slide projector, Bergman acquired a magic lantern from his brother in trade for 100 tin soldiers. Citing his imagination as a refuge from the oppressive discipline of a Lutheran clergyman father and housewife mother, it’s rather poetic he should enter the realm of cinema by trading toys for visions. (Fanny and Alexander, about an upper-class family in Upsala before the First World War, is regarded as a loosely autobiographical portrayal of his youth).


Bergman on the set of Saraband

Bergman left his home at the age of 19 and got a menial job at the Royal Opera House. In 1942 the Swedish Film Industry hired him as an assistant scriptwriter. Torment (aka Frenzy or Hets), a script he wrote in 1944 was filmed by then dominant director Alf Sjoeberg and went on to win several awards including the grand prize at the 1946 Cannes Film Festival. Promptly thereafter, Bergman began his directorial career, producing an average of one film a year. When his comedy Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) appeared in theaters he won international acclaim. Bergman also worked in television, directing everything from soap commercials to the monumental miniseries Scenes from a Marriage (1973).

Bergman frequently collaborated with such notables as Max von Sydow, , Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Ingrid Thulin, Erland Josephson, and especially Liv Ullmann, with whom he produced ten films and a daughter.

Bergman won Academy Awards for best foreign film in 1960 (The Virgin Spring), 1961 (Through a Glass Darkly) and 1963 (Winter Light). The latter two films were part of his “faith trilogy,” and it’s suggested the third in the series (The Silence) was too sexually suggestive to be considered for the Oscars. In 1972, two of his films, Persona and Wild Strawberries (1957), were included in Sight and Sound’s prestigious poll of critics as two of the 10 greatest films of all time. In 2005, Time Magazine called him the world’s greatest living filmmaker.

The Associated Press reports the filmmaker, director of 54 features, and 129 stage productions, never fully recovered from a hip surgery he had in October. His last film was 2005’s Saraband.

Bergman is survived by his nine children. Funeral services have not yet been announced but the Swedish Film Institute plans a memorial event for the month of August.

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