"The Iron Lady" (PG-13) Format: DVD and Blu-ray
"The Iron Lady," a very personal portrait of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, flies high on the jaw-dropping ability of Meryl Streep to explore this complex character across more than four decades of her life.
Director Phyllida Lloyd ("Mamma Mia") and screenwriter Abi Morgan ("Shame") depart from the traditional format of a biopic. The framework hangs on Thatcher as an octogenarian, long out of power and diminished by dementia and widowhood.
The movie portrays an elderly Thatcher almost paranoid about her always-nearby caregivers as she moves about her apartment and occasionally gives them the slip. The fact that her late husband, Denis (Jim Broadbent), often appears to converse with her must be hidden, lest such mental lapses further restrict the small world in which she's allowed to move.
The apartment is full of memories, particularly as she decides to pack up Denis' belongings for donation to charity. Any object lying about can lead to a mental flight of fancy that takes her back in time.
The movie yo-yos from present to past as Thatcher revisits the (mostly) high and (rarely) low moments of a remarkable life.
Streep plays Thatcher as a woman looking over her shoulder, with equal parts pride and doubt, plus a yearning for when she had power, as she remembers key chapters in her life.
The movie turns out to be more about the ravages of dementia and the personal cost of acquiring and using power than it is about Thatcher's controversial career. It will disappoint those looking for any depth of insight and analysis concerning history and social currents that defined her life.
Alexandra Roach and Harry Lloyd do a fine job playing young Margaret and Denis as they meet and form their unusual partnership. Broadbent is spot-on as ever-smiling, common-sense Denis, the very definition of loyalty and selflessness — and the perfect foil to Margaret's ambition and rigidity.
Streep gives an amazing performance, full of carefully crafted moments in which she layers the complex emotional undercurrents of past triumphs and tragedies with her present limited circumstances.
The accent and movement are flawless, the makeup work stunning. But it's the richness of how Streep emotionally inhabits the character that earned her the best-actress Oscar.
— Bob Fischbach, World-Herald staff writer
"The Darkest Hour"
(PG-13) Format: DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3-D
A sci-fi thriller that is the story of five young people who find themselves stranded in Moscow, fighting to survive in the wake of a devastating alien attack.
"A Streetcar Named Desire" (PG) Format: Blu-ray
Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) and his wife, Stella, are the earthy couple in New Orleans's French Quarter whose lives are upended by the arrival of Stella's sister, Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh). Blanche, a disturbed, lyrical, faded Southern belle, is immediately drawn into a battle of wills with Stanley. Acting Oscars were awarded to Leigh, Kim Hunter (as Stella), and Karl Malden (as Blanche's clueless suitor), but not for Brando.
Other releases: "One Tree Hill: The Complete Ninth Season," "Miss Representation," "Into the Abyss" (DVD, Blu-ray), "Dark Shadows: Best of Barnabas," "The Witches of Oz" (DVD, Blu-ray), "Happy Feet Two," "Terror Experiment" (DVD, Blu-ray)