DVD Slight Return: Be Yourself Edition
Hill Street Blues: Season Six (Shout! Factory, 9/8) was the police procedural’s next to last season. This excellent show just kept upping the ante as to what would happen next.
The sixth season introduced Dennis Franz’s character Lt. Norman Buntz. Franz, a great character actor also known for his roles in various Brian De Palma films, had previously appeared on the hill during season three for five episodes as an officer who ends up killing himself. Season six also marked the first credits for writer Dick Wolfe, who would go on to create the various Law & Order series, which owe a debt of gratitude to the style of Hill Street Blues.
In fact the best all around ep was one where Wolfe has a solo writing credit, “What Are Friends For?” (5 December, 1985), where Buntz and another detective are held hostage by a deranged victim of justice. Another ep features a nutcase who goes around acting like Rambo (with a fake weapon). Yet another couple of eps features the brief arc of a gay policewoman played with dignity by Lindsay Crouse who may have sexually harassed a prostitute. There’s also about a dozen other reoccurring characters that make Hill Street Blues a show that stands above others of its genre.
Gemma Bovary (Music Box Films, 9/1) puts a modern spin on Gustav Flaubert’s 19th century novel of adultery and despair. Gemma Arterton plays Gemma Bovary the wife of a couple who’ve moved from Britain to Normandy in France. Fabrice Luchini is a local cook who is convinced that Bovary will walk the same path as her literary namesake. The movie itself will delight those familiar with the book as well as fans of Arterton who just devours this role.
I’ve seen a lot of brilliant documentaries this year but none have the emotional wallop of Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me (Virgil Films, 9/1). Campbell diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease commenced with a farewell five-week tour. Director James Keach (also a noted actor and producer) filmed Campbell and the tour extended for over 150 performances over the period of nearly two years.
It was a brave decision by Campbell to allow cameras to catch him as he literally falls apart on stage much to the chagrin of the other musicians that include his daughter Ashley. Another scene that arouses strong feelings is Campbell performing in the studio for the last time with members of The Wrecking Crew, the legendary coterie of ’60 West Coast musicians.
— Michael Bergeron