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Getting to know Shane Black

Zade Rosenthal/Marvel via AP

Lingering question after watching “Iron Man 3” (2013): Why do the movie’s end credits play like the sort of series-highlights reel you’d expect from a franchise that’s signing off? Haven’t we already been promised another welcome encore of Robert Downey Jr.’s wisecracking hero act in “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” in a couple of years? Here’s another: Were the filmmakers cognizant of just how chilling it is to see Ben Kingsley’s bin Laden-channeling turn as Iron-nemesis the Mandarin? Commentary doesn’t supply the answers. But we do get to know director Shane Black, the polarizing “Lethal Weapon” writer who reinvented himself as a more nuanced talent with Downey’s witty “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (2005). Chatting with co-writer Drew Pearce (the British superhero sitcom “No Heroics”), Black is more inclined to focus on the latest installment’s theme — that regardless of what anxiety-plagued Tony Stark may believe, he’s a hero with or without his armor. As for the Kingsley question, they’re apparently leaving their twisty handling of the character to speak for itself (i.e. yes, they knew the audience demanded some relief). You’ll find the DVD’s most revealing stuff in a featurette spotlighting that thrilling Air Force One set piece, the first action sequence in years to genuinely leave us asking, how’re they gonna get out of this one? The behind-the-scenes details, featuring the Barrel of Monkeys skydiving team, are pretty amazing in themselves. Semi-random bonus: the nifty short “Agent Carter,” featuring Captain America’s WWII flame (Hayley Atwell). (Disney, $29.99; Blu-ray, $44.99; 3-D, $49.99)

George Sanders and Ingrid Bergman in a scene from Roberto Rossellini's “Journey to Italy.”



A star of Bergman’s luminescence going to work with an auteur of neorealist Rossellini’s stature could have been regarded as one of the great collaborations of the day. Instead, their affair and subsequent marriage overshadowed all of it. Cineaste vault-minders aim to focus new attention on films linked by sociopolitical concerns and metaphysical melodrama: “Stromboli,” about a woman in existential crisis on, fittingly, a volcanic island; “Europe ’51,” about a grieving socialite mother searching for new meaning in her life; and “Journey to Italy” (above) tracking a vacationing couple’s downward-spiraling marriage. Extensive extras include new interviews with film scholars, Isabella Rossellini, and others. (Criterion, $99.95; Blu-ray, $99.95)




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Voyeurism class is in session throughout this latest film from French provocateur François Ozon (“Swimming Pool”). Fabrice Luchini plays a persnickety high school writing instructor whose tedium is broken only by essays from a new student (Ernst Umhauer), an enigmatic kid fixated on an unremarkable classmate and his parents. Scenes with Umhauer’s character narrating his creepy perfect-family infiltration take on an increasingly surreal air. But the film’s willful lack of a payoff is almost as strange as one of those essays. Extras: Featurette; deleted scenes. (Cohen Media, $24.98; Blu-ray, $34.98)

Tom Russo can be reached at