New DVDs: 'Californication,' 'Grace Kelly Collection,' and more

David Duchovny (left) as Hank, Evan Handler as Charlie, and Laura Niles as Laura in Episode 10.
David Duchovny (left) as Hank, Evan Handler as Charlie, and Laura Niles as Laura in Episode 10. (Showtime)
Posted: August 09, 2014

Henry James "Hank" Moody, the charming, talented, funny, and seriously self-destructive hero of Showtime's Californication, has a rare gift for stringing together English words in pleasing patterns and rhythms.

He also has a knack for getting into sticky situations. Usually when a woman - or, more often, several women - are involved.

Throw booze on the situation and the barely functional alcoholic author lands himself into real trouble, often dragging his family down with him, including his long-term off-and-on partner Karen van der Beek (Natascha McElhone) and their teenage daughter Becca (Madeleine Martin).

Portrayed with brilliant humor and cutting irony by David Duchovny, Hank is a latter-day Charles Bukowski - usually drunk, usually in debt, and usually at the end of his tether - who has spent seven seasons making his way through the good life in Southern California.

Has he learned anything in all those years? Has he matured into a better father? Find out with Californication: The Final Season, a two-disc set featuring all 12 episodes from the drama's ultimate go-round. ( www.sho.com; $45.98; not rated)

Other titles of note

Nicolas Le Floch. French mystery novelist Jean-François Parot's most famous character, Nicolas Le Floch, is a Jesuit-trained legal clerk turned police detective in 1760s Paris who tackles a series of politically motivated murders. Born to a middle-class family, he learns as a young adult that he is the illegitimate son of a powerful, recently deceased aristocrat, whose title he inherits. His new social position gives him access to the capital's corridors of power - and the dangerous plots and games of intrigues played therein. This collection contains six brilliantly written and executed French-language mysteries. ( www.mhznetworks.org; $49.95; not rated)

The Normal Heart. Based on the autobiographical 1985 stage drama by playwright and LGBT activist Larry Kramer ( Reports From the Holocaust: The Story of an AIDS Activist) and directed by American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy, this HBO film about Kramer's experiences during the early days of the AIDS crisis was nominated for 16 Emmys. Mark Ruffalo leads an all-star cast that includes Julia Roberts, Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, and Alfred Molina; Ruffalo plays a gay Jewish American founder of an HIV/AIDS advocacy group in New York working to promote awareness of the disease and prompt the medical community to take it seriously. Like Kramer, who is cofounder of the controversial ACT-UP, he alienates other activists by using confrontational tactics. ( http://store.hbo.com/; $19.97; not rated)

Grace Kelly Collection. Philadelphia gal turned Hollywood sensation turned European royalty, Grace Kelly starred in more than two dozen films before leaving our shores in 1956 to become princess consort of Monaco. Her films include two of Alfred Hitchcock's most accomplished mysteries. Both of them, Dial M For Murder and Rear Window, are included in this seven-disc collection of some of Kelly's finest films, including Mogambo, The Country Girl, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, and her final feature, High Society, the delightful, frothy Cole Porter romantic musical featuring Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. ( www.wbshop.com; $34.96; not rated)

The Protector 2. After completing the extraordinary Ong Bak trilogy, Thai martial arts master and Buddhist adept Tony Jaa reportedly was so disgusted by the materialism he encountered in the film world that he went into seclusion. He's back after a three-year break with this stunning crime saga costarring American rapper and martial arts student RZA. You can revisit Jaa's trilogy with the affordable boxed set Ong Bak Trilogy( www.magpictures.com; $26.98 DVD; $29.98 Blu-ray each release; rated R)

Caught. This strange, trippy 1949 entry from La Ronde director Max Ophüls stars Barbara Bel Geddes as an ambitious if naive model out to find herself a rich husband. She gets the man of her dreams (Robert Ryan), but he turns out to be a sadistic neurotic. Trapped, the poor gal finally finds love when she meets a kind doctor, played by James Mason. But will her cruel husband ever let her leave? ( www.olivefilms.com; $29.95 DVD; $29.95 Blu-ray; not rated)


tirdad@phillynews.com

215-854-2736

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