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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Home Movies/Out on Digital: June 19

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Joe

Nicolas Cage was among his generation’s most promising actors, but he’s spent most of his career playing dumb. Joe, his best film in a decade, is a Southern story of redneck violence, rural poverty and warped family ties. Cage plays the title role, a hard-working ex-con who falls in with a stray, a boy struggling to escape from an abusive alcoholic father. Cage invests his part with more than his usual sleepy drawl and sad eyes.

■ “The Wheels on the Bus: A Day at the Farm”

What’s a good job for a semi-retired rock star? If you’re Roger Daltrey, it’s being the voice of Argon the Dragon in this recurring mixed live-animation children’s show. Green and grinning, Argon leads the cheery sing-alongs, waxing soulfully in lesson lyrics about the necessity of filling the gas tank and other facts of life. Argon is in the driver’s seat, literally, steering the titular bus with its headlamp eyes, toothy grill and smiling bumper.

■ “Mama’s Family: The Complete Fourth Season”

The popular ’80s sitcom “Mama’s Family” began with a worthy premise: a multi-generational family forced to live together under one roof by pinched finances and life’s disappointments. By season four (1987-1988) the screenwriters were becoming hard-pressed for laughs, but the star of the show continued to fling out the zingers. Played by multi-talented Vicki Lawrence, Thelma is an aged, pinch-lipped matriarch who sasses back at the world with a salty mix of wit and dismay.