RED 2 (2013, Lionsgate, PG-13, $30) -- After countless spy capers starring young whippersnappers like Daniel Craig and Matt Damon, there's something refreshing about seeing a troupe of 60-somethings trotting around the globe trying to save the world. Lured out of limbo, the Retired Extremely Dangerous crew (Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren) plus one (Mary-Louise Parker) find themselves chasing down a portable nuclear weapon. Sure, the plot is just an excuse for shoot-outs, chases and extended cameos (Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones) but director Dean Parisot does a bang- up job balancing laughs and intrigue. Extras: featurettes, gag reel and deleted scenes.
FRANCES HA (2013, Criterion, unrated, $40) -- Frances (Greta Gerwig) is floundering. After being dumped by her roommate/soulmate Sophie (Mickey Sumner), she seems in danger of losing her bearings as she bounces between Brooklyn apartments and odd jobs. But what happens, against all odds, is that Frances discovers herself. Co- written by the radiant Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach ("Greenberg"), this effervescent comedy ranks as one of 2013's best for the way it delivers both laughs laced with charm and ornery truths about the realities of growing up. Extras: featurettes.
GETAWAY (2013, Warner, PG-13, $29) Can a movie be too fast-paced for its own good? If "Getaway" is any indication, the answer is a resounding yes. For 90 minutes, Ethan Hawke does almost nothing but drive like a maniac through the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria. Hawke's wife has been snatched and he's following the orders of an unseen kidnapper (Jon Voight) in hopes of keeping her alive. The souped-up Ford Mustang which Hawke steals for his demolition derby belongs to a gun-toting teenager (Selena Gomez) who carjacks him and then helps him outwit the villain. Over-edited and shot primarily with jittery handheld cameras, "Getaway" is a whole lot of hooey. Extras: featurettes.
PRINCE AVALANCHE (2013, Magnolia, R, $28) -- It's a challenge to make a buddy comedy seem fresh and vital. So this stunner from David Gordon Green ("Pineapple Express") is a small miracle. Emile Hirsch and the marvelous Paul Rudd star as mismatched road workers who camp out in the wilderness for months at a time while they paint lines on a stretch of deserted highway burned out by a massive forest fire. Running beneath the banter and the beautiful shots of nature is a deep sense of melancholy. "Prince Avalanche" has brains, heart, mystery and wisdom. See it now. Extras: deleted scenes, featurettes and Green commentary.
AND WHILE WE WERE HERE (2012, WellGo, R, $28) -- A luminous Kate Bosworth gives the best performance of her career in this beautifully photographed drama about a journalist whose marriage begins to unravel while she and her husband (Iddo Goldberg) are on vacation in Naples. The catalyst for the split is a 19-year-old ex- pat (Jamie Blackley) to whom Bosworth takes a shine. While the premise of the film might be overly familiar, it's to writer/ director Kat Coiro's credit that a raw emotional power permeates the best scenes. Coiro is playing for keeps. Extras: black-and-white director's cut.
ALL IS BRIGHT (2013, Anchor Bay, R, $27) -- Just out of prison in Quebec, petty thief Dennis (Paul Giamatti) is desperate to go straight, if only to impress his ex-wife (Amy Landecker) and daughter. Short on options, he winds up accompanying a former partner in crime named Alex (Paul Rudd) to Brooklyn where Alex sells Christmas trees on a busy street corner. Giamatti and Rudd spar beautifully, relishing both the unusual situations and the bitingly funny dialogue. Best of all, "All Is Bright" never goes soft. It's the darkest Christmas comedy since "Bad Santa." Extras: none.
BREAKING BAD: THE FINAL SEASON (2013, Sony, unrated, $56) -- The best TV drama ever? My vote goes to "The Sopranos." The best last season of a TV drama? It's "Breaking Bad" by a landslide. In particular, the episode "Ozymandes," in which Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Hank (Dean Norris) face-off in the desert, is just jaw-dropping in its brilliance. Action, drama, humor and suspense are deftly interwoven all season. And the finale provides a wholly satisfying conclusion to the saga of Walter White. Also new this week is "Breaking Bad: The Complete Series" ($300), which collects every riveting episode in a black barrel (modeled after the container where Walt stashed his meth millions). Extras: featurettes, deleted scenes and commentaries.
APPLAUSE (2009, Kino, R, $30) -- In this searing character study from Denmark, an alcoholic stage actress named Thea (Paprika Steen) tries to start over again after a divorce. During her heavy- drinking days, she gave up custody of her two young sons to her ex- husband (Michael Falch) but, newly sober, she's ready to take them back. Intercut with the domestic drama are scenes from Thea's onstage triumph in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," a play which mirrors her personal life. Steen digs deep into the scarred soul of Thea, giving a performance of ferocity and feeling. Extras: none.
HANNAH ARENDT (2013, Zeitgeist, unrated, $30) -- In 1961, Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt (Barbara Sukowa) began covering the trail in Jerusalem of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi bureaucrat responsible for coordinating the transportation of millions of Jews to concentration camps. The trial consumed Arendt and led to her formulating the controversial concept of the "banality of evil." Set over the course of four years, Margarethe Von Trotta's thought- provoking film works best as a portrait of a pure thinker willing to sacrifice friendships and financial security to speak her mind. Extras: featurettes and deleted scenes.
KNIGHTRIDERS (1981, Shout Factory, R, $20) -- After helming "Dawn of the Dead," George A. Romero wrote and directed this bizarre, new- to-Blu-ray action movie about a gang of motorcycle-riding daredevils who travel from town to town staging Renaissance Faires and conducting medieval jousting tournaments. Sound the trumpets for Tenafly's Ed Harris who, as the leader of this particular Camelot, is nothing short of magnetic. Despite being way too long at 145 minutes, "Knightriders" scores points for its action scenes and for its willingness to question the role of honor in modern society. Extras: commentaries and featurettes.
THE VIVIEN LEIGH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION (1937-1939, Cohen, unrated, $60) -- Before "Gone With the Wind," Leigh starred in a handful of British movies, the best of which are collected in this essential Blu-ray set. "Dark Journey," in which Leigh plays a French spy who falls for a German spook (Conrad Veidt), and costume drama "Fire Over England" co-starring future husband Laurence Oliver are fueled by her sex appeal. "Storm in a Teacup" with Rex Harrison reveals her comic timing. And, best of all, is "St. Martin's Lane," which captures Leigh at her most manipulative, playing a Cockney waif who'll do anything to become a star. Extras: featurettes.
THIS PROPERTY IS CONDEMNED (1966, Warner Archive, unrated, $25) - - Robert Redford's unflinching performance in "All Is Lost" will likely make him a best actor Oscar contender but as this hidden gem from 1966 makes clear, he was always more than just a pretty face. Redford brings humanity to the tough role of a railroad exec forced to dole out pink slips to the rail yard employees of Depression-era Dodson, Miss. While in town, Redford is drawn into the domestic drama of a coquette (Natalie Wood) and her monster-mother (Kate Reid). Adapted from a Tennessee Williams play by scripter Francis Ford Coppola, the little-screened drama is something of a lost classic. Extras: none
THE THREE FACES OF EVE (1957, Fox, unrated, $25) -- While this new-to-Blu-ray drama is based on the real-life story of a South Carolina woman who ultimately manifested 22 different personalities over her lifetime, it feels awfully phony. The film consists of little more than sessions between damaged housewife Eve White (Joanne Woodward) and her psychiatrist (Lee J. Cobb), who eventually coaxes out two more personalities -- the vampy Eve Black and the sophisticated Jane. The film has dated but Woodward's performance remains a powerhouse. Thanks to the actress, "Eve" can still pierce your heart. Extras: commentary.
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION (2013, Shout Factory, unrated, $65) -- To celebrate the 25th birthday of "MST3K," Shout Factory is issuing four new-to-DVD episodes of the show, including two from the Comedy Central era and two from the Sci- Fi Channel years. The titles include "Moon Zero Two," "The Day the Earth Froze," "The Leech Woman" and "Gorgo." Extras: intros, featurettes and two, out-of[print bonus episodes: "Mitchell" and "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."
-- Amy Longsdorf
Tuesday-- "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane," "Drinking Buddies," "Matilda," "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," "The Smurfs 2," "The Wolverine."
Dec. 10 -- "Despicable Me 2," "Fast & Furious 6," "The Hunt."
Dec. 17 -- "The Family," "Justified: The Complete Fourth Season," "The Lone Ranger," "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters."
-- Caitlin Callons
A service of YellowBrix, Inc.
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SEPTEMBER 2, 2014
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