News Column

New on Dvd This Week: Nov. 8

November 8, 2013

YellowBrix

In stores

WHITE HOUSE DOWN (2013, Sony, PG-13, $30) -- Expect a dash of "Die Hard" and a smidge of "Speed" in Roland Emmerich's loud, trashy and fast-moving action thriller. Channing Tatum stars as an aspiring Secret Service agent forced to protect his daughter (Joey King) and save the president (Jamie Foxx) after very bad men with machine guns and rocket-launchers take everyone at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. hostage. It's a lot better than the almost identically plotted "Olympus Has Fallen" thanks to a script that accentuates the buddy chemistry between Tatum and Foxx. Check it out if you're in the mood for some good, dumb fun. Extras: featurettes and gag reel.

GROWN UPS 2 (2013, Sony, PG-13, $30) -- One of Adam Sandler's laziest movies, this endurance test of a comedy fails to deliver more than a few chuckles despite a cast that includes first-rate clowns like Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and Maya Rudolph. Director Dennis Dugan, working from a slapped-together script co- written by Sandler, repeats gags with jaw-dropping frequency. There's no originality, no wit, no plot, just nonsense about preppie bullies threatening Sandler's '80s party, a bash that seems to go on as long as the '80s themselves. Extras: deleted scenes and featurettes.

GIRL MOST LIKELY (2013, Lionsgate, PG-13, $20) -- A comedy about broken dreams and shattered families, "Girl Most Likely" is not afraid of a little darkness. But, never fear, Kristen Wiig is a master at finding the funny in the saga of a once-promising playwright who, after losing her job and her no-good boyfriend, is forced to move back home to Ocean City with her gambling-addict mother (Annette Bening). Matt Dillon, Natasha Lyonne and "Glee's" Darren Criss are terrific as oddballs drawn to life on the Jersey Shore. Even better is Bening who gives the film an edge that makes it stick in the memory. Extras: gag reel, featurettes and deleted scenes.

LOVELACE (2013, Anchor Bay, R, $25) -- Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's biopic about "Deep Throat" star Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) has a harrowing structure that, essentially, replays the same story twice. The first time around, Linda is depicted as an innocent who happily performs in porn movies at the urging of her sleazeball husband Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard). But then the saga rewinds and we get Linda's perspective on Traynor and the porn biz. Even as she begins to grow famous, she endures beatings and rapes and nonstop exploitation. It wouldn't work without Seyfried, who delivers a remarkably rich performance that instantly draws you in. Extras: featurette.

BYZANTIUM (2013, IFC, R, $28) -- "Interview With a Vampire's" Neil Jordan returns to the world of bloodsucking with this velvety thriller about a pair of centuries-old neck biters who are handling immortality in vastly different ways. Sulky Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) only feasts on the elderly while feral Clara (Gemma Arterton) makes a meal out of anyone who tries to take advantage of her. Suspense is provided by vamp hunters and nosy teachers. Jordan's hypnotic film is spiked with humor, gore and dark beauty. Take a bite. Extras: none.

HAVA NAGILA: THE MOVIE (2013, Cinedigm, unrated, $30) -- In this biography of a song, filmmaker Roberta Grossman uses the buoyant ditty to look at 200 years of Jewish history and culture. It's a journey that goes from the Ukraine to YouTube. In the '40s, "Hava" was embraced by American Jews and in the next decade, it hit the mainstream after Harry Belafonte recorded a best-selling version. In addition to clips of Belafonte, Glen Campbell and Connie Francis singing the song, there's interviews with an array of scholars and performers. "Hava Nagila" is a surprisingly sweet treat. Extras: additional footage.

BABY PEGGY: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM (2013, Milestone, unrated, $25) -- From the North Jersey-based Milestone Film and Video comes an engrossing doc about the former child performer who was discovered by Hollywood when she was just 19 months old. She starred in over 150 shorts and earned millions of dollars but Baby Peggy's career was short-lived thanks to her hot-headed father who also managed to squander her fortune. The elderly Peggy is interviewed about her Hollywood years as well as her work as an author, film historian and advocate for child-protection laws. Extras: "Captain January" and three shorts starring Peggy.

RELEASED: THE HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERTS 1986-1998 (2013, Shout Factory, unrated, $60) -- Are you ready to rock? On this terrific six-disc set there's 120 songs performed by the likes of U2, Sting, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, Miles Davis, Radiohead and Jimmy Page & Robert Plant. There's plenty of highlights on the 12-hour set but no one outshines Bruce Springsteen, who appeared at both the 1988 and 1998 Amnesty International shows performing "Born in the USA.," "I'm on Fire," "The River" and "No Surrender." Extras: additional performances, home movies and new interviews including one with the Boss.

JAMES DEAN: ULTIMATE COLLECTOR'S EDITION (1955-1956, Warner, G- PG-13, $99) -- Available for the first time on Blu-ray are the three enduring classics which Dean shot before his death in 1955 at the age of 24. "Rebel Without a Cause," "East of Eden" and "Giant" have all aged exceptionally well, particularly "Rebel," which remains one of the most powerful films ever made about a young man coming of age. Everything about the drama works, from Dean's disgust with his parents to his relationship with his alternative family (Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo) to director Nicholas Ray's astounding use of color (captured beautifully on the new Blu-ray transfer). Extras: documentaries, commentaries, featurettes, screen tests, deleted scenes and outtakes.

TWILIGHT FOREVER: THE COMPLETE SAGA (2013, Summit, PG-13, $75) -- Twi-hards, here's your dream package: 10 discs worth of drama chronicling Bella's (Kristen Stewart) journey from virginal teenager to wife, mother and vampire. Thanks mostly to the resourceful Stewart, all five films are involving, particularly when the action skews to the Cullens (Robert Pattinson, Ashley Greene) and away from Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and his wolf pack. Extras: all of the special features from previous editions as well as two hours of new footage, including featurettes and interviews.

THE OTHER (1972, Twilight Time, PG, $30) -- On Blu-ray, this unsettling thriller is even more subversive thanks to Robert Surtees' deceptively lovely cinematography. Everything is peachy on a Connecticut farm until a series of deadly accidents begin happening courtesy of twins Holland and Niles (Chris and Martin Udvarnoky). Director Robert Mulligan ("To Kill a Mockingbird") is a master at creating an ominous atmosphere and drawing believable turns from his actors, including Uta Hagen, John Ritter and Diana Muldaur. It's a must-see. Extras: none.

MAD MEN: SEASON 6 (2012, Lionsgate, unrated, $50) -- An exasperating and exhilarating season. Don (Jon Hamm) begins a soul- baring affair with a spitfire (Linda Cardellini) from his apartment building. At work, he's so broken up about losing Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) he finds a way to win her back. And what about Bob Benson (James Wolk)? On the downside, Joan (Christina Hendricks) isn't given nearly enough to do while Megan's (Jessica Pare) soap opera subplots go nowhere. And an episode built around Martin Luther King's assassination is surprisingly heavy-handed. But, flaws and all, "Mad Men" can make your brain sizzle. It's still unmissable. Extras: featurettes.

UNDER THE DOME (2013, Paramount, unrated, $55) -- Based on Stephen King's bestseller, this 13-episode "limited" series resembles "Lost" if "Lost" had taken place in a sleepy Northeastern town encased by an invisible dome. A ratings giant, the show benefits from first-rate special effects. Check out the plane crash, the severed-in-half cow and the milk truck smash-up! The characters are interesting too, particularly Dean Norris ("Breaking Bad") as a city councilman who finds himself more or less in charge of Chester's Mill, and Mike Vogel as a former soldier up to no good. Extras: featurettes, deleted scenes and gag reel.

CLEAR HISTORY (2013, HBO, unrated, $20) -- Larry David hits the jackpot with this lively comedy about a cranky marketing exec who makes the mistake of selling back part ownership in a soon-to-be- wildly-profitable electric car company. Dumped by his wife, David changes his name, moves across country to Martha's Vineyard and re- invents himself as a nice guy, at least until the car's inventor (Jon Hamm) turns up with plans to ruin the neighborhood with a McMansion. It's inspired lunacy as David spars with Hamm and co- stars Michael Keaton, Amy Ryan and Kate Hudson. Extras: none.

-- Amy Longsdorf

Sidebar:

Upcoming

Tuesday -- "Blackfish," "Man of Steel," "Prince Avalanche," "Turbo."

Nov. 19 -- "Paranoia," "Planes," "The To Do List," "2 Guns," "We're The Millers," "The World's End."

Nov. 22 -- "Parkland."

Nov. 26 -- "Breaking Bad: The Complete Series," "Getaway," "The Grandmaster," "Jobs," "Red 2."

-- Caitlin Callons

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