This week, we begin en France:
Not rated, 108 minutes.
Available Tuesday on DVD.
In this enjoyable French romantic comedy, Audrey Tautou plays Nathalie, a woman deeply in love with her husband when he dies unexpectedly. She experiences a normal period of grief before bouncing back in a surprising yet charming way thanks to Markus (Francois Damiens), a frumpy co-worker who does not seem like a good fit.
The directors, brothers David and Stephane Foenkinos, take some unconventional chances for this genre, but they pay off as the film remains believable and consistently engaging.
The disc holds a 25-minute “making of” featurette and a three-minute interview with Tautou.
Children of Paradise (Les Enfants du Paradis) (*****) Marcel Carne somehow directed this romantic masterpiece during World War II while Nazis occupied Paris. Jacques Prevert contributed the screenplay, set in the theaters of mid-19th century Paris. A beautiful actress, Garance (Arletty), draws the attention, and love, of three men: Frederick (Pierre Brasseur), Pierre-Francois (Marcel Herrand), and the shy mime Jean-Baptiste (Jean-Louis Barrault).
Chronicling scrapes with the law, infidelities, love and repressed love, the overtly dramatic film draws the viewer into its cloistered world. Considered one of the finest French films ever made.
Not rated, 190 minutes. The Criterion Collection has restored this new two-disc print by ultrasonically cleaning the original nitrate camera negative. Abundant supplements include a 40-page pamphlet with an interview with Carne. Plus: a 51-minute documentary on the film, a 64-minute 1967 documentary on the film filled with cast and crew interviews, as well as a 22-minute segment on the film’s unique production designs, and more.
The Cabin in the Woods (***) We’re a little late on this one, but we did not want to miss the guiltiest pleasure of the year.
Co-writer and director Drew Goddard and co-writer Joss Whedon have immense fun by turning the tables on the horror genre as they assemble the requisite formula of five friends gathering for a weekend at an isolated cabin in the woods.
Of course, an evil force of some sort will then appear to destroy the group, with plenty of blood flowing. But the creators throw a curve by setting up a sort of government control center headed by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. This main location has everything planned down to which method will be used for the coming carnage, in which the writers toss in various international horror tropes.
Rated R, 95 minutes. The DVD, in all formats, includes commentary with Whedon and Goddard, a “making of” featurette, separate segments on the makeup and the effects, a “secret-secret stash” featurette, a filmed Q-and-A at WonderCon with Whedon and Goddard, and more.
Jersey Shore Shark Attack (**) This Syfy original spoofs shark attack movies and all things Jersey Shore. An oil company unintentionally releases a legion of sharks on the busy beaches during the Fourth of July. Chaos ensues. With Paul Sorvino, William Atherton and Tony “Paulie Walnuts” Sirico.
Rated R, 87 minutes. The disc holds commentary and a five-minute “on-set” featurette.
Katt Williams: Kattpacalypse Comedian Katt Williams performs his stand-up routine in front of a huge audience at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. There, he delivers some of his best-known material, including his riffs on President Barack Obama. Not rated, 60 minutes.
Thomas & Friends: Blue Mountain Mystery — The Movie A new movie (61 minutes) sees the return of Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends, and the steam engines’ adventures are also part of the six unrated episodes of Awesome Adventures: Thrills and Chills, Vol. 3 (52 minutes). And Barney the dinosaur stars in 10 episodes on Barney: Most Loveable Moments (199 minutes).
And, finally, from this week’s TV arrivals:
Modern Family: The Complete Third Season Our week’s top TV-series-to-DVD showcases three families — the Dunphys and the two branches of the Pritchetts — of the two-time Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Comedy Series.
The 24 episodes, on three discs, see the families begin the third season on a trip to a dude ranch in Wyoming and finish with a trip to Disneyland.
In between these diversions, Haley (Sarah Hyland) and Alex (Ariel Winter) land in the same math class, Claire (Julie Bowen) runs for town council, Jay (Ed O’Neill) plays golf, and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) head toward further adoption.
Not rated, about eight hours. The collection contains about eight deleted and alternate scenes totaling around 20 minutes, a nine-minute gag reel, several family interviews, and featurettes on the Modern Family Christmas, Ed O’Neill’s Hollywood star, an extended “Day on the Set” with Emmy winner Ty Burell, and more.
Absolutely Fabulous: 20th Anniversary Specials Perpetual adolescents Eddy (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) return after 20 years in these three separate programs written by Saunders. The ladies still drink too much and misbehave uproariously. And they still hector Eddy’s daughter, Saffron (Julia Sawalha), and put up with Bubbles (Jane Horrocks). In these episodes, the duo, among other digressions, prepares for London’s Olympic Games.
Not rated, 90 minutes. The single disc includes the seven-minute featurette “Ab Fab Does Sport Relief” and a 17-minute “behind-the-scenes” featurette on Sport Relief.
Desperate Housewives: The Complete Eighth and Final Season Pressure mounts on the ladies of Wisteria Lane about the death of the father of Gaby (Eva Longoria), with suspicion falling on Mary Alice (Brenda Strong). Lynette (Felicity Huffman) and Tom (Doug Savant) have relationship problems, and Renee (Vanessa Williams) hooks up with newcomer Ben (Charles Mesure). But by the end of these final 23 episodes, on five discs, all will be revealed and all problems solved — guaranteed.
Rated TV-14-DLSV, about 16 1/2 hours. The collection includes commentary by creator Marc Cherry on the final episode, bloopers, deleted scenes and a last stroll down Wisteria Lane with some of the cast and crew.
The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Favorites One of television’s most popular shows finally makes it to DVD, and it arrives in four different packages, including a complete set of 22 discs. This Favorites version includes 17 episodes of Burnett’s often raucous show, with spoofs on Scarlett O’Hara, the world’s oldest man and others. Steve Martin, Betty White, George Carlin, Carl Reiner, Shirley MacLaine and other prominent guest stars participate in the legendary comedy series.
Not rated, about 18 1/2 hours. This collection holds a batch of featurettes, such as a cast reunion, additional interviews with Tim Conway and Harvey Korman, a history of the show, and much more.
America’s Book of Secrets This History Channel program of 10 episodes, on three discs, delves into a melange of topics rife for examination by conspiracy theorists. The program takes looks at the Playboy Mansion, West Point, Fort Knox and other tantalizing teasers.
Not rated, 208 minutes. The disc includes the bonus special America’s Book of Secrets: The Monuments.
Also available Tuesday on DVD: Damsels in Distress, Didone, The Avengers, The Tall Man.