This week, we begin in the water:
Watermark (***1/2) Rated PG, 92 minutes. Available Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray and in various digital download formats.
Documentary filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, cinematographer Nick de Pencier and photographer Edward Burtynsky team up for this thoughtful but always visually arresting examination into water, its use, misuse, prevalence and importance.
The endless subject provides the filmmakers license to document, photograph and analyze numerous stress points on the Earth’s water supply, such as the massive arch dam under construction in China and the leather tanneries in Dhaka, Bangladesh, that dump oceans of chemicals into lakes and streams.
The filmmakers also travel to areas so picturesque they look surreal, such as the rice paddies in Yunnan, China, the geothermal springs in Iceland, the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas, along with many dams and riverways, including one in Texas.
Always engaging, Watermark relies more on its arresting visuals, but stops often enough for related dialogues.
DVD extras: a 15-minute “making of” featurette, 15 minutes of deleted scenes, a 10-minute interview with Burtynsky and Baichwal, and a picture gallery narrated by Burtynsky.
Operation Petticoat (***) Olive Films gives a Blu-ray and DVD release to one of noted comedy director Blake Edwards’ early films. In the 1959 film, 55-year-old Cary Grant stars as a submarine commander, Lt. Cmdr. Matt T. Sherman, near the beginning of World War II.
He wants to assert command of his new charges, but he’s forced to bring a group of stranded nurses on board, including Dina Merrill and Joan O’Brien. The addition causes Sherman expected problems but makes Lt. JG Nicholas Holden (Tony Curtis) a happy man.
Edwards deftly mixes romance, comedy and even some submarine action sequences. And, of course, the pink comes in when mixing red and white paint, silly. With Dick Sargent, Madlyn Rhue, Gavin MacLeod and others.
Not rated, 122 minutes.
And from this week’s TV arrivals:
100 Years of WWI Continuing the salute to the 100th anniversary of the First World War, cable channels History and H2 release this two-disc collection of some of their related programming.
Disc one, “World War I: The First Modern War,” contains four episodes, with each devoted to a specific topic of the war: “Armored Beasts” covers the development and use of tanks; “Clouds of Death” examines the role of flame-throwers, bombs and chemical warfare; the advance of aerial combat is covered in “Massive Air Attacks”; and “Underwater Killers” examines the initial wide use of submarines that eventually faded.
Hunter Ellis narrates disc two, devoted to “Modern Marvels,” with three episodes of about 45 minutes each on related topics: “World War I: Tech,” “Dogfights” and “Man, Moment Machine: The Red Baron and the Wings of Death.”
The series uses breathless narration, abundant archival footage, limited re-enactments and computer-generated images, along with numerous narrated letters of the era, and plenty of maps, charts and graphs to illustrate the battles. A distinguished group of American and British historians and experts lend their testimonies, including, on disc one: David Silbey, Mitchell Yockelson, Christy Campbell, Simon Jones, Peter Devitt, Jeremy Banner, Christopher Capozzola, Eric Groves and others. Disc two features Ned Barnett, Jeff Shaara, Gordon Bowman-Jones, Richard Hallion and others.
Not rated, 315 minutes.
Hell on Wheels: Season 3 Season 3 of this popular AMC series now appears, with 10 episodes on three discs, in anticipation of the August arrival of the fourth season.
Anson Mount returns as sullen Cullen Bohannon, a Civil War veteran with a drive for revenge spurred by the loss of his wife during the war. Once established with the westward-ho railroad construction of Thomas Durant (Colm Meaney), Bohannon now works as a separate entity, teaming only with ex-slave Elam Ferguson (Common).
The third season sees such crises as a cholera outbreak, an unexpected roadblock, a scarcity of lumber, several newcomers, an exodus of Mormons and even an appearance from future president U.S. Grant. Almost simultaneously during the season, the creepy and mysterious Swede (Christopher Heyerdahl) adopts a new, even deadlier, identity.
Not rated, 429 minutes.
DVD extras: a five-minute retrospective on season three, a five-minute refresher on Season 2, a two-minute set tour with Common, a four-minute “making of” featurette with two separate music videos, and 10 separate “Inside the Episodes” featurettes.
Also available Tuesday on DVD: A Dark Matter, The Face of Love, Implanted, Interludes, Open Grave, Torment.