It’s hard to take your eyes off some of this week’s DVD releases
This week, we begin in Barcelona:
Not rated, 102 minutes.
Available Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray.
Understated creepiness runs throughout this Spanish psychological thriller directed by Jaume Balaguero ([Rec]) and written by Alberto Marini.
Luis Tosar plays Cesar, the concierge/doorman in a nondescript Barcelona apartment building. He initially seems friendly and normal, and is on a first-name basis with the tenants. But when involved in the innocent act of visiting his quiescent, convalescent mother in the hospital, he tells her things that begin to sound the alarm bells.
Before long, he sneaks into the apartment of a tenant, Clara (Marta Etura). He hides under her bed until she falls asleep. Then he wakes her, chloroforms her, and forces himself on the comatose body, an act never shown but realized when she eventually turns up surprisingly pregnant.
From there, Cesar walks a tightrope, committing one heinous act after another. But he avoids detection, putting the viewer in the uncomfortable position of almost hoping he doesn’t get caught. The director orchestrates a smoothly rising level of tension.
The DVD includes a comprehensive “making of” featurette, which at 108 minutes is longer than the movie. Plus: 13 minutes of deleted scenes.
Farewell, My Queen (***) Diane Kruger plays the doomed Marie Antoinette in this compelling drama that takes place immediately before the French Revolution. But it is Lea Seydoux as Sidonie who finds herself in the precarious position of being the queen’s lady-in-waiting as well as a favored confidante. Virginie Ledoyen plays one of the queen’s personal favorites, one who never understands the dangers she and her consort are in.
The films evokes the precariousness of the times without resorting to lavish costume spectacle. Benoit Jacquot (Sade) directed and co-wrote the script from the novel by Chantal Thomas.
Not rated, 100 minutes. The DVD also contains an on-set interview with Jacquot.
Samsara (***) Based on visuals alone, this beautiful, dynamic film from Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson would rank as the best film of the year.
The succession of languorous sequences presents a carnival of striking images taken from around the world. Fricke and Magidson filmed what catches the eye, whether in natural form, like parts of the Himalayan mountains, or in human form, like factory workers bent over their creations.
They filmed in 70 mm then transferred it into a 4K digital projection format, resulting in clear, crisp pictures. The filmmaking pair took five years and visited five continents to capture their memorable images. Rated PG-13, 101 minutes.
SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden (**1/2) Osama bin Laden would roll over in his watery grave if he knew the financial boost his death would be giving to that infidel establishment known as Hollywood.
This edition documenting the tracking and eventual execution of bin Laden, which originally played on the National Geographic Channel, obviously looks timed to coincide with the theatrical release of Zero Dark Thirty, an obviously superior movie but one that covers much of the same ground as this one.
Cam Gigandet, Anson Mount, Freddy Rodriguez and Xzibit make up part of the military unit that trains for and then performs its assigned task of entering, identifying and then executing the terrorist leader. And, last we checked, bin Laden is still dead.
Not rated, 90 minutes. The DVD includes an 18-minute “making of” featurette.
And, finally, for kids this week:
Tiny Toon Adventures: Crazy Crew Rescues! This collection of the popular Tiny Toon cartoons from the early 1990s features 17 favorites, on two discs, including such satires as “Kon Ducki” and “Sepulveda Boulevard.”
The adventures of the inmates at Acme Looniversity supply the mayhem, with such stars as Plucky Duck, Babs and Buster Bunny and many others. Not rated, 369 minutes.
Barney: Let’s Go to the Moon Kids’ favorite purple dinosaur returns in these three episodes featuring a space trip by Barney when he pushes Riff to set his sights to the skies. And Baby Bop learns about the moon, and BJ learns he is unique in the cosmos.
Not rated, 65 minutes. The DVD also includes two games, a music video and a video-on-demand/digital bonus episode.
Angelina Ballerina: Dance Around the World The dancing mouse aimed at preschoolers returns in five episodes that take place across the globe. Angelina and her friends learn about the Chinese dragon dance, the Irish jig and even a cheddar cheese slide.
Not rated, 61 minutes. The disc includes two karaoke videos and a game.
Also available Tuesday on DVD: Compliance, Dredd, Frankenweenie, French Kiss, House at the End of the Street, Stolen.