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Ophuls' postwar return

September 14, 2008

The Earrings of Madame De . . . /La Ronde/Le Plaisir

Criterion, $39.95 each

Director Max Ophuls fled Europe just ahead of the Nazis and spent a few frustrating years in Hollywood before moving to France in 1950 and making four consecutive masterpieces. Three of those are now available in sterling Criterion editions: the scandalous 1950 romance "La Ronde," about a chain of men and women who fall in love with each other; the comic anthology "Le Plaisir," based on three Guy de Maupassant short stories; and the sophisticated drama "The Earrings of Madame De . . .," about a society dame who cheats on her husband. All three are in sumptuous black-and-white and marked by balletic camera moves on overtly theatrical sets. All three discs also contain an assortment of scholarly commentary tracks and insider interviews (including an intro to "Le Plaisir" by Todd Haynes and an intro to "Madame" by P.T. Anderson).

Made of Honor

Sony, $28.96; Blu-Ray, $38.96

Half "When Harry Met Sally . . .," half "My Best Friend's Wedding," the romantic comedy "Made of Honor" stars Patrick Dempsey as a roguish ladies' man whose best female friend -- played by Michelle Monaghan -- is about to get hitched and wants him by her side at the altar. As the "maid of honor" realizes he's been in love with his old pal for years, the movie swaps the cliche of the cocky commitment-phobe with the cliche of the bumbling would-be lover. The DVD includes a commentary by director Paul Weiland, who talks about his fruitless efforts to make sitcom shtick look fresh.

Pushing Daisies: The Complete First Season

Warner, $29.98; Blu-Ray, $39.99

As TV fans face a fall season packed with retreads, it's time to revisit a standout of the fall '07 class. "Pushing Daisies' " first season on ABC follows the deliriously macabre adventures of a pie-maker who has the power to raise the dead, which he uses to solve mysteries. "Pushing Daisies" is reportedly operating under a network mandate to be less bizarre in Season 2, so these nine slices of over-the-top melodrama and blackly comic sight gags might be as good as the series will get. Gobble them up on DVD, along with a featurette for dessert.

Speed Racer

Warner, $28.98; Blu-Ray, $35.99

The Wachowski brothers' hyperkinetic adaptation of '60s Japanese cartoon favorite "Speed Racer" took a beating at the box office and from critics, but the movie has a devoted core of supporters who call it visionary. At the least, the Wachowskis' eye-popping, digitally created sets and neon color schemes should look amazing on hi-def TVs and Blu-Ray discs. An added incentive to go Blu-Ray: The standard DVD contains only a set of featurettes, while the Blu-Ray adds an interactive game, and -- naturally -- a digital copy of the film.


20th Century Fox, $27.98

For the past two decades, a Massachusetts senior citizens chorus has toured the world, singing popular songs to audiences who can't help but get swept up in the emotion of a widower -- who is near the end of his life -- softly crooning "Every Breath You Take." The documentary "Young@Heart" follows the members of the chorus as they prepare for their latest concert series, and dwells on the complicated relationship the singers have with their young instructor, who forces them to listen to Sonic Youth but also treats them as capable peers, not doddering curiosities. The "Young@Heart" DVD adds deleted scenes and a short, touching look at the choir's trip to Hollywood.

And . . .

"88 Minutes" (Sony, $28.98; Blu-Ray, $38.96); "Constantine's Sword" (First Run, $24.95); "The Love Guru" (Paramount, $34.98; Blu-Ray, $39.99); "Noise" (Starz/Anchor Bay, $26.97); "Snow Angels" (Warner, $27.98).

-- Noel Murray

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