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New on DVD: 'Temple Grandin'

Also 'Cougar Town,' 'Furry Vengeance,' 'The Last Song' and 'Orlando.'

August 15, 2010|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Temple Grandin

HBO, $26.98

Nearly every parent of an autistic child knows about Temple Grandin, the bestselling author and brilliant agricultural scientist who's been a model for what children on that spectrum can become. Playing Grandin in this HBO biopic, Claire Danes captures Grandin's braying monotone, stooped posture and default defensive stance to other people, but she also conveys her sense of humor and how she makes connections others can't. Some of the movie's aesthetic choices border on cliché, but Danes' performance is far from conventional, and director Mick Jackson supports her work with a visual style and sound design that reveals how Grandin perceives the world. The DVD also includes a real treat: a commentary track by Grandin herself.

Cougar Town: The Complete First Season

ABC, $39.99

"Scrubs" creator Bill Lawrence's ABC sitcom "Cougar Town" began with a premise as gimmicky as its title, with Courteney Cox playing a middle-aged Florida divorcée chasing younger men. But the show quickly developed into a much more soulful ensemble comedy about the heroine's circle of friends and how they grapple with aging, fractured relationships and dashed hopes. In addition to being one of the funniest shows on TV, it's also one of the best-looking, making good use of its upscale beachside setting and suburban cul-de-sacs. The DVD adds bloopers, deleted scenes and featurettes.

Furry Vengeance

Summit, $22.99; Blu-ray, $40.99

Remember when Brendan Fraser used to star in offbeat comedies and smart indie dramas? Well, he's a long way from his old haunts in "Furry Vengeance," an excruciating slapstick comedy in which he plays a shill for a planned community who suffers the wrath of angry animals. Excrement jokes ensue, while Fraser makes the kind of pained faces rivaled only by those watching at home. For those who can't help themselves, the DVD and Blu-ray throw in a commentary track, a gag reel, deleted scenes and featurettes.

The Last Song

Touchstone, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99

Though she's frequently associated with bland Disney product, Miley Cyrus' strong, raspy voice and wise-beyond-her-years attitude set her apart from most teen stars. Maybe someday she'll have a chance to show off what she can do in a movie less generic than "The Last Song," a Nicholas Sparks tearjerker that stars Cyrus as a rebellious piano prodigy learning life lessons from her cancer-ridden father (played by Greg Kinnear). Cyrus and Kinnear do yeoman work, but the movie's too predictable and sappy by half. The DVD contains bonus Cyrus music videos and a commentary track; the Blu-ray adds deleted scenes.

Orlando

Sony, $19.94

Tilda Swinton made her first real impact internationally in director Sally Potter's 1992 adaptation of Virginia Woolf's novel "Orlando," about an immortal nobleman who wakes up one day to discover that he's become a woman — and thus has lost much of his social standing. "Orlando's" social commentary is blunt, but what makes the film work are Potter's depictions of the decadent opulence of the past and Swinton's puckish performance as a person who finds the affectations of aristocracy ridiculous, no matter the era. The DVD includes a trove of interviews and behind-the-scenes material from around the time the movie was released.

And…

"Black Orpheus" (Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95); "Cemetery Junction" (Sony, $24.96; Blu-ray, $30.95); "Dexter: The Complete Season Four" (Showtime/Paramount, $49.99; Blu-ray, $64.99); "Friday Night Lights: The Fourth Season" (Universal, $29.98); "The Good, The Bad, The Weird" (MPI, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.98); "Ugly Betty: The Complete Fourth and Final Season" (ABC, $39.99).

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