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New This Week: 'Inception,' 'ESPN 30 for 30: Volume 1' and 'Restrepo'

December 05, 2010|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Inception

Warner, $28.98; Blu-ray, $35.99

Leonardo DiCaprio stars in "Inception" as a tortured genius who leads teams of thieves, artists and scientists into the subconsciouses of powerful men to steal their secrets and plant ideas. Indulging his esoteric side, writer-director Christopher Nolan delivers a film that is confusing and pretentious at times, but it's also visually stunning and clever — in its second hour, "Inception" keeps four different action movies spinning simultaneously. It's a bold, exciting piece of work. The DVD and Blu-ray dig deeper into Nolan's technical achievement and the science of dreams that informs the film.

ESPN 30 for 30: Volume 1

ESPN/TeamMarketing, $74.95

Some of the best films of 2010 haven't been in theaters, but have aired on ESPN as part of the 30 for 30 series, a set of documentaries aiming to take an offbeat, personal look at sports stories that haven't been covered to death over the last three decades. The first 30 for 30 box set collects the first 15 movies, adding extra footage and extended interviews. Not every one is a masterpiece — some are fairly standard sports docs — but no sports or movie fan should miss Brett Morgen's impressionistic take on the day of O.J. Simpson's Bronco chase, or Steve James' thoughtful look at the racial implications of Allen Iverson's high school arrest, or Dan Klores' comic-operatic piece about the Pacers/Knicks playoff rivalry in the Reggie Miller era. These are great stories — and great filmmaking.

Restrepo

Virgil, $19.99; Blu-ray, $34.99

For their documentary "Restrepo," Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington embedded with an Army unit in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, to capture the raw, relentless action these troops see day in and day out. The result is an unsentimental but admiring look at a soldier's life in one of the deadliest theaters of combat, peppered with some of the most terrifying combat footage ever shot. Even those who caught "Restrepo" in theaters will want to take a look at the DVD or Blu-ray, which features bonus footage and an update on the soldiers in the film.

Shrek Forever After

DreamWorks, $29.99; Blu-ray, $49.99

Once upon a time, the animated "Shrek" series was an energetic, irreverent take on classic fairy tales, making an ugly ogre into a hero. Now the fourth film, "Shrek Forever After," tackles Shrek's conflicted feelings about being a husband and father — because, y'know, there's nothing kids love more than a midlife crisis. The voice cast of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy remains game, and the movie contains a few funny gags and thrilling action sequences. But the plot — which sees Shrek stuck in an alternate universe where he's a single, childless villain again — is too simplistic for older audiences and too mature for the young ones. The DVD and Blu-ray come with featurettes and a commentary track, and the movie is also available in a box set with the earlier, better films.

And …

"Barry Munday" (Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98); "Cronos" (Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95); " Elvis Costello — Spectacle: Season 2" (Video Music, $29.95); "Fox 75th Anniversary Collection" ( 20th Century Fox, $499.98); " Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, Rebel" (Phase 4, $29.99)

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