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New on DVD: 'Let Me In,' 'Conviction,' and more

January 30, 2011|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • A young, androgynous vampire (Chloe Moretz) and a lonely, troubled boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) become friends in "Let Me In."
A young, androgynous vampire (Chloe Moretz) and a lonely, troubled boy… (Saeed Adyani, Saeed Adyani…)

Let Me In

Anchor Bay, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Writer-director Matt Reeves doesn't take any huge chances in his remake of the popular Swedish vampire movie "Let the Right One In," but everything that worked the first time works just as well the second. Chloƫ Moretz stars as an ancient vampire who looks like a 12-year-old girl, while Kodi Smit-McPhee plays a lonely neighbor boy who falls for her and is inspired to stand up to vicious bullies at school. "Let Me In" retains the moody atmosphere of Tomas Alfredson's film right down to the snowy setting and muted earth tones, and it effectively translates what makes the original special: the merging of adolescent alienation and literal, visceral pain. The DVD and Blu-ray adds a Reeves commentary, deleted scenes and featurettes.

Conviction

20th Century Fox, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99

Based on a true story, "Conviction" stars Hilary Swank as a high school dropout who becomes a lawyer so she can free her wrongly convicted brother (played by Sam Rockwell) from prison. The movie is well acted, with a fine supporting performance by Minnie Driver as another nontraditional law student, and it's always satisfying to watch a plucky lady exercise her wits and resources. But from the trumped-up drama to the flat style, "Conviction" is thoroughly conventional and nothing that hasn't been done better before. The DVD and Blu-ray don't offer much either, outside of an interview with the real-life woman that Swank plays in the film.

Never Let Me Go

20th Century Fox, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99

Based on a novel by Kazuo Ishigiro, the sci-fi romance "Never Let Me Go" stars Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan as young Brits who grow up together in a mysterious boarding school and then move to a collective farm to await the government-mandated next stage of their lives, while dealing with the ramifications of their shared past. "Never Let Me Go" was directed by Mark Romanek and adapted by screenwriter Alex Garland, and it's a mostly successful effort to dramatize a story that's largely internalized by the characters. Romanek overdoes the emotional reserve at times, but he and Garland effectively use Ishigiro's fantastical premise to explore how we all look back on our strange lives and try to make sense of them. The DVD and Blu-ray look back too, via a behind-the-scenes featurette.

The Tillman Story

Sony, $24.96; Blu-ray, $30.95

Amir Bar-Lev's well-researched, deeply moving retelling of the Pat Tillman saga recounts the "friendly fire" death of the former NFL star and Army ranger by presenting the propaganda version of Tillman the Patriot and then going back to reveal a more complicated man. Throughout, Bar-Lev blasts the media for merely parroting what the authorities tell them, and he effectively accuses a succession of investigative bodies of entering outright, obvious lies into the public record. Most of this material has been seen, heard or read before, but never with this much passion or focus. It's a riveting piece of documentary filmmaking. The DVD and Blu-ray are strong too, offering additional footage.

And...

"Alice in Wonderland (1951)" (Walt Disney Blu-ray, $39.99); "Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2" (Walt Disney, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99); "Chain Letter" (Image, $27.97; Blu-ray, $29.97); "The Client List" (Sony, $20.95); "Hatchet II" (Dark Sky, $27.98; Blu-ray, $34.98); "Mean Girls 2" (Paramount, $22.98); "Monsters" (Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98); "Night Catches Us" (Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98); "Welcome to the Rileys" (Sony, $28.95; Blu-ray, $34.95); "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop" (Sony, $28.95; Blu-ray, $38.96)

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