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New on DVD: 'Justin Bieber: Never Say Never'

Also, Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher in 'No Strings Attached.'

May 08, 2011|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Justin Bieber in "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never."
Justin Bieber in "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never." (Paramount Pictures, Paramount…)

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Paramount, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99

Those with chronic cases of Bieber Fever should be well-satisfied by the young pop star's concert film. Intercutting slick live performances with old home movies and new footage of Bieber on tour, "Never Say Never" effectively communicates how the teen idol became a phenomenon, along with showing what it's like to be a mere kid at the center of a multimillion-dollar business. As for the actual music, well, fans will like the energetic stage show, and even skeptics might be impressed by how hard Bieber works. The DVD and Blu-ray are disappointingly sparse, though, containing only one extra song and a trio of trifling featurettes. Undoubtedly, a more extras-packed edition, perhaps adding the 3-D version of the film, will be coming later in the year.

Blue Valentine

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

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams give stunning performances as a troubled married couple in "Blue Valentine," which jumps around between their happy early days and their bitter last weekend together. Frankly, writer-director Derek Cianfrance gets in his actors' way with the needlessly jumbled structure, which cuts away from scenes just when they're building up momentum. But Gosling and Williams are still scary good as they dig deep to show how burning passion turns into exhaustion and simmering rage. Cianfrance and one of his editors talk about their choices in a commentary track on the DVD and Blu-ray, which also include deleted scenes and featurettes.

The Illusionist

Sony DVD/Blu-ray, $38.96

"The Triplets of Belleville" animator Sylvain Chomet adapts an unproduced Jacques Tati screenplay for "The Illusionist," which follows the sputtering career of a Tati-like magician in Britain in the early '60s. Tati's minimalist whimsy is difficult to translate to a medium as partial to broad gestures as animation, but Chomet imbues this tale of intertwining hope and disenchantment with real beauty, while paying tribute to the power of entertainment. The DVD and Blu-ray add a Chomet commentary and a pair of featurettes.

No Strings Attached

Paramount, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99

The romantic comedy "No Strings Attached" stars Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman as commitment-phobic pals who arrange to become casual sex partners and then have difficulty dealing with the ambiguity of their relationship. Screenwriter Elizabeth Meriwether and director Ivan Reitman are aiming to capture something more true to life than the average rom-com, which is admirable, but the film has so many superfluous characters (nearly all played by recognizable actors) and such a meandering plot that it comes off more like a mainstream movie gone awry or a supersized sitcom pilot than something intentionally offbeat. The DVD/Blu-ray combo-pack adds a Reitman commentary track, featurettes and deleted scenes.

And…

"Black Death" (Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98); "Cougars, Inc." (Lionsgate, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.99); "Cropsey" (Breaking Glass, $17.99); "The Hit List" (Sony, $24.96; Blu-ray, $30.95); "Home Improvement: The 20th Anniversary Complete Collection" (ABC, $129.99); "How I Ended This Summer" (Film Movement, $24.95); "I Saw the Devil" (Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98); "Something Wild" (Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95); "The Violent Kind" (Image, $27.97; Blu-ray, $29.97).

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