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New on DVD

'Take Shelter'; 'Frontline: The Interrupters'; 'The Rum Diary'; 'Tiny Furniture.'

February 12, 2012|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Michael Shannon in the movie "Take Shelter."
Michael Shannon in the movie "Take Shelter." (Grove Hill Productions…)

Take Shelter

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

Writer-director Jeff Nichols re-teams with his "Shotgun Stories" star Michael Shannon for "Take Shelter," a film about a blue-collar, small-town family man who worries that a recurring apocalyptic dream is either a prophecy or a sign that he's mentally ill. "Take Shelter" is more ponderous than it needs to be and too predictable as the hero suffers one setback after another. But Nichols is less concerned with those losses than he is in how people react to a loved one's mania. What's most unsettling about "Take Shelter" is that it shows how the process of preparing for the worst can be devastating in and of itself. Nichols and Shannon contribute a commentary track to the DVD and Blu-ray, which also contains deleted scenes and featurettes.

Frontline: The Interrupters

PBS, $24.99; Blu-ray, $29.99

Steve James' most ambitious documentary since "Hoop Dreams" follows Chicago activists who work to reach at-risk kids and to "interrupt" violent conflicts before they escalate. "The Interrupters" tracks a few of those cases, and James also lets the workers tell the stories of their own at-times-turbulent pasts. This is at once a heartening and heartbreaking documentary, about everyday heroes pushing against generations of violence, in a culture where people are often treated better at their funerals than they were when they were alive. The DVD and Blu-ray add over an hour of deleted scenes.

The Rum Diary

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

Hunter S. Thompson turned his misadventures as a young journalist in Puerto Rico into the novel "The Rum Diary," which went unpublished for more than 30 years, finally seeing print shortly before he died. The Johnny Depp-produced (and -starring) movie version also spent a long time in development before writer-director Bruce Robinson came on board and brought the project to fruition. In the case of both the movie and the book, it's easy to understand all the foot-dragging: There's not much of a story here, just a collection of kooky characters and drunken anecdotes. But Depp knows how to make Thompson's "gonzo" reporting accessible, and his "Rum Diary" is enjoyably cracked, if inconsequential. The DVD and Blu-ray includes a couple of lengthy featurettes that emphasize what a personal project this was for Depp and Thompson.

Tiny Furniture

Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95

Lena Dunham wrote and directed "Tiny Furniture" and stars as a recent college graduate who returns to her family's snazzy New York apartment to recover from a bad breakup. "Tiny Furniture" offers a 21st century, East Coast spin on "The Graduate," but with comedy-writer-ish dialogue and a mannered style that never fully gels. The preoccupations of these characters — Internet fame, artistic expression, worrying that they look dorky — are true to life, but the best scenes are largely disconnected, stranded in a movie that has no point-of-view on aimless pseudo-intellectuals beyond "They can be kinda funny." The Criterion DVD and Blu-ray are quite nice though, adding prior Dunham films and interviews.

And…

American Teacher

First Run, $24.95

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within

New Group, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95

The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence

MPI, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

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