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New releases: 'Baseball: Pelotero' a clear-eyed documentary

Also, Jason Segel and Emily Blunt are good company in 'The Five-Year Engagement,' and the first season of the TV procedural 'Person of Interest' arrives.

September 01, 2012|By Noel Murray
  • A scene from "Ballplayer: Pelotero."
A scene from "Ballplayer: Pelotero." (Strand Releasing )

Ballplayer: Pelotero

Strand, $24.99

The rare sports documentary that's clear-eyed about the business side of athletics, "Ballplayer: Pelotero" looks into the way Major League Baseball and its system of scouts conspire to exploit the phenomenal pool of talent in the Dominican Republic. Directors Ross Finkel, Trevor Martin and Jon Paley follow two teenage prodigies, Miguel Angel Sanó and Jean Carlos Batista, as they deal with trainers and agents — and rumors that seem designed to scare away competition and drive their price down. There's some more heartening drama in "Ballplayer" having to do with these two kids' efforts to help their families, but this is more exposé than feel-good movie. Even non-sports fans should appreciate what "Ballplayer" has to say about how the global economy works against the little guy.

The Five-Year Engagement

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD beginning Sept. 4

Writer-director Nicholas Stoller and co-writer and star Jason Segel have a remarkable ability to illuminate the hazy phases of romantic relationships: those periods when partners feel vaguely dissatisfied. In "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," Stoller and Segel spun this idea into a modern comedy classic; in "The Five-Year Engagement," they mostly spin their wheels. Segel and costar Emily Blunt make good company, playing an engaged couple whose nuptials are repeatedly postponed by career and family issues; but the more-than-two-hour running time speaks to the movie's overall shapelessness. There are funny, true moments scattered throughout, but like its protagonists, "The Five-Year Engagement" never seems sure of where it's going. The DVD and Blu-ray pile on the extras, with deleted, extended and alternate scenes joining a commentary track and a featurette.

Person of Interest: The Complete First Season

Warner Bros., $59.98; Blu-ray, $69.97

One of the more unique procedurals to make it onto TV in recent years, "Person of Interest" stars Jim Caviezel as a former military operative who falls on hard times and agrees to help an eccentric billionaire (Michael Emerson) fight crime, using an advanced computer system that can predict where trouble is about to occur. Created by Jonathan Nolan (brother of Christopher, and co-writer of most of his films) and produced by "Lost's" J.J. Abrams, "Person of Interest" combines some longer plots with one-off cases, and considers what we're willing to do in the name of security in a post-Sept. 11 world. The premise is a little cheesy; the execution is smart. The DVD and Blu-ray for the show's first season add commentary tracks on selected episodes, plus a featurette and a gag reel.

Nobody Walks

Available on VOD beginning Sept. 7

Ry Russo-Young's low-key drama — co-written with "Girls" sensation Lena Dunham — stars Olivia Thirlby as a young art filmmaker who comes to Los Angeles to work on an installation loop with a big league Hollywood sound man (John Krasinski), who's the husband of a family friend (Rosemarie DeWitt). The leads flirt while playing around with different possibilities for sound effects, which allows Russo-Young to meditate on the artificiality of film and relationships. The big problem with "Nobody Walks" is that it jumps haphazardly from vignette to vignette, with little in the way of narrative drive or sparkling dialogue. What this movie does have is some insight into the point at which pretense becomes something else and flirtation shades into something potentially destructive.

And…

High School

Anchor Bay, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.99

Piranha 3DDD

Starz/Anchor Bay, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.99

Safe

Lionsgate, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99

2 Broke Girls: The Complete First Season

Warner Bros., $44.98; Blu-ray, $54.97

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