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'Mud' starring Matthew McConaughey is pleasing

Other new releases: 'The Place Beyond the Pines,' 'The Sapphires' and 'West of Memphis.'

August 04, 2013|By Noel Murray
  • Matthew McConaughey in "Mud."
Matthew McConaughey in "Mud." (Jim Bridges, Roadside Attractions )


Lionsgate, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99

Available on VOD beginning Aug. 6

One of the best pieces of news of this movie year has been the quiet box office success of writer-director Jeff Nichols' coming-of-age drama, starring Matthew McConaughey as a fugitive criminal who enlists two teenage boys to help him fix up a boat so he can escape with his troublemaking childhood sweetheart (Reese Witherspoon). Like Nichols' "Shotgun Stories" and "Take Shelter," "Mud" is about the stress of family obligations and the quirks of lives lived well outside the big city. "Mud," however, is less ponderous and more crowd-pleasing than its predecessors. Nichols provides a commentary track on the DVD and Blu-ray, which also contain multiple featurettes about shooting a low-budget film with big stars in rural Arkansas.

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The Place Beyond the Pines

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD beginning Aug. 6

Writer-director Derek Cianfrance follows up his frenetic, time-jumping 2010 divorce drama "Blue Valentine" with another movie that's structurally adventurous but in a much different way. A triptych film, "The Place Beyond the Pines" begins as the story of a bank-robbing motorcycle stuntman (Ryan Gosling), then it becomes about a troubled cop (Bradley Cooper), and finally about the two men's children. Though too slow-paced — and not as profound as it pretends to be — the film holds a real fascination as it considers how one person's life impacts another's, down through the generations. The DVD and Blu-ray include deleted scenes and a Cianfrance commentary.

VIDEO: Upcoming summer films

The Sapphires

Starz/Anchor Bay, $26.98; Blu-ray, $30.99

Available on VOD beginning Aug. 6

A movie at once familiar and exotic, the Australian musical stars comedian Chris O'Dowd as an agent representing four aboriginal women who perform as a Supremes-like girl group in 1968. The ladies' infighting — coupled with their battling racial prejudice and touring Vietnam — makes the film feel like dozens of movies about '60s pop, but the particulars of where these women are from gives the material a fresh spin. (Plus, O'Dowd's always fun to watch, in any context.) The DVD and Blu-ray add featurettes about the making of the film and the true story that inspired it.

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West of Memphis

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD beginning Aug. 6

The Peter Jackson-produced, Amy Berg-directed West Memphis 3 documentary covers a lot of the same ground as Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's "Paradise Lost" films, though given the benefit of time and new evidence, Berg is able to tell the story of three murdered children and the teens accused of ritually mutilating them more cleanly — if not with the sense of character or place that made the first Berlinger-Sinofsky film in particular such a landmark. That lack of focus on the sociology of the case means that "West of Memphis" misses how the culture of Arkansas prompted a miscarriage of justice, but on its own merits, Berg's film is a well-assembled, well-argued doc that shows how our advocacy model of trial law can lead to the state spinning stories it knows are probably untrue. The DVD and Blu-ray add featurettes.

And …

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IFC Films, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

A Boy and His Dog

Shout! Factory Blu-ray, $26.99

Bruce Lee: The Legacy Collection

Shout! Factory Blu-ray, $119.99


Sony Blu-ray, $19.99

Magic Magic

Sony, $26.99


Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD beginning Aug. 6

To the Wonder

Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98


VIDEO: Upcoming summer films

VIDEO: Upcoming summer films

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