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New Releases: 'Searching for Sugar Man' and more

Also: 'End of Watch,' 'The Imposter,' 'The Paperboy.'

January 20, 2013|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Rodriguez in the movie "Searching for Sugar Man."
Rodriguez in the movie "Searching for Sugar Man." (Hal Wilson, Sony Pictures…)

Searching for Sugar Man

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

Detroit-based singer-songwriter Sixto Diaz Rodríguez couldn't get any airplay in the U.S. in the '70s with his soulful, political folk-rock, but his 1970 album, "Cold Fact," inexplicably became a favorite among liberal whites in apartheid-ravaged South Africa. This fascinating, touching documentary tries to sort out the facts of Rodríguez's life from the legends — which among his South African fans included the rumor that his career ended with him committing suicide onstage. Director Malik Bendjelloul's storytelling is gripping from the opening shot almost to the last. (Once the bulk of Rodriguez's story has been told, the movie stalls a little.) Mostly Bendjelloul gets how the mythological qualities of pop music are so powerful that they can defy reality. Bendjelloul reveals the story behind the story on the DVD and Blu-ray, via a commentary track and two extended featurettes.

SUNDANCE: Full coverage

End of Watch

Universal, $24.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

In a (mostly) successful attempt to freshen up the buddy cop picture, writer-director David Ayer crossbreeds it with found-footage tropes, using surveillance cameras and home movie cameras to follow two patrolmen — played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña — who run afoul of a drug cartel. The on-the-fly look definitely sets this apart from a typical police movie, though not necessarily from TV shows such as "Southland," "The Wire" or "NYPD Blue," which have shown a similar and in some ways superior commitment to realism. The purposefully shaggy approach doesn't do much for "End of Watch's" conventional guns-and-gangsters plot, but it does wonders for the performances of Gyllenhaal and Peña, who are credibly chummy. The DVD and Blu-ray add an Ayer commentary track, 45 minutes of deleted scenes and short, puffy featurettes.

The Imposter

Indomina, $19.97

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

Bart Layton's documentary tells the strange tale of a Texas teenager who disappeared one day, and the wily European who convinced the boy's family that he was their long-lost son — even though he had a French accent and a different face. Layton takes a just-the-facts approach to the narrative, letting the participants speak directly into the camera about what happened, supported by Errol Morris-style reenactments. By tightly controlling the information, Layton is able to spring a few surprises on the audience, including one whopper of a twist meant to get the viewer to understand how easy it is to buy a well-told story, even when it's preposterous. The lone bonus feature on the DVD is a 40-minute making-of, as revealing as the documentary itself.

The Paperboy

Millennium, $28.99; Blu-ray, $29.99/$34.99

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

In a wide swing of critical opinion, writer-director Lee Daniels has gone from the award-winning highs of 2009's "Precious" to an adaptation of Pete Dexter's novel "The Paperboy" that many critics called one of 2012's worst movies. Matthew McConaughey stars as a reporter investigating the murder of a racist sheriff, while Zac Efron plays the reporter's brother/assistant, and Nicole Kidman is a local kook in love with the man convicted of the crime. Daniels means to examine race and sexuality in late '60s Florida, via a campy potboiler that frequently bubbles over. The result is either laughably bad or subversively brilliant; either way, it's memorable. The DVD and Blu-ray come with some behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews.

And…

Keep the Lights On

Music Box, $29.95; Blu-ray, $38.94

Available on VOD Tuesday

Pina

Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $44.95

The Quiet Man

Olive Films, $24.95; Blu-ray, $29.95

Tai Chi Zero

Well Go USA, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

Sony, $26.99; Blu-ray, $30.99

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