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Small Screen (DVD/Blu-ray): “Animal Kingdom,” Two Claustrophobic Thrillers & More

Small Screen (DVD/Blu-ray): "Animal Kingdom," Two Claustrophobic Thrillers & More

This week on DVD and Blu-ray the Australian Sundance hit “Animal Kingdom” roars into homes, Ryan Reynolds finds himself “Buried” and Philip Seymour Hoffman steps into the director’s chair.

This week’s top pick:

A Bloody and Exhilarating “Animal Kingdom”

The Deal: A violent crime saga in the vein of “The Departed,” David Michod’s Australian Sundance ’10 hit “Animal Kingdom” follows 17-year-old Josh (James Frecheville), a lanky, unassuming teen who becomes embroiled in the evil doings of his family who rob banks for a living. When a detective (Guy Pearce) reaches out to Josh to try and get him on the side of the law, Josh finds himself in the middle of a crossfire, unsure of who to trust.

In his feature directorial debut, Michod injects real vitality and a sense of menace into his tale by crafting some wonderful shots that would do Paul Thomas Anderson proud and eliciting strong performances from his entire cast, including Jackie Weaver as the matriarch of the crime clan. A diminutive blonde with piercing blue eyes, Weaver has received accolade upon accolade for her devilish turn, including a best supporting actress award from the National Board of Review. indieWIRE reviewer Eric Kohn praised Weaver’s performance as “awards-worthy… if only because her synoptic, power-hungry stare defines the (film’s) chilly mood.”

Extras: Director’s commentary; an extensive Making Of documentary; 18 minutes of interviews with the cast and crew, a three-minute behind the scenes special and the film’s trailer. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.


Other hot releases:

Ryan Reynolds Gets “Buried”

The Deal: Spanish filmmaker Rodrigo Cortes put Ryan Reynolds through the wringer in his English-language feature film debut, “Buried.” In the thriller, which premiered to good notices last year in Sundance, Reynolds plays a U.S. contractor working in Iraq who wakes up in a coffin, in the dark, with no memory of how he got there. With 90 minutes of oxygen, a cell phone (with reception!) and a lighter, he tries to make it out alive.

Extras: The behind-the-screen feature “Unearthing Buried: The Making of Buried;” theatrical trailer and teaser trailer; and the LG-Live option that includes Twitter and Facebook integration. Available in a Blu-ray and DVD combo pack.


Hell in “Lebanon”

The Deal: Winner of the Golden Lion at the 2009 Venice Film Festival, Samuel Maoz’s first feature “Lebanon” is another thriller not for the claustrophobic. Set in June 1982, “Lebanon” follows four young Israeli soldiers assigned to operate a single tank. Once locked in together, they embark on their first mission in a Lebanese village where all hell breaks loose.

Extras: Making-of featurette “Notes on a War Film” and the theatrical trailer. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.


Philip Seymour Hoffman Switches Gears in “Jack Goes Boating”

The Deal: Another directorial debut, this one from Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Jack Goes Boating” pits Hoffman alongside Amy Ryan in a love story set in New York City. The film, an adaptation of the 2007 play by Bob Glaudini, tracks the budding romance of Jack (Hoffman) and Connie (Ryan) against the couple that brought them together, Clyde and Lucy, who are in the midst of a rocky marriage.

Extras: Two deleted scenes; the cast and crew share their thoughts on shooting in New York in “Jack’s New York; “From Stage to the Screen,” a featurette on adapting the play for film; and the theatrical trailer. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.


A Samuel Fuller Double Criterion Billing!

The Deal: The Criterion Collection honors B-movie auteur Samuel Fuller by releasing two of his most acclaimed titles, “Shock Corridor” and “The Naked Kiss,” onto DVD and Blu-ray, loaded with extras. Both pulpy films satirize American culture: “Shock Corridor” (1963) focuses on a reporter who commits himself to a mental hospital to investigate a murder, while “The Naked Kiss” (1964) tells the story of a former prostitute who relocates to a conservative suburb, determined to fit in with mainstream society.

Extras: “Shock Corridor:” New video interview with star Constance Towers; Excerpts from the 1996 documentary “The Typewriter, the Rifle and the Movie Camera;” original theatrical trailer; plus illustrations by cartoonist Daniel Clows (“Ghost World”). “The Naked Kiss:” Excerpts from a 1983 episode of the BBC’s “The South Bank Show;” two interviews with Fuller from French TV; original theatrical trailer. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.


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