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12 YEARS A SLAVE

(Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Chiwetel Ejiofor is superb as Solomon Northup, a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South, in director Steve McQueen’s hard-hitting adaptation of Northup’s best-seller, which won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (newcomer Lupita Nyong’o), with additional nominations for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender), Best Director, Best Editing, Best Production Design and Best Costume Design.

A star-studded cast includes Brad Pitt (also a producer), Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson and Alfre Woodard. Undoubtedly among the best American films ever made about slavery, it’s not easy to watch but impossible to forget. Rated R.

ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES

(Paramount): Will Ferrell’s back on the air as Ron Burgundy, joining a fledgling ‘80s all-news cable network, and joined again by Christina Applegate, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner and a slew of celebrity cameos. Like the 2004 original, this is hit-and-miss, with its share of great gags and groaners alike – but the cast is game. Ferrell penned the script with director and fellow producer Adam McKay. Rated PG-13 (also available in an R-rated and unrated versions).

THE BOOK THIEF

(Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): This PG-13-rated adaptation of Markus Zusak’s international best-seller stars Sophie Nelisse as a young girl who learns to read after being adopted by a German couple (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson), but trouble ensues as the storm clouds of World War II gather. John Williams’ score earned an Oscar nomination. The DVD retails for $29.98, the Blu-ray for $39.99.

“BORGEN”: SEASON 3

(MHz Networks): A four-DVD collection ($49.95 retail) of all 10 episodes from the 2013 season of the award-winning Danish political drama, which aired in the US on Link TV, starring Sidse Babett Knudsen as Denmark’s first female prime minister, here attempting to come to terms with her fall from power. In Danish with English subtitles.

“BRAQUO” (MHz Networks): This popular French crime series, created by Olivier Marchal, focuses on four detectives (Jean-Hughes Anglade, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Joseph Malerba and Karole Rocher) who circumvent the law in order to execute justice and clear the reputation of a colleague who committed suicide. “The Complete First Season” ($39.95 retail) includes all eight episodes from the inaugural 2009 season, “The Complete Second Season” ($39.95 retail) includes all eight episodes from the 2011 season. In French with English subtitles.

THE CANYONS

(IFC Films/MPI Home Video): Paul Schrader’s again courts controversy with this psycho-sexual thriller starring Lindsay Lohan and adult film star James Deen as a Hollywood couple whose relationship comes undone when they finance an independent horror film. Hey, it happens. Available as an R-rated DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail), as well as an unrated Blu-ray director’s cut ($29.98 retail).

A CASE OF YOU

(IFC Films): Justin Long makes his screenwriting and producing debut with this light, likable romantic comedy as a writer who falls (understandably) for Evan Rachel Wood. Also on hand: Brendan Fraser, Sienna Miller, Busy Phillips, Keir O’Donnell (who co-wrote the script with Long and brother Christian Long), an unbilled Vince Vaughn and an unbilled Sam Rockwell, whose Spin Doctors number is a howl. Rated R.

GRAVITY

(Warner Home Video): Alfonso Cuaron took home the Oscar as Best Director for this mesmerizing, hugely effective sci-fi thriller about two astronauts (George Clooney and Best Actress Oscar nominee Sandra Bullock) struggling to return to Earth after a disaster in space. Breathtaking visual effects never get in the way of the story’s human elements, yielding one of 2013’s best films and biggest box-office hits. Oscar winner for Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Score, Best Visual Effects, Best Editing and Best Sound Mixing, with additional nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Production Design. That’s Ed Harris as the voice of Mission Control. Available in as a two-disc DVD ($28.98 retail), a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($35.99 retail), or a 3-D Blu-ray combo ($44.95 retail). Rated PG-13.

HAUNTER

(IFC Midnight): Executive producer/director Vincenzo Natali’s visual flourishes distinguish this intriguing chiller with Abigail Breslin as a teen who realizes her family is caught in a repetitious limbo between life and death. The sort of thing Rod Serling did well and M. Night Shymalan used to do well, with some intense moments. Well worth a look.

IN THE NAME OF THE KING 3: THE LAST MISSION

(Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): The latest installment of Uwe Boll’s R-rated medieval fantasy, based on the popular Dungeon Siege video game, stars Dominic Purcell as a modern-day assassin magically transported back to the Middle Ages. The DVD retails for $22.98, the Blu-ray for $29.99.

JUMPER

(Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): The Blu-ray bow ($29.99 retail) of director Doug Liman’s flashy but empty-headed 2008 adaptation of Simon Gould’s novel, with Hayden Christensen as a teen who can jump through time. Yet another fantasy franchise that stalled at the starting gate, despite a cast including Samuel L. Jackson, Diane Lane, Jamie Bell, AnnaSophia Robb, Michael Rooker and Christensen’s one-time sweetie Rachel Bilson (who won a Teen Choice Award). Rated PG-13.

“RARE TV CRIME CLASSICS”

(Alpha Home Entertainment): A selfexplanatory DVD selection ($7.98 retail) of four vintage ‘50s crime series’, including “Paris Precinct” with Louis Jourdan and Claude Dauphin, and Lee Tracy as “Martin Kane, Private Eye.”

“RARE TV DETECTIVES”: VOLUME 2

(Alpha Home Entertainment): A self-explanatory DVD selection ($7.98 retail) of four vintage crime series’, including Tom Conway as “Inspector Mark Saber” and Boris Karloff as “Colonel March of Scotland Yard.” !


MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2014, Mark Burger.

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