New releases on DVD, Blu-ray
BY BRUCE INGRAM | Film Critic May 29, 2013 7:40AM
Keri Russell stars in "Dark Skies."
Updated: July 1, 2013 6:27AM
NEW THIS WEEK
PG-13 for violence, terror throughout, sexual material, drug content and language — all involving teens
Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, J.K. Simmons
There’s nothing scary going on in “Dark Skies” that you haven’t seen before in superior shockers, ranging from “The Birds,” to “Poltergeist” to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” to “Paranormal Activity.” It helps, though, that this alien-abduction thriller takes itself seriously enough to provide occasional ominous moments and even some climactic full-on scariness after meandering for nearly an hour. Russell and Hamilton star as stressed suburban parents whose anxieties about unemployment and impending foreclosure start to seem like small stuff after a weird alien sculpture shows up in their kitchen, swarms of birds dive-bomb their house and an unwelcome interplanetary visitor starts messing with their kids.
LIFE IS SWEET
R for language and a scene of sensuality
Jim Broadbent, Alison Steadman, Claire Skinner, Jane Horrocks
This early masterpiece from English director Mike Leigh (“Vera Drake”) is a sublime little comedy that’s short on plot but long on honest emotion. Largely based on improvisations with the splendid cast, “Life is Sweet” is basically a couple of days in the life of a lower-middle class London family including a strong, cheerful mom (Steadman), a likeable, weak-willed dad (Broadbent) and their polar-opposite, young-adult twin daughters, happy and well-adjusted Natalie (Skinner) and dark, contemptuous Nicola (Horrocks). On the surface, the main order of business appears to be dad’s foolish acquisition of a broken-down lunch wagon with a drunken friend, but the true matter of concern is the revelation of how deep Nicola’s dark feelings run — and the ultimate requirement of a radical intervention. This one’s something special. Extras include commentary by Leigh.
ALSO NEW THIS WEEK
DOCTOR WHO: THE SNOWMEN
The BBC’s ever-popular Time Lord (Matt Smith) introduced a new look, a new monster and a new companion (Jenna-Louise Coleman) in this feature length Christmas special.
DORFMAN IN LOVE
Tired of looking after her unappreciative father and brothers, young Deb Dorfman (Sara Rue) moves out to house-sit the cat of her unrequited crush and begins a new life.
GEORGE GENTLY COLLECTION: SERIES 1-4
Brit TV fave Martin Shaw (“Judge John Deed”) stars as Inspector George Gently, a London detective transferred to Northumberland in the mid-1960s. This 11-disc collection from Acorn Media features all the Gently mysteries from the first four seasons.
Australian actor Robert Taylor stars as a small-town Wyoming sheriff investigating crimes while grieving the recent loss of his wife. Extras include unaired scenes and a stills gallery.
NOVA: MIND OF A RAMPAGE KILLER
This PBS documentary examines scientific research into the physical and psychological circumstances that could combine to produce a rampage killer, including brain function, genetics, uncontrolled violent urges, depression and social isolation.
ULTIMATE GANGSTER COLLECTION BLU-RAY DEBUT
This quadruple-disc box set features four classic gangster movies from the golden era of Warner Brothers, all remastered for Blu-ray: “Little Caesar” (1931), “The Public Enemy” (1931), “The Petrified Forest” (1936) and “White Heat” (1949). Extras include a 32-page booklet.
ROLLING THUNDER BLU-RAY DEBUT
An officer who returned from Vietnam a hero (William Devane) turns to revenge after thugs loot his house and kill his wife. Paul Schrader (“Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull”) wrote the screenplay for this 1977 drama featuring Tommy Lee Jones. Extras include an interview with Devane.
SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA
Master storyteller Spalding Gray (“Monster in the Box’) recounts his adventures and misadventures while playing a role in the Oscar-winning “The Killing Fields.” Jonathan Demme (“Stop Making Sense”) directed this 1978 screen adaptation. Extras include commentary by Demme.
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE PRESIDENTS
This triple-disc collection presents the eight-hour History Channel series offering a perspective on the 44 men who have served in the Oval Office for the last 200 years.
AVAILABLE NEXT WEEK
Everything from the Big Bang onward is explained in the Emmy-winning documentary “Journey of the Universe,” Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon bicker anew in the Blu-ray debut of “The Odd Couple” and 10 top titles from one of the great movie comedians are compiled in the “W.C. Fields Comedy Favorites Collection.”