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DVDs In Brief April 18, 2012


DVD round-up

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The durability of the Mission: Impossible movie franchise has less to do with Tom Cruise’s star power—and even less with the ornate convolutions of plot—than with allowing strong filmmakers the opportunity to stage elaborate suspense sequences. Not since Brian De Palma’s great Langley break-in setpiece in the first entry has there been a sequence as staggering as the derring-do atop Dubai’s Burj Khalifa building in Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol (Paramount). The vertigo effect of Cruise dangling from the world’s tallest structure won’t be as powerful on video as it was on IMAX, but director Brad Bird has plenty more thrills in his pocket… 

After the abundance of critical hosannas that greeted their first collaboration, the superb prison drama Hunger, director Steve McQueen and actor Michael Fassbender got some blowback for Shame (Fox), their NC-17-rated portrait of sex addiction. Those who didn’t flatly reject the reality of such an affliction were turned off by the formal archness of McQueen’s direction, but the intensity and precision of Hunger are still present here, and the film proves remarkably perceptive about the compulsive behaviors that define addiction… 

What happens when a bunch of obnoxious New Yorkers huddled in a basement post-apocalypse stop being polite and start getting real? That’s the premise of The Divide (Anchor Bay), a grim assessment of what happens to humanity once order breaks down. Directed by Xavier Gens (Frontier(s)), part of the current wave of extreme French horror, this ugly, 122-minute shoutfest descends into a venal, rape-filled Lord Of The Flies scenario in a hurry, but without earning credibility first… 

After operating as a WWII OSS officer and then later as a CIA field agent snuffing out Communists in Rome, William Colby was promoted CIA director at a tumultuous time, when the U.S. was accelerating its involvement in Saigon in the lead-up to the Vietnam War. The Man Nobody Knew: In Search Of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby (First Run) follows director Carl Colby’s attempt to understand his dad, whom he knew as cold, remote, and occasionally very cruel. It’s a measured portrait, but more insightful about the spy’s activities abroad than at home.