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DVDs In Brief: July 11, 2012 


DVD round-up

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There was no way any adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire series could fully capture the novels’ elaborate fantasy world in all their detail, but boy does HBO’s Game Of Thrones, whose first season is now appearing on DVD, come close. A committed cast and impressive production values do a lot of the work, but the show’s ability to capture Martin’s morally ambiguous study of power is what makes it work…

The gimmick behind Silent House (Universal): It’s a horror movie done in one uninterrupted take. (Well, not really, but it looks like it’s one uninterrupted take.) Unfortunately that and a too-good-for-this performance by Elizabeth Olsen are all the film have going for it. At first, it's not scary. Then it turns downright distasteful…

In a quiet year for documentaries, Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (Magnolia) has emerged as a major success story, making gentle appeal to foodies who can eat with their eyes while they watch a master chef at work. The film profiles 85-year-old Jiro Ono, proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a modest (though expensive) sushi restaurant located inside a Tokyo subway station. Jiro’s unique creations have inspired many sushi fiends to make pilgrimages to his restaurant, and the film treats him with the reverence afforded a great artist...

After establishing a critical beachhead with high-profile series like Spartacus and Party Down, Starz presented Boss: Season One (Lionsgate) as its answer to Mad Men, a substantive dive into the cesspool of the Chicago political machine. But a not-so-funny thing happened to the series: It wasn’t well received, it sank to comically low ratings, and now Starz is stuck with a second-season order. Nevertheless, there remains plenty of potential in the story of a Chicago mayor (a glowering Kelsey Grammar) who’s afflicted with a degenerative neurological disorder but refuses to loosen his grip on power… 

The Israeli Oscar nominee Footnote (Sony) gets into the knock-down, drag-out world of Talmudic studies—and if the movie is more compelling than it sounds, well, it would have to be, wouldn’t it? Shlomo Bar-Aba and Lior Ashkenazi play a father and son who find themselves competing for academic prestige, with Bar-Aba clinging to a footnote acknowledgement in his mentor’s book. There’s real drama in this rivalry that’s drawn out by director Joseph Cedar’s striking visual style…