DVDs In Brief: September 26, 2012 
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DVDs In Brief: September 26, 2012 

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DVD round-up

Joss Whedon’s The Avengers (Disney) had an astonishing run in theaters, grossing $1.5 billion worldwide, and leaping to No. 3 on the list of all-time domestic-gross earners, below only Avatar and Titanic. It earned that money with an intriguing series of balancing acts: It walks a fine line between humor and serious action, and between focusing on big superteam moments and the individual characters built up over years of Marvel movies. The way Whedon manages all of this at once gives the movie an impressive rewatchability factor…

After scandalizing critics with his 2008 film Martyrs, an exercise in extreme French horror that took the “extreme” part as far as it could go, Pascal Laugier wisely opted against pushing the envelope any further with his English-language follow-up. Though not many people saw The Tall Man (Image)—it was given a perfunctory theatrical release on top of OnDemand—Laugier’s eerie thriller shares with Martyrs a huge first-act twist and a strong female heroine. Jessica Biel, in surely her best performance to date, stars as a mother looking for her lost child in a Pacific Northwest town notorious for a rash of unexplained abductions…

Whit Stillman’s Damsels In Distress (Sony), his first film since 1998’s The Last Days Of Disco, is a loopy surprise, another literate and witty dissection of social mores, but far stranger and more abstracted than his previous efforts. There’s even a musical number! Essentially Stillman’s take on the ’80s campus comedy, only with the snobs as the heroes and the slobs in need of reform, the film stars Greta Gerwig as one in a quartet of prissy college girls who try to brighten up the place, starting with taking over the suicide-prevention center…  

The title says it all: Gerhard Richter Painting (Kino) is about Gerhard Richter painting, finding a direct window into the painter’s artistry in much the same way Henri-Georges Clouzot did in the classic The Mystery Of Picasso. Director Corinna Belz follows the then-septuagenarian artist from blank canvas to a gallery show, as Richter thinks through and develops the smears and textures and color combinations that go into his work. It’s most valuable as a study in controlling the chaos that threatens to turn a great painting into a catastrophic one.