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DVDs In Brief: September 28, 2011 

Not only did Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark Of The Moon (Paramount) win the summer, collecting $350,800,000 in America alone, it also earned some measure of redemption from critics, who may have taken it out of Razzie contention by declaring it considerably less bad than its predecessor, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen. But let’s not lose our heads: This is still a dumb, oppressive, sexist, jingoistic action movie, building to a grand finale on the streets of Chicago that’s so incoherent, it nearly qualifies as an abstract experimental film…

All the Emmys went to Downton Abbey, but Olivier Assayas’ five-and-a-half-hour miniseries Carlos (Criterion) has gotten much-deserved awards attention there and elsewhere for its ability to tell a sprawling TV-movie tale without losing the pace and dynamism of great cinema. Édgar Ramírez stars as Ilich Ramírez Sánchez (a.k.a. “Carlos the Jackal”), a notorious Venezuelan mercenary who became a global outlaw with brazen terrorist acts on behalf of the Palestinian cause in the ’70s and ’80s. Assayas tracks his gradual decline from Ché-inspired revolutionary to indulgent terrorist-for-hire…

No movie at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival was more lustily pilloried than The Ledge, a gimmicky drama that details a high-pitched, high-stakes showdown between an atheist and a holy roller. Charlie Hunnam stars as the atheist, a would-be ledge-jumper who tells a cop (Terrence Howard) that if he doesn’t plunge by noon, someone will die. Of course, this requires a long explanation via flashback involving Hunnam’s lust for a pious neighbor (Liv Tyler) and his outrageous conflict with her Bible-thumping husband (Patrick Wilson)… 

Pierre Thoretton’s L’Amour Fou, a documentary about the legendary fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent, begins with his dignified farewell to the industry, but it doesn’t take his work as its primary subject. Instead, Thoretton reveals Saint-Laurent’s 50-year-plus romance with Pierre Bergé, an affair that resisted and survived the prejudices of the past. It’s a beautiful-looking documentary, with evident affection for both parties, but where it should be intimate, it feels conspicuously distant and impersonal.