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FILM

DVDs Nuts!

Lesser-seen OW approved titles

Hugo

The surprise frontrunner of the Oscar nominations – it ended up taking home five trophies, all in below-the-line categories – is finally available in either two or three dimensions, so those who either thought it was one of the most innovative uses of new 3-D technology seen thus far (like myself) or the curmudgeons who found it distracting can have their own way with the film. (Assuming those 3-D lovers have enough expendable income to slap on the glasses in their living room.) While Scorsese’s ode to the cinema, all wide-eyed wonder and Parisian magic, seems the most compatible with all-out bonus feature mayhem – especially considering Hugo’s big shout-out to early cinematic pioneer Georges Méliés – the extras are bafflingly sparse on this outing. Still, the film is a beautiful, heartfelt and somewhat autobiographical romp and features prankster Sacha Baron Cohen in a straight role that recalls Charlie Chaplin, so whining about DVD extras seems a bit ungrateful. (available now)

Special Features: Featurettes

Resurrect Dead

Equal parts American Movie, Shut Up Little Man! and one of those History Channel crackpot specials, Resurrect Dead ably follows three longtime fans of an urban mystery involving historian Arnold J. Toynbee, filmmaker Stanley Kubrick and an unknown ham radio tin-foiler down an amusing, if exhausting, rabbit hole. Documentarian Jon Foy, making his feature debut, strikes an engaging balance between ominous thriller and sympathetic gawking to show how these few social outcasts step up to the investigative plate and manage, through sheer will, to come closer than anyone in decades to identifying the shadowy figure who laid tiles with the same conspiratorial message throughout the Eastern U.S. and South America. Although viewer interest fades so rapidly that even the film’s tight 85 minutes feels like a slog by the end, the first hour of increasingly fruitless searching is so captivating that it’ll have you reaching for your own aluminum cap. (available now)

Special Features: Audio commentary, tile gallery, deleted scenes

The Woman With the 5 Elephants

Great text moves, asserts notable literary translator Svetlana Geier at the beginning of this sprawling documentary, which opens on Geier and her elderly assistant working Dostoyevsky’s The Gambler line-by-line. “Suddenly, there is something there that no one has noticed before,” she ponders. She considers the work of Dostoyevsky, whose Crime and Punishment was known in Germany as Guilt and Atonement until Geier’s version hit shelves in 1994, “inexhaustible.” Writer-director Vadim Jendreyko’s tender, patient documentary traces Geier’s journey back to Ukraine for the first time in six decades, where, following the German occupation, she was sent to work for a Nazi. Filmed a few years before Geier’s death in 2010, Elephants is at its best when observing her at work, dissecting great literature with the same care she brings to any other physical activity, be it cooking or sewing, and it’s a joy to see someone edit so meticulously and so manually. Says Geier: “The text and the textile have the same root.” Amen. (available now)

Special Features: Deleted scenes, short film

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