Inside Llewyn Davis
Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99
Available on VOD beginning Tuesday
Joel and Ethan Coen use the pre-Bob Dylan Greenwich Village folk scene as a jumping-off point for a black comedy about obsolescence, but unlike earlier, similar Coen brothers films (such as "Barton Fink"), "Inside Llewyn Davis" doesn't just beat the crap out of a self-absorbed artiste for two hours. As Llewyn, Oscar Isaac is a sympathetic creep who can't catch a break in a world where his more fresh-scrubbed and personable colleagues are becoming stars. By holding on Llewyn as he plays his sad, lovely old folk songs, the Coens capture what was special about this time and these people, who were clinging to the past in the middle of the rocket age. Funny, poetic, tuneful and well-acted (with great supporting turns from John Goodman, Justin Timberlake and F. Murray Abraham), "Inside Llewyn Davis" is one of the Coens' richest films. The DVD and Blu-ray adds a lengthy featurette.¿
Out of the Furnace
20th Century Fox, $22.98; Blu-ray, $29.99
Available on VOD beginning Tuesday
In 2009, Scott Cooper's debut feature, "Crazy Heart," came out of nowhere to become an awards season contender, eventually garnering a lead actor Oscar for Jeff Bridges as fading country star. Last year, Cooper's "Out of the Furnace" went the opposite direction. Pegged as prime Oscar bait, the thriller about a Pennsylvania mill worker (Christian Bale) who takes on backwoods gangsters never caught on, either at the box office or with critics. But it's a solid — if overly self-important — genre exercise, making good use of its small town and rural settings to set the stage for the contest of wills among the hero, his ex-girlfriend (Zoe Saldana), the local law (Forest Whitaker) and a manipulative drug lord (Woody Harrelson). The DVD and Blu-ray come with a handful of featurettes.
The Book Thief
20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99
One of the most beloved young adult novels of recent years, Markus Zusak's work comes to the big screen in a version that reveals some of the hazards of adapting a book that takes a kid's-eye view of a serious adult subject. Sophie Nélisse plays Liesel, a preteen bibliophile living in Nazi Germany with a foster family harboring a Jewish refugee. While director Brian Percival and screenwriter Michael Petroni do a good job of showing how reading can be an escape even for a little girl who's surrounded by violence and prejudice, there's something a little off about using the Holocaust as a backdrop for a coming-of-age story. On the page, it works; on the screen, not so much. The DVD and Blu-ray add deleted scenes and featurettes.
Criterion Blu-ray, $39.95
Given David Gordon Green's recent career as a director of stoner comedies like "Pineapple Express" and "Your Highness," it's worth remembering that he started out making gentle, arty indies like this 2000 impressionistic look at the social structure of a group of preadolescent African American kids in a North Carolina small town. Criterion's new DVD/Blu-ray set carries over and cleans up the content from the company's earlier DVD, which includes Green's similar early short films, and a commentary track with Green, cinematographer Tim Orr and actor Paul Schneider (an early Green collaborator who's gone on to a solid Hollywood career). It's a beautiful package for a beautiful movie.
Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98
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