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New on Disc: 'Inside Job' and more …

21 Mar, 2011 By: Mike Clark

Inside Job

Sony Pictures, Documentary, B.O. $4.2 million, $28.95 DVD, $34.95 Blu-ray, ‘PG-13’ for some drug and sex-related material.
Narrated by Matt Damon.

2010. Before going on to win the recent Oscar for Best Documentary, director Charles Ferguson knew he wanted to have a specific Peter Gabriel song in the opening credits. He and co-producer Audrey Marrs were willing to spend 5% of the film’s budget in what became a cliffhanger to clear the rights. All this, of course, is tangential to Inside Job’s narrative power in chronicling the 2008 global meltdown of the economy and the seeds of the mess we’re still in today. As much as any movie can, it crystallizes difficult subjects — brain pulverizers such as credit default swaps and CDOs — in a way lay folk can comprehend.
Extras: The bonus material is almost like a secondary extra movie, and the Blu-ray has something like an hour of extra material that the standard DVD doesn’t have. One of these BD segments is a significant highlight: a low-key, blow-by-blow account of the afternoon Lehman Brothers started to melt, delivered by Lehman’s premier bankruptcy attorney Harvey Miller. As we can hear from his outstanding commentary with producer Marrs (a good foil), Ferguson is soft-spoken himself, which makes his relentlessly probing questions on screen to occasionally discomforted subjects very effective.
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Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould

Kino Lorber, Documentary, B.O. $0.2 million, $29.95 DVD, $34.95 Blu-ray, NR.
The only drawback to this consistent grabber on a mesmerizing subject is the title. It’s likely that no one will ever get to the “inner” of the still-revered Canadian concert pianist and brilliant Bach interpreter, even though (as we see in plenty of archival evidence) he was thoroughly outgoing in interviews and blessed with a sense of humor, even about himself. Co-directed by Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont, Genius avoids a pitfall that afflicts many historical documentaries: the lack of archival material. Here, there seems to be plenty, and the filmmakers have dug it out the way those wizard sleuths who put together the bonus sections on Criterion releases do. We learn of Gould’s upbringing as an only child, his aversion to touring and a musical prowess that lasted until his death at age 50 in 1982.
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Excalibur (Blu-ray)

Warner, Fantasy, $19.98 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Nicol Williamson, Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson.
It sounds a bit flip to call director John Boorman’s aptly intense Arthurian epic a greatest hits package, but the film’s preponderance of action involving a long list of already familiar 5th/6th-century characters is a major part of its appeal. Along, of course, with the sex. Excalibur’s good looks are of the hazy sort and even a Blu-ray of it will never be of “demonstration” quality, though it does replicate my memories of what the movie looked like on screen in 1981, which was dreamy. Star spotters also will have fun watching Gabriel Byrne in a crucial role early in the story — as well as Liam Neeson and Patrick Stewart.
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Primrose Path

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Ginger Rogers, Joel McCrea, Marjorie Rambeau.
Director Gregory La Cava’s movie of a once-semi-notorious property is adapted from a long-running play which in turn had been based on the Victoria Lincoln novel February Hill. Ginger Rogers is the closest thing to a well-adjusted adult in a family of no-counts (mom Marjorie Rambeau is a prostitute). She marries a hamburger joint counter-hop played by Joel McCrea — for genuine love on her part but also, one senses, to escape her family. They’re obviously in love, but too many people are poisoning the well.
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