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New on Disc: 'Another Year' and more …

13 Jun, 2011 By: Mike Clark

Another Year

Sony Pictures, Drama, B.O. $3.2 million, $38.96 Blu-ray/DVD combo, ‘PG-13 for some language.
Stars Lesley Manville, Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Imelda Staunton.
Among its many grown-up virtues, Mike Leigh’s Another Year offers testimony to the life advantage of finding the right soulmate — as dramatized by the perfectly synchronized relationship of married Londoners Tom (Jim Broadbent), a geographical engineer with a flair for shared yard work, and Gerri, (Ruth Sheen) a psychologist who deals with unhappy people as a daily diet. Gerri’s toughest test case is co-worker Mary, played both intensely and unforgettably by another Leigh regular, Lesley Manville. The plasticity of Manville’s face is something to see: In half a beat, she can go from warmly approachable to withered and party-killing. Year isn’t exactly the kind of production Blu-ray was designed to enhance for home audiences, but the format’s capabilities do add some punch to the searing quality of the actors’ faces.
Extras: The disc includes commentary with Leigh and Manville and the featurettes “The Making of Another Year” and “The Mike Leigh Method.”
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Public Speaking

HBO, Documentary, $19.98 DVD, NR.
You can tell that Martin Scorsese is having a grand time of it with his documentary on comic essayist Fran Lebowitz (Metropolitan Life; Social Studies) when he cuts from a discussion of her owning and driving a Checker cab in New York City (where no one has a car) to a shot that pays homage to Travis Bickle in the director’s own Taxi Driver. You even get the Bernard Herrmann scoring. With this kind of documentary, Scorsese can only shoot the material conventionally, but somehow his “conventionally” always seems to have a zestier pace than other filmmakers.
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When It Was a Game: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray)

HBO, Documentary, $29.99 Blu-ray, NR.
After 20 years (the first “When It Was a Game” aired in 1991), we have never quite re-seen the likes of this HBO series, which was culled from 8mm and 16mm (mostly) color home movies — with a little aspect ratio tinkering to render them as widescreen presentations. Originally aired over a decade as three separate hour-long documentaries, the shows are packed with shots of Ebbets Field, Crosley Field, the Polo Grounds plus players from the same bygone eras those bygone stadiums represent. You can watch these films over and over and spot something new, but perhaps their greatest beauty is that occasional shot you’ll never forget. For me, it’s a bare-chested Billy Martin tossing a beach ball at someone’s pool party. The other one is an in-the-stands shot of Roy Rogers sitting next to Gabby Hayes, both in sartorial splendor. I’m pretty sure it’s from a World Series — though it would be even more surreal were it a Boston Braves-Phillies game with 852 people in the stands, counting the concession guys.
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Those Lips, Those Eyes

Manufactured on demand via online retailers
Fox/MGM, Comedy, $19.98 DVD, ‘R.’
Stars Frank Langella, Tom Hulce, Glynnis O’Connor, Jerry Stiller.
Despite a rather marked absence here of “Cleveland verisimilitude,” Those Lips, Those Eyes is somewhat of an underseen sleeper/charmer that has just been made available in Fox’s new on-demand package of predominantly United Artists titles. It gets a huge boost from lead Frank Langella as an aging theatrical performer who takes a youthful stagehand (Tom Hulce) under his wing. The major reward of a likably minor movie comes from savoring the svelte flamboyance Langella brings to a role that possibly no other actor at the time could have played this well.
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About the Author: Mike Clark

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