New releases on DVD, Blu-ray
Diane Kruger stars in "Farewell, My Queen."
Updated: January 15, 2013 8:00AM
NEW THIS WEEK
FAREWELL, MY QUEEN
R for brief graphic nudity and language
Diane Kruger, Lea Seydoux, Virginie Ledoyen
There’s a certain fascination in this servant’s-eye view of the final days of Marie Antoinette, but a fair amount of frustration as well. Veteran French director Benoit Jacquot sets this story during the four days surrounding the storming of the Bastille and tells it from the point of view of the queen’s young reader Sidonie (Seydoux), a no-nonsense young woman with a fiercely protective love of Antoinette (Kruger). Strong performances keep things interesting, but the intelligence and drive Sidonie brings to the story eventually dissipate because her marginal view of court life is so limited — at times missing pieces of the tale are supplied by her dreams. As a result, “Farewell, My Queen” is up-close and personal but also oddly detached and unengaging. We can only see what Sidonie sees and feel what she feels, and in the end, while that’s intriguing, it’s not quite enough.
PG-13 for mature thematic material involving violence and disturbing sequences
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Natasha Calis
Frequently funny, but unfortunately not a comedy. There’s lots of demonic mischief when a divorced father (Morgan) buys his little girl Em (Calis) a spooky old box carved with evil-looking cryptic writing at a yard sale. Bad move, dad. Danish director Ole Bornedal (“Nightwatch”) keeps things atmospheric for the most part and builds to an interesting finale involving a Jewish exorcist. But the over-familiar shocks just come across as silly. Extras include commentary with director Bornedal and a “Real History of the Dybbuk Box” featurette.
PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality
Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Rade Serbedzija
Liam Neeson continues to make being an over-concerned dad look cool in this sequel to his surprise 2008 hit, but this time around, the seams are beginning to show. Where “Taken” was a model of simple, direct, goal-oriented carnage-wreaking, with its tale of a retired CIA operative hunting down the white slavers that kidnapped his daughter, this slow-moving sequel is considerably more convoluted. Fortunately, French action-movie writer-producer supreme Luc Besson has left enough of the old formula intact to keep things from bogging down completely. When the gangster dad (Serbedzija) of the Albanian kidnapper Mr. Mills (Neeson) killed in part one decides to avenge his death by kidnapping him, his wife and daughter in Istanbul, it’s not long before he’s trotting out his old black-ops skills to kick more Albanian gangster bootay. Extras include deleted and extended scenes and an alternate ending.~.
TO ROME WITH LOVE
R for some sexual references
Woody Allen, Judy Davis, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni
The unofficial rule that only every third or fourth film from the inexhaustible Woody Allen turns out to be a keeper resets with a vengeance in this uninspired and even occasionally tedious romantic omnibus. Allen’s presence, as a failed opera director who flies to Rome to meet his daughter’s Italian boyfriend, then convinces the kid’s shower-singing father (acclaimed tenor Fabio Armiliato) to suds and warble while playing Pagliacci on stage in a portable bathtub, is a modest selling point—and the scrub-brush Pagliacci is a wonderfully absurd ongoing sight gag. Otherwise, this tired assemblage of half-developed love stories is a dull disappointment after last year’s delightful “Midnight in Paris.” Extras include cast and crew interviews and a featurette on Allen’s filmmaking process.
ALSO NEW THIS WEEK
CAPTAIN CORNELIUS’ CARTOON LAGOON
The animated/puppet adventures of the deep sea diving Manta Ray submarine, commanded by Captain Cornelius with a crew dedicated to locating the best — and worst — of vintage animation in Cartoon Lagoon. Including appearances by Casper the Friendly Ghost, Popeye, Felix the Cat, Little Lulu and Woody Woodpecker.
GHOST HUNTERS ACADEMY
A group of aspiring ghost hunters, fresh out of college, investigate real live (so to speak) spooks in some of the world’s most haunted locations. Twelve episodes from the Syfy channel series are featured.
HARLAND WILLIAMS: A FORCE OF NATURE
The comedian takes stand-up to new heights by performing a show on the top of a mountain deep in the Mojave Desert.
I AM BRUCE LEE
A documentary on the continuing legend of the famed martial artist, whose popularity continues unabated forty years after his death. Featuring words (and action) by Lee and interviews with friends, family and notables including actors Mickey Rourke and Ed O’Neill and fighters including light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and Mixed Martial Arts contenders Gina Carano, Cung Lee and Stephen Bonnar. Extras include Lee’s backyard-training films and a Hollywood screen test.
JOAN RIVERS: DON’T START WITH ME
In her first stand-up DVD, the veteran comic takes on everything from Asian women to pop stars and reality TV.
THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1934 classic, about an ordinary couple vacationing in Switzerland who run afoul of spies plotting an assassination, gets the Criterion Collection treatment. In addition to a new high-def restoration, extras include an interview with Guillermo del Toro, an extensive 1972 interview with Hitchcock and audio excerpts from filmmaker Francois Truffaut’s 1962 interviews with the director.
THE OTHER DREAM TEAM
A documentary about the triumph of the Lithuanian basketball team’s 1992 triumph at the Barcelona Olympics, where their victory became a symbol for their country’s independence movement resisting Soviet rule.
The everyday goings-on in the kitchens of gourmet restaurants are explored in this documentary on 10 world class chefs.
AVAILABLE NEXT WEEK
Two obsessed South African fans track down the long-vanished ’70s rocker Rodriguez in “Searching for Sugar Man,” robber barons including Carnegie, Rockefeller and Ford are hailed in “The Men who Built America” and a diverse group of New Yorkers celebrate their winged friends in “Birders: The Central Park Effect.”