“BAREFOOT,” Evan Rachel Wood, Scott Speedman. Oddball rom-com pairs chronic gambler Speedman with deeply troubled psychiatric patient Wood, hastily employed by Speedman to pose as his new girlfriend at his brother’s upcoming wedding in an attempt to bilk money out of his generally disapproving parents as a means of settling his numerous debts. Almost a warmer and fuzzier “Buffalo ‘66”, “Barefoot” struggles to find sure footing as either a comedy or a romance in its early reels, but the chemistry between the leads eventually becomes apparent, and Wood is particularly beguiling in a difficult role. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:30. Suggested retail price: $19.98. 

“BIG BAD WOLVES,” Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan. Enthusiastically touted by none other than Quentin Tarantino as the best film of 2013, this chilling, hypnotically upsetting thriller involving a vigilante detective (Ashkenazi, “Late Marriage”) on the trail of a pedophiliac serial killer, the father of one of the killer’s recent victims (Tzahi Grad, “Off-White Lies”), and the primary suspect (Keinan, “Epilogue”), a mild-mannered teacher who soon finds himself bound and gagged in a basement, being relentlessly tortured by both of the above. In spite of the unthinkable brutality taking place onscreen, writer-directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado (“Rabies”) successfully maintain a darkly comic tone throughout that helps leaven the unpleasantness, assuring that during those moments when you’re able to look at the screen, you’ll be fully entertained. Rated R. Running time: 1:50. Suggested retail price: $26.99; Blu-ray $29.99. 


“KEN BURNS: THE ADDRESS,” Documentary. Abraham Lincoln’s sobering mug prominently plastered on the cover suggests your typical Burns overview of the Gettysburg Address, but “The Address” is actually a bit of a departure for the acclaimed filmmaker: a touching and eye-opening look at the benefits of alternative schooling, quietly observing the methods and students of the Greenwood School in Vermont, an establishment that famously counts the memorization and performance of Lincoln’s famed speech as a rite of passage. It’s hard to imagine not being moved by this modest but important doc, and Burns employs his full arsenal of well-worn but tried-and-true tricks to ensure maximum effect. Not rated. Running time: 1:30. Suggested retail price: $24.99. 

“RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11,” Neville Brand, Emile G. Meyer. An early hit for director Don Siegel (“Dirty Harry”), here we have a prison classic that’s every bit as intense today as it was in 1954, staging an all-too-believable “Riot” within the confines of the actual Folsom State Prison, using real inmates and guards in its tale of a group of prisoners attempt to improve deplorable conditions and treatment by banding together and wresting control from the abusive guards and warden. Siegel would revisit the milieu much later in 1979’s also excellent “Escape From Alcatraz”, but “Riot” would prove difficult to improve upon. Special features include a commentary from film scholar Matthew H. Bernstein and a vintage 1953 NBC radio documentary, “The Challenge of Our Prisoners”. Not rated. Running time: 1:20. Suggested retail price: $24.99; Blu-ray $39.99. 


“GET CARTER,” Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone. Viewers have their choice of which “Carter” to “Get” on Blu-ray this week, with both the hard-hitting (and, let’s be honest, the far superior) 1971 original with Michael Caine and the 2000 Stallone remake rolling out in hi-def format. Both have their merits, and in the end one supposes it depends on whether one takes their violence cold and stylized or brutal and gratuitous, or why not get both for a nihilistic Friday night double feature? Both films are rated R. Running time: 1:52, 1:42. Suggested retail price: $14.99.

“THE PAWNBROKER,” Rod Steiger, Geraldine Fitzgerald. An Oscar-nominated performance from the formidable Steiger and gorgeous black-and-white cinematography courtesy of Boris Kaufman drive this devastatingly tragic story of survivor guilt from 1964, chronicling the day-to-day drudgery of “Pawnbroker” Sol Nazerman (Steiger), a man left emotionally numb due to the unthinkable horrors he witnessed and suffered in a Nazi concentration camp, where his entire family was killed in front of him, now going through the motions of running a pawn shop located in Harlem, a generally uneventful job that becomes less so when it becomes clear that his financial backer is running a prostitution ring in the background. Bleak but essential drama from director Sidney Lumet (“Dog Day Afternoon”). Not rated. Running time: 1:56. Suggested retail price: $29.99. 


“SORCER,” Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer. After dazzling critics and audiences alike with such blockbuster films as “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist”, director William Friedkin appeared to have the Midas touch back in the mid-70’s, so when “Sorcerer” was announced for 1977 release, most assumed the money and accolades would roll in as before. To put it mildly, this did not happen. An out-of-control budget, a confusing title that understandably (but mistakenly) led audiences to believe that magical fantasy was involved, and most damagingly, the simultaneous arrival in theaters of the, shall we say, somewhat more popular “Star Wars” damned “Sorcerer” to a perfunctory release and a piddling box office take. In the years since, this skillful and unbelievably tense remake of Clouzot’s “The Wages of Fear” – in which a ragtag group of desperate men are employed to drive trucks full of nitroglycerine through a South American jungle – has been belatedly hailed as one of Friedkin’s most impressive cinematic achievements, with a scene involving a particularly unsteady bridge singled out as an all-time classic. A largely forgotten gem that deserves a much wider audience than the original circumstances allowed. Rated R. Running time: 2:01. Suggested retail price: $12.95; Blu-ray $27.98. 

“THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMAD ALI,” Documentary. Less a look at his squared circle prowess (see the excellent “When We Were Kings” for that sort of thing) and more an examination of the man himself and his integrity in a difficult personal (yet very public) situation, “Trials” focuses on boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s refusal to serve in the Vietnam War following his becoming involved with the Black Muslims. Despite the fact that his derailed his career and turned a considerable percentage of the population against him, Ali stuck to his guns in the face of overwhelming backlash, possibly legacy ruination, and ultimately a Supreme Court case, and his apparent fearlessness and willingness to explain himself and engage in debate with any who cared to approach him are well documented by director Bill Siegel (“The Weather Underground”). If you thought you knew exactly how tough the man was, “Trials” shows that most of us only know the tip of the iceberg. Not rated. Running time: 1:34. Suggested retail price: $29.95.

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