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posted: 12/1/2012 5:33 AM

DVD previews

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  • Christian Bale portrays Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises," which will be released on DVD Dec. 4.

    Christian Bale portrays Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises," which will be released on DVD Dec. 4.

The Washington Post

Coming Dec. 4

"The Dark Knight Rises" (PG-13, 164 minutes, Warner Home Video): Christopher Nolan has made a completely satisfying movie, one steeped enough in self-contained mythology to reward hard-core fans while giving less invested viewers a rousing, adroitly executed piece of popcorn entertainment. Resisting the siren call of 3-D, Nolan opts for Imax, whose bold detail and boxy framing are just right for this big-shouldered production. The film starts off with a nervy piece of midair showmanship in which the movie's villain, a terrorist thug named Bane, hijacks a CIA plane. Bane makes almost immediately for Gotham City, where Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has been living in wounded seclusion for the past eight years, since he took the rap for killing a city hero. Of course, there's a buried truth glancingly referred to in a weary speech delivered by police commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), who is attending a charity event on the grounds of Wayne Manor. Also in attendance: a mysterious brunette named Selina Kyle, who is played by Anne Hathaway and who proves to be the breakout star. "The Dark Knight Rises" ends on a self-important note that would be insufferable if Nolan and Bale hadn't so clearly earned it. Contains intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and profanity. DVD extras: "The Journey of Bruce Wayne" featurette. Also, on Blu-ray: "The Batmobile Documentary," a 14-part behind-the-scenes documentary, characters featurettes "A Girl's Gotta Eat" and "Shadows & Light in Large Format," "Reflections: The End of a Legend." Also available on "The Dark Knight Trilogy, with "Batman Begins" and"The Dark Knight."

"Hope Springs" (PG-13, 99 minutes, Sony Home Entertainment): Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) have been married for 31 years and now, in their 60s, they sleep in separate bedrooms. In an effort to recharge the marriage, Kay arranges a visit to a famous therapist named Dr. Feld (Steve Carell). "Hope Springs" is funny mostly thanks to Jones, who plays Arnold with a pitch-perfect dose of bemusement, discomfort and long-simmering rage. But if Jones provides most of the comedy, he also embodies its most wrenching core. Streep is just as alert, although it's possible to wish that her sweet, naive character had just one more layer. Carell delivers the most sensitive performance of his career, a blessedly un-mugging turn. If a quibble is to be had, it would be that it finds resolution in a too-swift, too-pat third act, which seems entirely out of keeping with its ethos of communicating honestly, no matter how difficult. Then again, this is a movie fully aware that just showing up is often more important than even the most cathartic conversation. Contains mature thematic content involving sexuality. DVD extras: Commentary with director David Frankel, gag reel, an alternate takes gallery, "Inside the Perfect Marriage" featurette with Streep and Jones featurette. Also, on Blu-ray: four other featurettes, including a making-of and "The Doctor Is In: Steve Carell on Dr. Feld."

"The Odd Life of Timothy Green" (PG, 115 minutes, Disney): This two-ply weeper, about a mysterious 10-year-old boy who pops up in the back yard of a childless couple, is indeed odd. The boy has leaves sprouting from his lower legs. Odder still: The people that Timothy almost immediately starts calling "Mom" and "Dad" start raising him as their own, as if Timothy has been wished into existence. Unable to conceive, Cindy and Jim stay up late the night before Timothy's arrival, drinking wine and writing down all the qualities they want in a child, and then planting the scraps of paper in a box in the garden. The movie goes down easily enough, considering its far-fetched premise. Still, anyone with an expectation of reality, or an aversion to mawkish melodrama, should probably pass. Contains brief, mild vulgarity and sad themes. Extras: making-of documentary, "This Gift" music video by Glen Hansard and behind the scenes, deleted scenes, commentary.

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (PG-13, 92 minutes, Fox): This alternately scrappy and uplifting story of a young Louisiana girl on a fearless journey to save herself and preserve her fragile bayou community has lush, imaginative visuals, a fable-like story reminiscent of great literature and one of the most memorable protagonists -- and debut performances -- to grace the big screen in a long time. As the invincible, pint-size heroine named Hushpuppy, newcomer Quvenzhane Wallis just may be the best reason to watch. As the film opens, Hushpuppy is living with her father (Dwight Henry) in a waterlogged community of misfits, drunks and swamp-dwellers. When a Katrina-like storm approaches, her father suffers a breakdown, forcing Hushpuppy to take matters into her own hands. Director Benh Zeitlin and co-writer Lucy Alibar have strived to create a new visual language and storytelling style, one that rests somewhere between realism and mytho-poetics. But with its mannered verbal rhetoric and production design of studied eccentricity, "Beasts" plays into the cult of authenticity that plagues so many admiring but patronizing portraits of rural America. Contains thematic material, including child imperilment, some disturbing images, profanity and brief sensuality. Extras: making-of featurette. Also, on Blu-ray: deleted scenes, auditions (featuring Wallis and Henry), and "Glory at Sea," "Music" and "The Aurochs" featurettes.

Also: "Butter," "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," "Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXV," "The Adventures of Mark Twain Collector's Edition," "Unforgivable" (2011, France), "Brazil" (1985, Criterion Collection), "Purple Noon" (1960, Criterion Collection), "Hermano" (2010, Venezuela), "Jane Fonda: Prime Time AM/PM Yoga For Beginners," "Sugar Mommas," "Wu Dang," "Titanic: Blood & Steel," "Elf-Man" and "The Dog Who Saved the Holidays."

Television series: "The Simpsons Season 15," "Surviving Disaster, with Amanda Ripley" (PBS), "Power Rangers Super Samurai: The Complete Season," "Eastbound & Down: The Complete Third Season" (HBO), "Angry Boys" (HBO), "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic -- Adventures in the Crystal Empire," "Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters -- Creatures Unleashed" and "Chiller: The Complete Television Series" (Britain).

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