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Article posted: 5/11/2013 4:40 AM

DVD previews: 'Cloud Atlas,' 'Texas Chainsaw'

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Coming May 14

"Cloud Atlas" (R, 172 minutes, Warner): At its simplest, "Cloud Atlas" tells the interlocking stories of several characters over a 500-year span. How these disparate players intersect becomes the labyrinthine game, in which each story line gets its own distinctive look and tone. Those visual cues work well in helping viewers make sense of the dizzying time-trips "Cloud Atlas" takes them on; more controversial is having the same actors, including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving and newcomer Doona Bae, portray characters in every subplot. One of the small miracles is that every actor manages to create a palpable, even memorable, character within a structure that threatens to blow apart from its own concentric force. At its most on-the-nose, the movie suffers from sanctimony that is probably inevitable when evoking the Eternal Now. At its best, though, "Cloud Atlas" represents just the kind of nerve and ingenuity that movies so desperately need these days. Contains violence, profanity, sexuality, nudity and some drug use. Extras: "A Film Like No Other" on how directors Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski worked together. Also, on Blu-ray: "Everything is Connected," a deeper look into the subplots' intersecting threads; "Spaceships, Slaves and Sextets" making-of featurettes; "The Impossible Adaptation," "The Bold Science Fiction of Cloud Atlas" and other featurettes.

"Texas Chainsaw" (R, 92 minutes, Lionsgate): This 3-D sequel picks up where other recent massacres have left off, manufacturing a reason for Heather to drag three of her 20-something friends to Newt, Texas. She's a surviving member of the slaying Sawyer clan, the inbreds who gave birth to and protected the hulking Leatherface. After a brief opening summary of the "end" of the Sawyers, "Chainsaw" then gets down to the bloody business at hand: chainsawing. That menacing power tool is the star as Leatherface chases these fit and trim young folks who always find something to trip over. There are plenty of 3-D shove-the-saw-at-the-camera moments in director John Luessenhop's movie manual. But he mangles even the basics of making these many murders seem frightening. In the decades since Tobe Hooper's genuinely shocking original film, loosely based on the murderous rampage of non-Texan Ed Gein, the sequels have been dumb-downed into stupid splatter-fests. Strong grisly violence and language throughout. Extras: commentary with Hooper and producer Carl Mazzocone; "Chainsaw alumni" audio commentary with stars Bill Moseley, Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns and John Dugan; a legacy featurette that looks back at the 40-year history of the series with Hooper; "Resurrecting the Saw" featurette; "The Old Homestead" featurette; "Leatherface 2013" interview with actor Dan Yeager on his interpretation of the role; a 3-D creation featurette; special effects and makeup featurette; cast interviews; and seven on-set making-of short subjects.

"Beware of Mr. Baker" (R, 92 minutes, Vivendi Entertainment): Jay Bulger's biographical profile of British drummer Ginger Baker (best known for his work with Cream and Blind Faith) is a fascinating character study of a brilliant and difficult musician, but it gets at a bigger problem than Baker's well-documented and long-standing addiction, violent temper, irresponsibility as a husband and father and ineptitude as a businessman. Just how much bad behavior is justified by transcendent art? A lot, if Baker's colleagues -- and Bulger -- are to be trusted. The film opens with the documentarian getting smashed in the face by his cantankerous subject, who seems to be upset by the prospect of former collaborators Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton appearing in the film. They (and others, including Baker's multiple ex-wives and children) come on camera anyway, mostly to sing Baker's praises as a prog-rock pioneer, if not a human being. Contains frequent obscenity and discussion of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll

Also: "Beware of Mr. Baker," "Leonie," "Back to 1942" (China), "Face 2 Face," "Frankie Go Boom," "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III," "The Bletchley Circle" (PBS), "Jubal" (1956, The Criterion Collection), "Liz & Dick" (made-for-TV biopic), "Escape" (Norway), "3:10 to Yuma" (1957, The Criterion Collection), "Crimewave" (1985, Shout! Factory) and "The Visitor" (Germany).

Television series: "Dexter: The Seventh Season" "Fraggle Rock: 30th Anniversary Collection" (1983-87, all four seasons of the Jim Henson series), "Fraggle Rock: Meet The Fraggles" (the pilot and five episodes); "3rd Rock From the Sun -- The Complete Series," "Roseanne: The Complete Series ," "Dance Academy" (2010/2011, Australian series on Teen Nick), "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic -- Season Two," "Power Rangers Samurai: The Sixth Ranger -- Volume 4," "Taz-Mania: Taz on the Loose Season 1 Part 1," "Team Umizoomi: Animal Heroes" (Nickelodeon) and "Wordgirl vs. the Energy Monster" (animated series from Scholastic Media, PBS).

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