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posted: 6/29/2013 6:00 AM

DVD previews: 'Least Among Saints,' '56 Up'

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  • Iraq War veteran Anthony (writer-director Martin Papazian) helps Wade (Tristan Lake Leabu), the troubled boy next door, in "Least Among Saints."

      Iraq War veteran Anthony (writer-director Martin Papazian) helps Wade (Tristan Lake Leabu), the troubled boy next door, in "Least Among Saints."

 

Here's a look at DVDs coming out Tuesday, July 2:

"Least Among Saints" (R, 109 minutes, Vertical Entertainment): "Least Among Saints" hits all the notes you'd expect for a film -- or at least a cliched one -- about a traumatized Iraq War veteran. Its hero, Anthony, played by writer-director Martin Papazian with more earnestness than subtlety, is a divorced, unemployed, suicidal alcoholic with nightmares, impulse-control issues and the shakes. Still, he's not a bad guy at heart. Anthony more or less inherits the troubled 10-year-old boy living next door, Wade (Tristan Lake Leabu), after the kid's single mom dies of a drug overdose. Papazian and Leabu have a genuine ease with each other, and the development of the relationship between these two broken individuals -- not quite peers, not quite father-and-son -- is enjoyable to watch. But eventually Papazian smothers the friendship with another helping of melodrama. Contains obscenity, some violence and brief sexually suggestive dialogue.

"56 Up" (unrated, 144 minutes, First Run Features): Before there was Honey Boo Boo, there was "Seven Up!," Paul Almond's groundbreaking 1964 film in which 14 British 7-year-olds discussed their lives, hopes and dreams for the future. In 1971, Almond and Michael Apted had the brilliant idea to catch up with them, a ritual the filmmakers have continued every seven years since. The latest is "56 Up." The core participants have allowed viewers to drop in on their lives as they grapple with the cardinal concerns of their generation. "56 Up" is modestly upbeat, its subjects candid about their regrets, but also satisfied, even if the difference between resignation and contentment isn't always clear. Many of Almond and Apted's protagonists are now on strong second marriages, their adult children mostly successfully launched. The anxieties about money, health, children, work and death that animate much of "56 Up" are banal but profoundly universal. Contains nothing objectionable. Extras: film critic Roger Ebert's interview with Apted, and a filmmaker biography and statement. Also available: "The UP Series," seven-disc special edition including all eight films.

"The House I Live In" (unrated, 108 minutes, Virgil Films and Entertainment): Award-winning filmmaker Eugene Jarecki's investigative documentary probing our nation's war on drugs swarms key battlegrounds. Jarecki tails DEA agents in Miami, narcotics officers in Rhode Island and border-patrol cops in New Mexico as they lament the self-perpetuating cycle of the average drug abuser. He follows Shanequa Benetiz, a low-level dealer who talks candidly about the lack of prospects afforded her by being born into poverty. "House" hits upon points many already have heard. Jarecki's research, however, prompts his experts to make increasingly bold statements regarding the history of the war on drugs. Yet, much like "The Wire," "House" hits hardest when it's putting a personal spin on its statistics. Contains bad language and discusses drugs and drug abuse.

"Falcon" (two-disc set, Acorn Media): U.S. debut of a crime thriller starring Marton Csokas ("The Lord of the Rings") and Hayley Atwell ("Captain America") and based on the best-selling novels by Robert Wilson. The British production, set in Seville, Spain, consisted of two feature-length mysteries, "The Blind Man of Seville" and "The Silent and the Damned," that premiered in Britain in 2012. Csokas is inspector Javier Falcon, a smart, intuitive detective bent on exposing hard truths and corruption, while contending with his attraction to a glamorous widow (Atwell) and simmering tensions with his ex-wife (Emilia Fox). Extras: "Javier Falcon: Behind the Man," "Falcon's Seville With Robert Wilson" and "The Blind Man of Seville" behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Also: "The Girl," "Inescapable," "Death By China" (documentary), "Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings," "Why We Laugh: Funny Women," "Tower Block," "Smart Cookies," "An American Girl: Saige Paints the Sky," "Tai Chi Hero" (China), "Venus and Serena" (documentary), "The Tower" (South Korea), "North & South" (1975, British Victorian-era drama miniseries starring Patrick Stewart, Acorn Media), "Constitution USA With Peter Sagal" (PBS) and "6 Souls."

Television Series: "Last Resort: The Complete Series," "Legends of the Old West" (1994, three-disc collection of History Channel documentaries), "Call of the Wildman: Season 1," "Frontline: Retirement Gamble" (PBS), "Party of Five: Season Five" and "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis: The Complete Series."

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