DVD Releases

Trying to make sense of bits and pieces

By Tom Russo
Globe Correspondent / August 9, 2009

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The title of the barely released indie “Fragments’’ (2009) fits the material even better than the distributor might have intended. Australian TV director Rowan Woods and first-time writer Roy Freirich put together a story and a cast that rate higher than the movie’s virtual dump-off on DVD, with Guy Pearce, Forest Whitaker, Dakota Fanning (right), and Kate Beckinsale backed up by half a dozen other familiar faces. The solemn drama revolves around the aftermath of a random shooting at a California diner, examining post-traumatic stress from familiar and surprising angles. Beckinsale is a single-mom waitress in such complete denial that she’s shunting aside her baby along with her emotional turmoil. Whitaker is an awkward man shellshocked by the strange luck of surviving a bullet right after learning he’s got cancer. Pearce is a hospital doctor who just missed the violence, and is wracked with a level of guilt that’s almost unbelievable. And Fanning is a girl turned suddenly born-again by the ordeal. This last, exaggerated thread is the only one that manages to feel overdone despite the film’s running time, which at 90 minutes is awfully brisk for the scope involved. We glimpse how, say, Whitaker’s troubles and a gambling issue might be spilling over into his home life with his daughter (Jennifer Hudson, in what amounts to a cameo). But it’s all just bits and pieces, in ways that are both confounding and intriguing. Extras: Woods’s commentary sheds light, at least, on why Pearce is drugging his wife, a development that seems open to interpretation, despite the formal explanation. (Sony, $24.96; available now)


I LOVE YOU, MAN (2009)

Give credit (and how) to Paul Rudd and Jason Segel for taking their extended male-bonding session and making it that increasingly rare comedy phenomenon which actually lives up to the hype. But don’t forget writer-director John Hamburg (“Along Came Polly’’), who might not be an Apatow brand name, but who manages to wring some comic details out of been-there-done-that setups. Who’d guess you could get so much mileage out of Rush shout-outs when Rudd himself had already goofed on KISS and Asia? Extras: good-time commentary by Hamburg, Rudd, and Segel; extended scenes. (Paramount, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99)



Eric McCormack and “X-Files’’ director R.W. Goodwin celebrate cheesy ’50s flying saucer movies in essentially the same way that “Grindhouse’’ recalled ’70s schlock, right down to the faux-newsreel add-ons and an in-character featurette hosted by “Edwin R. Burroughs.’’ The movie is a little too on-the-nose to feel truly clever - it could’ve used additional subtle bits like McCormack and his wife sleeping in twin beds - but it’s a fun, well-acted throwback. Robert Patrick costars as a deputy thoroughly unimpressed by the reports of a monster on the loose in his sleepy jurisdiction. His mistake, of course. (Image, $27.98; Blu-ray, $35.98)



Filmmaker Paul Andrew Williams has variously drawn comparisons to Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, and Guy Ritchie for his story about a London prostitute (Lorraine Stanley, heartbreakingly damaged) drawing an 11-year-old runaway (Georgia Groome) into her plight, then taking the girl on the run. There’s ultimately no flash but a lot of grit on display, as the film takes the gutter atmosphere of Leigh’s “Naked’’ and applies it to underworld drama. Uncomfortably lurid at points, but thoroughly convincing. Extras: commentary by Williams; alternate ending. (E1 Entertainment, $24.98)

17 AGAIN (2009)

“Big’’ gets rehashed one more time, here with Zac Efron as the high schooler who Matthew Perry once was and magically becomes again. Extras: on Blu-ray, commentary from Efron, and improv from castmate Thomas Lennon. (Warner, $28.98; Blu-ray, $35.99)

THE CLASS (2008)

Onetime teacher François Bégaudeau plays the lead in an adaptation of his autobiographical novel taking a yearlong look inside an inner-city Paris school. Bégaudeau and director Laurent Cantet (“Human Resources’’) earned an Oscar nod for best foreign language film. Extras: select scene commentary; production featurette; on Blu-ray, actors’ workshop footage. (Sony, $28.96; Blu-ray, $39.95)


Paul Dano (“Little Miss Sunshine,’’ “There Will Be Blood’’) and Zooey Deschanel meet cute and quirky as a mattress salesman and the girl who unexpectedly flops into his life. Ed Asner and John Goodman are their respective difficult dads. Extras: deleted scenes. (Vivendi Entertainment, $26.99)

STARMAN (1984)

Jeff Bridges is an extraterrestrial inhabiting the body of Karen Allen’s late husband in John Carpenter’s nicely turned, genre-exceeding sci-fi drama, which makes its Blu-ray debut. “Big Trouble in Little China,’’ the least of Carpenter’s various team-ups with Kurt Russell, also arrives in hi-def from another distributor. (Sony, $28.95)


The “Doctor Who’’ spinoff is a mash-up of alien conspiracy suspense and “Village of the Damned.’’ On a par with “Fringe’’ at its best moments, it holds interest for its coupling of lead paranormalist John Barrowman and castmate Gareth David-Lloyd. Extras: behind-the-scenes material. (BBC Video, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.99; available now) Titles are in stores Tuesday unless specified.

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