Looking to catch a film on Video on Demand or DVD or Blu-ray? Following are some of the newest options available to home theater aficionados.
'Take This Waltz'
Available on VOD beginning May 25
Actress Sarah Polley made her feature directorial debut with the achingly sad 2006 Alzheimer’s drama “Away From Her.” Her new film is funnier and sexier — albeit with an equally weighty core. Michelle Williams plays a flighty Toronto writer who develops a crush on her hunky new neighbor (Luke Kirby) that threatens to derail the comfortably childlike relationship she has with her cookbook-writing husband (Seth Rogen). As the crisis turns more serious, so does “Take This Waltz,” though Polley’s stylized dialogue and faintly fanciful tone keeps the movie from becoming too hard of a slog through a crumbling marriage. That mix of everyday problems with comic brightness can be jarring at times, but it’s also partly the point of the film, which is about how young couples deal with the revelation that life won’t always be some kooky rom-com. “Take This Waltz” opens in theaters in Los Angeles June 29.
Criterion Blu-ray, $39.95
Legendary Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami goes international with his beguiling puzzle-film starring Juliette Binoche and William Shimell as a couple — possibly married, possibly strangers, possibly just actors in a movie — who spend a day walking around Tuscany, having an ever-shifting conversation about their ever-shifting relationship. “Certified Copy” will baffle those looking for explanations (or plot), but it should enchant those looking to watch attractive actors in a gorgeous locale, sharing powerful and playful moments. Criterion’s DVD and Blu-ray edition include an Italian documentary about the film and interviews with Kiarostami, Binoche and Shimell.
'The Secret World of Arrietty'
Walt Disney, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99
Japan’s animation masters Studio Ghibli do a typically superb job of adapting Mary Norton’s classic children’s novel “The Borrowers,” about a sickly boy who visits his aunt in the country and discovers a family of miniature people living in the house’s walls and floorboards. Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi captures the sense of wonder and white-knuckle suspense in Norton’s book, but mainly he conveys the sense of proportion, always making sure the viewer knows just how tiny these “borrowers” are as they fight to survive. The DVD and Blu-ray don’t have much in the way of special features, aside from a look at the original storyboards, a music video and some Japanese promotional materials. However, Ghibli fans will be pleased to know that Disney is releasing two more of the studio’s classics on Blu-ray this week: Hayao Miyazaki’s 1986 aerial adventure “Castle in the Sky,” and Yoshifumi Kondo’s beautiful 1995 teen romance “Whisper of the Heart.” Available on VOD beginning today.
'The Woman in Black'
Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99
Susan Hill’s 1983 gothic horror classic has been developed previously into a long-running stage play and an acclaimed British TV movie, each of which took its own liberties with Hill’s story, about a melancholy lawyer who stumbles into a mystery involving a ghostly figure and dead children. Director James Watkins and screenwriter Jane Goldman take a similarly free hand with their Hammer Films version, which stars Daniel Radcliffe as the solicitor who’s trying to figure out why he’s being plagued by a dark apparition. The film isn’t fully faithful to Hill’s plot, but it gets the book’s spirit right, working some classic ghost-story scares into an evocative sketch of a world where the living envy the dead. The DVD and Blu-ray add two short featurettes and a chummy Watkins/Goldman commentary. Available on VOD beginning today.
— Noel Murray
Photo: Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen in "Take This Waltz." Credit: Magnolia Pictures.