Johnny Depp's latest adventure as Capt. Jack Sparrow leads these movies that are new to home video this week.
"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (Disney/Blu-ray, 2011, PG-13, two discs, $39.99). Although it is still somewhat lumbering, overblown and way too long, this fourth film in the franchise is a definite improvement over Episodes 2 and 3, bringing aboard Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane and a school of duplicitous mermaids.
They are all in pursuit of the Fountain of Youth, and it seems to have invigorated the series. Depp could be reined in but he gets some laughs and has chemistry with Cruz. In fact, the entire film could be much more enjoyable if it were dialed down a bit — but it was a moneymaking behemoth, so what do I know?
Extras: widescreen, Blu-ray and DVD versions, audio commentary, featurette, bloopers, LEGO shorts (also five-disc set with 3-D, Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions, and more bonus features; on single-disc DVD Nov. 15)
"Page One: Inside the New York Times" (Magnolia, 2011; R for language; $26.98). Very good documentary look at journalism and specifically the title newspaper in this age of electronic meltdown. The film's access to the Times newsroom and also to the lives of those who run it is unprecedented and fascinating, which builds to something of a cautionary tale.
Extras: widescreen, deleted scenes, featurettes
"Monte Carlo" (Fox/Blu-ray, 2011, PG, two discs, $39.99). After high school graduation Selena Gomez and two girlfriends (Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy) head to Paris but soon abandon the tour. Gomez is mistaken for a princess and then they're off to Monte Carlo. Teen/tween comic fantasy is harmless for the target age group but dull for adults and overlong.
Extras: widescreen, Blu-ray and digital versions, deleted scenes, featurettes, trailer (also on single-disc DVD, $29.98).
"Light in the Piazza" (Warner Archive, 1962, $19.95). When Italian dreamboat George Hamilton falls for a young American (Yvette Mimieux), her mother and father (Olivia de Havilland, Barry Sullivan) are divided over whether to reveal the girl's mental disability. And can de Havilland rebuff the overtures of Hamilton's dashing father, Rossano Brazzi? Sweet, charming, romantic soap opera adapted from the popular novel is wonderfully acted and lushly photographed on location in Italy.
Extras: widescreen, trailer (available at www.Warner Archive.com)
"The Madwoman of Chaillot" (Warner Archive, 1969, $19.95). Katharine Hepburn is the title character in this talky, dull adaptation of the satirical play by Jean Giraudoux, but fans of those among the international all-star supporting cast may want to take a look — Charles Boyer, Claude Dauphin, Edith Evans, John Gavin, Paul Henreid, Giulietta Masina, Richard Chamberlain, Yul Brynner and Danny Kaye, among others.
Extras: widescreen (available at www.WarnerArchive.com)
"Attack on Leningrad" (eOne/Blu-ray, 2009; R for violence; $29.98). In Leningrad during the Nazi siege of 1941, Mira Sorvino misses her chance to be evacuated with other foreign journalists, so she falls in with a cynical female cop and a pair of children as they attempt to survive with a band of resistance fighters. So-so, cliché-ridden wartime melodrama, co-starring Gabriel Byrne.
Extras: widescreen, featurettes, trailers
"I Clowns (The Clowns)" (RaroVideo/Blu-ray, 1970, $39.98). Federico Fellini's made-for-Italian-TV semi-documentary about clowns gets a Blu-ray upgrade. The film focuses on a variety of (at the time) famous personalities performing with European circuses and the result is touching, funny, poetic and very personal, reflecting Fellini's lifelong love of circuses.
Extras: full frame, in Italian with English subtitles, featurette, 1953 short film by Fellini; 50-page booklet (with drawings by Fellini)Comment on this story
"More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead" (MPE, 2011, $19.95). At first glance I thought this documentary was about George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead," the iconic trendsetting 1968 zombiefest. That's a touchstone but this is actually a chronicle of a 1985 sequel that did not involve Romero, "Return of the Living Dead," which spawned several of its own sequels and built a devoted cult following. Of interest primarily to fans of the films and students of independent filmmaking. (And with nearly as many exploitative R-rated elements as the "Dead" films.)
Extras: widescreen, deleted scenes, featurettes, music videos, trailers