The well-publicized documentary “Bully” has finally made its way to home video, leading these new movies that range from science fiction to a Chinese adaptation of a familiar French story.
“Bully” (Weinstein/Anchor Bay, 2012, PG-13, $24.99, deleted scenes, featurettes). Startling documentary by Lee Hirsch packs a punch but never really offers any resolution as it examines bullying in schools, primarily focusing on a number of kids and their families in several states that have been undone by what is described here as a crisis.
Particularly moving are the stories of two victims that took their own lives as a direct result of bullying, and particularly inflammatory are the teachers and administrators that are either clueless or in denial. But the film is a bit frustrating as it leaves us feeling there may be no real solution to the problem. (Also on Blu-ray, $29.99)
“Robot & Frank” (Sony, 2012, PG-13, $30.99, audio commentary, poster gallery). In the near future an aging retired cat burglar (Frank Langella in a wonderful performance) has adult children who worry about his living alone, so his son gets him a robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) to help improve his physical and psychological well-being. Low-key, whimsical and amusing, a sweet film that provides a wonderful late-in-life showcase for Langella. Susan Sarandon, James Marsden and Liv Tyler co-star.
“Dangerous Liaisons” (Well Go, 2012, not rated, $24.98, in Mandarin with English subtitles, featurettes, trailer). Here’s a new twist on the eponymous 18th century French novel that has been the basis for at least six films now. Set against the backdrop of 1930s Shanghai, it tells the familiar story of a high society schemer (Cecelia Cheung) who recruits an old friend (Jang Dong-Gun) to help her get revenge on a lover that humiliated her. And they do so by wreaking havoc on several people’s lives. The most recognizable actor for western audiences is Zhang Ziyi. (Also on Blu-ray, $29.98)
“The Thieves” (Well Go, 2012, not rated, $24.98, in Korean and Cantonese, with English subtitles, featurettes, trailer). This Korean heist flick owes something to “Ocean’s Eleven” and perhaps “The Pink Panther” with its mix of thrills and comedy. And the attractive cast helps put over the idea that two gangs of thieves would join forces for the theft of a 318-caret diamond in a casino only to double- and triple-cross each other. Heavily plotted, occasionally a bit confusing and way too long, this lighthearted caper nonetheless overcomes those obstacles to provide a lot of fun. (Also on Blu-ray, $29.98)
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (Summit, 2012, PG-13, $29.95, DVD and digital versions, deleted scenes, unedited scenes, audio commentaries, featurette). Here’s another example of a PG-13 movie that shows high schoolers wallowing in sex, drugs and alcohol, totally inappropriate for young teens to see, and which may also make parents uncomfortable. Story of a mentally fragile 15-year-old freshman (Logan Lerman) befriended by two free-spirited seniors (Emma Watson, Ezra Miller) is well-acted but wrongheaded. (Originally rated R; the PG-13 was awarded on appeal.) (Also on Blu-ray, $39.99)
“Silent Hill: Revelation” (Universal/Blu-ray, 2012; R for violence, language, nudity; two discs, $34.98; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; featurette). Sequel to “Silent Hill” is a gory continuation of the story involving members of a family at the mercy of a cult in an alternate dimension. Based on a video game. (Also on 3D Blu-ray combo, $49.98, and DVD, $29.98)
“The Man With the Iron Fists” (Universal/Blu-ray, 2012; R for violence, sex, language, drugs; two discs, $34.98; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; theatrical and unrated/extended versions, deleted scenes, featurettes). Ridiculous wild-eyed mix of vintage Western and kung fu elements from hip-hop artist RZA is an over-the-top bloody mess, albeit with phony digital blood. “Presented” by Quentin Tarantino and featuring, believe it or not, Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu! (Also on DVD, $29.98)Comment on this story
“Kill for Me” (Sony, 2012; R for violence, language, sex; $22.99, featurette). “Strangers on a Train” meets “Single White Female” in a college dorm in this been-there-done-that thriller. Katie Cassidy, whose abusive boyfriend is stalking her, becomes roomies with Tracy Spiridakos, who claims her father abused her. You can guess the rest.
“Lake Placid: The Final Chapter” (Sony, 2012; R for violence, language, sex, nudity; $22.99). Cheapjack Syfy cable movie is the fourth film in the gory franchise about giant crocodiles eating tourists and poachers, “Jaws”-style. This time the area has been fenced off but wouldn’t you know it, a busload of school kids accidentally finds its way in just in time for dinner.