Speed freaks and spies lead new movies on Blu-ray, DVD this week

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 15 2014 5:03 p.m. MST

Chris Hemsworth, left, plays real-life 1970s Formula 1 race car driver James Hunt, and Daniel Bruhl is his fiercest competitor Niki Lauda in Ron Howard's "Rush," now on DVD and Blu-ray.

Universal Home Video

A true story of two competitive Formula 1 racecar drivers and a British spy thriller lead this week's movies on DVD and Blu-ray.

“Rush” (Universal/Blu-ray, 2013; R for sex, nudity, language, drugs, violence; two discs, $34.98; Blu-ray, DVD, digital versions; deleted scenes, featurettes). True story of hedonistic English racer James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and his fiercest rival, the thoroughly disciplined Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), is a study in contrasts with something to say about talent vs. training and the dangers of celebrity.

Hemsworth and Bruhl are both excellent and Ron Howard’s direction is exciting and highly charged. The R rating is deserved, and Hunt’s lifestyle could have been portrayed a bit more subtly, but this is no exploitative “Wolf of Wall Street.” The emphasis here is squarely on the ambitious 1970s rivalry of the protagonists, in particular after Lauda’s horrifying crash and subsequent rehabilitation, along with his determination to get back on the track. (Also on DVD, $29.98)

“Closed Circuit” (Universal/Blu-ray, 2013, R for language and brief violence, two discs, $34.98; Blu-ray, DVD, digital versions; featurette). This R rating is much softer as Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall star in a British paranoia thriller as two lawyers with a romantic past assigned to defend an alleged terrorist. But it isn’t long before they realize all is not what it seems and soon their own lives are threatened. A bit out there, with too many plot holes, but the cast, which includes Ciaran Hinds, Julia Stiles, Jim Broadbent and Riz Ahmed, sells it well. And certain aspects of the English justice system that are foreign to Americans will also be of interest. (Also on DVD, $29.98)

“A Single Shot” (Well Go/Blu-ray, 2014; R for violence, sex, nudity, language, drugs; $29.98, featurettes, trailers). Sam Rockwell stars as a down-and-out hunter who accidentally shoots a young woman, then finds a stash of cash. He unwisely tries to cover up the shooting and hide the money, leading to some backwoods killers going after him. William H. Macy and Jeffrey Wright co-star. (Also on DVD, $24.98)

“Riddick” (Universal/Blu-ray, 2013; R for violence, language, sex, nudity; two discs, $34.98; Blu-ray, DVD, digital versions; theatrical version and unrated version with alternate ending, featurettes). Third sci-fi/horror “Riddick” outing (not counting the animated “Dark Fury” entry) has Vin Diesel as the amoral title character pursued by bounty hunters on a sun-scorched planet. (Also on DVD, $29.98)

“A.C.O.D.” (Paramount/Blu-ray, 2013, R for language and sex, $39.99, Blu-ray and digital versions, featurettes, bloopers.) The acronym stands for “Adult Children of Divorce,” the title of a book written by an author/researcher (Jane Lynch) who interviewed children of divorcing parents. But at least one (Adam Scott) thought she was simply a therapist, and now the book has turned his life upside-down as his still-warring divorced parents (Catherine O’Hara, Richard Jenkins) come together for a younger son’s wedding. Amy Poehler and Jessica Alba co-star. (Also on DVD, $29.98)

“The Spectacular Now” (Lionsgate/Blu-ray, 2013; R for teen alcohol use, sex, language; $24.99, Blu-ray and digital versions, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). Serious look at teenage alcoholism, focusing on an aimless high school senior (Miles Teller) who spends most of his time intoxicated, even when a “good girl” (Shailene Woodley) starts dating him. Sad, well-intentioned teenage “Days of Wine and Roses.” (Also on DVD, $19.98)

“Plus One” (IFC, 2014, not rated, $24.98, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, cast auditions, poster gallery, trailers). Offbeat supernatural thriller about a rogue meteor crashing to Earth and somehow creating doubles of each person at a nearby wild teen party.

“Rewind This!” (Filmbuff, 2014, not rated, $24.98, audio commentary, featurettes). Documentary on the history of home video, focusing primarily on the VHS era.

“The Contradictions of Fair Hope” (Shelter Island, 2014, not rated, $24.98, featurettes). Historical documentary by S. Epatha Merkerson and Rockell Metcalf, and narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, explores the time when newly freed slaves throughout the South formed an organization to respond to poverty, focusing on one of the last remaining, the Fair Hope Benevolent Society.

“Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars” (Disinformation, 2014, not rated, $24.98, audio commentary, featurettes, short film: “Living Under Drones”). Documentary look at drone warfare and the lives it has affected in Pakistan, along with violations of international law.

“Greedy Lying B-------” (Disinformation, 2012, not rated, $19.98, featurettes). Documentary with an agenda to discredit global-warming deniers, exposing hidden agendas of oil corporations, along with bringing to the forefront three specific geographic areas impacted by changing climate.

Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." Website: www.hicksflicks.com

Email: hicks@deseretnews.com

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