Films from all over the world lead these movies that have arrived this week on DVD and Blu-ray.
“Faces of Israel: New Israeli Cinema” (Film Movement/DVD, 2004-10, not rated, four films; in Hebrew, Arabic and French with English subtitles). The four movies in this set offer stories embedded in Middle Eastern conflicts from a viewpoint that is not often seen by American audiences. Each touches on social and political issues in Israel while commenting powerfully on the repercussions of terrorist acts. In the end, however, it is the human perspective that penetrates our universal ideals.
“For My Father” follows a young Palestinian who is sent as a suicide bomber to Tel Aviv, but when his device malfunctions he’s stranded until it can be repaired, giving him time to get to know some of his intended victims. “Seven Minutes in Heaven” offers the story of one surviving victim of a suicide bombing who has severe burns and has lost all memory of the event, so she sets out to discover what happened.
In “Campfire,” a widow begins dating again while trying to worm her way into a rising West Bank settlement, but she discovers the dating pool isn’t what she had hoped for, even as some teenage boys from the settlement begin bullying one of her teenage daughters. And in the dark road-trip comedy “The Human Resources Manager,” a woman who works for Israel’s largest bakery is killed in a suicide bombing, so the title character is assigned to accompany her remains to her Romanian home and try to head off potential negative publicity.
“Beyond Borders: Stories of Interfaith Friendship” (Film Movement/DVD, 2007, three movies; in English, and in Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles). As the subtitle suggests, the three films here explore cross-cultural relationships: “Arranged” introduces us to two first-year teachers, one an Orthodox Jew and the other a devout Muslim, who become friends and discover much in common, including that both are on track for arranged marriages. “A Bottle in the Gaza Sea” is placed there by a 17-year-old French girl in Jerusalem, with a note asking why a bomb was set off at a local café, and the 20-year-old Palestinian who finds it answers via email, sparking an unlikely friendship. And “Foreign Letters,” which is also in the Film Movement box set “The Female Gaze,” tells of a 12-year-old Israeli girl in the U.S. who is having trouble acclimating until she is befriended by a Vietnamese girl who’s been there longer.
“A Letter to Momo” (GKIDS/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, English dubbed or in Japanese with English subtitles, featurette, trailers, TV ad spots). Japanese anime from the creators of “Ghost in the Shell” about a shy 11-year-old girl whose father dies and all she has to remember him by is an unfinished letter. But when the family moves from Tokyo to a small island, she discovers that a series of supernatural occurrences and a trio of imps may connect to the letter.
“Chinese Puzzle” (Cohen/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014; R for sex, nudity, language; in English and in French with English subtitles, featurettes, trailer). This is the third film in the “Spanish Apartment” comedy-drama series by writer-director Cedric Klapisch about the romantic misadventures of Xavier (Romani Duris). This time out, Wendy (Kelly Reilly) moves to Manhattan with their children, so Xavier follows. Audrey Tautou is among the ensemble cast.
“The Fluffy Movie” (Universal//Blu-ray/DVD/Digial, PG-13, theatrical and extended, unrated versions). Gabriel Iglesias -- the comedian clad in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt -- takes the stage for another concert film, this one having received big-screen exposure. Iglesias also takes his shtick, which includes sound effects and voices, a little further for some serious … well, semi-serious … introspection.
“Kundo” (Well Go/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014, not rated, in Korean with English subtitles). Set in 1859, during the last days of the Joseon Dynasty, this comedy-action film follows a pack of bandits who fancy themselves Asian Robin Hoods as they steal from the rich and give to the poor, which has its risks in a strict society of social status.
“The Search for Simon” (MVD/DVD, 2014, not rated, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, music video). Off-balanced British comedy -- very British -- follows misanthrope David (Martin Gooch, who also wrote and directed) as he searches for his brother Simon, who’s been missing for two decades. Because he was told as a child that Simon was abducted by aliens, David contacts various UFO enthusiasts for help and links up with a psychiatrist who sees him as research. Co-stars include Carol Cleveland, of Monty Python fame, and Sophie Aldred, a “Dr. Who” alum.
“Satellite” (IndiePix/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, not rated, audio commentary, featurette). This romantic fable made its festival debut in 2006 but is just now arriving on DVD. Two young lovers impetuously decide to push each other to do the things they’ve been afraid of, so they quit their jobs, sell everything they have and try to live freely without boundaries. But, of course, how long can that last before jealousies and other roadblocks crop up?
“Ballin’ at the Graveyard” (Virgil/DVD/Digital, 2014). Five players who thrive in the urban phenomenon of pickup basketball are the subjects of this documentary. “The Graveyard” is a nickname for Washington Park in Albany, New York, where these young African-American men play and bond through their love of the game.
“Mobilize” (Disinformation/DVD, 2014, not rated). Do cellphones cause cancer? What was once a punchline is a serious question in this documentary as it explores the potential long-term health effects of cellphone radiation, ranging from brain cancer to infertility. Of course, these accusations are disputed by the cellphone industry.
“Looking for Johnny” (MVD/DVD, 2014, not rated, deleted scenes, featurettes, trailer). Documentary about punk rocker Johnny Thunders, who died at age 38 after finding success with the New York Dolls and the Heartbreakers before his solo career. The film includes 40 songs, archival footage and interviews with friends and admirers.
“Life After Beth” (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014; R for language, violence, sex, nudity, drugs; deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurette). Very dark zombie farce has Beth (Aubrey Plaza) dying of a snake bite. After the funeral, her boyfriend Zach (Dane DeHaan) grieves while spending time with her parents (Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly). Soon, however, they rebuff his attempts to visit and he discovers Beth is alive again and they are hiding her. But pretty soon, a girl’s gotta eat what a girl’s gotta eat.
“The Purge: Anarchy” (Universal/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014, R for violence and language, deleted scenes, featurette). Sequel to near-future gory fantasy “The Purge” follows more hapless victims of the one night each year when crime, murder and mayhem are allowed during a 12-hour window.
“See No Evil 2” (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/HD/Video on Demand, 2014, R for violence and sex, featurettes). Gory horror sequel, a throwback to 1980s slasher flicks, with WWE wrestler Glenn “Kane” Jacobs reprising his role as serial killer Jacob Goodnight, this time taking on a group of partiers in a morgue.