British 'Hello Ladies' trades in embarrassment and sentimentality

'Hello Ladies' and 'Da Sweet Blood of Jesus are among new releases for home viewing

Hello Ladies: The Complete Series and the Movie

HBO, $19.98

Ricky Gervais gets most of the credit for the classic British sitcoms "The Office" and "Extras," but he created them in partnership with Stephen Merchant, a lanky, awkward comedian who shares Gervais' tendency to balance comic embarrassment with twinges of sentimentality. Merchant's HBO sitcom "Hello Ladies" gets a lot of mileage out of each, following Merchant as a clumsy Englishman named Stuart who has unrealistic expectations about finding love (or at least wanton pleasure) with the sexy women he meets in Los Angeles. The eight episodes and wrap-up movie on the "Hello Ladies" DVD are funny and pointed, illustrating what happens when an ordinary guy's unearned sense of entitlement collides with the real world of grown-up romance, which requires a lot more compromise. The DVD adds deleted scenes and a featurette.

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus

Starz/Anchor Bay, $22.98; Blu-ray, $26.99

There's been a bad news/good news pattern to Spike Lee's art-horror film from the moment the project was announced. It's bad that a director of Lee's stature was reduced to using Kickstarter to raise money for this movie but good that with his fans' backing he could make exactly the picture he wanted. Lee's quasi-remake of the heavily metaphorical 1973 vampire picture "Ganja & Hess" is about a rich, jaded anthropologist who gets too close to a supernatural subculture and becomes a literal blood-sucker. At times it's a pointed, artful critique of the way the wealthy can insulate themselves from poverty and empathy. But the movie is also frequently stilted, hampered by overwritten dialogue and flat performances. It's more interesting and personal than a lot of recent Lee films, though nowhere near up to the level of his earlier masterpieces.

Ballet 422

Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Jody Lee Lipes' documentary ought to appeal even to people who aren't dance connoisseurs. Lipes spent months with New York City Ballet choreographer Justin Peck, taking a fly-on-the-wall approach as Peck developed a new, original piece. The budding artiste is a level-headed stoic who doesn't reveal much of what he's thinking, so "Ballet 422" mostly focuses on the hard physical labor of dance as the troupe repeats difficult moves over and over, with Peck making minute corrections. The film turns the act of artistic creation into a riveting vocational procedural. Lipes and Peck contribute a commentary track to the DVD and Blu-ray, which also has deleted scenes and featurettes.

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles

Cohen, $24.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Chuck Workman's Orson Welles bio-doc covers a lot of ground in its 90 minutes, recounting the long, turbulent career and private life of one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century. Frankly, the comprehensiveness of "Magician" is something of a handicap. There's so much to get into with Welles' life: the reaction to his debut "Citizen Kane," his subsequent struggles to make the movies he'd spent years planning, his secondary career as an outsized media personality and so on. Workman can't possibly do justice to it all. But it's always a pleasure to watch old Welles interviews and to see clips from his energetic, innovative movies. The DVD and Blu-ray contain a bonus interview with Welles scholar Annette Insdorf.


The Confession

Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95

Cut Bank

Lionsgate, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99

Available on VOD.

The Loft

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD Tuesday.

My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Anchor Bay, $22.98

Seventh Son

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD.

State of Siege

Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95

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