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New releases: 'Cloud Atlas' can amaze and befuddle

MoviesEntertainmentSightseers (movie)Cloud Atlas (movie)Tom TykwerHalle BerryDown Terrace (movie)

'Cloud Atlas'

Warner Bros., $28.98; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

Directors Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer do something daring with their adaptation of David Mitchell's bestseller "Cloud Atlas" — the same core cast of Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent and Susan Sarandon (among others) appears in multiple stories of romance and defiance, spanning from the 19th century to the distant future, all cut together into what amounts to a nearly three-hour montage. The movie's theme of rebirth is tritely New Age-y, and having the actors take on different roles proves to be a gross miscalculation — in part because it forces the audience to play "Where's Waldo?" in each story line, and in part because none of the leads are the right choice for every part they play. Yet "Cloud Atlas" is a master class in movie construction, with the filmmakers keeping multiple plates spinning, reaching strong crescendos by cross-cutting action sequences between timelines. There's a rhythm to the film that's undeniable, even if the viewer is sometimes cringing at the melody, the words or the performers. The DVD and Blu-ray add extensive featurettes.

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'Jubal'/'3:10 to Yuma'

Criterion, $19.95; Blu-ray, $29.95/ Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95

Delmer Daves isn't as identified with the movie western's 1950s golden age as John Ford, Anthony Mann or Budd Boetticher, but Daves helmed some of the most mature cowboy pictures of the era, combining gripping action with intense psychological realism. Two of Daves' collaborations with actor Glenn Ford are now available on DVD and Blu-ray as part of the prestigious Criterion Collection. In 1956's "Jubal," Ford plays a roving ranch hand who gets into trouble when he takes a job with a friendly rancher (Ernest Borgnine) with a jealous sidekick (Rod Steiger) and a lusty wife (Valerie French); in 1957's "3:10 to Yuma," Ford's a criminal awaiting a prison transfer while trying to outfox his captor, played by Van Heflin. The Criterion "Jubal" contains no special features, while "3:10 to Yuma" offers interviews with Elmore Leonard (who wrote the original story) and Ford's son. Both films have been given clean new transfers, which suits their crisp images and their compact stories of men on the edge.

'Sightseers'

Available on VOD beginning Monday

British indie filmmaker Ben Wheatley's first two features, "Down Terrace" and "Kill List," are alternately funny and shocking, plunging into the ancient, primal darkness at the heart of Olde England. Wheatley's new film, "Sightseers," is also unexpected and pointed — at least for a while. Alice Lowe plays a dowdy working-class spinster who abandons her nagging mother to go on a caravanning holiday with her new boyfriend, played by Steve Oram. Then their trip takes a weird, violent turn, and as the couple encounters other vacationers — some loutish, some snobby — Wheatley explores class and gender conflicts. But his themes are all over the map, and unlike Wheatley's previous films "Sightseers" is more overtly a comedy, which means the characters and situations are broader. The film is still likely to be another Wheatley cult favorite, but it often lives down to what his critics accuse him of: It's flippantly cruel, and more than a little misanthropic.

And…

Beware of Mr. Baker

Vivendi, $14.93

Crimewave

Shout! Factory Blu-ray, $26.99

A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III

Lionsgate, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99

Texas Chainsaw

Lionsgate, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

30 for 30: Survive and Advance

ESPN, $14.95

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MoviesEntertainmentSightseers (movie)Cloud Atlas (movie)Tom TykwerHalle BerryDown Terrace (movie)
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