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'Citizenfour' on Edward Snowden records a gripping moment in history

'Citizenfour' on Edward Snowden records a gripping moment in history
Edward Snowden in "CitizenFour." (Radius TWC)

Citizenfour

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

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An unexpected, last-minute entry into last fall's festival circuit, Laura Poitras' documentary ended up landing on a hefty number of critics' year-end best-of lists and won the Academy Award for documentary feature. Shot mostly in Hong Kong in 2013, the film follows notorious government whistleblower Edward Snowden in the days immediately leading to and following him going public with his identity and with his information about widespread NSA wiretapping. More than just another doc about government overreach, "Citizenfour" is a gripping you-are-there record of an important moment in recent history. The DVD and Blu-ray add a bonus Poitras short film about data-gathering, plus two lengthy public interviews (one of which was moderated by journalist David Carr hours before he died).

Iris

Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Available on VOD Tuesday

Documentary filmmaking legend Albert Maysles died in March after he'd completed and released one last film: "Iris," a portrait of fashion/interior designer Iris Apfel. A colorful character reminiscent of the Beales in Maysles' 1975 classic, "Grey Gardens," Apfel has an unconventional philosophy of style and is still spry and adept in her 90s as she bops around New York City, still looking for unique pieces. The documentary tells her life story — which has involved interactions with multiple U.S. presidents and trend-setting millionaires — interspersed with the kind of scenes of everyday life for which the director was famous. The DVD and Blu-ray tack on a few deleted scenes, plus a short interview with Apfel, conducted days after Maysles' passing.

Aloha

Sony, $26.99; Blu-ray, $30.99

Available on VOD Tuesday

Cameron Crowe is such a one-of-a-kind writer and director that it's a shame he hasn't made a really good film in 15 years — not since his masterpiece, "Almost Famous." This year's troubled "Aloha" doesn't break the streak, though as always there's a bravely messy earnestness to the movie that suggests something more like a "Jerry Maguire" or "Say Anything" buried deep within the material. In telling the Hawaii-set story of a lonely ex-airman (played by Bradley Cooper), entranced by a gung-ho Air Force officer (Emma Stone), Crowe gets the fringe details right but loses the center, letting the plot dissipate into all the quirky local atmosphere. Say this for Crowe, though: He stands up for his own work in a generous package of DVD/Blu-ray featurettes that includes a commentary track and an hourlong making-of documentary.

Two Days, One Night

Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95

Belgian social realists Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne apply their usual visual immediacy and nerve-racking storytelling to an honest-to-goodness star vehicle, casting the Oscar-nominated Marion Cotillard as a former factory worker who has the weekend to persuade her colleagues to give up a bonus check so she can return to the job. "Two Days, One Night" is excellent — one of the Dardennes' most accessible combinations of gripping drama and humanist commentary — but even cinephiles who have already seen it will want to pick up Criterion's DVD/Blu-ray edition, which adds hours of interviews, along with samples/analyses of the brothers' origins in documentary filmmaking. Of particular note is a behind-the-scenes featurette that discusses in detail how the Dardennes orchestrate the complicated camera-and-microphone moves to capture these tense moments as they happen.

And…

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Big Game

Relativity, $22.98; Blu-ray, $26.99

Lila & Eve

E1/Samuel Goldwyn, $29.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

The Runner

Alchemy, $19.99; Blu-ray, $24.99

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season

Starz/Anchor Bay, $69.98; Blu-ray, $79.99

Welcome to New York

MPI, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

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