New video: ‘Transit’ is another provocative thriller from director Christian Petzold

Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski in "Transit."
(Music Box Films)

New on Blu-ray

“Transit” (Music Box DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95; also available on VOD)

German director Christian Petzold has made some of the more gripping dramas of the last decade: films like “Jerichow” and “Phoenix,” which weave the elements of classic Hitchcockian thrillers into subtle studies of social conflict. His new movie is one of his most provocative. Based on Anna Seghers’ 1942 novel — which was set in Marseille, France, among refugees desperately waiting for the paperwork that would allow them to flee the Nazi occupation — Petzold’s “Transit” takes place in the present-day, but keeps Seghers’ plot and characters almost exactly as it is. The movie could be read as an alternate history piece, or as a chilling depiction of a modern world sliding into authoritarianism. Mostly, it’s another tense and absorbing Petzold picture, about people in dire situations, who develop relationships with each other based less on warm feelings than on raw need.

[Special features: Multiple interviews]



“Martin Clunes’ Islands of America” (available June 24 on Acorn TV)

The latest entry in English actor Clunes’ travelogue series heads to the United States, for a four-part trip that journeys through Hawaii, Alaska, Louisiana and the various major islands scattered along the East Coast — including, in a fun twist, Manhattan. The series stretches the definition of “island living,” venturing beyond sandy beaches and lavish resorts to explore all manner of natural wonders and cultural diversity, defying easy categorization.

TV set of the week

“Manhunt: Season One” (Acorn DVD, $34.99; Blu-ray, $34.99)

One of the most-watched British TV series of 2019, the three-parter is based on a true story: a 2004 homicide that led police to discover a pattern within a series of seemingly unrelated crimes, and then to embark on a time-sensitive hunt for a possible serial killer. Martin Clunes plays DCI Colin Sutton, who pushes his team to follow even the skimpiest leads, so they can find their suspect and build a case before he kills again. The tightly constructed procedural — roughly the length of a feature film — is also keenly attuned to the politics of modern policing, where managing resources and placating the press are as much a part of the job as finding clues.

[Special features: Interviews with Clunes]

From the archives

“War and Peace (1966)” (Criterion DVD, $39.95; Blu-ray, $49.95)

The 1966 Soviet adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel — directed by Sergei Bondarchuk — was in production for six years and drew on the full resources of the government to present one of the most complete and spectacular dramatizations of the book ever attempted. The result was an international hit, which did well even in the United States, where a dubbed and abridged version won an Oscar. But a lot of American cinephiles have never had the chance to see this adaptation the way it was intended: fully restored, in four feature-length parts, in Russian. The Criterion Collection edition is one of the major home video releases of the year, properly capturing and contextualizing an epic unlike any other, with battle scenes and ballroom scenes teeming with extras, filmed with astonishing visual flair.

[Special features: New interviews and vintage documentaries]

Three more to see

“Cinderella: The Signature Collection” (Walt Disney DVD/Blu-ray, $24.95; also available on VOD); “Dumbo (2019)” (Walt Disney DVD, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99; also available on VOD); “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” (Criterion DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95)