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New on video: ‘In the Fade’ is a jittery melodrama with political overtones

Diane Kruger in a scene from the movie "In the Fade."
(Gordon Photographie / Magnolia Pictures)

New on Blu-ray

“In the Fade” (Magnolia DVD, $26.97; Blu-ray, $29.97; also available on VOD)

Diane Kruger is riveting in writer-director Fatih Akin’s jittery melodrama “In the Fade,” playing a German woman who endures the tragedy of losing her husband and son in a terrorist attack, then suffers through a trial where her memory, her lifestyle and even her marriage to a Kurdish ex-con are scrutinized. Like Akin’s superb earlier films “Head-On” and “The Edge of Heaven,” “In the Fade” tells an involving story with complex characters, set in a Germany where entrenched immigrant communities and surging nationalist movements have created a pervasive atmosphere of paranoia and anger. The pressure builds steadily over the first two-thirds of the picture, culminating in a third act as intense as any thriller.

Special features: Interviews with Akin and Kruger

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VOD

“Duck Butter” (available Tuesday)

Shot quickly and cheaply, with a lot of improvisation, the romantic drama “Duck Butter” is one of the best examples of how the intimate, off-the-cuff realism of the indie movement once called “mumblecore” has matured over the past decade. Alia Shawkat (who also co-wrote the film with director Miguel Arteta) stars as Naima, a struggling actress who falls for Spanish singer Sergio (Laia Costa), and enlists her in an experiment in radical honesty. The two plan to stay awake for 24 hours, having sex once an hour, while being totally open with each other. Reality gradually complicates their idyll, as “Duck Butter” sensitively explores the myriad tiny ways that people both do and don’t connect.

TV set of the week

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“Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Series” (Paramount Blu-ray, $44.99) (available June 5)


Between 2005 and 2008, Nickelodeon aired 61 episodes of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” a sweeping martial arts saga inspired equally by Hong Kong action pictures, Japanese animation, epic fantasy novels and superhero comics. The project became a franchise, producing merchandise aplenty, as well as a live-action movie and the recent spinoff “The Legend of Korra.” But the original series remains its own self-contained achievement — and one that’s highly impressive, given that it was made for kids. The story of a super-powered adolescent monk tasked to bring peace to a world divided into four elemental kingdoms, “Avatar” takes the classic coming-of-age hero’s quest and invests it with wit, imagination and style.

Special features: Extensive behind-the-scenes featurettes and commentary tracks on select episodes

From the archives

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“Thank God It’s Friday: 40th Anniversary Edition” (Mill Creek Blu-ray, $14.98)

Many movies tried to cash in on the disco craze in the wake of “Saturday Night Fever,” and most of them turned out lousy. The 1978 quasi-musical “Thank God It’s Friday” is an exception. A hybrid of “American Graffiti” and classic Hollywood showbiz tales, the film is set during one night at an L.A. dance club, following a handful of intertwined characters, including a sleazy owner played by Jeff Goldblum, an aspiring singer played by Donna Summer, and a disco novice played Debra Winger. Best-known for featuring the Oscar-winning song “Last Dance,” “Thank God It’s Friday” is undeniably dated, but at its best, it’s as pure and thrilling as Summer’s signature anthem.

Special features: None

Three more to see

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“The Insult” (Cohen DVD, $25.99; Blu-ray, $30.99; also available on VOD); “Peter Rabbit” (Sony DVD, $30.99; Blu-ray, $34.99; 4K, $45.99; also available on VOD); “Winchester” (Lionsgate DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99; also available on VOD)

calendar@latimes.com


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