Stranger than fiction

Call them late to the noir-reissue game, but MGM comes out packin’ heat with a quartet of titles from A-listers like Fritz Lang (The Woman in the Window) and Orson Welles (The Stranger). Edward G. Robinson stars in three of them, which is rarely a bad sign when it comes to hard-boiled action.

La Jetée / Sans Soleil (Criterion): Experimental filmmaker Chris Marker’s vision is almost entirely absent from video shelves, with one glaring exception: 12 Monkeys, the brilliant Terry Gilliam fantasy inspired by Marker’s short La Jetée. The original tells its story poetically, with successions of still B&W images and lots of elliptical voiceover. It’s worth seeing multiple times.

Extras Season 2 (HBO): More exquisitely uncomfortable comedy from The Office honcho Ricky Gervais. When is this guy going to stop playing at bit parts and write an actual movie?

Frankie & Annette: MGM Movie Legends Collection (MGM): Square and dated as they may be, these seven beach-blanket fiestas occupied a big chunk of the pop consciousness in their day. For kitsch-seekers, getting them all for 30 bucks (on sale) is probably worth it.

ON BLU-RAY: The Untouchables (Paramount): Standing out from the pack of middling catalog material nudging its way onto high-def, Brian De Palma’s retro-mob epic is actually gorgeous enough to deserve the special treatment. Not to mention the Ennio Morricone score, which makes us grateful that high-def formats boast better sound reproduction as well.

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