Dvd releases

How ‘Moneyball’ threw us a curve

Melinda Sue Gordon/Columbia Pictures

It would be nice to see the Oscars show a little love for “Moneyball’’ (2011) beyond the anticipated nods for Brad Pitt and best adapted screenplay. After all, who would have expected to be so entertained watching a story about driven Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Pitt) drawing on statistical analysis to field a winning baseball team on a budget? Pitt’s magnetism is a given, but the movie’s overall absorbing quality is in many ways just as unlikely as the 2002 A’s going on a 20-game winning streak, a development deftly positioned as a third act. Michael Lewis, author of the nonfiction bestseller that spawned the film, conceded his own surprise in an interview with the Globe last fall. “I really didn’t think it was an obvious choice for a movie,’’ he said. “The book had scenes, it had characters, it had interesting ideas, but it was all a jumble. There wasn’t a clear movie structure.’’ Extras: In a Blu-ray featurette, Lewis further discusses “Moneyball’s’’ thematic portrait of Beane as an original thinker toiling in a group-think culture. Director Bennett Miller (“Capote’’) and screenwriters Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin also share their thoughts. Another Blu-ray segment focuses on casting Pitt, as well as Jonah Hill as his wonky right-hand man, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as stolid A’s manager Art Howe. Standard-def featurettes spend time with the real Billy Beane, and take a look at the process of re-creating on-field action for the film. (Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99)




Solid as HBO’s new flagship series is, the fingerprints of “The Sopranos’’ are all over it, from the compelling criminality to the filmographies of Steve Buscemi and series creator Terence Winter. (Heck, we’re even back in Jersey, albeit Prohibition-era Atlantic City.) Smartly, the DVD puts a bit of focus on creating the show’s uniquely memorable Boardwalk set. Buscemi gets to take a well-deserved bow in commentary and Blu-ray pop-ups, which also offer material from Winter and cast member Michael Shannon. A cast-guided tour of old New York and Chicago speakeasies isn’t Ken Burns, but it’s diverting enough. (HBO, $59.99; Blu-ray, $79.98)

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Talk about your ultimate proof that Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett never let those tropical waves distract him from the task at hand. In the series finale, he finally gets to book nemesis Wo Fat, the Chinese rogue agent he’s been hunting since the pilot. This sign-off set also comes bundled with the series’ entire run, a $429 beast significantly marked down by Amazon, etc. Not a lot of extras here - just a ’90s retrospective with James “Danno’’ MacArthur. But there’s plenty of the main attraction - the longest running crime drama in American TV history next to “Law & Order.’’ (Paramount, $54.99)




Newly retired contract killer Jason Statham gets pulled right back in when he and partner Robert De Niro are coerced into going after Clive Owen’s British special forces outfit. The marketing types might want you to think this true-ish story is an “Expendables’’-style dream teaming, but really it’s just another Statham vehicle, and a dour one at that. De Niro plays sidekick(!), disinterestedly; a barely recognizable Dominic Purcell is the guy having the real fun as a hang-loose, mutton-chopped team member. Some creative action choreography is the highlight. Extras: Deleted scenes. (Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98)