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Movies

Oliver Stone is back, with a cannabis consultant

Salma Hayek (left) and Blake Lively in “Savages.”

Francois Duhamel/Universal Pictures

Salma Hayek (left) and Blake Lively in “Savages.”

We might be accused of missing the point of Oliver Stone’s career, but for us, the films in which the director has eased up on his grand, definitive statements — on Vietnam, Wall Street, the presidency, even Jim Morrison and the NFL — have been among his most compelling. The thematically slim “U Turn” (1997) is terrifically sleazy neo-noir, and “Natural Born Killers” (1994) is so frenetically cracked, its satirical commentary on tabloid culture is practically breezy (you know, in an unconscionably violent sort of way). “Savages” (2012) marks Stone’s return to this form, in some ways as brazenly as ever, in others with an occasional hint that he’s mellowed. Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch play, respectively, sensitive and scary-soldierly Southern California buds with a booming pot-growing business, and a communal relationship with Blake Lively that’s beyond progressive. When an encroaching Mexican operation puts Lively in danger, the boys wrestle — brutally — with icy cartel boss Salma Hayek, indelibly gonzo right hand Benicio del Toro, and corrupt fed John Travolta. Stone throttles back his familiar visual kinetics (sensing, perhaps, the new industry norm he’s helped influence?), and even the disc’s unrated cut lacks danger at points. But just when you feel like you’re watching “Traffic”-lite, Stone’s bromance busts out the graphic sex, the torture, and the trippy narrative flourishes. Annnnd . . . he’s back. Extras: Featurettes touch on genre author Don Winslow’s source novel, and how stickler-for-detail Stone brought in a “cannabis consultant” for authenticity. (Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98)

DOCUMENTARY

THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (2012)

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Meet Jackie Siegel, an Orlando trophy wife who, with her septuagenarian time-share tycoon husband, is building a 90,000-square-foot home, the largest in America. Or, more accurately, was building the place, as the 2008 financial crisis makes the Siegels’ empire crumble, fast. Hard to know how to feel about this — yes, it’s a study of the foolish rich getting what’s coming to them, but Siegel isn’t made out to be a despicable figure, just a ridiculously oblivious one. It’s like a bummer episode of “The Kardashians.” Extras: A featurette, but not enough from documentarian Lauren Greenfield, who started the project before the meltdown. (Magnolia, $26.98)

ANIMATION

BRAVE (2012)

In Pixar’s latest, animators tweak the definition of “Disney princess” with the mythological adventures of curly-haired, marriage-averse Scottish heroine Merida (Kelly Macdonald, cutie-pie likable as always). Credit the story for trying hard to be something other than you’d expect, but the magic here is more in the visuals than the narrative. A companion showcase release, “Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 2,” includes everything from “Toy Story” segments to John Lasseter’s student films.
Extras: New short (and possible deleted segment?) expanding on the film’s warring-rulers back story. Featurettes include one examining the many false starts involved in crafting a narrative departure. (Disney, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99; 3-D, $49.99)

Tom Russo can be reached at trusso2222@gmail.com.

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