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Before Nolan reinvented Batman

Zeitgeist Films

With “The Dark Knight Rises” arriving on disc last week, we’ve had a few days to further study Christopher Nolan’s latest auteur flourishes. Now, in a welcome piggyback release, the cineastes at Criterion rewind to Nolan’s debut, “Following” (1999), a 16mm black-and-white feature shot on a student-film-society budget (read: somewhat less than Batman-in-IMAX money). The 70-minute beginner’s noir features Jeremy Theobald as an on-the-dole voyeur who randomly decides to tail a gentleman burglar (Alex Haw), and is soon being led down some awfully dicey paths. (Hard to figure why this was the only screen outing for Haw, who’s like Rupert Everett with an edge.) Much of the interest lies in watching Nolan develop the non-linear techniques and narrative sleight-of-hand he’d later employ so masterfully in “Memento” and “Inception.” Still, he doesn’t address these aspects of the film in a new half-hour interview. Instead, he keeps the talk more technical, discussing how habits he developed out of necessity on “Following” have helped him on the Batman movies and elsewhere. (Be sure to keep an eye out for the Batman logo in one scene. Coincidence, or aspiration laid bare?) As with “Memento,” the disc also offers viewers an opportunity to watch a chronological edit of the film. And for an even more stripped-down look at Nolan’s vision, there’s “Doodlebug” (1997), a three-minute short that manages some trippy existential effects on a budget that makes “Following” look extravagant. (Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95)



Jeremy Renner takes over for Matt Damon in the sturdy conspiracy series, starring as another scientifically enhanced assassin who becomes a target thanks to events triggered by Damon’s Jason Bourne. The filmmakers’ creative (or desperate?) idea is to deliver an alternate view of the original trilogy’s developments, a move that works better than you’d guess. Some overdone early exposition treats all this as being more of a Saga to Remember than it actually is — ever the way with “Bourne” — but Renner keeps things moving. Extras: Featurettes; commentary by series writer-turned-director Tony Gilroy, albeit not on a widely publicized diss from Damon. (Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98)





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Remind yourself why the iconic espionage franchise made such an enduring impression as the exploits of Peter Graves, Martin Landau, Barbara “Cinnamon” Bain, and colleagues are presented in full. An episode such as season 3’s “The Mercenaries” gives the whole hindsight view: the goofiness of the team tangling with African militia commander Pernell Roberts (!), yes, but also the thrill of gadget guy Greg Morris emptying a gold vault without ever touching the lock. The 56-disc set is packaged, naturally, in dynamite-theme casing. (Light the fuse at your peril.) Includes previously unaired cast interviews, as well as Graves’s ’80s revival. (Paramount, $359)

Tom Russo can be reached at