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DVD releases

‘Hitchcock’ presents director behind scenes

Anthony Hopkins stars as Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock.

Suzanne Tenner/Fox Searchlight via AP

Anthony Hopkins stars as Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock.

“Hitchcock” (2012) seems to have been met with a shrug during its theatrical release largely because of Anthony Hopkins’s heightened portrayal of the Master of Suspense — entertaining enough to us, but hokum worthy of a TV movie to some. (Actually, HBO’s near-simultaneous Hitchcock-Tippi Hedren portrait “The Girl” garnered greater critical respect. Look for that DVD on March 19.) Still, however broad the Hopkins film can be, there’s a lot that’s worthwhile in the way it adapts author Stephen Rebello’s well-regarded nonfiction tome “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho.” This is a look at a Hollywood classic at a stage when it was simply the next project for everyone involved, albeit a risky one. The core of the story involves Hitchcock’s relationship with his wife and ghost collaborator, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), and the way that the director’s complicated dealings with Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) and other leading ladies weighed on their marriage. But there’s interest even in a scene as simple as the Hitchcocks batting around casting possibilities while puttering in their LA garden. For Hitch and Alma, this isn’t cinema history in the making. For them, it’s a dicey venture that you suppose really could have had some studio suit snarking, as one does here, “Thank God we have ‘Cinderfella’ for the holidays.” Extras: Rebello gives his endorsement by sitting down for commentary with director Sacha Gervasi (“Anvil”). A Blu-ray featurette covers Hopkins’s transformation. (Fox, Blu-ray/DVD combo, $39.99)

“Life of Pi.”

“Life of Pi.”

DRAMA/ADVENTURE

LIFE OF PI (2012)

Oscar winner Ang Lee’s visual feast loses less than you might expect on a smaller screen, as the tale of an Indian boy (Suraj Sharma, below) stranded at sea with a Bengal tiger looks magical no matter how it’s presented. But what home viewings might point up a bit more is the solid work done by Sharma and Irrfan Khan (“The Namesake”), as young Pi’s adult self. They take us on an emotional journey that makes us thoroughly willing to forgive a certain amount of dramatic meandering, plus a logic issue or two. Extras: Hour-long Blu-ray production documentary; additional featurettes. (Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99; 3-D, $49.99)

THRILLER

MINISTRY OF FEAR (1944)

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Recall Fritz Lang’s own mastery of suspense this week, as Criterion gives hi-def treatment to this brisk Graham Greene adaptation. Ray Milland plays a just-released asylum patient whose idle stopover en route to London makes him the target of a Nazi conspiracy. Besides the crackling intrigue, there’s some great lighting — don’t miss the séance scene — and fascinating glimpses of Londoners adapting to the Blitz. Meanwhile, for a different sort of Criterion-curated chill, check out the Blu-ray debut of “The Blob.” Extras: A Lang scholar discusses the propagandist film as a bit of career self-preservation for the German film industry expat. (Criterion, $19.95; Blu-ray, $29.95)

Titles are in stores Tuesday
unless specified.

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