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Playing an agent of a very different sort

Tribeca Film Festival

With “Trust Me” (2014), writer-director Clark Gregg reminds us that he’s got a career outside of playing S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in what can seem like a hundred interlocking Marvel productions a year. Unfortunately, he’s done better than this little-seen inside-showbiz indie about a luckless agent for child actors. (It’s more gradually darkening drama than satirical comedy, really, never mind the sunny DVD art.) Gregg’s Howard Holloway is suffering through one more lousy day of producer shaftings and client poachings when he meets Lydia (Saxon Sharbino), a talented teen with a real shot at a “Twilight”-type franchise. Howard talks her into letting him steer through all the sharks she’s encountering: a scheming rival agent (Sam Rockwell, star of Gregg’s directorial debut, “Choke”), a slick producer (Felicity Huffman, Gregg’s fellow Mamet troupe alum), maybe even her own roughneck dad (Paul Sparks). Despite Gregg’s sitcom background from “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” much of the comedy feels forced, whether it’s Howard fighting with a client’s “mom-itor” (Molly Shannon) or nervously flirting with his sassy neighbor (Amanda Peet). Far stronger is a straight scene with Howard, a former child actor himself, skillfully coaching Lydia. But you can sense Gregg searching for the tone he’s after. One result is that we’re apprehensively poised for transgressions that apparently never cross the characters’ minds, or Gregg’s. It’s funny — in “Choke,” Gregg threw together sex addiction, con artistry, and even a Colonial Williamsburg backdrop in a wild mix that made you wonder why he wasn’t directing full-time. Here, you’re left hoping that things mesh better next time. (Anchor Bay, $22.98)

TELEVISION

WELCOME BACK, KOTTER:

THE COMPLETE SERIES (1975-79)

Sorry, nostalgists, this one doesn’t come boxed with a reproduction of Ideal’s vintage, Monopoly-rivaling Up Your Nose With a Rubber Hose Game. (Ah, fads.) But this is your first opportunity to catch all four seasons of Sweathogs tomfoolery collected in a single set. Extras are modest — original screen tests with John Travolta, Gabe Kaplan, and castmates, plus a featurette — but maybe you can enhance the viewing with some DIY pop-up trivia. Quick — “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease” are to Vinnie Barbarino as “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives” is to. . . ? (Shout! Factory, $129.99)

TELEVISION

THE TWILIGHT ZONE: THE COMPLETE ’80s SERIES (1985-89)

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Some probably dismiss this revival — if they remember it at all — as another ill-advised attempt at recapturing the old Serling magic. But the show delivered its share of freaky thrills, starting with Bruce Willis dueling with his own, antagonistic alter ego in the Harlan Ellison-scripted debut segment “Shatterday.” Another, quieter standout is the episode-two segment “Wordplay,” directed by Wes Craven and featuring Robert Klein as a man who finds his grasp of even fundamental language suddenly deserting him. Other faces and contributors to watch for: Frances McDormand, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and Stephen King. (Image, $59.98)

Titles are in stores Tuesday. Tom Russo can be reached at trusso2222@gmail.com.
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