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Movies

DVD reviews: ‘Venus and Serena’

VENUS AND SERENA

Hamish Blair/Magnolia Pictures

VENUS AND SERENA

56 UP/THE UP SERIES The latest installment of this groundbreaking documentary series represents a bit of a holding pattern. The 13 British men and women who have been filmed at seven-year-intervals since they were 7 are now in the space between middle age and old age, and they want us to know they’re not dead yet. Essential viewing nonetheless. The release of the box set allows viewers new to the series to catch up. Extras: interview with director Michael Apted, subject biographies, photo gallery, filmmaker’s statement. (First Run Features, $29.95/$79.95)

THE HOUSE I LIVE IN
Eugene Jarecki (“Why We Fight”) tackles the US-led war on drugs with a mixture of fuzzy personal theorizing, historical acumen, and devastating reportorial impact. Looking out at an unstoppable prison economy that has crippled an entire underclass, the movie dares us to ask what it is (and who it is) we’re so scared of. Winner of the 2012 Sundance grand jury prize for documentary. Extras: featurettes on prison overcrowding, private prisons, jury nullification, and related issues. (Virgil Films, $14.99)

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VENUS AND SERENA Sports journalists Maiken Baird and Michelle Major made this documentary with the cooperation of the very private Williams sisters. It offers glimpses of their tennis-playing lives, including the disappointing 2011 season when Venus was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and Serena suffered a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. The result is a respectful sports profile that is largely content to stick to the surface of its subjects. Extras: deleted scenes, interview with Baird and Major. (Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98)

AIR FORCE A B-17 flies from California to Australia, via Peal Harbor, Wake Island, and Manila, seeing lots of action along the way. Howard Hawks’s 1943 contribution to the war effort isn’t the master at his best. Even so, it’s expertly done propaganda/male melodrama. John Garfield heads a solid ensemble cast. An uncredited William Faulkner contributed dialogue. Extras: dramatic short “Women at War,” World War II cartoons, audio of radio adaptation. (Warner Archive Collection, $18.95, available now)

NO A sly true-life drama about the 1988 vote that threw out Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, focusing on an ad man (Gael Garcia Bernal) who sold democracy like it was Coca-Cola. The movie has a cool intelligence that ripples up the years to where we live. A 2013 best foreign language Oscar nominee. Extras: commentary from Bernal and director Pablo Larraín, Q&A with Bernal. (Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99, available now)

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