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DVDs Nuts!

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Ajami

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It's such a shame when a marketing company does a disservice to a great film, as Ajami's campaign has done here. Proclaiming this Oscar-nominated film by co-writers and directors Scandar Copti (an Arab) and Yaron Shani (a Jew) akin to Paul Haggis' hack-tastic Crash, they trivialize a gritty, gripping, labyrinthine story of the tribal collisions in the titular area of Jaffa in Israel – a melting pot boiling over with racial tension and territorial violence. Broken into distinct chapters, Ajami presents a knowing vision of present-day Israel as nothing short of a boondoggle, despite America's rose-colored image of the country. With Israel backed into a corner over Facebook photo scandals, corruption charges and flotilla shoot-ups, Ajami comes at just the right time to tell us how it really is, and how it should be. (available now)

Special Features: Deleted scenes, making-of featurette, trailer

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City Island

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 Andy Garcia has never been better than he is in this sadly discarded slice of New York life written and directed by former Nicholl fellow Raymond De Felitta. Garcia stars as a blue-collar prison guard who discovers that one of his inmates is actually the son he walked out on in his teen years. When he brings the convict home (played with astounding charisma by Steven Strait that suggests Eric Bana), the secrets and lies that he and his embattled family have been keeping – his daughter's a stripper, his son's a "feeder" and his wife's on the brink of infidelity – come spilling out. As dramatic as that all sounds, De Felitta's nimble pacing and smart writing keep things light, funny and totally absorbing. (available now)

Special Features: Audio commentary, deleted scenes, featurette

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Monamour

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 OK, honestly, this is pretty much porn. But when you're dealing with director Tinto Brass, the pervy Italian who foisted Caligula upon the world in the 1970s, it's never just porn. This outrageously erotic tale focuses on a neglected housewife who makes a cuckold of her husband, only to find that it brings them closer together and enables her own sexual freedom. Or something like that. Brass makes even the lush and gorgeous city of Mantua seem tacky and cheap, employing the Palazzo del Te's wondrous frescos as set dec for his lusty, busty lead. What's brilliant, however, is the ridiculous making-of featurette that consists of "Maestro" Brass opining on his "art" while a crew member attempts to make his male lead's, um, member appear more "purple" around the edges. Genius! (available Aug. 31)

Special Features: Making-of featurette

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