All Is Lost. color. 106+ min. Lionsgate. 2013. DVD UPC 031398185208. $26.98; Blu-ray UPC 031398185291. $29.99. Rated: PG-13.
The classic man-vs.-nature theme gets an exhaustive exploration in J.C. Chandor’s (Margin Call) sophomore film. An aging Robert Redford puts his fraying features to good use as a sailor trying to survive after his boat is damaged far out at sea. Desperation doesn’t come much quieter in an acting turn with scarcely any dialog, just an iconic face registering a gathering loss of hope not long after showing gratitude for a gentle rain washing over it. This harrowing journey is for viewers who like realism in their adventure. [Trailers, LJ 1/14.]
Mr. Nobody. color. 155+ min. Magnolia Home Entertainment. 2009. DVD UPC 876964006361. $26.98; Blu-ray UPC 876964006378. $29.98. Rated: R.
On his death bed, 118-year-old Nemo Nobody (newly baptized Academy Award winner Jared Leto)—the last mortal still living on a future Earth—recounts the lives he may have led beginning with a pivotal childhood moment when he had to choose between his divorcing parents. Belgian writer-director Jaco van Dormael (Toto the Hero) offers dazzlingly divergent scenarios. Inexplicably unreleased in the United States for five years, this narrative and visual feast challenges but does not confound with its nonlinear storytelling, while belying comfy sf/fantasy categorization.
Nebraska. b/w. 114+ min. Paramount Home Entertainment. 2013. DVD UPC 097363457442. $29.99; 2-disc DVD/Blu-ray UPC. $39.99. Rated: R.
Septuagenarian actor Bruce Dern runs with a career-capping performance as Woody Grant, an out-of-touch senior who’s determined to claim the million-dollar sweepstakes prize he thinks he won. Alexander Payne (Sideways; The Descendants) nicely uses black-and-white cinematography to capture a sense of rustic place in this funny and moving quest for self-respect. Will Forte shows surprising depth as Woody’s son, and June Squibb is a hoot as the old guy’s sharp-tongued wife. A gem worthy of its multiple Oscar nods.
A Perfect Man. color. 94+ min. IFC Films, dist. by MPI Media Group. 2013. DVD ISBN 9780788617560. $24.98.
A husband (Liev Schreiber) with a wandering eye strays once too often for his long-suffering wife (Jeanne Tripplehorn), who finally dumps him only to impersonate another woman over the phone to get at the root of his cheating. Kees Van Oostrum’s genre-bending mixture of drama and romantic comedy flirts with silliness—such as when the remorseful womanizer eats cheese balls while moping around his fancy condo—but excels at thwarting expectations with playful wit. For viewers who want a break from formulaic dramedies.
Rififi. 2 discs. b/w. 118+ min. In French w/English subtitles. 1955. DVD/Blu-ray ISBN 9781604657876.
Thief. 2 discs. color. 124+ min. 1981. DVD/Blu-ray ISBN 9781604658040. Rated: R. [Trailers, LJ 12/13.]
ea. vol: Criterion Collection. $39.95.
Ex-cons out for one final score rise above that heist-film cliché in this pair of movies. Jules Dassin’s Rififi focuses more on methodology, highlighted by a half-hour, dialog-free safe-cracking scene. In his feature-film debut, Michael Mann (Manhunter; Heat) aims Thief toward character study, with a go-it-alone robber (James Caan) obsessed with having an ideal family life reluctantly financed by one big job for Da Man. Fatalistic endings wrap up both crime thrillers, offering the sort of trappings genre fans will appreciate.