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New on DVD: “Rio” and “Cold Weather” — August 2, 2011


Fun in the sun and crime under the clouds: In Rio, a rare blue Macaw goes on an unasked-for adventure in Brazil, while in the Portland-set Cold Weather, an unusual detective stumbles his way through an investigation; these and other films of great (My Dog Tulip), middling (Exporting Raymond, A Screaming Man), and minor (Stake Land, Soul Surfer) interest are coming this week to Blu-ray and DVD.

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Jesse
Eisenberg voices the star bird of this flashy animated tale about a
rare blue Macaw who’s sent to Brazil in order to mate (willingly or not),
but before he can make any headway with his feathery would-be soul mate
(Anne Hathaway), the two are kidnapped by smugglers; hijinks and
musical numbers ensue. “Like a mother bird feeding its young,” our
highly unimpressed critic wrote, “Rio swallows everything sappy
and superficial about the non-Pixar model of animation and regurgitates
it like so much preprogrammed pop-culture gruel.”

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The
hero of this wry mumblecore-style indie mystery-comedy, Doug (Cris
Lankenau), is no Sherlock Holmes; he’s barely even an Encyclopedia
Brown. Doug is a dropout criminologist living on the grungy side of
Portland who gets reluctantly dragged into investigating why his
ex-girlfriend has gone missing. Our critic praised director Aaron Katz
as being “perhaps the most innately talented of the young filmmakers
making naturalistic movies about young people not doing very much” and
for nudging “his slacker story into incident with disarming
playfulness.”

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An animated film about the powerful bond that develops between a man and
his newly acquired dog, this little-seen film from Sandra and Paul
Fierlinger features a star-studded lineup of voice actors: Christopher
Plummer, Lynn Redgrave, and Isabella Rossellini. We found this
adaptation of the autobiographical J.R. Ackerley book “a funny,
energetic tale of a self-described loner who learns about affection
through his adoption of a seemingly difficult pup.”

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It was perhaps inevitable after its immense American popularity that Everybody
Hates Raymond
would be sent abroad to see if it could work in other
countries. This comic documentary — by Raymond creator Phil
Rosenthal — follows what happens when that country is Russia. We
called the film “sporadically entertaining” and appreciated that
“Rosenthal’s enough of a natural gagster that he can save most anything
with a joke that doesn’t pretend to hide his fish-out-of-water
bafflement.”

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In this Chadian drama, a former star athlete (Youssouf Djaoro) is
humiliated when the luxury hotel he works at demotes him to gatekeeper
and gives his prize swimming-pool job to his son (Diouc Koma). Our
critic thought the film was initially “engaging and fascinating,” with
a story that “unfolds like Shakespearean drama,” even if the second
half detours into some disappointingly predictable territory.

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A different kind of horror film, Jim Mickle’s atmospheric story is set
in a world where zombie-like vampires are roaming the United States in
feral packs, forcing a motley group of people to venture north to Canada
and a supposedly vampire-free zone. “With its copious extended shots of
nature, hushed orchestral soundtrack, and omnipresent somber
narration,” our critic wrote, “Stake Land feels like the Terrence Malick
version of a post-apocalyptic vampire movie.” Unfortunately, this
wasn’t enough for a film our writer determined “doesn’t offer much
beyond mood and style.”

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Massey Tadjedin’s urbane, curiously romantic film stars Keira Knightley
and Sam Worthington (Avatar) as a couple who go their separate ways one night and
each flirt with infidelity — Knightley with a Parisian ex-boyfriend
(Guillaume Canet) and Worthington with a rampantly flirtatious coworker
(Eva Mendes). Our writer called it an “exercise in suspenseful romance
that doesn’t quite know where to go with its story, or how to ensure
that we will care much one way or the other.”

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This based-on-reality story stars AnnaSophia Robb as the young surfer
girl who must bravely get on with her life after a vicious shark attack
leaves her with only one arm. Our critic liked the film’s strong female
role model but ultimately couldn’t handle the “mush and
message-peddling” of this “simpering, insipid wannabe-tearjerker.”

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