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DVDs Also of Note

Friday, November 20, 2009

THE EXILES Unrated, 1961, $29.99

The basics: This film from the late director Kent MacKenzie traces 12 hours in the lives of three young Native Americans living on the margins of Los Angeles. It had never been released in theaters and was rescued by restorers at UCLA.

The lowdown: MacKenzie was a film student when he befriended a group of Native Americans in L.A.'s Bunker Hill neighborhood and persuaded some of them to talk about their struggles with poverty and other ills. Yes, it's depressing, said Post critic Ann Hornaday, but "the air of hopelessness finds counterbalance in the film's lyrical production values, including by turns gritty and velvety black-and-white cinematography and a throbbing soundtrack provided by the 1960s surf band the Revels."

The extras: This two-disc set includes four short films by MacKenzie and a downloadable version of his master's thesis about the making of the film.

GONE WITH THE WIND: 70TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION G, 1939, $69.92; Blu-ray, $84.99

The basics: This 1939 classic won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Director. It's still a stunner, especially on Blu-ray.

Back story: Warner Bros. restored "GWTW" a few years ago, but for this edition, the studio rescanned the movie at an even higher resolution and packaged it beautifully in a velvet box with a hardcover book of photos and production notes, among other collectibles.

The extras: The more than eight hours of extras include three new documentaries. The rest of the content appeared on previous releases.

ROME: THE COMPLETE SERIES Unrated, $99.98; Blu-ray, $139.99

The basics: The two-season BBC-HBO historical series that ran on HBO in 2005 and 2007, starring CiarĂ¡n Hinds as Caesar and James Purefoy as Marc Antony.

Back story: This epic drama, which received critical acclaim for its depiction of political intrigue in ancient Rome, has been released on DVD before, but this is its first time on Blu-ray. So unless you're upgrading to Blu-ray, it might not be worth the $100.

The extras: Special features are sprinkled throughout the set and include a behind-the-scenes featurette on the sets built in Italy and the costumes, and commentary by cast and crew. The Blu-ray disc also includes "All Roads Lead to Rome," an onscreen interactive guide that offers historical information during certain scenes.

-- Amy Hitt

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