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Epic Spanish-language Liberator leads new movies on video
Edgar Ramirez stars as Simon Bolivar in the biographical film "The Liberator," in Spanish with English subtitles and new to Blu-ray and DVD this week. - photo by Chris Hicks
The Liberator, a Venezuelan-Spanish co-production, leads these new movies on DVD and Blu-ray this week.

The Liberator (Cohen/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, not rated, in Spanish with English subtitles, introduction by composer Gustavo Dudamel, featurette, trailer). This biographical film about the 19th-century Latin American champion Simon Bolivar is a large-scale epic of the kind we seldom see these days, vividly recreating many of the military campaigns that Bolivar led in his efforts to free South America.

The film benefits greatly from Edgar Ramirezs lead performance. Hes a charismatic actor who has appeared in the Hollywood films Zero Dark Thirty, Wrath of the Titans and The Bourne Ultimatum, and hes excellent, lending dimension and depth to the character as Bolivar rallies the troops from various jungle colonies to bring down 300-year-old Spanish rule. And the filmmakers do a commendable job of taking a long, unwieldy story and fitting it into two hours.

Pioneer (Magnolia/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, R for language, in English and in Norwegian with English subtitles, featurettes). Another foreign film is this claustrophobic thriller set during the 1980s Norway oil boom. A diver (Aksel Hennie) and his brother are part of a team preparing to install a gas pipeline at a deeper-than-usual depth in the North Sea when a tragic accident occurs. Or was it an accident? And is the diver now in danger? More enigmatic than some might prefer but intense enough to give you some chills. American actors Wes Bentley and Stephen Lang co-star.

The Last Days of Robin Hood (Universal/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, R for sex and language). This somewhat restrained Hollywood biography looks at one of the seamier aspects of the hedonistic lifestyle of swashbuckling movie star Errol Flynn, who died at age 50 in the late 1950s while in a relationship with teenage Beverly Aadland. The film captures the era but its static direction retains a TV-movie feel. Its almost redeemed, however, by Kevin Klines excellent portrait of Flynn (despite Kline being 15 years older than Flynns age at his death). Dakota Fanning is also good as Beverly, and Susan Sarandon, as her mother, offers a surprising but effective character performance (complete with an artificial leg).

Listen Up Philip (Cinedigm/DVD, 2015, not rated, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, photo gallery, trailer). Whether you find this dark satire on supposed artistic integrity to be insufferable or enjoyable teeters entirely on your reaction to the central character, Philip, played by Jason Schwartzman. Hes a narcissistic author, whose best friend (Jonathan Pryce) is equally self-absorbed, and whose girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss) is on the verge of walking out. There are echoes of frequent collaborator Wes Anderson, as well as Woody Allen, but this is harsher. Kristen Ritter co-stars and Eric Bogosian narrates.

Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf (Dark Sky/Blu-ray/DVD/On Demand, 2015, not rated, audio commentary, featurettes, trailer). A blind war veteran (Nick Damici) moves to a peaceful community outside a dense forest and is attacked by what hes told is a dog, though hes sure it was a werewolf.

White Haired Witch (Well Go/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2015, not rated, in Mandarin with English subtitles, featurette, trailer). Chinese fantasy about a sorceress who fights soldiers oppressing her people, which prompts government officials to frame her for murder so that her followers will go against her.

Remote Area Medical (Cinedigm/DVD/On Demand, 2013, not rated, deleted scenes, trailer, short films Kombit and Remote Area Medical). Documentary about health care reform as seen through the eyes of selected patients at a three-day clinic held in Tennessee, where many are desperate for affordable medical relief.

Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B (Cinedigm.DVD, 2014, not rated, featurette). Lifetime cable biography of Aaliyah Dana Haughton, a performer since childhood who rose to popularity as a singing star only to lose her life in a plane crash at age 22 in 2001.

Subconscious (Lionsgate/DVD/Digital, 2015, R for language, deleted scenes/alternate ending, featurettes, bloopers). A history professor is obsessed with finding out what happened to a Navy submarine that was sealed shut during the middle of World War II. When he and his team are finally allowed to go aboard, they find themselves transported back to the time of the war, in the middle of a battle that could alter its outcome. (The Final Countdown, anyone?)

Devil May Call (Lionsgate/DVD/Digital, 2015, R for violence, audio commentary, featurettes, short film: Monstrous Nature). A blind telephone counselor is working his last night at the call center with colleagues when a regular caller announces that the counselors departure is a betrayal. He then proceeds to terrorize the office.
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