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Mixed bag of movies on Blu-ray, DVD this week
The documentary "Red Army," about the amazingly successful Russian hockey team during the Cold War and what happened after glasnost. It's now on Blu-ray and DVD. - photo by Chris Hicks
A documentary about Cold War hockey leads a mixed bag of new movies released this week on Blu-ray and DVD.

Red Army (Sony Classics/Blu-ray/DVD, 2015, PG, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). Hockey collides with politics in this documentary about the most successful dynasty in sports history, the Red Army team in Russia during the Cold War, and how glasnost opened opportunities for players in the West but couldnt sever the restrictive tentacles of the Soviet Union.

Told from the point of view of the hockey teams captain, the film is funny, intense, horrifying and rousing, often all at the same time. Soviet archival footage informs the proceedings, but contemporary interviews really put things into perspective.

Serena (Magnolia/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2015, R for violence and sex, deleted scenes, featurettes). This overheated potboiler boasts big stars (Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper) in a prestigious production directed by an Oscar winner (Susanne Bier), yet everything seems off and the film has been on the shelf for nearly two years. Lawrence, as the title character, is over-the-top and dangerous while her husband (Cooper, with a bad Boston accent) is dull and oblivious as they build a timber empire in 1920s North Carolina. Deceit bubbles and violence boils over.

Camp X-Ray (IFC/Blu-ray/DVD, 2015, R for language and nudity, featurette). Kristen Stewart is very good starring in this superficial but occasionally intriguing tale that is essentially an uneasy two-character face-off. She plays a young Army recruit assigned as a guard at Guantanamo Bay, where she finds herself harassed by both detainees and fellow soldiers. Then she develops an uneasy relationship with one of her charges, a young man whos been incarcerated for eight years, which makes her question her position.

The DUFF (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2015, PG-13, featurettes, bloopers). A high school senior (Mae Whitman) thinks shes one of the cool kids until she discovers that her more attractive friends call her the DUFF behind her back, which means Designated Ugly Fat Friend. So she sets out to turn the social pecking order on its ear. Amusing, with a good cast (led by the winning Mae Whitman) but unfortunately undermined by its penchant for raunchiness. Another PG-13 teen comedy that pushes the rating to its limit.

Pastor Brown/Sins of the Mother (Lifetime/Lionsgate/DVD, 2009/2010, two movies). This Lifetime cable-channel double bill features TV movies about overcoming lifes adversities. Father Browns dying wish is for his estranged daughter, an exotic dancer, to return to the fold and run his church, much to the consternation of the rest of the family and congregants. Salli Richardson, Nicole Ari Parker, Michael B. Jordan, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Ernie Hudson and Keith David star. Sins of the Mother has a grad student reaching out to her abusive, alcoholic mother, with Nicole Beharie, Jill Scott and Mimi Rogers.

Project Almanac (Paramount/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2015, PG-13, deleted scenes, alternate opening/endings). Yet another obnoxious shaky-cam found-footage sci-fi thriller, this one about a smart high school student whose late father left behind blueprints for a time machine. So the boy and his friends use it to improve test scores and play the lottery, at first anyway. Even the best time-travel movies have impossibly wacky holes in the story, but this one thrives on them.
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