DVDs Nuts!

Downhill Racer This little-talked-about sports drama about a competitive skier (Robert Redford on the cusp of his movie-star persona) who must be shaped into an Olympic star by his coach (a pre-French Connection Gene Hackman) is a disarmingly great film. Directed by Michael Ritchie, everything in the film, from the camera shots seemingly mounted on the skier's goggles to Redford's performance — all raw nerves and cocky swagger — feels immediate and intentionally imperfect. Extras are minimal on this Criterion release, but the transfer is typically pristine. (PG)

The Exiles The definition of a lost masterpiece, this gritty realist drama from 1961 was lovingly restored for good reason. Created by the young director Kent Mackenzie, who spent some time, post-college, with relocated Native Americans in the infamous Bunker Hill district of Los Angeles (the setting of many Raymond Chandler stories), the film takes an unsparing, nonjudgmental look at life for these new greasers. Mackenzie places his audience directly in the middle of the action, an effect both thrilling and fascinating. (NR)

Must Read After My Death One of the most magnetically shocking docs of the year saw only a quiet online release back in February. Director Morgan Dews discovered many years' worth of audio recordings from a pivotal moment in his grandmother's life in the early '60s. As Allis, the grandmother, thinks aloud about revolting against the agony of life with her rage-filled husband, Dews offers no commentary. Allis voices her discontent over family videos, and the effect is bone-chilling. (NR)

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Live There is much to be depressed about within this nine-DVD box set that compiles days' worth of (shortened) induction speeches and performances from the last 24 years of this museum ceremony. Sloppy, half-hearted, stage-suffocating sets from desexualized music gods (I could swear I saw Dylan catch an inadvertent elbow from Paul Shaffer) and the selection of the most obvious songs for the inductees to play are only half the problem. (The other half is the über-presence of Billy Joel.) Still, with more than 30 hours of on- and offstage material, your baby-boomer parent will love it for Christmas. (NR)

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