Home Movies/Out on Digital: Nov. 12
■ Much Ado About Nothing
Director Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) sets William Shakespeare’s deathless comedy of romance as a sparring contest in a contemporary mode but without sacrificing the words. The Shakespearean dialogue sounds natural coming from a cast as unaffected as that of a good indie film. The humor remains funny and the story makes sense set amid hot tubs, cocktails and conga lines. The “skirmish of wit” stars Amy Acker as Beatrice and Alexis Denisof at Benedick.
■ The Damned
In the cramped quarters of a U-Boat filled with Fascists fleeing the end of World War II, a kidnapped French physician survives by sowing anxiety. French director René Clément’s The Damned (1947), out on Blu-ray, is an acute psychological study magnified by claustrophobia. Its realism enhanced by deep expressionistic shadows, The Damned is distinct from Hollywood in refusing to glorify war or heroics. Clément began as a documentarian and The Damned benefits from his attention to detail.
■ “The JFK Collection”
JFK’s legacy continues to be debated 50 years on; his charismatic personality inspired changes he neither anticipated nor controlled. The profile emerging from the History Chanel documentaries on this three-DVD set is of a powerful personality raised in privilege but steeled by adversity. Kennedy believed in no greater mark of success than public service for the common good. His humor was legendary. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, he reminded his advisors, “There’s not enough room for everyone in the White House bomb shelter.”