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New on DVD: Not even Will Smith can save ‘Collateral Beauty’

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WRITTEN BY AMY LONGSDORF 
For Digital First Media

Philly’s Will Smith works hard to bring some humanity “Collateral Beauty” (2016, Warner, PG-13, $28), a modern-day fairy tale about Howard, a New York advertising exec still grieving the death of his six-year-old daughter. But Smith can’t overcome a sappy script that’s full of nonstop platitudes.
The premise is a doozy: Howard’s business partners (Edward Norton, Michael Pena, Kate Winslet) devise a plan to save Howard and his company by introducing him to Love (Keira Knightley), Time (Jacob Latimore) and Death (Helen Mirren). It’s a set-up in need of a miracle and director David Frankel doesn’t have nearly enough pixie dust to go around. Extras: featurettes.
ALSO NEW TO DVD
Live By Night (2016, Warner, R, $30): After being nearly killed by an Irish mob boss in Prohibition-era Boston, small-time bank robber Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) decides to head to Tampa to join the competition. Soon, he’s fallen in love a local rum-runner (Zoe Saldana) and is hoping to turn Florida into a haven for gambling. Directed by Affleck, who also penned the screenplay, “Live By Night” possesses the charged tension of a thriller. But it’s the encounters Joe has with a handful of strangers, including a sheriff (Chris Cooper), the sheriff’s religious daughter (Elle Fanning) and a KKK leader (Matthew Maher) which give the movie its unique zing. Sure, it’s too ambitious. But, in the end, “Live By Night” delivers the goods. Extras: featurettes, deleted scenes and Affleck commentary.
***
Accidental Courtesy (2016, First Run, unrated, $20): Here’s a documentary about race which centers on Daryl Davis, an African-American musician who’s played with everyone from Chuck Berry to Dolly Parton. Davis has made it his mission in life to explore why anyone would “hate me without knowing me.” He’s traveled all over the country meeting and befriended members of the KKK, some of whom he’s convinced to turn over their robes and quit the organization. While he’s inspired both respect and wrath from black activists, his message of unity winds up being quite moving. “Accidental Courtesy” is fascinating from the first frame to the last. Extras: featurettes and deleted scenes.
***
Being 17 (2016, Strand, unrated, $28): More than 20 years after directing the gay-tinged drama “Wild Reeds,” French filmmaker Andre Techine returns to the same territory with another love story about high-schoolers. Initially, farm boy Tom (Corentin Fila) and the more sophisticated Damien (Kacey Mottet Klein) can’t stand each other but, thanks to a strange turn of events, they wind up living under the same roof, along with Damien’s physician mother (Sandrine Kiberlain ). Hatred melts away into attraction as the teenagers begin hanging out together. There’s not a false moment in this drama, which takes place in a small town in the Pyrenees mountains. Everything about “Being 17” feels bewitchingly right. Extras: featurette.
***
Fire At Sea (2016, Kino, unrated, $30): Nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary, this timely Italian film by Gianfranco Rosi takes a unique approach to depicting the refugee crisis. Set on Lampedusa, a once peaceful Mediterranean island that has become a major entry point for African refugees into Europe, the doc contrasts the lives of refugees who are rescued by Italians with the locals who continue to go about their everyday existence seemingly unaware of what is going on around them. While a bit of narration would have helped clarify situations, Rosi’s long observant takes reveal much about the resilience of everyday human beings. Extras: featurettes.
***
Kiss of Death (1947, Twilight Time, unrated, $30): Blu-ray boosts the power of this striking crime thriller about a crook-turned-stool pigeon (Victor Mature) who’s locked in battle of wits with a twitchy killer (Richard Widmark). Mature is the star and delivers a quiet, compelling performance but it’s Widmark, in his film debut, who dazzles with a master class in villainy. Laughing maniacally when he’s not bragging about his own status as “a big man,” Widmark will stop at nothing to get what he wants, including pushing a wheelchair-bound woman down a long flight of stairs. No film noir collection is complete without this cinematic walk on the wild side. Extras: commentaries.
***
The Yakuza (1975, Warner Archive, R, $30): Robert Mitchum is at his hangdog best in this somber, stately thriller about a former private detective who travels to Japan to help rescue the kidnapped daughter of a businessman (Brian Keith.) Surprisingly, Mitchum retrieves the woman rather quickly, allowing the movie to become about its true subject: honor, loyalty and tradition. The central relationship is between Mitchum and a former Yakuza (Takakura Ken) who hates him but owes him a debt of gratitude. Even though director Sydney Pollack makes sure “The Yakuza” is as much about relationships as blood-letting, he doesn’t stint on the action and orchestrates a showdown that will hold you in thrall. Extras: commentary by Pollack and featurette.
***
Insecure: Season 1 (2016, HBO, unrated, $20): In this irresistible comedy, two African-American pals attempt to navigate life’s everyday ups and downs. Issa Rae co-created, writes and stars in the HBO series as a woman who’s in a rut at work and unsatisfied at home with her slacker beau (Jay Ellis). Her pal Molly (Yvonne Orji) is a corporate attorney who seems to have it all together but is, in reality, just as self-doubting and anxious. “Insecure” feels fresh and original thanks to Rae who manages to explore the kinds of nooks and crannies of modern life which many TV series ignore. Extras: featurettes.
***
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel (2016, PBS, unrated, $25): While the New York Philharmonic’s concert production of Rodger and Hammerstein’s second major musical is far from the definitive adaptation, it offers up many delights, including a score that is bustin’ out with hummable songs, including “Mr. Snow,” “If I Loved You” and “What’s the Use of Wond’rin’?” The plot of “Carousel” focuses on the ill-fated love affair between mill worker Julie Jordan (Kelli O’Hara) and carnival barker Billy Bigelow (Nathan Gunn). One of the darkest of all classic songfests, “Carousel” still has the power to move you to tears. Extras: featurettes.
***
Mama’s Family: The Favorites Collection (2017, Time Life, unrated, $69): If you’re a fan of the “Carol Burnett Show” spin-off, check out this six-disc package starring Vicki Lawrence as Mama Harper, the world’s grumpiest grandma. Spread out on six discs, there’s 37 full episodes of the show, all hand-picked by Lawrence. The guest stars include Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman and Betty White. Extras: none.

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