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Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013

Home Movies/Out on Digital: Aug. 22

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The World Before Her

What’s more degrading: the objectification of beauty pageants or confinement to the housewife role? The question confronts the women of this documentary, split between Miss India contestant classes and a Hindu nationalist girls camp. The beauty queens gain self-confidence (narcissism?) and opportunities for financial independence (pitching for foreign corporations?) while the Hindu militants receive religious training and self-defense lessons (preparation for sectarian violence?). Each side has a voice in this fair-minded, well-shot film.

The Idolmaker

Vinnie (Ray Sharkey) is 27, waiting tables at his brother’s restaurant and dreaming of becoming a music mogul in a Mob-dominated industry. It’s New York, 1959, and Vinnie hooks up with some Jersey boys in his race for gold. The 1980 production (out now on Blu-ray) nostalgically recreates Italian-American East Coast life, but not without anachronisms. The music sounds more like a ’70s tribute to the ’50s than the real thing.

■ “Sapphire & Steel: The Complete Series”

Time behaves like a malevolent force in this 1979-1982 British sci-fi series, breaking into the normal chronology of events and enabling the entry of malign creatures from other dimensions. Old things are dangerous, echoing unpleasantly from an unfathomable past. Like the best UK television, “Sapphire & Steel” makes fine use of limited materials and relies on acting. David McCallum (“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”) and Joanna Lumley (later of “Absolutely Fabulous”) play the time detectives.

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