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Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013

Home Movies/Out on Digital: Dec. 15

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 ■ Renoir

French director Gilles Bourdos fills Renoir with the honeyed sunlight and sensuous curves of a Pierre-Auguste Renoir canvas, yet the film is only half about the great Impressionist. The painter’s son, future film director Jean Renoir (Grand Illusion), is convalescing from World War I in his father’s Riviera compound, uncertain of his future until he encounter’s dad’s free-spirited, mercurial model, Andrée. Renoir will interest devotees of the visual arts for its plausible portraits of two great artists.

Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars

Unmanned documents turmoil in Pakistan over U.S. drone strikes. Director Robert Greenwald includes interviews with victims, footage of protests and coverage of a Pakistani court ruling enjoining the country’s government to shoot down the drones. Worldwide condemnation grows even as nations across the globe add the remote-control aircraft to their arsenals and cite U.S. actions as precedents. Intended as a shortcut to fighting terrorism, drones have generated blowback wherever they have been deployed.

The Beauty of the Devil

The Faust legend has been told in many ways at many times. In The Beauty of the Devil, French director René Clair’s 1950 film (out on Blu-ray), Mephistopheles pursues a reluctant Faust, giving him a second chance at youth and happiness while assuming the old professor’s identity and work in the laboratory. Mephistopheles is a wily tempter in this spry, comedic version of the tale, convincing in his sophistries and—of course—driving a hard bargain.