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Home Movies/Out on Digital: July 3

Jul. 3, 2014
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Ernest & Celestine

Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2014 Oscars, Ernest & Celestine is drawn in spare lines, pale colors and luminous shadows. It’s a children’s story about the enmity between mice and bears, and how one daring child mouse steps across the barrier. The message is clear enough and told with humor. Although it’s a Franco-Belgian production, Ernest & Celestine features an international cast of voices, Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall and Paul Giamatti among them.

The Jungle

Blair Witch comes to the rainforest in the latest faux-found footage film. With the wiggle-jiggle and chatter of a home video, The Jungle follows an Australian zoologist searching for the Java leopard in remote Indonesia. He finds terror instead, circling around legends of a “forest demon,” after early warnings of anxiety from the nervous locals. Important backstory: the zoologist is working against time as the jungle is to be cut down by agri-business interests.

■ “Perry Mason Movie Collection Double Feature 3”: The Case of the Sinister Spirit / The Case of the Murdered Madam

Raymond Burr’s long-running 1960s TV series set the bar for courtroom drama, but it wasn’t the final word from Perry Mason. In the ’80s, Burr starred in several made-for-TV Perry Mason movies, issued now two-by-two on DVD. The Case of the Sinister Spirit is exemplary. An Alfred Hitchcock pastiche whose plot contrivances are a set-up for Burr, a gray and distinguished eminence sifting for the truth amidst false leads and misleading clues.

■ “The Universe Season 7”

Cynics might say Stonehenge doesn’t look like much, but it was a Stone Age engineering feat. How did people without machinery erect 50-ton stones in a circle that conforms to the movements of the sun and moon? Stonehenge is one of the ancient mysteries investigated on this History Channel series (out on Blu-ray). Using computer imaging, astrophysicists have devised new theories about this prehistoric observatory, yet the big question remains: How did they build it?

■ “Rawhide: The Eighth and Final Season”

Clint Eastwood gave himself a cameo in Jersey Boys, a glimpse on a black-and-white TV of his TV show “Rawhide.” By the last season (1965-1966), Eastwood’s Rowdy Yates had become the lead character and his star was rising, albeit he had to travel to Italy to become the personification of a new kind of anti-hero. With striking cinematography, terse acting and economical screenwriting, “Rawhide” addressed eternal issues of justice, violence and prejudice by showing, not telling.

Poll

A Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission panel upheld the firing of former Milwaukee Police officer Christopher Manney for violating department rules last April when he encountered Dontre Hamilton before fatally shooting him. Do you agree with the commission’s decision?

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