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Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014

Home Movies/Out on Digital: Aug. 12

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■ Bethlehem

Dangerous games are played on all sides and duplicity is everywhere in Israeli director Yuval Adler’s Bethlehem. Tense and economical, without a wasted moment, Bethlehem is a police procedural and psychological study of the Palestinian uprising. Explored are the necessities of war, the bravado of youth, the fanaticism spurred by a desperate cause and relations between an Israeli agent and his teenage Palestinian informer. Bethlehem is perhaps the best drama to emerge from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Last Days

In post-apocalypse Barcelona, a sensitive computer programmer and a hated employee terminator must struggle together to survive. Álex and David Pastor’s The Last Days is superior to many end-time dramas for skimping on prosaic explanations, accumulating anomalies through flashbacks instead. The story shows how both community and competition are integral to human nature, and registers the zeitgeist by saying something is wrong with the world—and we won’t see it until it’s too late.

“75 Years of WWII”

The most interesting episode in this package of History Channel features is the documentary “Ultimate World War II Weapons.” The stentorian narrator surveys “the 10 greatest game changers in the war” (hardware division) in that ever-popular countdown format. Number 10: the German 88 artillery piece—a triple threat for accuracy, speed and versatility. It could shoot down planes, stop tanks and shatter bunkers. The hardy, humble Studebaker truck is number 9, and the suspense mounts…