NoahDarren Aronofsky takes a very different approach to the Biblical epic in Noah (Paramount, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD) a film both earthy and mystical. This isn’t the Old Testament prehistory we’ve seen before—Aronofsky draws from both Christian and Jewish religious texts to fill out the story (which is actually quite short in the Bible) and offers bleak, poisoned world before the flood quite different from the Mediterranean deserts and forests of previous films—and it accomplishes something quite powerful, vivid and unexpected as a result.

Russell Crowe is Noah as God’s moral man, the last of the faithful who lives his life as Earth’s steward. He keeps his family (wife Jennifer Connelly, sons Logan Lerman and Douglas Booth, daughter-in-law Emma Watson) away from Cain’s offspring (Ray Winstone as a brutal tribal warlord) and the despoilers of the Earth. The creator (as God is called throughout the film) doesn’t speak in the dramatic voice so familiar to other films. He communicates through visions and they are violent, confusing things that Noah must take on faith. Noah undertakes his task as a solemn duty, helped by a race of rock-like beings who were once angels that were cast out of heaven and anchored to Earth.

Ancient mythology and modern cosmology come together in the story of Genesis, told in Noah’s own words and illustrated with imagery reminiscent of Cosmos, a wedding science and religion in a way respectful of both. Even the Ark itself looks different than we’re used to, which is curious considering it is designed according to the dimensions specified in the Bible (see the infographic below for details on scaling the ark, the flood and other details). It’s an epic canvas for a human story and Aronofsky shows great respect for the faith of the source while taking a creative approach to dramatizing the story and the world.

On Blu-ray and DVD. Aronosky shot much of the film in Iceland to get that barren, blasted landscape and he explores the location in the featurette “Iceland: Extreme Beauty.” It’s exclusive to the Blu-ray editions of the film, as are two addition featurettes: “The Ark Exterior: A Battle for 300 Cubits” and “The Ark Interior: Animals Two By Two.” The Blu-ray also features bonus DVD and UltraViolet digital copies of the film.

Danny Miller reviewed the film for Cinephiled here.

FrenchMinisterBertrand Tavernier’s The French Minister (IFC, DVD) takes a comic look at the workings of state through the story of a French Minister of Foreign Affairs (Thierry Lhermite) and the neophyte speechwriter (Raphael Personnaz) charged with penning his boss’ address for the United Nations gathering. It’s based on a satirical French graphic novel written by a former diplomat, who drew from his own experiences, but while the speechwriter is our entry into the world, it’s Lhermite who dominates the film by the sheer power of his confidence, command, and whirlwind energy.

“Mr. Tavernier’s filmmaking here is loose, almost casual, and you may not always notice what he’s doing with the camera as he frames the ministry’s choreographed chaos with its whirling people and parts,” writes Manohla Dargis in her review of the “dry, sly comedy” for The New York Times.

In French with English subtitles, with a featurette and a trailer.

Also from France is On My Way (Cohen, Blu-ray, DVD), a drama starring Catherine Deneuve as a former beauty queen struggling to save her family’s troubled restaurant. French with English subtitles, with deleted scenes and an interview with Deneuve.

Also new and notable: cubanfury

Cuban Fury (eOne, Blu-ray, DVD) – Nick Frost romances Rashida Jones through salsa dancing in this comedy that co-stars Chris O’Dowd, Olivia Colman and Ian McShane. With two featurettes and a Q&A with Frost. Also available on cable and streaming VOD.

The Other Woman (Fox, Blu-ray, DVD) teams Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton to take revenge on Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who has been cheating on all of them.

Protector2The Protector 2 (Magnet, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD) is the latest martial arts extravaganza featuring Thai action superstar Tony Jaa.

More foreign cinema: Half a Yellow Sun (Monterey, DVD, VOD) is a Nigerian drama starring Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor and The Amazing Catfish (Strand, DVD) is a comedy from Mexico.

Nonfiction: Finding Vivian Maier (IFC, DVD) is a documentary on the photographer whose amazing (and private) body of work was discovered only after her death. Another documentary on a photographer, In No Great Hurry (Zeitgeist, DVD) profiles New York street photographer Saul Leiter.

VOD / On Demand exclusives:war-story-poster

War Story (VOD), starring Catherine Keener as a combat photographer, is available to rent on cable and digital VOD the same day it opens in New York theaters, and the indie marriage comedy The One I Love (Cable VOD) with Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss comes to pay-per-view before theaters.

The primal Biblical epic Noah (Cable VOD) comes to On Demand same day as disc. Arriving in advance of disc release are The Railway Man (Anchor Bay, Digital VOD) with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, the American horror films Oculus (Fox, Digital VOD) and Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (RLJ/Image, Digital VOD), and the Spanish horror drama Cannibal (Film Movement, Cable VOD).

Arriving on Cable VOD after disc release are the animated adventure Rio 2 and the crime comedy Dom Hemingway with Jude Law.

More releases:ItFeltLove

It Felt Like Love (Kino Lorber, DVD)
The Den (IFC, DVD)
Dragonwolf (Well Go, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital)
Legendary (Lionsgate, DVD, Digital HD, VOD, On Demand)
Wet Behind the Ears (Cinema Libre, DVD)
Lullaby (Arc, Blu-ray, DVD)
Five Dances (Wolfe, DVD)
Mumfie’s Quest: The Movie (Lionsgate, DVD, Digital HD, VOD, On Demand)FindingVivianM
Neverlake (Uncork’d, DVD, VOD)
Daisy: A Hen in the Wild (Olive, DVD)
How Fast Does Your Wheelchair Go? (Cinema Libre, DVD)
Greasepaint (Cinema Libre, DVD)

TV on disc:

Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery (Paramount, Blu-ray)
Secret State (Acorn, DVD)
Midsomer Murders: Set 24 (Acorn, DVD)TwinPeakscap
Nicholas Le Floch (MHz, DVD)
The Eagle: Season 1 (MHz, DVD)
Adventure Time: Princess Day (Warner, DVD)
Frontline: United States of Secrets (PBS, DVD)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics (Lionsgate, DVD)

Classics and Cult:

Herzog: The Collection (Shout Factory, Blu-ray)Herzog Collectioncap
The Big Chill (Criterion, Blu-ray+DVD Combo, DVD)
Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music – 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Revisited (Warner, Blu-ray)
The Ong Bak Trilogy (Magnolia, Blu-ray, DVD
Marty (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
Separate Tables (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
Paris Blues (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
Duel at Diablo (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
Aloha, Bobby and Rose (Shout Factory, DVD)woodstockcap
The Grace Kelly Collection (Warner, DVD)
Curtains (Synapse, Blu-ray, DVD)
At War With the Army (Film Chest, DVD)
The Complete Blind Dead Saga (Blue Underground, DVD)
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXX (Shout Factory, DVD)

Calendar of upcoming releases on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital, and VOD