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New DVDs this week...

Modern Times (Criterion)

Charlie Chaplin's final turn as the Little Tramp is one of his best movies, a part-silent/part-sound film that rides this dichotomy to hilarious and momentous results. Made in 1936, long after every other filmmaker adapted to sound technology, Modern Times uses noise sparingly in the story of an unemployed factory worker and his down-on-her-luck girl. It's a biting satire that skewers the Depression, automated jobs, and even a proto-Big Brother overlord. The opening segment — set inside a massive factory — may be Chaplin's greatest movie moment. This Blu-ray debut includes tons of extras, including historical essays and a couple of Chaplin shorts.

Disney's A Christmas Carol (Disney) — Remember the creepy CGI used in The Polar Express? It's even more unsettling here. Jim Carrey stars as Dickens' famous crotchety old man, who learns a thing or two about compassion (and goofy faces). The extras are mostly blah-humbug.

The Kids Are All Right (Universal) — Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play a lesbian couple raising two teens. Everything's cool until Mark Ruffalo and his penis enter the picture. The comedy doesn't always stick, but the acting is top-notch. The behind-the-scenes bonus stuff is a waste of time.

The Night of the Hunter (Criterion) — This is Robert Mitchum at his most badass and off-the-hook scary. He plays a religious nut who marries a woman for her cash, but can't get to it because her meddling kids won't tell him where it is. One of the all-time greats, now with outtakes and other archival goodies.

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