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Chris Hicks: 'Coco' released; 'Mona Lisa,' 'Goodfellas' get Blu-Ray treatment

Movies new to home video are led by Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel, along with a trio of recognizable titles that have debuted on Blu-ray.

"Coco Before Chanel" (Sony Classics, 2009, PG-13, $28.98). Audrey Tautou ("Amelie," "Priceless" … oh yeah, and a little picture called "The Da Vinci Code") is at her most luminous in this biography of the legendary designer's early years. Coco starts out as a seamstress and part-time cabaret performer, then hooks a besotted wealthy patron, and later, a rich British suitor. Naturally, complications ensue.

The period flavor of the early 20th century is bright and colorful (it's nominated for a best-costume Oscar), it's well-directed and the music fits the mood. And while the other performers are good, this is Tautou's film, and she carries it like the star vehicle it's meant to be.

Extras: widescreen, in French with English subtitles, audio commentary, featurettes, trailers

"Goodfellas" (Warner/Blu-Ray, 1990; R for violence, language, sex; two discs, $34.99). One of director Martin Scorsese's most accomplished films, this biography is also quite harsh and at times difficult to watch, a brutally honest look inside the Mob from the real-life viewpoint of Henry Hill, who was in witness protection when the film was made.

This is also inarguably Ray Liotta's finest hour, an Oscar-worthy turn as a guy who grew up idolizing mobsters and yearning to be one of them — until he discovered the true horror of being on the inside. Sterling supporting cast includes Robert De Niro, Oscar-winner Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino and Samuel L. Jackson.

Extras: widescreen, audio commentaries, featurettes, feature-length documentary on gangster movies, four classic Warner Bros. cartoons, trailers

"Maid in Manhattan" (Columbia/Blu-ray, 2002, PG-13, $24.95). Jennifer Lopez is the title character in this soft, generic romantic comedy, which gets by on her charm, with a boost from a nice supporting cast (Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Stanley Tucci, Bob Hoskins, Amy Sedaris). The story has Waldorf Astoria maid Lopez in a familiar mistaken-identity plot, Cinderella-style.

Extras: widescreen, bloopers, trailers

"Mona Lisa Smile" (Columbia/Blu-ray, 2003, PG-13, $24.95). Julia Roberts stars in this melodrama with comic underpinnings as a free-spirited Berkeley grad in the stiff atmosphere of the 1950s. She signs on as an art-history teacher at Wellesley, where she tries to encourage her stilted students to break out of their cocoons. Some nice moments and a terrific cast (Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ginnifer Goodwin, Marcia Gay Harden, Topher Grace, Juliet Stevenson), but it doesn't add up to much.

Extras: widescreen, featurettes, music video, trailers

"Black Dynamite" (Sony/Blu-ray, 2009; R for sex, nudity, language, drugs; $34.95). Martial arts tough guy Michael Jai White co-wrote and stars in this off-the-wall spoof of so-called "blaxploitation" films of the 1970s, with a little bit of Bruce Lee and "Rambo" mixed in. It's bad on purpose … but sometimes it's just bad. It's also alternately crude, over-the-top violent, sexually exploitative and silly. But there are some laughs — particularly the extended climactic smackdown between the title character and Richard Nixon.

Extras: widescreen, deleted/alternate scenes, audio commentary, featurettes (also on DVD, $24.96)

"Worlds Apart" (IFC, 2008, $19.98). A 17-year-old Danish girl who has been raised as a devout Jehovah's Witness sees her family start to crack when her father commits an indiscretion that her mother can't forgive. Then the girl falls in love with someone outside her faith and becomes terribly conflicted about the path her life should take. Based on a true memoir, this is a surprisingly balanced exploration of how strict religious faith can clash with the modern world.

Extras: widescreen, trailers

"Mermaid" (IFC, 2007, $19.98). Strikingly photographed and imaginatively staged whimsical tragedy about a young Russian girl who moves as a teen with her mother and grandmother to the big city (Moscow) and comes to believe that her silent wishes come true, sometimes at the expense of others. One-of-a-kind film has flashes of brilliance but also occasional R-rated elements (language, nudity, sex).

Extras: widescreen, in Russian with English subtitles, trailers

"The Song of Sparrows" (E1, 2009, PG, $26.98). A middle-age family man in a rural community loses his job at a local ostrich farm, so he commutes to Tehran for day work. But his encounters in the city cause him to lose sight of his personal integrity for a time. Touching, poetically directed film offers rare insight into Iran and its citizens.

Extras: widescreen, in Farsi with English subtitles, trailers

"In a Day" (IFC, 2006, $24.98). An aspiring musician who works in a London deli has a shocking encounter with a stranger at a bus stop, then finds herself approached by another man who recognizes her from the deli. He spends the day with her, which leads to surprises, confessions and a twist at the end. Easygoing slice of life is charming and pleasant, except for some R-rated language.

Extras: widescreen, audio commentary, featurette, trailers

e-mail: hicks@desnews.com