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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Personal stories make strong documentary

Rick Bentley Tribune News Service

This week’s new DVD releases range from amazing to awful.

• “Last Days in Vietnam, ” A-minus: Rory Kennedy’s film spends very little time on the political angles of the withdrawal of military and civilian personnel at the end of the war. The strength of this documentary comes out of the personal stories.

This is a sensitive and powerful look at the chaotic final days in April 1975 as the North Vietnamese Army closed in on Saigon. Some of the footage of the valiant attempts to save as many lives as possible is so amazing it looks like it was shot for a feature film.

• “Inherent Vice,” B-minus: A drug-fueled L.A. detective investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend. Joaquin Phoenix stars.

Trying to figure out all themes will prove a chore. Even repeated readings of Thomas Pynchon’s books don’t guarantee complete enlightenment. That means the chase is more fascinating than the discovery, an approach that director Paul Thomas Anderson used in writing his screenplay and making the movie.

• “Covert Affairs: Season 5,” B: These are the final episodes of the cable series starring Christopher Gorham as Auggie Anderson, a blind military veteran who works as a handler for the CIA. His main concern over the years was novice-turned- superagent Annie Walker, played by Piper Perabo.

The show was a success as a spy story and on a human level. Most of the credit goes to Gorham and Perabo for their standout work.

• “The Boy Next Door,” F: Thriller starring Jennifer Lopez about a mature woman facing a divorce who falls for a younger man, and the affair takes an obsessive, dangerous turn.

This movie is cheesier than a Chicago double-topping deep dish pizza. From the profoundly absurd idea that anyone married to a woman who looks like Lopez would cheat on her to the teenage Lothario who looks older than Lopez, this movie is a cluster of idiotic ideas.

Also new on DVD

“Paddington”: Young bear makes his way to England to find a new home.

“The Wedding Ringer”: Socially awkward groom turns to a professional best man. Kevin Hart stars.

“The Jeffersons: Season 7”: Highlights include a multi-part Hawaiian adventure.

“The Mentalist: Season 7”: Final 13 episodes in the series starring Simon Baker.

“The Gambler”: College professor ends up in big trouble because of his gambling and infidelity.

“Boy Meets Girl”: Eric Schaeffer’s story of 20-somethings in Kentucky who deal with love.

“The Barber”: Small-town barber is hiding a dark secret. Scott Glenn stars.

“Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies”: Six-hour documentary takes a look at cancer from the first mention in ancient Egypt.

“50 to 1”: Longshot racehorse wins the 2009 Kentucky Derby.

“Scooby-Doo! and Scrappy-Doo!: The Complete Season 1”: The Mystery Inc. gang investigates unexplained and supernatural shenanigans.

“Miami Blues”: The 1990 Alec Baldwin film is now on Blu-ray.

“From a Whisper to a Scream”: Vincent Price stars in this horror tale set in a small Tennessee town.

“The Admiral: Roaring Currents”: A South Korea war epic about the battle of Myeong-Nyang .

“Ghost Story: The Turn of the Screw”: Michelle Dockery stars.

“New Tricks: Season 11”: Team of retired detectives work on cold cases.

“Let’s Learn”: Introduces preschoolers to science, technology, engineering and math.

“Masterpiece: Wolf Hall”: Adapted from the Hillary Mantel’s novels. Mark Rylance stars.

“Sgt. Bilko – The Phil Silvers Show: Season 2”: Comic adventures in the motor pool at Fort Baxter.

“Mommy”: Single mom struggles to care for a 15-year-old with ADHD.

“Mia and Me: Discover Centopia”: First of three stories from the series “Talking to Unicorns.”