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DVDs & Blu-rays: Amador and Norman Mailer: The American

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Amador

stars Magaly Solier: Fernando Leon De Aranoa directs.

Peruvian actor Magaly Solier and Spanish filmmaker Fernando Leon De Aranoa tell a story that is universal in Amador. Tender and lyrical, the film chronicles the unexpected relationship between a young caretaker, Marcela (Solier), and her elderly charge, Amador (Celso Bugallo). He's bedridden but that doesn't stop him from being a keen observer of life, including, we find out, Marcela's. "You don't have a boyfriend," he tells her, in a matter-of-fact way. "I can tell...because he doesn't call you." "He doesn't call me," she counters, "because he doesn't want to bother you." "It's you he bothers," he says. And sadly, that's the truth.

The two develop a friendship that's cut short when Amador suddenly dies. (And, no, that wasn't a spoiler.) Marcela is saddened by his passing, but more than that she's unemployed. To survive, she...(okay, that would be a spoiler).

The film, like Marcela, is soft-spoken, gentle and passive. For much of the movie, she lets life wash over her. Smart viewers will let Amador wash over them in much the same way.

Norman Mailer: The American

stars Norman Mailer and Beverly Bentley Mailer; Joseph Mantegna directs.

And now for something completely different from Amador, no, no, we mean like from-another-universe different: Norman Mailer: The American. A dominant figure in a variety of arenas of the 20th century, Mailer was an outspoken social critic and a provocative writer. He was also a filmmaker, father and husband. While the often cantankerous Mailer tried several mediums, it was his writing that set him apart.

Unfortunately, we don't see as much of that in the documentary as we'd like. There's more about his personal life (including several insinuations that Mailer was a closeted homosexual), and his life as a husband and father, than is really required. Mantegna intermingles new footage of talking heads with home movies, vintage interviews and photos. (There's a striking photo of Mailer as a young man looking an awful lot like Paul Newman.) The footage and sound are of uneven quality. (We admit, there's not much anyone can do to restore those scratched up home movies, but we think Mantegna could have gotten the same information across using other sources.)

If you like Mailer, you already know everything that The American has to say. If you don't like Mailer, you won't care what The American has to say.

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