Today's DVDs & Blu-rays: Hermano and a Ken Kesey/Paul Newman Find from the Vault

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See our interview with Hermano director Marcel Rasquin.

Soccer, poverty and gang violence are the backdrop to filmmaker Marcel Rasquin's Hermano. Fernando Moreno and Eliu Armas star as Daniel and Julio, adopted brothers who live in one of Venezuela's most dangerous slums. The two are among the best athletes in the neighborhood, good enough to attract pro scouts. Just as the pair is set for tryouts, their mother is killed in the crossfire of a gang shooting. The tragedy affects each of them differently. Daniel resolves to make the most of his chance to leave the slums, while Julio is determined to avenge her death.

As gritty and rough as the barrio the boys call home, the film is Rasquin's first feature effort. Moreno and Armas give unvarnished performances as the volatile brothers. Marcela Girón is both resolute and tender as their mother. Selected as Venezuela's official Foreign Language entry to the Academy Awards, Hermano took home major prizes from the Moscow International Film Festival, Los Angeles Latino Film Festival and São Paulo International Film Festival.

Hermano is available on DVD, on demand and through Netflix. The DVD release includes no special features.

Any Ken Kesey fans out there? The counter-culture author who gave us One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest also gave us several other novels, one of them Sometimes A Great Notion. Academy Award winner Paul Newman made his feature film directorial debut with the 1971 adventure flick based on the book. The film has been available on DVD as part of the Universal Vault series and is now being released on Blu-ray. Sometimes follows a logging family (Henry Fonda as Henry the father, Michael Sarrazin and Newman as his sons Lee and Hank, Lee Remick as Hank's wife) that goes against a local union with disastrous results. Newman reportedly took the director's reins when Richard A. Colla, who had been signed to direct, bowed out over artistic differences and for health reasons. We won't get into the the-book-is-better-than-the-film debate here, we'll just remind you that Sometimes stars Henry Fonda, Paul Newman and Lee Remick in a story by Ken Kesey.

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