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“Black Swan,” “Tangled” top DVD / Blu-ray charts

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: The Oscar season never really ends. It just goes into neutral for a few weeks following the annual Academy Awards ceremony, then kicks back into high gear as the films that competed (and especially those that won) reach home video.

We’ll continue to track the films that did well at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards as they reach DVD and Blu-ray, starting with two biggies that are hitting shelves this week:

Black Swan
We’ve been talking about Darren Aronofsky’s dark and twisted drama set in the world of professional ballet since it bowed at the Venice film festival last fall. Lately, the discussion has been just how much ballet Oscar-winner Natalie Portman actually performed on behalf of her role as Nina, a troubled dancer buckling under the pressure of the lead role in her company’s production of “Swan Lake.”

But such a debate detracts from the sheer emotional force of Portman’s performance. The talented actress didn’t win the Oscar for her dancing. She won it for tearing Nina’s white swan in half and allowing the world to see the dangerous side of Natalie Portman … a shadow only Aronofsky spotted (and one he knew how to coax to the surface).

“Black Swan” is one of those masterful films that improves with each new viewing, where you can better understand the yin and the yang at play between the light and dark sides of Aronofsky’s film. Some have called it a companion piece to “The Wrestler,” and that’s accurate. But “Swan” also stands on its own ballet-shoed feet as a masterful study of the madness that can consume an artist as he or she strives for perfection.

The Blu-ray, released by 20th Century Fox in a two-disc package, comes with a behind-the-scenes documentary; a conversation between Portman and Aronofsky on the film’s lengthy development; cast profiles; a feature on ballet and the impact the dance form had on “Swan;” and a digital copy of the film that’s tailored to your mobile devices.

Disney’s retelling of the Rapunzel story was robbed at the Oscars. Correct that … “Tangled” was cheated back on nominations day, as the spectacular animated story was left out of the Best Animated Feature Film category altogether to make room for “Toy Story 3,” “How to Train Your Dragon” and “The Illusionist.” Now, I’m not saying “Tangled” could have tussled with the toys, which wound up winning the Oscar. But it’s just as good as “Dragon” and far superior to “Illusionist.”

Judge for yourself now that “Tangled” is out on DVD and Blu-ray (and opt for the latter if you can, as animation on Blu-ray looks phenomenal). Co-directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard introduce Brothers Grimm maiden Rapunzel to the marketable realm of the Disney Princesses but wisely split their story into thirds to focus on a male adventurer (for the boys) and a traditionally evil mother figure (for the grownups). “Tangled” made me realize how much I missed memorable songs in Disney cartoons. The sweetly sinister “Mother Knows Best” and the group sing-along “I’ve Got a Dream” are scene stealers. But it’s not all song and dance. When Flynn Rider takes center stage, Greno and Howard invent exhilarating fight choreography and snappy one-liners that would make Jackie Chan proud.

“Tangled” is exhilarating, a heart-pumping ride through fairy tale tropes that will connect with any age. It’s a must own on DVD, with deleted scenes, a “Making of” feature, multiple copies of the film (for various formats) and much more.

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