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New DVDs: ‘Casino Royale,’ ‘The Holiday’

Also new: ‘Harsh Times,’ ‘Shortbus,’ ‘Without a Trace’ season two
/ Source: The Associated Press

“Casino Royale”Daniel Craig becomes the sixth man to star as 007 in the James Bond franchise and brings an air of raw menace to the role in this prequel that lays bare some dark secrets of the British super spy’s past. Craig plays Bond on his first 007 mission, when he was an able, eager yet somewhat brutish young pup of an operative who gets a lesson in class and restraint from a beautiful ally (Eva Green). A modernized adaptation of the first of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels, the film pits 007 in a high-stakes poker competition against a vile terrorism financier (Mads Mikkelsen), and it also presents young James in a love affair whose repercussions will shape the callousness of the womanizing spy to come. The two-disc DVD set includes documentary segments on Craig’s preparation for the role, the stunts and action sequences and the history of Bond women. DVD set, $28.96; Blu-ray disc, $38.96. (Sony) Read the review

“The Holiday”

In this photo provided by Warner Bros. Entertainment, Iris (Kate Winslet) swaps homes for the holiday, only to meet a local guy (Jack Black) and fall in love in "The Holiday." (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Entertainment/Zade Rosenthal)Zade Rosenthal / WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT

This smarter-than-average Christmas story features a great cast led by Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black. Writer-director Nancy Meyers (“Something’s Gotta Give,” “What Women Want”) spins the tale of two women on opposite sides of the globe who have been burned by men. Meeting online, they decide to swap homes for the holiday, with Californian Diaz falling for her English host’s brother (Law) and Brit Winslet losing her heart to a Hollywood film composer (Black). A making-of featurette on the DVD includes interviews with the four lead players along with co-stars Rufus Sewell and Eli Wallach, while Meyers offers audio commentary. DVD, $28.95; Blu-ray disc, $38.96. (Sony) Read the review

“Shortbus”

A group of New Yorkers caught up in their romantic-sexual milieu converge at an underground salon infamous for its belnd of art, music, politics, and carnality.

John Cameron Mitchell, the creator and star of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” offers a deliriously explicit look at eros and relationships with this film about gay and straight lovers that features real sex by the actors. The cast of generally unknown actors play New Yorkers with sexual hang-ups, intimacy issues and other problems of modern love, everyone converging at a bohemian, orgiastic Manhattan gathering called “Shortbus.” Mitchell joins much of the cast for commentary on the full film and deleted scenes. The DVD also has a making-of segment on the film, which was crafted through extensive interaction, improvisation and get-acquainted sessions among the performers. DVD, $27.98. (ThinkFilm) Read the review

“Harsh Times”

In this photo provided by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Pictures, Inc., Mike (Freddy Rodriguez, left) and Jim (Christian Bale) are two friends dealing with life in South Central Los Angeles and the violence that comes between them in "Harsh Tiimes." (AP Photo/Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Pictures, Inc.)METRO-GOLDWYN MAYER PICTURES

Writer-director David Ayer, the screenwriter of “Training Day,” assembles a first-rate cast for his harsh urban drama, led by “Batman Begins” star Christian Bale, Eva Longoria of “Desperate Housewives” and Freddy Rodriguez of “Six Feet Under.” Bale plays a tough kid from the mean streets of Los Angeles who returns home twisted and warped from his military experiences in the war on terror. Embarking on a drunken, violent last fling with an old buddy (Rodriguez), he tears about town like a savage as he prepares for a new job as a federal operative overseas. Ayer provides commentary, and the DVD includes deleted scenes. DVD, $28.95. (Genius) Read the review

“Ghost”Love from beyond comes back in vogue with a DVD makeover for one of the biggest hits of the early 1990s. Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze star in the supernatural romance about a slain man whose spirit lingers on as guardian angel to his imperiled girlfriend. Whoopi Goldberg won the supporting-actress Academy Award as a psychic who acts as conduit between the dead guy and his living love. DVD extras include a making-of segment and featurettes on the paranormal, classic cinema romances and the movie’s memorable love scene. Director Jerry Zucker and screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin also offer commentary. DVD, $14.99. (Paramount)

TV on DVD:

“Without a Trace: The Complete Second Season” — The hit crime drama stars Anthony LaPaglia as head of an ace FBI team responsible for tracking down missing persons. The six-disc set has all 24 episodes from year two, along with deleted scenes. DVD set, $59.98. (Warner Bros.)

“Loonatics Unleashed: The Complete First Season” — The progeny of the Looney Tunes gang stars in this animated update set in the 28th century as a meteor collision transforms the heirs of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and other cartoon favorites into goofy superheroes. A two-disc set packs the first 13 episodes. DVD set, $19.98. (Warner Bros.)

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season Four” — With the superhero turtles hitting the big-screen soon in a new adventure, year four from their animated show of the 1980s and ’90s debuts on DVD. A five-disc set has 40 episodes, plus two featurettes. DVD set, $39.98. (Lionsgate)

“The Pretender: Movie Edition” — Two TV movies, “The Pretender 2001” and “The Pretender: The Island of the Haunted,” pick up where the series left off. Michael T. Weiss is back as the great mimic pursued by the secret agency that raised him. DVD, $26.98. (20th Century Fox)

“Robin of Sherwood: Set 1” — The 1980s British television update of Robin Hood stars Michael Praed as the roguish do-gooder and Judi Trott as Marion, with cast mates that include “The Departed” co-star Ray Winstone. The first 13 episodes come in a five-disc set. DVD set, $59.99. (Acorn)

“Hard Times” — Charles Dickens’ classic of 19th century pragmatism and industrialization at the expense of humanity is adapted in this classy British production from the 1970s, starring Patrick Allen, Timothy West and Edward Fox. The four-part miniseries comes in a two-disc set. DVD set, $39.99. (Acorn)