Monday, April 21, 2014

This Week’s DVD Releases


The Trials of Muhammad Ali *** Directed by Bill Siegel. Covers Ali’s battle to overturn a five-year prison sentence for refusing U.S. military service in Vietnam. The film falls short of explaining Ali, who, like many outspoken individuals, can stubbornly repel scrutiny, nor will it pacify the many who opposed his conscientious objections. But it also underlines one enduring quality: namely, that he probably couldn’t care less what people think.

Bettie Page Reveals All *** Directed by Mark Mori. The pinup model and cult icon recounts the true story of how her free expression overcame government witch-hunts to help launch America’s sexual revolution. Why does the movie waste so much time on empty adoration from celebrity fans and skim past the significant tragedies that contributed to her complex life? Parental neglect, sexual assault, severe mental illness — all of these factors shaped the woman Page became. But perhaps, even today, no one wants to consider the sadness behind her 1,000-watt smile.

Big Bad Wolves ** Directed by Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado. A vigilante cop joins forces with the father of a murder victim to interrogate the main suspect in a series of brutal child homicides and to mete out their own version of justice. Keshales and Papushado, the two-man writer-director team, are swinging at serious targets here, but their point soon wears itself out, and what remains is schlock with airs and tired black humor.

Barefoot * Directed by Andrew Fleming. The black sheep son (Scott Speedman) of a wealthy family meets a young psychiatric patient (Evan Rachel Wood) who’s been raised in isolation her entire life and takes her home for his brother’s wedding. It’s dispiriting enough that we’re still getting movies about the cute side of mental illness, but to turn someone rendered childlike by abusive trauma into desirable girlfriend material — and sporting cast-off stripper attire to boot — is more than a little creepy.

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