Monday, July 7, 2014

This Week’s DVD Releases

Jodorowski’s Dune **** Directed by Frank Pavich. The story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptation of the seminal science fiction novel. Cheerfully partial and unapologetically deferential to its subject’s operatic self-promotion, Jodorowsky’s Dune makes you wish that he had scraped together the final $5 million needed, we are told, to realize his dream.

Le Week-End ***½ Directed by Roger Michell. A British couple (Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan) return to Paris many years after their honeymoon there in an attempt to rejuvenate their marriage. This film doesn’t feel obliged to pick a winner or lob easy answers; it aims to observe, with humor and humanity, with penetration and without oversimplifying. With Jeff Goldblum.

The Raid 2 ***½ Directed by Gareth Evans. Only a short time after the first raid, Rama (Iko Uwais) goes undercover with the thugs of Jakarta and plans to bring down the syndicate and uncover the corruption within his police force. Those with a high tolerance for violence and gore — at one point, Rama battles assassins labeled "Baseball Bat Man’‘ and "Hammer Girl’‘ simultaneously — will eat this up.

Watermark ***½ Directed by Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky. A documentary on how water shapes humanity. By keeping explanatory talking-heads interviews to a minimum, the filmmakers put their trust in the audience to draw their own conclusions based on what they present to us.

Maidentrip ***½ Directed by Jillian Schlesinger. 14-year-old Laura Dekker sets out on a two-year voyage in pursuit of her dream to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone. Schlesinger’s first feature, made in collaboration with Dekker and composed largely of footage that the hardy adventurer shot herself, is both low-key and lyrical as it focuses on the mundane and the magnificent.

Nymphomaniac Volume 1 *** Directed by Lars von Trier. A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac (Charlotte Gainsbourg) recounts her erotic experiences to the man (Stellan Skarsgard) who saved her after a beating. Felt at times like a long-winded dirty joke — meandering, incoherently provocative, self-indulgent without being fun enough to make up for it.

Nymphomaniac Volume 2 *** Directed by Lars von Trier. The continuation of Joe’s (Charlotte Gainsbourg) sexually dictated life delves into the darker aspects of her adulthood, obsessions and what led to her being in Seligman’s (Skellan Skarsgard) care. The problem with Volume 2 lies not in its display of erect penises and reddened buttocks, but rather in its dull narrative and overworked ideas.

Bad Words *** Directed by Jason Bateman. A spelling bee loser (Bateman) sets out to exact revenge by finding a loophole and attempting to win as an adult. Soars in the bits of riotously offensive chitchat between Guy (Bateman) and a young Indian hopeful (Rohan Chand); it wobbles in plot developments involving the effortlessly starchy Allison Janney as the contest’s "queen bee"; and it splats in the I’m-secretly-hurting conclusion.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? *** Directed by Arvin Chen. A married man begins to question his sexual orientation as he and his wife consider having another child. Dutifully hitting its marks up to a point, this story of a married man struggling to stay closeted proves to have a maturity that eludes more overtly ambitious dramas on the subject.

Kid Cannabis **½ Directed by John Stockwell. Teaming with his best friend and a ragtag group of potheads, enterprising teen Nate Norman (Jonathan Daniel Brown) sets up a lucrative operation smuggling large amounts of marijuana from Canada to Idaho. But the young drug traffickers soon sow the seeds of their downfall. Has its entertaining moments and boasts pungent performances from such supporting players as Ron Perlman and John C. McGinley, but never quite succeeds in managing its uncomfortable tonal shift from dark comedy to true-crime thriller.


Stage Fright ** Directed by Jerome Sabel. A snobby musical theater camp is terrorized by a blood-thirsty killer who hates musical theater. Whether it’s being sexy, jokey or homicidal, Stage Fright doesn’t deliver the goods with sufficient spirit. It lacks the sparkle to be a truly killer show.

Don Peyote ½* Directed by Michael Canzoniero, Dan Fogler. Driven by hallucinatory dreams, jobless stoner Warren Allman (Fogler) decides to film a documentary that will alert others to the dark future looming over them. All the controlled substances in the world couldn’t improve a viewing of this execrable film,, a tedious, incoherent look at a paranoid stoner’s emotional and spiritual unraveling.

10 Rules for Sleeping Around no stars Directed by Leslie Greif. Two couples — one with an open marriage and the other soon to be wed — see their best-laid plans go ironically awry during a weekend gala at the home of a media tycoon. A sex comedy can sometimes get by, even if it is deficient in one of the two things that term promises. But a sex comedy that is short on both sex and comedy is unlikely to please anyone.

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