Monday, October 20, 2014

This Week’s DVD Releases

With this week’s list, I am converting from a 5-star rating system to the more universally used 4-star one.

Snowpiercer ***½ Directed by Joon-ho Bong. Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt, Alison Pill, Ed Harris. The Earth’s remaining inhabitants are confined to a single train circling the globe as revolution brews among the class-divided cars. A rare hybrid that perfectly blends the dazzle of a futuristic action thriller with the intellectual substance of an art film.

A Coffee in Berlin **½ Directed by Jan Ole Gerster. Nothing seems to go right for Niko Fischer (Tom Schilling): His girlfriend dumps him, he loses his driver’s license, and his father cuts him off financially. With nothing else to do, he wanders around Berlin, crossing paths with a slew of eccentric characters. A snappy, quirky German indie that will thrill fans of early Jim Jarmusch.

The Fluffy Movie **½ Directed by Manny Rodriguez. A comedy concert film that captures the on-stage performance and inspirational success story of Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias. Inherently funny, with a terrific sense of timing, an amazing gift for mimicry, and an ability to perfectly imitate all kinds of everyday sounds, Iglesias is always charming and frequently laugh-out-loud funny.

Earth to Echo **½ Directed by Dave Green. After receiving a bizarre series of encrypted messages, a group of kids embark on an adventure with an alien who needs their help. Passable family entertainment, neither unforgettable nor particularly bad.

The Purge: Anarchy ** Directed by James DeMonaco. A young couple works to survive on the streets after their car breaks down right as the annual purge commences. The new film pokes heavyhanded fun at extreme conservatives and has a "power to the people" sub-theme, but it’s full of ultra-violence and is dragged down by standard scare tactics, thin characters and the absurdities of the premise.

Life After Beth ** Directed by Jeff Baena. Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser. A young man’s recently deceased girlfriend mysteriously returns from the dead, but he slowly realizes she is not the way he remembered her. This dark comedy has a lot of promise for about half its length. Then, unfortunately, it settles into the mundane zombie genre picture that it seems doomed to be.

Sex Tape Directed by Jake Kasdan. Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Robb Corddry, Ellie Kemer. Rob Lowe, Jack Black. A married couple wake up to discover that the sex tape they made the evening before has gone missing, leading to a frantic search for its whereabouts. The cinematic equivalent of herpes, Sex Tape is an uncomfortable embarrassment to raunchy comedies everywhere. Fortunately, no medication is required after being exposed to it: The effects are not permanent, only painful.

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