Monday, December 29, 2014

This Weeks’ DVD Releases


(Click on title to see the film’s trailer)

Kelly & Cal **½ Directed by Jen McGowan. Juliette Lewis. Struggling with the challenges of parenthood, a dispirited young mother (Lewis) finds an unlikely friend and confidante in her paralyzed teenage neighbor (Jonny Weston). It’s easy to see how an unhappy transition to suburban mommyhood might be enough to unhinge any self-respecting former punk rocker but, even so, it’s a little hard to take the angst-ridden mid-life shenanigans in Kelly & Cal seriously.

The Equalizer **½ Directed by Antoine Fuqua. Denzel Washington, Chloë Grace Moretz, Melissa Leo, Bill Pulman. A former intelligence operative comes out of retirement to help a young prostitute, only to end up in the Russian Mafia’s crosshairs. Bring on the sequel please, because, as fine as Denzel is, director Fuqua’s film is not so good — a self-consciously stylized, stop-and-start hodgepodge of Death Wish street vengeance, Bond-style Russian villainy, and moodily shot Boston locales.

Tusk ** Directed by Kevin Smith. Michael Parks, Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez. When podcaster Wallace Bryton goes missing in the backwoods of Manitoba while interviewing a mysterious seafarer named Howard Howe, his best friend Teddy and girlfriend Allison team with an ex-cop to look for him. This is not a particularly good movie, but the vivid anxiety dream at its heart makes it one of the most personal films this writer-director has ever made.

Elsa & Fred ** Directed by Michael Radford. After losing his wife, Fred (Christopher Plummer) feels disturbed, confused and alone, so his daughter (Marcia Gay Harden) helps move him into a small apartment where he meets Elsa (Shirley Maclaine). The corny love story is all the more disappointing given the pedigree of the octogenarian actors.

Stephen King’s A Good Marriage Directed by Peter Askin. Joan Allen, Anthony LaPaglia. With a serial killer on the loose and a disheveled stranger stalking her, a devoted wife has further cause for alarm after she unwittingly uncovers an ominous secret about her husband that threatens their happy marriage. Comes off as curiously flat for a movie about a woman who sleeps next to a murderer every night.

Last Weekend Directed by Tom Dolby, Tom Williams. Patricia Clarkson. When an affluent matriarch gathers her dysfunctional family for a holiday at their Northern California lake house, her carefully constructed weekend begins to come apart at the seams. The characters flutter about, argue and flirt, but they are simply too bland and vacuous to make much of an impression. It doesn’t help that half of them serve no purpose other than to fill the camera frame.

Reach Me ½* Directed by John Herzfeld. Danny Aiello, Tom Berenger, Lauren Cohan, Kevin Connolly, Terry Crews, Cary Elwes, Kelsey Grammer, Omari Hardwick, Elizabeth Henstridge, Thomas Jane, Ryan Kwanten, Nelly, David O’Hara, Kyra Sedgwick, Tom Sizemore, Sylvester Stallone, Danny Trejo. A motivational book written by a mysterious man quickly gains popularity, inspiring a group of people that includes a journalist, his editor, a former inmate, a hip-hop mogul, an actor and an undercover cop to re-evaluate their choices and decisions by confronting their fears in hopes of creating more positive lives. A misbegotten venture that constantly ups its own ante on histrionic overacting, ludicrous plot twists and insipid empowerment mantras.

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