Monday, May 11, 2015

This Week's DVD Releases

Still Alice *** Directed by Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland. Starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart. A linguistics professor and her family find their bonds tested when she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Moore makes the movie worthwhile, elevating it from disease-of-the-week fare to the role of a lifetime.

Beloved Sisters **½ Directed by Dominik Graf. In the late 18th century, sisters Charlotte (Henriette Confurius) and Caroline (Hannah Herzsprung) begin an unconventional romance with poet Friedrich Schiller (Florian Stetter), who cares deeply for them both. Might scratch your costume drama itch, but it’s not among the genre’s best.

Tip Top **½ Directed by Serge Bozon. Two lady detectives (Isabelle Huppert, Sandrine Marinelli) are sent to investigate a rash of crimes in a provincial town, much to the annoyance of the locals. Shot in precisely composed frames, with recurring visual motifs and an eye-pleasing color palette that accentuates blue hues, Tip Top is commendably ambitious in its Godardian attempts to deconstruct the police thriller format, but it’s only partially successful.

The Sleepwalker **½ Directed by Mona Fastvold. As Kaia (Gitte Witt) and her boyfriend (Christoper Abbott) work to restore her childhood home, they get an unexpected visit from her estranged sister, Christine (Stephanie Ellis), and her fiancĂ© (Brady Corbett). The setup has mysterious promise, but the film cheaps out on a satisfying payoff.

These Final Hours **½ Directed by Zak Hilditch. A self-obsessed young man makes his way to the party-to-end-all-parties on the last day on Earth, but ends up saving the life of a little girl searching for her father. Incoherent and pointless as it is, These Final Hours moves with commendable swiftness.

Two Men in Town **½ Directed by Rachid Bouchareb. Starring Forest Whitaker, Harvey Keitel, Elen Burstyn, Brenda Blethyn, Luis Guzman. A Muslim ex-con forms a friendship with his parole officer. The setting is striking, the cast impressive. But Two Men in Town, a drama that’s built on dread and circles the question of redemption for a newly released prisoner, falls short of the mythic territory it aspires to.

The Girl Is in Trouble ** Directed by Julius Onah. Starring Columbus Short, Wilmer Walderrama, Alicia Bachleda, Jesse Spencer. A Lower East Side bartender becomes entangled in a murder mystery involving a desperate woman, a missing drug dealer and the scion of a powerful investment firm. The story has plenty of possibilities, though Onah rarely manages to put his own stamp on things.

Blackhat ** Directed by Michael Mann. Convicted hacker Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) receives a "get out of jail free" card to join a team of American and Chinese technical experts tasked with tracking down a Balkan cyberterrorist operating from somewhere in Southeast Asia. A moody cyber-noir with not much on its mind but looking good, Blackhat is a must-see if you like your dialogue (romantic, dramatic, subtitled Cantonese) peppered with techspeak.

Tracers ** Directed by Daniel Benmayor. After New York bike messenger Cam (Taylor Lautner) falls into debt with the wrong people, he ends up bumping into the sexy Nikki (Marie Avgeropoulos), who offers him sanctuary and the chance to join her crew of thieves, who use their parkour skills to pull off their heists. The lusterless camerawork keys itself almost empathetically to the drab reality of the film’s spaces, settled and unsettled alike, but it can’t enliven the hackneyed plot.

White RabbitDirected by Tim McCann. A bullied high school student starts having visions of a rabbit that he killed when he was a kid, soon putting him in a state where his imagination threatens to cause him to carry out violent acts. While White Rabbit is not a lost cause, its difficult story of mistreatment and lashing out proves too much of a challenge to tell well.

Extraterrestrial Directed by Colin Minihan. A group of friends on a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods find themselves terrorized by alien visitors. Doesn’t amount to much beyond a mish-mash of movies we’ve seen before.

Just Before I Go * Directed by Courteney Cox. On the verge of giving up on life, a guy (Seann William Scott) travels to his hometown to make amends. A Garden State retread in which filthy jokes gradually cede ground to sentimental slush.

Mortdecai * Directed by David Koepp. Starring Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany, Olivia Munn, Oliver Platt, Jeff Goldblum. With the Russian Mafia on his trail, an urbane but unscrupulous art dealer sets off on a quest to recover a purloined painting that’s allegedly connected to a bank account chock-full of Nazi treasure. Charmless, mirthless and witless, this waste of time is another black mark on Depp’s card, while his co-stars fare little better. Even low expectations won’t help you here.

The Cobbler ½* Directed by Thomas McCarthy. Starring Adam Sandler, Method Man, Ellen Barkin, Steve Buscemi. New York shoe repairman Max Simkin has become weary of his drab existence when he discovers that an old stitching machine in his shop has magical properties, enabling Max to fully inhabit the lives of his customers simply by trying on their shoes. A slow-motion zeppelin crash that starts as a dull-edged fable, and then spirals further and further out of control without ever growing more exciting or interesting.

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