Monday, July 6, 2015

These week's DVD releases

Click on title to see the film’s trailer

‘71 ***½ Directed by Yann Demange. The setting may be Belfast ‘71, but Demange’s sensibility — first-rate suspense coupled with black-and-white politics — is much more James Cameron ‘86.

Slow West *** Directed by John Maclean. Maclean and his cast create a sound, tone and feel that makes even a moldy tale like this lean, mean and fresh, even if it never quite transcends the gun smoke of its genre.

Merchants of Doubt *** Directed by Robert Kenner. There isn’t a tremendous amount of new information in this generally well-crafted documentary. But it makes a potent, urgent case against the merchants of doubt who play games with the planet’s future.

Uncertain Terms *** Directed by Nathan Silver. Silver offers up a generally assured and compelling film here.

Human Capital **½ Directed by Paolo Virzi. Melding a morality play with a glossy soap, Italy’s Human Capital is a fairly successful balance of entertainment and ideas.

Deli Man **½ Directed by Erik Anjou. Much to its credit, this documentary wisely chooses not to bemoan the decline but to celebrate the robust survivors that remain as well as the culture they preserve.

Danny Collins **½ Directed by Dan Fogelmqn. Starring  Beneath the sitcom cutesiness and boldfaced sentimentality, the film manages to keep just enough reality coursing through to stay grounded.

Alex of Venice **½ Directed by Chris Messina. As she flails through a few dubious choices, the character may be on the kind of self-discovery path we’ve seen in countless other films; but Mary Elizabeth Winstead makes the outcome seem far from preordained.

Woman in Gold ** Directed by Simon Curtis. The production design is swank, the score impassioned. We should be riveted. Instead, you may feel you’ve seen this movie before, and, in a sense, you have: Woman in Gold plays remarkably like 2013's Philomena with a change of cast and a different historical outrage.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown ** Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. An initially promising genre reboot ends up feeling like a major failure of nerve.

Echoes of War Directed by Kane Senes. I could not see this as anything more than a giant bore that presents viewers with the most familiar plot devices imaginable but fails to present them in a way that makes them worth sitting through.

Dark Summer * Directed by Paul Solet. While competently made, Dark Summer makes no effort to lend its characters any psychological complexity, or even much distinguishing personality. Nor are the proceedings very scary.

The Road Within * Directed by Gren Wells. This is a movie about affliction, and it ultimately succumbs to the bland, sentimental uplift we’ve come to expect from such outings.

Kill Me Three Times * Directed by Kriv Stenders. This neo-noir crime comedy works overtime to seem unique and clever. The result, however, is a derivative, gimmicky, at times dizzying puzzle that fails to engage.

Alien Outpost * Directed by Jabbar Raisani. A sci-fi action film with the production values of your average porno, Alien Outpost spews clichés like a machine gun set on maximum triteness.

The Lovers ½* Directed by Roland Joffé.  A shamelessly derivative and preposterous would-be blockbuster that goofily fashions itself as a sweeping romance, time-travel sci-fi tale, and gallant period piece all at once.

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