Monday, September 7, 2015

This week's DVD Releases

Click on title to see the film’s trailer

Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show *** Directed by Des Doyle. A documentary that explores the world of U.S. television showrunners and the creative forces aligned around them. Unstudied to the point of utilitarianism, the film nonetheless has wide scope, and Doyle effectively gets his arms around this huge, nebulous, weird job.

The Outrageous Sophie Tucker **½ Directed by William Gazecki. A documentary focusing on the tumultuous early days of this iconic vaudeville superstar who ruled the 1920's Flapper Era in the United States. The movie isn’t especially well made, yet because Tucker is such a gloriously rich figure — immigrant turned runaway mother turned vaudevillian turned superstar — she renders its formal and aesthetic shortcomings (mostly) irrelevant.

The Age of Adaline ** Directed by Lee Toland Krieger. After 29-year-old Adaline (Blake Lively) recovers from a nearly lethal accident, she inexplicably stops growing older. Sadly, director Krieger’s offering, a weak wanna-be Jean Cocteau-esque fable with magical realist pretensions, does great disservice to Lively and her remarkably accomplished costars.

Misery Loves Comedy ** Directed by Kevin Pollak. More than 50 famous American and Canadian funny people (filmmakers, writers, actors and comedians) share life, professional journeys and insights, in an effort to shed light on the thesis: Do you have to be miserable to be funny? This documentary does not need to exist. The niche it aims to fill has already been occupied by people willing to go much deeper than Pollak.

American Heist * Directed by Sarik Andreasyan. James (Hayden Christensen) owes his life to his older brother, Frankie (Adrien Brody), after taking the rap for a crime they committed together. While Frankie served time, James worked to turn his life around, got a steady job and began courting his former girlfriend (Jordana Brewster). Now, Frankie is released and back on the streets with no money and no place to go. Slick but derivative and forgettable on all levels.

United Passions (no stars) Directed by Frédéric Auburtin. Follows the passing of the FIFA baton through three association presidents: Jules Rimet (Gérard Depardieu), Joao Havelange (Sam Neill), and Sepp Blatter (Tim Roth). This is one of the most unwatchable films in recent memory, a dishonest bit of corporate-suite sanitizing that’s no good even for laughs.

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