Monday, November 2, 2015

This week's DVD Releases

Click on title to see the film’s trailer

Inside Out **** Directed by Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen. After young Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions — Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling)and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) — conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school. Pixar’s 15th feature proves to be the greatest idea the toon studio has ever had: a stunningly original concept that will not only delight and entertain the company’s massive worldwide audience, but also promises to forever change the way people think about the way people think, delivering creative fireworks grounded by a wonderfully relatable family story.

Seymour: An Introduction ***½ Directed by Ethan Hawke. A documentary that examines the life and times of piano teacher Seymour Bernstein, who chose teaching and composition over the chance to pursue a career as a concert pianist. The 81 minutes spent in Bernstein’s funny, touching and vital presence is something you don’t want to miss.

The End of the Tour ***½ Directed by James Ponsoldt. The story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel), which took place right after the 1996 publication of Wallace’s groundbreaking epic novel, Infinite Jest. Intimate, soul-baring, and winning, this is a special, lovely little gem.

Best of Enemies *** Directed by Robert Gordon, Morgan Neville. A documentary on the series of televised debates in 1968 between the liberal Gore Vidal and the conservative William F. Buckley Jr. An outstanding account of a pivotal moment in television history.

Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine *** Directed by Michael Josue. A documentary that recounts Shepard’s brief life and his grisly murder in 1998 that had a stunning effect on the American public and brought the legacy of hostility toward gays into focus. Josue’s film is not consistently effective in bridging her personal story with Shepard’s well-known legacy, but there are striking moments that explore the limits of forgiveness.

Digging for Fire *** Directed by Joe Swanberg. The discovery of a bone and a gun send a husband (Jake Johnson) and wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) on separate adventures over the course of a weekend. More lightweight than its ample talk of weighty subjects suggests, the film is nevertheless enjoyable.

Do I Sound Gay? **½ Directed by David Thorpe. A documentary about the stereotype of the gay voice. Gets into the mysteries of homosexual attraction and eroticism, and suggests that if Thorpe wants the kind of long-term relationship that Takei, Sedaris, and Savage have, he’ll have to get over his fetishization of the macho and learn to accept himself. That’s a poignant, powerful conclusion, all from asking one question.

Roar **½ Directed by Noel Marshall. Jungle beasts assemble in flocks to invade an otherwise quiet home where they chase humans up and down stairways and from one room to another. Something this bad can’t help but be good.

Tap World **½ Directed by Dean Hargrove. A documentary detailing a renaissance in tap dancing. It would be better if it had a bit less proclaiming and a bit more nuts-and-bolts information, but still, it’s refreshing to see people bubbling over with enthusiasm for an art that is somewhat out of the mainstream.

The Final Girls **½ Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson. A young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom’s most famous movie. Not every joke lands and it’s not as consistently funny as it could have been, but at its best, The Final Girls evokes the offbeat silliness of David Wain’s parody films like Wet Hot American Summer and They Came Together.

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet ** Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. A 10-year-old cartographer secretly leaves his family’s ranch in Montana where he lives with his cowboy father and scientist mother and travels across the country aboard a freight train to receive an award at the Smithsonian Institute. For all it boasts in ingenious style, this genial American yarn lacks the delicious bile of Jenuet’s early days.

A LEGO Brickumentary ** Directed by Kief Davidson, Daniel Junge. A look at the global culture and appeal of the LEGO building-block toys. Even the interesting parts of this documentary aren’t that interesting, but are rather more like the best thing you might hear while being cornered by the most boring person at a party.

She’s Funny That Way ** Directed by Peter Bogdanovich. On the set of a playwright’s new project, a love triangle forms between his wife, her ex-lover, and the call girl-turned-actress cast in the production. Posted as a love letter to the classic screwball comedies of Hollywood’s golden age, but delivers ersatz Woody Allen instead; it’s like Bullets Over Broadway minus the mob plot and 90 percent of the charm.

VacationDirected by John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein. Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) takes his own family on a road trip to Walley World in order to spice things up with his wife (Christina Applegate) and reconnect with his sons. One of the most repellent, mean-spirited gross-out comedies it’s ever been my squirmy displeasure to sit through.

Before We Go * Directed by Chris Evans. Two strangers stuck in Manhattan for the night grow into each other’s most trusted confidants when an evening of unexpected adventure forces them to confront their fears and take control of their lives. A talky, contrived and ultimately tedious actors’ exercise.

Some Kind of Hate * Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer. A bullied teenager is sent to a reform school where he accidentally summons the spirit of a girl, herself a victim of bullying, who takes vengeance on his tormentors. The film fails to deliver a thrill — not even a shiver, except of revulsion — rendering all that slasher gore downright anemic.

The Diabolical * Directed by Alistair Legrand. A single mother (Ali Lasrter), and her children, are awoken nightly by an intense presence. It might be asking too much for this movie to fully live up to its cheesy-ominous title, but the sheer unadulterated inanity of these proceedings suggests that it’ll soon be teleported to the far corners of the B-movie streaming-video abyss.

Some Kind of Beautiful no stars Directed by Tom Vaughan. A Cambridge poetry professor (Pierce Brosnan) begins to re-evaluate his life of excess. From first frame to last, this movie is some kind of hideous, a perfect storm of romantic-comedy awfulness that seems to set the ailing genre back decades with the sheer force of its ineptitude.

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