Monday, November 16, 2015

This Week's DVD Releases

Click on title to see the film’s trailer

Meru *** Directed by Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. Three elite climbers set out to scale the imposing Shark’s Fin on India’s Mount Meru. Blindingly beautiful and meticulously assembled by the award-winning editor Bob Eisenhardt, Meru easily makes you forget that what you are watching is completely bananas.

The Stanford Prison Experiment *** Directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez. Conducting a study on the psychology of incarceration, a Stanford professor assigns prisoner and guard roles to 24 male test subjects in a mock jail. Even with some familiar faces, this film feels like an honest-to-goodness documentary — a high compliment for a movie based on an infamous college project.

Jimmy’s Hall **½ Directed by Ken Loach. After being deported from Ireland to the United States, political firebrand Jimmy Gralton (Barry Ward) returns to his hometown a decade later and reopens the dance hall he once ran as a gathering place for youngsters, much to the dismay of community leaders. Loach’s staging is so calm and sober that it turns his story into an expertly photographed yet weirdly remote rebellion tale.

The Wanted 18 **½ Directed by Paul Cowan, Amer Shomali. A small Palestinian village buys 18 cows and stops buying Israeli milk. Imaginatively interspersing testimonials with re-enactments, comic panels and Claymation, the film plays out like an entertaining absurdist satire.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. ** Directed by Guy Ritchie. In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons. Ritchie manages a promising first act. But at the whim of the action movie formula, and ostensibly nothing else, priorities shift as the story carries forward. When we’re asked later on to attend to escalating stakes and a dimming tone, we’re simply left wondering what happened to all the fun.

Trash ** Directed by Stephen Daldry, Christian Duurvoort. Three kids who make a discovery in a Brazilian garbage dump soon find themselves running from the cops and trying to right a terrible wrong. While once upon a time Daldry made a very good movie (Billy Elliot), here he lets what should’ve been an efficient little thriller get stymied by an excess of style, and the weight of self-importance.

We Are Your Friends ** Directed by Max Joseph. While trying to break through as a DJ in Hollywood’s competitive club scene, ambitious Cole Carter (Zac Efron) finds a mentor in James (Wes Bentley), a charismatic older DJ. But complications arise when Cole makes the mistake of falling for James’ young girlfriend (Emily Ratajkowski). Besides Bentley’s performance, the only thing this has going for it is the occasional directorial flourish, with words on screen or characters addressing the camera or that painterly drug trip. These jolts are few and far between, but they’re most welcome when they arise.

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