Monday, November 9, 2015

This week's DVD releases


Click on title to see the film’s trailer

Tangerine ***½ Directed by Sean Baker. A working girl (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) tears through Los Angeles on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp (James Ransone) who broke her heart. A groundbreaking film that leaves you in stitches while quietly breaking your heart.

Trainwreck *** Directed by Judd Apatow. Having thought that monogamy was never possible, a commitment-phobic career woman (Amy Schumer) may have to face her fears when she meets a good guy (Bill Hader). There’s a lot thrown in here for two hours, and Apatow could easily have lost about 30 minutes of high jinks and gotten the point across that everybody has their somebody. Yet with Schumer driving the action, Trainwreck may be his most impactful film yet.

Mala Mala *** Directed by Antonio Santini, Dan Sickles. A documentary about the transgender culture told through the eyes of nine trans-identifying individuals in Puerto Rico. After spending time with all nine of these sometimes-gutsy, sometimes-conflicted women and men, it’s impossible not to feel a deeper appreciation for their struggle to feel like the skin they live in is genuinely their home.

Far From Men *** Directed by David Oelhoffen. In 1954 rural Algeria, French teacher Daru (Viggo Mortensen) is given the task of escorting an Arab man accused of murder to the town where the trial is to take place. The film often suggests a less defiant cover of The Defiant Ones, yet it should be seen for Mortensen’s characteristically wonderful performance.

Mr. Holmes *** Directed by Bill Condon. An aged, retired Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen), deals with early dementia, as he tries to remember his final case and a woman, the memory of whom still haunts him. This is a ruminative film of minor-key rewards, driven by an impeccably nuanced performance from McKellen as a solitary 93-year-old man enfeebled by age, yet still canny and even compassionate in ways that surprise and comfort him.

Zarafa **½ Directed by Rémi Bezançon, Jean-Christophe Lie. A 10-year-old boy journeys from Africa to France to save an orphaned baby giraffe from a life in captivity. May not be the most groundbreaking feat of storytelling, but it does have a giraffe in a balloon.

Advantageous **½ Directed by Jennifer Phang. When age threatens her job as spokesperson for a radical procedure that offers lasting youth, a single mom (Jacqueline Kim) decides to undergo the treatment. It’s a kick to see how effectively Phang has created the future on a shoestring even if she hasn’t yet figured out how to turn all her smart ideas into a fully realized feature.

Terminator GenisysDirected by Alan Taylor. A prequel to the original Terminator story. Feels like being trapped in a conversation with a child breathlessly recounting the highlights of all the preceding Terminator movies.

We’ll Never Have Paris Directed by Simon Helberg, Jocelyn Towne. After unintentionally breaking up with his longtime girlfriend (Melanie Lynskey) while trying to propose, a neurotic, vacillating man-child (Helberg) pursues her to Paris. This film requires so many leaps of faith and suspensions of disbelief that you might develop acrophobia.

Self/less Directed by Tarsem Singh. A dying real estate mogul (Ben Kingsley) transfers his consciousness into a healthy young body (Ryan Reynolds). Eventually, you start to wonder if the movie forgot to take its own pills: What starts out as an interesting exploration of identity soon gives way to the uninspired, generic action flick I had feared it always was.

Pay the Ghost * Directed by Uli Edel. A professor (Nicolas Cage) searches for his son who was abducted during a Halloween parade. This somnolent supernatural thriller is a low-energy wash from start to finish.

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