Monday, December 21, 2015

This week's DVD releases


Click on title to see the film’s trailer

Queen of Earth ***½ Directed by Alex Ross Perry. Two women (Elizabeth Moss, Katherine Waterston) who grew up together discover they have drifted apart when they retreat to a lake house together. A lovingly rendered, feel-bad chamber piece chock-full of elliptical psychodrama.

Black Mass *** Directed by Scott Cooper. The true story of Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp), the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf. Despite Depp’s seemingly flawless efforts, less may have been more in conveying just how bloodthirsty Bulger was. Where the film excels is with a stellar cast whose spot on performances keep your interest as the film moves along.

Pawn Sacrifice **½ Directed by Edward Zwick. The tumultuous life of chess wunderkind Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire), from his formative years to his epic world championship match against Soviet archrival Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) in Reykjavik, Iceland, during the height of the Cold War. This is a film in which, as the end credit documentary footage attests, the real story overwhelms its dramatization.

Nasty Baby **½ Directed by Sebastian Silva. Fixated on having a baby, bohemian artist Freddy (Silva) enlists his best friend, Polly (Kristen Wiig), to bear a child for him and his boyfriend. But the trio's happy lives are disrupted when a deranged neighbor begins to torment them. Subverting expected narratives may have been Silva’s aim all along; still, the turn isn’t just nasty, it’s confounding.

Dragon BladeDirected by Daniel Lee. When corrupt Roman leader Tiberius (Adrien Brody) arrives with a giant army to claim the Silk Road, Huo An (Jackie Chan) teams up his army with an elite Legion of defected Roman soldiers led by General Lucius (John Cusack) to protect his country and his new friends. The picture never finds its tone: It's neither go-for-broke outrageous enough to be consistently funny, nor energetic enough to be viscerally entertaining. It may not be as bad as you might fear, but it certainly isn’t as much fun as you might hope.

PanDirected by Joe Wright. With pirates roaming the landscape, a young lad (Levi Miller) is transported to the magical kingdom of Neverland, where he's destined to become the hero Peter Pan. The film doesn’t deliver on its own promise. The movie doesn’t so much enhance our understanding of the flying boy as it demonstrates how little thought went into crafting his back story.

War Room * Directed by Alex Kendrick. From the outside, the lives of Tony (T.C. Stallings) and Elizabeth (Priscilla Shirer) Jordan appear perfect, but their marriage is in shambles. After seeking counsel from a wise older woman (Karen Abercrombie), Elizabeth realizes it will take a deep commitment to prayer to keep her world from crumbling. It may not be as brazenly offensive as God’s Not Dead or as spectacularly inept as Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas, but it’s still awful, offering all the forced humor and superficial substance of a half-baked homily.

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