Monday, February 8, 2016

This week's DVD releases

Click on the title to see the film’s trailer

Welcome to Leith ***½ Directed by Christopher K. Walker, Michael Beach Nichols. A documentary chronicling the attempted takeover of a small town in North Dakota by white supremacist Craig Cobb. This is as well-balanced and observed a documentary as there is, even if no sane human being could side with Cobb and his people.

Grandma *** Directed by Paul Weitz. A teenager (Julia Garner) facing an unplanned pregnancy seeks help from her acerbic grandmother (Lily Tomlin), a woman who is long estranged from her daughter (Marica Gay Harden). This film was clearly made on modest resources and can look a little rough and ready in places. Viewers will, however, be more than willing to overlook its imperfections because it is so funny and engaging and because Tomlin is such a joy to behold.

99 Homes *** Directed by Ramin Bahrani. A recently unemployed single father (Andrew Garfield) struggles to get back his foreclosed home by working for the real estate broker (Michael Shannon) who is the source of his frustration. An urgent work, the burning anger of which will viscerally connect with many viewers, who will recognize themselves or people they know up on the screen.

Crimson Peak **½ Directed by Guillermo del Toro. In the wake of a family tragedy, young Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) impulsively weds the disarming Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). But after moving into Sharpe’s isolated mansion in Northern England, Edith discovers that the house and her husband are hiding secrets. A curious hybrid of grim fairytale and gory horror, del Toro’s ninth feature is striking but sorely lacking in surprises. Great ghosts, but del Toro is capable of so much more.

Spectre **½ Directed by Sam Mendes. A cryptic message from James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. The first act is great, full of dark portent and bravura film-making flourishes. However, the final hour disappoints, with too many off-the-peg plot twists and too many characters conforming to type.

MI-5 ** Directed by Bharat Nalluri. When a terrorist (Elyes Gabel) escapes custody during a routine handover, Will Holloway (Kit Harington) must team with disgraced MI5 Intelligence Chief Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) to track him down before an imminent terrorist attack on London. Led by the honorably dour Firth and the charisma-free Harington, this film is convoluted and dull, though Harry’s revenge against that dastardly mole is pleasingly diabolical. But it’s too little too late.

PauletteDirected by Jerome Enrico. Elderly widow Paulette (Bernadette Lafont) lives alone in a tumbledown Parisian housing project after being forced to close the bakery she ran with her husband. Desperate to pay her bills, Paulette approaches a local cannabis dealer and asks him for a job. With Enrico mining the material for only the most obvious gags, the social commentary of the central joke never rises to the level of hard-hitting satire, instead settling on a broadly observed collection of types.

Love the Coopers * Directed by Jessie Nelson. When four generations of the Cooper clan come together for their annual Christmas Eve celebration, a series of unexpected visitors and unlikely events turn the night upside down. A Christmas comedy of numbing tedium and tackiness.

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