Monday, March 7, 2016

This week's DVD releases


Click on title to see the film’s trailer

The Forbidden Room ***½ Directed by Evan Johnson, Guy Maddin. The crew of a submarine trapped in the ocean depths discovers that a dangerous band of forest thieves has joined them on board. This exercise in beauty, derangement and memory can be contemplative or silly. Often it’s both, in just the right proportions.

The Tribe ***½ Directed by Miroslav Slaboshpitsky. A teenager (Grigoriy Fesenl) arrives at a boarding school for deaf-mute students and quickly discovers that there’s far more going on among the students than meets the eye. Original, engrossing and extremely confrontational, it treads the dark path between misery porn and masterpiece.

Victoria *** Directed by Sebastian Schipper. When adventurous Victoria (Laia Costa) goes out for a night of clubbing, she meets four young men who invite her to join them for some after-hours revelry only to learn they are planning a brazen heist. Viewers may come down from the high a little sooner than the film does, with the characters’ increasingly ill-considered actions testing our faith and engagements to the breaking point, but the sheer centripetal force of the film’s vigorous technique never loses its hold.

The Wonders *** Directed by Alice Rohrwacher. A family of beekeepers living in the Tuscan countryside finds their household disrupted by the simultaneous arrival of a silently troubled teenage boy and a reality TV show intent on showcasing the family. Rohrwacher draws us into this unusual world with the ease of someone who knows exactly what they’re talking about, neither judging nor celebrating and, at her best, just looking with tenderness and a winning sense of humor.

10,000 km *** Directed by Carlos Marques-Marcet. Deeply in love and planning to have a baby, Barcelona residents Alex (Natalia Tena) and Sergi (David Verdaguer) must alter those plans when Alex is offered a one-year artist residency in America. It’s a simple, cheap and limited concept beautifully executed. The players, especially Tena, tell us the story with their faces.

Macbeth *** Directed by Justin Kurzel. An ambitious Scottish nobleman (Michael Fassbender) thirsting for power is egged on by his conniving wife (Marion Cotillard). Beyond the performances, this new Macbeth benefits from Kurzel’s inspired eye, the increasingly impressive talents of cinematographer Adam Arkapaw (True Detective) and Fiona Crombie’s period-loving production design. The world they have created for this tragedy may overwhelm, but it’s certainly impossible to forget.

The Peanuts Movie *** Directed by Steve Martino. With help from his sidekick Woodstock, the imaginative beagle Snoopy takes to the skies on a daring mission to defeat his sworn enemy the Red Baron, while his good-natured friend Charlie Brown tries to win the heart of the Little Red-Haired Girl. The comic strip’s late creator Charles M. Schulz would undoubtedly approve of this, given his progeny have ensured the film remains true to his artistic and humanist vision.

Break Point **½ Directed by Jay Karas. Two estranged brothers (Jeremy Sisto, David Walton) reunite to make an improbable run at a grand slam tennis tournament. Easygoing and always likeable but hardly packed with laughs.

In the Heart of the Sea ** Directed by Ron Howard. A recounting of a New England whaling ship’s sinking by a giant whale in 1820, an experience that later inspired the novel Moby-Dick. Lovers of spectacle for spectacle’s sake will come away from the film with many discrete sequences to admire, but there’s not enough of a human element to bridge them together. In terms of its lasting power, this film roars in like a great tide, but then just as quickly dissipates.

Mountain Men ** Directed by Cameron Labine. Two estranged brothers (Tyler Labine, Chace Crawford) journey to a remote family cabin in the mountains to evict a squatter. Director Labine seems to want to prove the obsolescence of the lovable-slacker stereotype even as he flogs it for entertainment value.

The Benefactor Directed by Andrew Renzi. Driven by a perceived need to make amends for the deaths of his two best friends in a tragic auto accident, an eccentric philanthropist (Richard Gere) inserts himself into the lives of the dead couple’s daughter (Dakota Fanning) and her new husband (Theo James). What begins as an intriguing psychological thriller devolves into an addiction drama, growing less interesting as it proceeds and giving costars Fanning and James little to do.

Victor FrankensteinDirected by Paul McGuigan. Told from the point of view of loyal lab assistant Igor (Daniel Radciffe) and his friendship with erratic genius Dr. Frankenstein (James McAvoy). For much of the movie’s running time, I wished I were watching Mel Brooks’ classic take on Shelley’s yarn, Young Frankenstein. At least that one was intentionally funny.

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