Monday, March 21, 2016

This week's DVD releases

Click on title to see the film’s trailer

James White ***½ Directed by Josh Mond. A twenty-something New Yorker (Christopher Abbott), struggles to take control of his self-destructive behavior in the face of momentous family challenges. The film gets up close and personal in often discomfiting ways, but it’s never exploitative or glib. It hits the highs, and the rock bottoms, and all the damnable stuff in between.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 **½ Directed by Francis Lawrence. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), flanked by her allies from District 13, embarks on a quest to liberate the oppressed citizens of Panem by assassinating ruthless President Snow (Donald Sutherland). With its political power struggles and prodigious body count, all rendered in a thousand shades of wintry greige, the movie feels less like teen entertainment than a sort of Hunger Games of Thrones.

Dreams Rewired **½ Directed by Manu Luksch, Martin Reinhart, Thomas Tode. Tilda Swinton narrates this documentary that uses footage from nearly 200 films made between the 1880s and 1930s to explore the history of connectivity as well as the anxiety it has provoked. The filmmakers aren’t arguing that mass-media tech leads to fascism, but they suggest, with some lightness, that our interconnectedness certainly facilitates it. But this documentary is no polemic, and it never mocks the past.

Noma: My Perfect Storm ** Directed by Pierre Deschamps. After winning a Best Restaurant In The World award in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014, chef Rene Redzepi discusses his Copenhagen restaurant Noma and how his culinary philosophy has shaped its success. I’ve never seen a restaurant documentary that seemed less interested in showing the joy of food.

Daddy’s HomeDirected by John Morris, Sean Anders. Stepdad Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell) is a radio host trying to get his stepchildren to love him and call him dad. But his plans turn upside down when the biological father, Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg), returns. One of those comedies that is not terribly good, but not nearly as terrible as it might have been.

Every Thing Will Be Fine * Directed by Wim Wenders. While driving in a snowstorm, a struggling novelist (James Franco) accidentally hits and kills a child. His guilt about the tragic incident lingers for years, sending him into an emotional tailspin and prompting an agonizing reassessment of his life. Something is off with this drama. Even for a movie about a writer detached from his emotions, it’s ponderous, like a lucid dream gone bad.

The Letters * Directed by William Riead. Explores the life of Mother Teresa (Juliet Stevenson) through letters she wrote to her longtime friend and spiritual advisor, Father Celeste van Exem (Max von Sydow), over a nearly 50-year period. Opting for dutiful, reverent beatification over flesh-and-blood characterizations (or insights), the film is merely a clunky primer on how poor storytelling can make even the grandest of figures seem small.

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