Monday, May 9, 2016

This week's DVD releases



RATINGS
***** A classic. Should be a part of any serious film lover’s permanent library.
**** Excellent with only a few minor flaws.
*** Worthy of renting or streaming.
** Below average, but mght have limited appeal to some tastes.
* Should be avoided at all costs.
No stars All copies should be confiscated and destroyed for humanity’s sake.

Click on title to see the film’s trailer.

Mustang **** Directed by Deniz Gamze Erguven. When five orphan girls are seen innocently playing with boys on a beach, their scandalized conservative guardians confine them while forced marriages are arranged. Ergüven’s film, beautifully shot and beautifully performed, cuts its storybook tone with starker, more brutal truths. Anger — aimed at a conservative social order and those complicit in maintaining it — courses through this sad, striking tale. This is a damning portrait of the lot of women in rural Turkish society, but its outrage and empathy spill over the sides of the movie to embrace the planet as a whole — anywhere a woman is condemned for all the thoughts others have about her.

Wildlike ***½ Directed by Frank Hall Green. After conditions in her new home become unbearable, a teenage girl (Ella Purnell) runs away and befriends an older man (Bruce Greenwood) preparing for a hike through the Alaskan wilderness. Greenwood brings his usual A-game, generating great chemistry with Purnell in their ad hoc paternal relationship, but she’s the revelation.

I Don’t Belong Anywhere: The Cinema of Chantal Akerman *** Directed by Marianne Lambert. When Chantal Akerman took her life in 2015, she left behind more than 40 movies she directed during her career. Ironic, given what a deeply personal filmmaker she could be, that the film that best shows her brilliant intellect and insight isn’t her own.

Deadpool *** Directed by Tim Miller. A former Special Forces operative (Ryan Reynolds) turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool. As is often the case with violence like you’ll find in this film, it eventually becomes numbing. By its midpoint, once the novelty of a superhero movie showing super levels of violence wears off, the thinness and lack of spark in the fight scenes becomes more readily apparent. By the film’s end, they are hard to distinguish from any other superhero fare. Similarly, lack of imagination keep the film’s prodigious swearing and occasional nudity from feeling like anything original.

Where to Invade Next *** Directed by Michael Moore. With an eye toward finding solutions to the social problems plaguing America, provocative documentarian Moore embarks on a European expedition to interview ordinary citizens about their nations’ effective policies and practices. It’s frequently funny and entertaining enough, but its insights are far from revolutionary.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato *** Directed by Peter Greenaway. Rejected by Hollywood and facing pressure to return to Stalinist Russia, filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein (Elmer Back) travels to Mexico to shoot a new film. The film has all the incessant showiness that can make Greenaway irksome: split screens, CGI, deliberately alienating performances. But the man loves a beautiful shot and a witty line; those are the things that carry the film.

Creative Control **½ Directed by Benjamin Dickinson. A young ad executive (Dickinson) begins to lose touch when he uses a client’s new Augmenta eyeglasses to create — and have a virtual affair with — a sexy avatar who looks like his best buddy’s (Dan Gill) girlfriend (Alexia Rasmussen). Maybe the real message here is that Brooklyn hipsters are absurdly annoying, whether it’s past, present or near future. On that front, the film succeeds. As a compelling film about the alienating effects of technology, not so much.

SynchronicityDirected by Jacob Gentry. A physicist (Chad McKnight) who invents a time machine must travel back to the past to uncover the truth about his creation and the woman (Brianne Davis) who is trying to steal it. After an hour or so of bad noir dialogue and convoluted plotting, viewers may wish they could jump back in time and watch something else.

RegressionDirected by Alejandro Amenabar. A detective (Ethan Hawke) and a psychoanalyst (David Thewlis) uncover evidence of a satanic cult while investigating the rape of a young woman. Perhaps a story like this needed to be a drama. Or maybe, with its constant, almost comical shifting of blame, a dark satire. Instead, it’s wound up as the worst of all possible alternatives: a disposable genre movie that cannot scare, convince, or enlighten.

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