Saturday, March 8, 2014
NEW ON THE SHELF
Tom Hanks in “Captain Phillips.”
“BLUE JASMINE,” Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin. We’re in the midst of yet another late-career resurgence for critical darling (and controversial figure of late) Woody Allen, and this bitterly funny dramedy finds him at the top of his game, inspiring a peerless performance by Blanchett as “Jasmine.” She plays a newly penniless housewife still reeling from the financial fallout of her ne’er-do-well husband’s (Baldwin) fraudulent business practices, forced to stay with her estranged, less-successful sister (Sally Hawkins, “Happy Go Lucky”) and her meathead boyfriend (Bobby Cannavale, “Boardwalk Empire”). With fantastic supporting roles for comics Louis C.K. and a surprisingly affecting Andrew Dice Clay, “Jasmine” continues the Woodman’s hot streak with aplomb. Special features include a cast press conference. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:38. Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $35.99.
“CAPTAIN PHILLIPS,” Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi. Nobody does the you-are-there approach like director Paul Greengrass (see “United 93” for a particularly stirring case in point), so who better than he to adapt the gripping true story of “Captain Phillips,” perfectly embodied by Hanks as a likable but all-business captain of a cargo ship set to encircle Africa, which necessitates navigating the treacherous, pirate-infested waters of Somalia. The inevitable pirate takeover occurs, led by Muse (Abdi, in an impressive and appropriately intimidating debut performance), whose expectations of a big payday ensure that he’ll go to any lengths necessary to secure his supposed fortune. Fans of Greengrass will recognize his usual tricks and tropes, all employed to terrific effect here, but Hanks manages to continue to surprise even after all these years, delivering a magnificent portrayal of authority struggling not to crack under immense pressure, leading to a finale that’s as cathartic as it is devastating. Special features include a commentary from Greengrass. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:14. Suggested retail price: $30; Blu-ray $40.99.
“MACHETE KILLS,” Danny Trejo, Sofia Vergara. He certainly does, and as graphically as possible, thanks to the efforts of ever enthusiastic director Robert Rodriguez in this typically over-the-top sequel, which gives Trejo another cinematic battleground to do his thing on. Violent nonsense, and proudly so; fans of Trejo and grindhouse cinema in general will have a great time, others need not apply. Rated R. Running time: 1:48. Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $34.98.
NEW TO DVD
“CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN,” Shia LeBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood. Hyperactive, not entirely cohesive and just about impossible to classify, this stylishly shot, loosely plotted film sets a typically overeager LeBeouf loose in Bucharest, having been encouraged by the ghost of his recently deceased mother (Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”) to travel there for undisclosed reasons. He becomes embroiled in a dangerous love triangle of sorts involving a beautiful classical cellist (Wood) and her estranged, criminal husband (Mads Mikkelsen, “Hannibal”). “Charlie” seems to have aspirations to be the next “Drive,” and while the visuals are impressive and the film far from boring, the rampant overacting and tenuous-at-absolute-best storyline fail to work in its favor. Rated R. Running time: 1:43. Suggested retail price: $24.99; Blu-ray $29.99.
“CROSSING LINES: SEASON ONE,” Willian Fichtner, Marc Lavoine. It’s “CSI” redux, with an international bent, with the always welcome Fichtner (“Drive Angry”), a redoubtable character actor long overdue for his own series, making for a compelling protagonist as Carl Hickman, a former NYPD detective sidelined with an injury then coaxed back into duty by Det. Daniel (Lavoine, “The Good Thief”) to work at International Criminal Court. In large part, this is more of the same grim, ratings-grabbing, forensics-based procedural work viewers have been addicted to for the past couple decades now, but Fichtner alone makes it worth a watch, and the series has steadily improved as it has progressed; a meaty supporting role from Donald Sutherland doesn’t hurt either. Not rated. Running time: 7:40. Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $29.97.
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