THIS WEEK’S THEATRICAL RELEASES:
“Captain Phillips”: Two-time Oscar-winner Tom Hanks turns in one of his best performances in years in the true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the U.S.-flagged MV Maersk Alabama off the African coast. Phillips and his crew were held hostage for ransom, setting up a tense headline-making standoff between the pirates and the U.S. Navy. Director Paul Greengrass — no newcomer when it comes to political and action films (“Bloody Sunday,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” “United 93,” “Green Zone”) creates a spell-binding drama as he first keys in on the day-to-day machinations of freight shipping, then segues into high stakes action as the pirates decide to hijack the ship. Greengrass misses nothing here, and Hanks’ performance as he fears for his life is so realistic that one just has to squirm with recognition. A pulse-pounding thriller with tour-de-force directing and editing, and outstanding performances by a cast of unknowns as the pirates. Extras include an interesting “Capturing Captain Phillips,” a three-part, behind-the-scenes look at the film’s production and the real events surrounding the film; commentary with director Paul Greengrass. From Sony.
Say what you will about the reclusive, aloof, perhaps kinky Woody Allen — the man loves women. In particular, he loves the women in his films (sometimes literally), creating great roles for the likes of Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow, Mira Sorvino, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall and Naomi Watts, to name just a few — and now he’s created a great one for Cate Blanchett. Blanchett puts in an Oscar-worthy tour-de-force performance as a spoiled, elegant Manhattan socialite whose life falls apart — figuratively and literally — after her doting businessman husband is arrested for securities fraud. Virtually penniless, she moves to San Francisco to live in her sister’s apartment, where she struggles to pull herself back together again despite her upper-class snobbery rubbing up against her new blue-collar existence. She’s precariously balanced on an emotional tightrope between her troubled past and her fresh start, dreaming of her lost glamour but all the while neglecting to take responsibility for her complicity in her past failings. A remarkable outing. Co-stars Alec Baldwin, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Sarsgaard, Alden Ehrenreich, Louis C.K., Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale, Tammy Blanchard and Andrew Dice Clay. From Sony.
“In a World …”:
A delightful but lean comedy about a young voiceover artist (writer-director Lake Bell) who gets
her first big break in the cutthroat world of movie-trailer voiceovers and then finds herself in competition with her father (Fred Melamed), the industry’s reigning king, as well as his arrogant protege (Ken Marino), for the plumb announcer’s role in an upcoming, big-budget teen-girl-oriented movie series. Nothing much happens as Bell waltzes from one comedic scene to another, and there’s very little tension even as the voiceover artists jockey for position. Still, its an enjoyable taste of more to come from the talented Bell. Extras include commentary with writer-director-actor Bell, deleted scenes, a gag reel and six voiceover promo trailers for the film. From Sony.
Also due this week:
“Instructions Not Included,” a Mexican comedy about a former Acapulco playboy who gives it all up to move to Los Angeles with his newfound baby daughter, raising her for six years and establishing himself as one of Hollywood’s top stuntmen. But their unique and offbeat family is threatened when Maggie’s birth mom shows up out of the blue. In Spanish with English subtitles. From Lionsgate.
“Machete Kills,” a very weak sequel to an already weak original, starring Danny Trejo as the “legendary” ex-Federale Machete Cortez who is recruited by the U.S. President to stop a crazed global terrorist (Mel Gibson) who has hatched a plan to spread war and anarchy across the planet. From Universal.
Highlight of the week is The Criterion Collection release of “La Vie de Boheme” (1992), a deadpan tragicomedy about a group of impoverished, outcast artists living the bohemian life in Paris that is among the most beguiling films by Finnish master Aki Kaurismaki (“Le Havre”). Based on stories from Henri Murger’s influential mid 19th-century book “Scenes de la vie de boheme (the basis for the opera “La boheme”), the film features a marvelous trio of Kaurismaki regulars, Andre Wilms, Matti Pellonpaa and Karl Vaananen, as a poet, painter, and composer who scrape by together, sharing in life’s daily absurdities. Gorgeously shot in black and white, “La vie de boheme” is a vibrantly scrappy rendition of a beloved tale. In a new, high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. In a Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Edition.
There’s four fine Blu-ray debuts this week: “The Postman Always Rings Twice” (1981), directed by Bob Rafelson and starring Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, John Colicos, Michael Lerner, John P. Ryan and Anjelica Huston. Warner finally does justice to the steamy remake of the 1946 Tay Garnett crime drama (starring Lana Turner and John Garfield) with this lavish remastering of Rafelson’s film (with his approval). Apparently, the 1997 DVD release was in the wrong aspect ratio in a pan-and-scan format and, according to Rafelson, contained “a host of other errors.” Warner has made it good this time, adding commentary by Rafelson, Nicholson and screenwriter David Mamet. The film is justly notorious for its hot kitchen table sex scene between Lange and Nicholson … “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy” (2010) is a “Shockumentary” highlighting the horrifying history of everybody’s bad dreamer, Freddy Krueger, featuring exclusive interviews with over 100 key cast and crew from every “Nightmare,” including creator Wes Craven and Robert Englund. Extras include extended interviews, “First Look: Heather Langenkamp’s I Am Nancy,” “For the Love of the Glove,” “Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans,” “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: Return to Elm Street,” “Freddy vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd,” “Expanding the Video Game Universe: Freddy in Comic Books and Novels,” “The Music of the Nightmare: Conversations With Composers and Songwriters,” “Elm Street’s Poster Boy: The Art of Matthew Joseph Peak,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street in 10 Minutes,” “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy” teaser trailer. In a two-disc collector’s edition, $29.98 from Image Entertainment … “Cat People Collector’s Edition” (1982), directed by Paul Schrader and starring Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, John Heard and Annette O’Toole, is a kinky remake of Jacque Tourneur’s 1942 horror noir classic. Features music by Giorgio Moroder with the “Cat People” theme sung by David Bowie. Extras include new interviews with writer-director Schrader, Kinski, McDowell, Heard, O’Toole, Lynn Lowry and composer Giorgio Moroder; a theatrical trailer, still gallery and TV spot. From Scream Factory/Shout! Factory … And, finally, from The Criterion Collection comes a remastering of Stanley Kramer’s “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963), a wild comedy about a group of strangers fighting tooth and nail over buried treasure; it’s quite possibly the most grandly harebrained movie ever made, a pile up of slapstick and borscht-belty one-liners performed by a nonpareil cast, including Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Spencer Tracy, Jonathan Winters, Buddy Hackett, Dick Shawn, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, Jim Backus and a boatload of other playing-to-the-rafters comedy legends. In a new, restored 4K digital film transfer of the general release version of the film, with 5.1 surround Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. New high-definition digital transfer of a 197-minute extended version of the film, reconstructed and restored by Robert A. Harris using visual and audio material from the longer original road-show version — including some scenes that have been returned to the film here for the first time — with 5.1 surround Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Formats: Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Edition: Two Blu-rays/three DVDs.
“Old Goats” (2010) is the very sweet and unusual story of a trio of spirited senior citizens on a quest to make the most of their sunset years. Friends Bob, Britt and Dave — playing themselves in a fictional framework — are each confronting aging in his own unique fashion: Straight-laced Dave rebels against his wife’s plans for their new retirement, hoarder Britt struggles with online dating after decades alone on his houseboat, and lively ladies man Bob juggles a hyperactive social schedule and a fanciful memoir about his adventurous past. Rife with equal doses of attitude and charm, this slice-of-life comedy finds offbeat humor in the everyday foibles of life and love after retirement, and provides a refreshing perspective on “the golden years,” proving it’s never too late to chase your dreams. It’s kind of like “Seinfeld” for seniors. Stars Britton Crosley, Bob Burkholder, David Vander Wal, Benita Staadecker, Gail Shackel, Steve Stolee. From Music Box Films,