Film & TV

‘A Most Violent Year,’ ‘The Immigrant’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Set in 1981 New York, “A Most Violent Year” tells the story of a hard-working businessman determined to grow his heating-oil company despite intense competition and a crime spree highlighted by the hijacking of several of his trucks. Chandor paints Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) as a decent man struggling to do the right thing in an industry overrun by corruption. 

‘The Imitation Game,’ ‘Wild’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

“The Imitation Game” won only a single Academy Award (best adapted screenplay for Graham Moore) in February, but the movie’s nomination tally is a better representation of its quality. The tightly paced suspense film, which depicts key moments in the life of British computer pioneer Alan Turing, received eight nominations, including nods for best picture, best director, best actor and best supporting actress. 

‘The Hobbit,’ ‘Unbroken’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

At first, director Peter Jackson’s decision to split his screen adaptation of “The Hobbit” into three films seemed like an excessive attempt to milk cash from a project better suited to a single 150-minute feature. In retrospect, it is obvious that Jackson was less interested in a straightforward screen adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel than an epic prequel to his “Lord of the Rings” saga. 

‘Annie,’ ‘Top Five’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

There was no great outcry for another film adaptation of the Broadway musical “Annie,” but writer-director Will Gluck’s take on the material is as good as one could hope for. Gluck’s new “Annie” is hipper and more urban than the like-titled 1982 movie but the essence of the story is the same. Ten-year-old Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis) lives in a foster home with several other orphan girls, but she is convinced that her parents will eventually show up to reclaim her. 

‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ Arrives on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” like so many unnecessary sequels, isn’t so much bad as irrelevant. The film’s selling point is that it blends top-notch special effects and a family friendly story with an excellent cast that includes Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais and the late Robin Williams. The down side is that it fails to bring anything new to the table. 

From ‘Mad Men’ to ‘The Americans’: How Television Handles the Issue of Sexual Assault

Megan Walsh

One of the methods often used to integrate a rape storyline into a show is as a tragic backstory – a flashback used to explain why a woman is the way she is, particularly if that woman is of the colder, less trusting variety. The Americans did this with lead character Elizabeth Jennings, a Soviet spy undercover as a normal American citizen. In the pilot of the series, during a flashback, we see a young Elizabeth preparing for her future role as a spy and subsequently being assaulted by a commanding officer. 

French Film ‘Vandal’ Delves into the World of Graffiti Artists

Gabriella Tutino

Sent to Strasbourg, Cherif has to readjust as he takes up the construction trade, learns to live under his uncle’s rules, and works alongside his father. He’s in for a surprise when his cousin—a supposed goody-two shoes—brings him along to tag with his group Ork. Cherif’s initiation into the graffiti scene begins; he learns about a rival tagger, Vandal, who does his work on his own and at impressive heights. 

‘Foxcatcher,’ ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” pulled in more than $336 million during its U.S. theatrical run, edging out “Guardians of the Galaxy” to become the top-grossing film of 2014. Nobody should confuse box office success with quality, as these things rarely relate, but “The Hunger Games” pictures have been solid. Unfortunately, “Mockingjay” is a letdown in comparison to the previous entry in the franchise, “Catching Fire.” 

‘Whiplash,’ ‘Big Hero 6’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

In “Whiplash,” J.K. Simmons plays Terrence Fletcher, a college music professor so brutal and intense that he is literally capable of making students ill. It’s a role Simmons inhabits completely, and it has, quite correctly, become one of the most celebrated performances of the movie awards season. Fletcher is, in the simplest sense, a monster. But he is also capable of inspiring his students to greatness.

‘The Theory of Everything,’ ‘Birdman,’ ‘St. Vincent’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

When Stephen Hawking was 21 years old, he was given two years to live. Today, he is 73. Hawking’s story isn’t amazing simply because he beat the odds in his battle with ALS (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), it is remarkable because he continued to work, becoming one of the most renowned theoretical physicists in the world. Nominated for best picture at the upcoming Academy Awards, “The Theory of Everything” considers many of the major events in Hawking’s life.

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