Film & TV

‘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.

Abderrahmane Sissako’s ‘Timbuktu’ Is a Spellbinding Political Film

Angelo Franco

With ardent subtlety of shifting tones, a number of seemingly unconnected subplots, and breathtaking imagery, director Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu is challenging and oftentimes unbearably honest, which is precisely what makes this film a beautiful and sensational piece of political art, never at the expense of every accolade it boasts and justly deserves. 

‘Nightcrawler,’ ‘Force Majeure’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Writer-director Dan Gilroy’s “Nightcrawler” is the sort of absurdist thriller that presents uncomfortable truths in an entertaining, but undeniably disturbing, manner. The focus is on Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a shifty hustler who makes his living by any means possible. One day, he stumbles upon an auto accident and learns that freelance TV crews make good money selling crash footage to local news outlets. So, Louis gets a cheap video camera and launches his career. 

‘John Wick,’ ‘Dracula Untold’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Keanu Reeves has always had a limited range, but he’s solid when tapped for the right role, and he’s particularly good with action. “John Wick” plays to the actor’s strengths, giving him a part that requires both impressive athleticism and old-fashioned movie star charisma. The film focuses on its title character (Reeves), a former assassin who retired to a more peaceful existence after finding the love of his life.

‘The Judge,’ ‘Fury’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Robert Duvall has again entered the Oscars race thanks to his portrayal of a grumpy-but-fair-minded legal professional in “The Judge.” The movie features Robert Downey Jr. as Hank Palmer, a flashy, big-city defense attorney who returns to his tiny, Indiana hometown for his mother’s funeral. Director David Dobkin wastes no time establishing that Hank and his father, Joseph (Duvall), have unresolved problems. The latter is a no-nonsense judge known for dispensing firm rulings.

Deadpan Humor, Acerbic Wit Are Main Themes of Quirky Rom-Com ‘Appropriate Behavior’

Angelo Franco

In her screenwriting and directorial debut, Desiree Akhavan’s Appropriate Behavior is engrossing, provocative, and entirely inappropriate. Laced with Akhavan’s unquestionable flare for frames and motion (or lack thereof), the film explores the depths of sexuality within a cultural context, posing realities that are heartbreakingly honest and widely unexplored, often at the same time.  

‘The Boxtrolls,’ ‘Lucy’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Laika, the studio that brought us “ParaNorman” and “Coraline,” continues its outstanding theatrical work with “The Boxtrolls,” an animated feature based on the Alan Snow novel “Here Be Monsters!” The stop-motion project, which is nominated for best animated movie at the Academy Awards, is set in the fictionalized town of Cheesebridge during the Victorian era.

Jean-Paul Salome’s ‘Playing Dead’ Offers a Comedic Take on Solving Crime

Gabriella Tutino

In Playing Dead, Jean Renault is a recent unemployed actor—he has a reputation for being high maintenance and unpleasant to work with on set. After meeting with his agent, he is given the opportunity to re-enact murders for law enforcement. And so, Jean finds himself in Megeve, in the Alps, playing dead for the murders of the Beauchatel brothers.

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