Johnny Depp

Welcome to the World of Crime and Punishment

Adam Gravano

Although of an earlier vintage, the scene is reminiscent of one of the final scenes in Scorsese's Wolf of Wall Street, in which the FBI agent sits alone on a sad subway ride home. A shallow read of this type of scene describes it as a glorification of the life of the criminal: as if to say you'll find real family there, not in the hollow accolades and awards that come alongside a life of privation. Of course, a more fictional portrayal of an undercover operation, The Departed, makes no effort to be ambivalent on the nature of membership in a criminal organization.

‘Still Alice,’ ‘Blackhat’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Alice Howland (Moore) is a  brilliant linguistics professor who has a warm and loving home life and a rewarding career where she is respected by students and colleagues. Then she begins forgetting things. At first, the problems are relatively minor. She loses track of where she’s going in a lecture. It’s an embarrassing moment, but little more. Then after getting lost while going for a jog around her college campus, she decides to seek medical help. 

‘Transendence,’ ‘Heaven Is for Real’ Arrive on Home Video

The themes in “Transcendence” are every bit as complicated and engaging as those in Nolan’s movies. Unfortunately, the execution is less convincing. The focus is on Will and Evelyn Caster (Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall), a power couple working on the most advanced artificial intelligence system in the world. Despite their ties to technology, Will and Evelyn are down to earth. 

‘Prisoners,’ ‘The Lone Ranger’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Director Dennis Villeneuve moves the 153-minute film with precision, leading viewers through a thriller that bolsters its clever, surface-level twists with deep thematic roots that force viewers to identify with multiple characters. This should stimulate debate about everything from vigilantism to torture, and it allows the movie to live in one’s mind long after it has played out. “Prisoners” could have been even better if Villeneuve had addressed a few underplayed plot points, but focusing on minor flaws in an otherwise masterful film is neither fair nor productive. 

The Good, Bad, and Ugly Marketing of ‘The Lone Ranger’

Aura Bogado

“The Lone Ranger” debuted in theaters in time for the July 4 holiday, and while Johnny Depp’s decision to play Tonto—a fictional Native sidekick to the white cowboy—has drawn attention and criticism, the film’s release means that all things Native are unusually relevant—and marketable. And that can be a good, bad, and very ugly thing, all at once. Tonto action figures are already being sold as “Native American warrior spirit” caricatures. The Lego Corporation is pushing its “Comanche Camp” toys. And Subway is hawking plastic soft drink containers with Tonto snapshots.

‘Dark Shadows,’ ‘People Like Us’ Arrive on DVD, Blu-ray

Forrest Hartman

One can always count on director Tim Burton to deliver movies dripping with atmosphere, and his film adaptation of the 1960s and ’70s soap opera “Dark Shadows” is eerily beautiful to look at. Unfortunately, the storytelling elements don’t keep pace with Burton’s visual craftsmanship. The “Dark Shadows” TV show ran five years, and vampire Barnabus Collins wasn’t in early episodes, but his eventual appearance created a ratings spike, making him the face of the series. Likely for that reason, Burton and company put the focus squarely on Barnabus (Johnny Depp). 

“Take Shelter,” “The Rum Diary” Arrive on DVD, Blu-ray

Forrest Hartman

Although writer-director Jeff Nichols’ “Take Shelter” was shut out when Oscar nominations were announced, it received a fair amount of critical acclaim thanks to awards from the Cannes and Hollywood film festivals and a spot on the National Board of Review’s list of the top 10 independent films of 2011. Of course, none of those accolades matter unless the movie holds up under scrutiny. Fortunately, it does.

Video Verdict (Week of October 17)

Forrest Hartman

Writer-director Kevin Smith’s latest project has probably attracted more attention due to Smith’s pre-release antics than for the movie itself. Leading up to the Sundance film festival, the filmmaker promised to sell “Red State” in an auction at a special festival event. Then, at that event, he announced that he was purchasing the movie for self-distribution. This created controversy in the industry, and the film ultimately received an extremely limited theatrical release before becoming an on-demand option Sept. 1. This week, “Red State” is getting a wider rollout on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download. 

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