American Sniper

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dvd of the week Something about the wildly successful American Sniper struck a chord, and it’s not clear what. Pundits argued about its politics, about whether it was for or against the war in Iraq, whether the film is racist or just murderous, whether it’s true or not, whether or not it deserved to receive [...]

Fifty Shades of Grey

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dvd of the week Dakota Johnson is Anastasia Steele, a college senior who goes to interview Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), an insanely successful, absurdly hot and very young Seattle media tycoon who has been chosen as her commencement speaker. Obviously, they’re attracted to each other, but because Ana is not weird or crazy, she lets [...]

Still Alice

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dvd of the week In her Oscar-winning role, Julianne Moore is Alice Howland, a renowned professor of linguistics at Columbia University, married to a handsome and successful scientist named John (Alec Baldwin), and mother to three children, slightly petulant Ann (Kate Bosworth), bright and handsome Tom (Hunter Parrish) and struggling actress Lydia (Kristen Stewart). When [...]

Selma

dvd of the week The events in Selma, Ala., a town with a majority of black residents only 2 percent of whom could vote, helped force the Voting Rights Act into existence. One of 2014’s best films, Selma is about how that happened. Director Ana DuVernay’s work on Selma is tremendous, and it announces a [...]

Paddington

dvd of the week The wondrous Paddington was freely adapted from the children’s book series by Michael Bond that began in 1958. Paddington is a rare intelligent talking bear from Darkest Peru, and in Paul King’s film, he sets off for London to find a new home after the forest where he lived with his [...]

Inherent Vice

dvd of the week Joaquin Phoenix plays Larry “Doc” Sportello, a pothead private investigator who works out of a doctor’s office near the beach in 1970s Los Angeles. He’s disheveled, confused, bumbling and occasionally philosophical. One day, his ex-lover, an ethereal blonde named Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston, serving hippie realness), appears out of nowhere [...]

Maps to the Stars

dvd of the week Barely released this winter, Maps to the Stars is Julianne Moore’s other great performance of 2014, and I think she’s better in this David Cronenberg movie about the darker side of Hollywood than in Still Alice, for which she won an Oscar. Moore is a needy, fading starlet trying to be [...]

Interstellar

dvd of the week More divisive than any of Christopher Nolan’s films, Interstellar is a long, slow, brainy and, to me, enthralling and thrilling science fiction epic. In the near future, Earth is becoming inhospitable to life and a now-secret NASA is sending ships to parts of the galaxy to find a new home for [...]

Wild

dvd of the week Reese Witherspoon is spectacular (and Oscar nominated) as Cheryl Strayed, whose memoir Wild is based on. The book is partly autobiography and partly the story of her six month trek of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Oregon. That she walked the trail isn’t as impressive – it’s [...]

The Imitation Game

dvd of the week Alan Turing was the gay British man who broke the Nazi codes during World War II and more or less invented the computer. Despite his key role in winning the war, Turing was arrested for his homosexuality and forced to undergo chemical castration to avoid prison; he killed himself after a [...]

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