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 [...]

Into the Woods

dvd of the week Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical Into the Woods won all of the Tonys in 1988 that Phantom of the Opera did not: book of a musical, and music and lyrics. It’s beloved in a way that few musicals are because it is so often produced by regional and school theaters, [...]

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1

dvd of the week The third film in the dystopian sci-fi series about income inequality, political cynicism and young people turned into killers against their will, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, is based on one half of the third novel of Suzanne Clark’s trilogy. The second and final part will be released next [...]

Foxcatcher

dvd of the week Both Mark Shultz (Channing Tatum) and his brother David (Mark Ruffalo) won gold medals at the 1984 Olympics, and while David parlayed his fame to a coaching job, Mark is at loose ends, living alone and training with scowl. One day, out of the blue, Mark is asked to fly to [...]

Whiplash

dvd of the week It’s hard to imagine a teacher worse than Terrence Fletcher, the jazz band leader at fictional Shaffer Conservatory of Music in New York who J.K. Simmons plays with terrifying, unpredictable, sadistic joy. Fletcher, something like a cross between a Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket and Delores Umbridge in Harry Potter [...]

Birdman

dvd of the week Innovative, hilarious, and moving, Birdman is a film about theater, film and actors, as well as regret, love, family, and, in a way, the meaning of life, and it soars. Michael Keaton is blockbuster star Riggan Thomas, who wants to earn respect by appearing on Broadway, so he writes, directs and [...]

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