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 [...]

Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler

dvd of the week Lewis Bloom, played by a balls-out brilliant Jake Gyllenhaal, is a nightcrawler, a freelance reporter who spends the nights wandering the city, waiting for a police scanner to announce a car crash or a murder that can be filmed and turned into the bloody local TV news. Pathologically ambitious, solicitous and [...]

The Drop

dvd of the week Tom Hardy is Bob, a slow-talking, seemingly sweet bartender, who finds an abandoned pit bull and nurses him back to health with Nadia, a wary woman with a past (Noomi Rapace). Bob works for Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini in his last role), who has made a series of terrible deals with [...]

Gone Girl

dvd of the week David Fincher’s fantastic adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestseller about a missing woman and the husband who is accused of making her disappear was a huge hit this fall, and with good reason. Ben Affleck has never been better as an ethically challenged Midwestern man who desperately wants out of his marriage [...]

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