Catholic Courier

Posted: February 24, 2017

CNS photo by Roadside

Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck star in a scene from the movie "Manchester by the Sea."

Two best picture nominees new on DVD and Blu-ray

By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service

NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews from Catholic News Service of new and recent video releases available on DVD and/or Blu-ray -- as well as for online viewing. Theatrical movies have a Catholic News Service classification and Motion Picture Association of America rating. These classifications refer only to the theatrical version of the films below, and do not take into account any extra content.
 
"Evelyn" (2002)
 
Heartfelt and fact-based tale about the 1950s' legal fight an impoverished Irish father (Pierce Brosnan) wages after his wife runs off and his three young children are placed in different Catholic orphanages against his will. Director Bruce Beresford captures the human story behind the legal battle as well as the faith the characters have in God that justice will prevail against staggering odds. Fleeting violence, ill-gotten gambling gains and occasional profanity. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. (Olive Films; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"Hacksaw Ridge" (2016)
 
The extraordinary heroism of Army medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield) during the Battle of Okinawa in the closing days of World War II is vividly realized in this fact-based drama, directed by Mel Gibson. A committed Christian and conscientious objector who refused to bear arms, Doss was nonetheless eager to serve his country, despite the misgivings of his parents (Hugo Weaving and Rachel Griffiths) and his fiancee (Teresa Palmer). Doss overcomes the ridicule and abuse of his fellow recruits in boot camp as well as an effort to discharge him led by the sergeant (Vince Vaughn) heading his platoon and the captain (Sam Worthington) commanding his company. Once in combat, he single-handedly saves the lives of over 75 wounded soldiers while under constant enemy fire. As might be expected with Gibson at the helm, Doss' religious convictions, which are integral to his story and his performance on the battlefield, are not sidelined. Yet, while no doubt realistic, the carnage is extreme and its portrayal will necessarily restrict this ultimately inspiring film's audience to those mature viewers willing to endure such sights. Graphic war violence with much gore, brief rear male nudity, a scene of marital sensuality, considerable crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"Manchester by the Sea" (2016)
 
A man (Casey Affleck) crushed by tragedy returns to his home town on the coast of Massachusetts to become the guardian of his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges) in a gently paced and emotionally wrenching drama from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan. Flawless performances, a revelatory flashback structure, and a picturesque natural backdrop buoy the carefully manicured yet naturalistic portrait of a shattered individual who cannot forgive himself for one grave mistake. Eventually, the dramatic urgency of the story wanes and the protagonist's struggle to recover leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste; the movie's profanity and frank treatment of teenage sexuality are hurdles from the get-go. Much rough language, some explicit banter, several fairly graphic adolescent sexual encounters, a suicide attempt, fistfights, and a partial glimpse of lower female nudity. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"Mildred Pierce" (1945)
 
Misplaced ambition fuels James M. Cain's dark story of a driven woman (Joan Crawford) who shucks a useless husband (Jack Carson) in rising from waitress to head a restaurant chain, then falls for a scoundrel (Zachary Scott) who turns his attentions to her adolescent daughter (Ann Blyth). Directed by Michael Curtiz, it's an acerbic tale of how obsession with material success ultimately destroys its misguided heroine, not the least of whose mistakes is raising her only child to be a spoiled brat. Mature theme and treatment. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Criterion Collection; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" (1988)
 
After an actress (Carmen Maura) is deserted by her live-in lover (Fernando Guillen), she attempts to face down the coward before he leaves town with another woman. Written and directed by Pedro Almodovar, this Spanish farce explores without exploitation the comic vicissitudes of male-female relationships. Subtitles. Some rough language and a benign attitude toward sex and pregnancy outside of marriage. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (Criterion Collection; also available on Blu-ray)
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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