Catholic Courier

Posted: February 17, 2017

Video releases for Feb. 15, 2017

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.
 
"Arrival" (2016)
 
Mesmerizing and unusually intimate science-fiction drama about an American linguist (the excellent Amy Adams) trying to communicate with aliens inside a spacecraft hovering over a Montana field -- one of a dozen such vessels that have descended at various spots around the globe and which threaten to trigger panic and geopolitical instability. Director Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of a short story by Ted Chiang finds profundity on a human scale as well as in the cosmos; and, while technically impressive, it owes the bulk of its melancholy, mystical power to Adams' gripping performance. Regardless of whether the underlying science is logically coherent or meshes with Christian thought, the primary values evinced are consonant with a Catholic worldview. Probably acceptable for mature adolescents. Some potentially frightening scenes and a single instance of rough language. Spanish language and titles options. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (Paramount Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"Don't Breathe" (2016)
 
Three petty criminals (Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette and Daniel Zovatto) get more than they bargained for when they break into the isolated home of a blind, reclusive veteran (Stephen Lang) hoping to steal the large settlement he was awarded after his daughter was killed by a reckless driver. Director and co-writer Fede Alvarez is fairly restrained in his presentation of the mayhem that follows as the loner turns out to be anything but an easy mark, and the result is a generally effective thriller. Yet, as the action progresses, plot developments begin to strain the laws of logic. More significantly, perverse behavior and the horror equivalent of gross-out humor creep in, and creep out the audience in a way those seeking casual entertainment are unlikely to appreciate. Intense violence with some gore, a disturbing sequence involving a bizarre sexual assault, brief scatological humor, a couple of uses of profanity, much rough and crude language, an obscene gesture. Spanish language and titles options. 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. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" (Blu-ray Edition; 1966)
 
Don Knotts comedy vehicle in which he spends a night in a haunted house is ineptly directed by Alan Rafkin. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
 
"It Came From Outer Space" (Blu-ray Edition; 1953)
 
Chilling science fiction from Ray Bradbury's story about an amateur astronomer (Richard Carlson) who sights a UFO landing in the Arizona desert, then discovers that the area's inhabitants, including his girlfriend (Barbara Rush), are being taken over by aliens. Director Jack Arnold uses the isolated desert setting to heighten the sense of menace in the strange proceedings, though the aliens' intentions ultimately prove more benign than threatening. Imaginative family fare with an upbeat ending. Spanish titles option. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
 
"October Sky" (Blu-ray Edition; 1999)
 
Uplifting tale set in 1957 rural West Virginia where a miner's son (Jake Gyllenhaal) defies his father's (Chris Cooper) insistence he come work in the mines and instead enlists three schoolmates to help build a functioning rocket in hopes of winning a college scholarship. Director Joe Johnston's atmospheric, fact-based drama captures the impoverished community, familial conflicts and the dogged ambition of youngsters to persevere and better themselves with higher education. A mining tragedy, fleeting parental abuse and a few muttered profanities. Spanish language and titles options. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
 
"One Million Years B.C." (Blu-ray Edition; 1966)
 
Prehistoric tale in which an outcast (John Richardson) from the Rock People is rescued by a woman (Raquel Welsh) of the Shell People, then after much grunting and bouts with dinosaurs and other posturing, the two clans are united by an earthquake. Directed by Don Chaffey, the narrative draws heavily from 1940's "One Million B.C." but the result is visually much more polished, especially in the special visual effects provided by Ray Harryhausen. Stylized violence and scanty costumes. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Kino Lorber)
 
"The Tree of Wooden Clogs" (1979)
 
Quiet, richly textured Italian drama about the lives of four peasant families who work as tenant farmers on a Lombardy estate at the end of the 19th century. Beginning with the fall harvest and ending with the spring planting, the movie depicts the everyday life of rural people who endure with human dignity in spite of the oppressive system which exploits their labor. Written, photographed and directed by Ermanno Olmi, this is a loving portrait of ordinary life in an age of social injustice. Some tense scenes. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Criterion Collection; also available on Blu-ray)
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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