Video releases for Dec. 14, 2016 - Catholic Courier

Video releases for Dec. 14, 2016

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.
 
"The Asphalt Jungle" (1950)
 
Classy crime caper in which an aging criminal mastermind (Sam Jaffe) assembles a gang of specialized talents (notably Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern and James Whitmore) to pull off a million-dollar jewelry heist. Director and co-writer John Huston follows the crooks as they plan the robbery, carry it out and suffer the consequences. But the focus is less on the crime than the characters, especially Calhern’s corrupt lawyer with a weakness for blondes (notably Marilyn Monroe) and Hayden’s bitter gunman with a yen to own a Kentucky horse farm. Stylized violence, menacing situations, sexual innuendo. 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)
 
"Bridget Jones’s Baby" (2016)
 
British writer Helen Fielding’s klutzy diarist (Renee Zellweger) resurfaces in a charming romantic comedy that proves middle-aged characters are more than capable of combining love and laughter to life-affirming effect. Forty-three-year-old Bridget, a successful television news producer, is pregnant but doesn’t know whether the American founder of a matchmaking website (Patrick Dempsey) or her old flame Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) is the father. Adroitly balancing physical and verbal humor, director Sharon Maguire wrings giggles and feel-good warmth from the scenario, which features elements that will make some viewers wince on its way to celebrating values that are truly important and lasting. Recurring crude sexual language and humor, some rough talk, two implied sexual encounters, brief upper female and rear male nudity, an instance of toilet humor. 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. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"Florence Foster Jenkins" (2016)
 
Moral complications limit the appropriate audience for director Stephen Frears’ charmingly eccentric, fact-based profile of the titular New York socialite (Meryl Streep) whose yearning to take to the stage as a singer of operatic arias and similar works, though motivated by a genuine love of music, was undercut by her spectacular lack of talent. Protecting her from the truth about her voice, which is, in fact, excruciating to a point that’s unavoidably comic, becomes a full-time job for her husband (Hugh Grant), a failed British actor. Though he gains an ally in this effort when a sympathetic young pianist (Simon Helberg) comes on board as the singer’s accompanist, the duo of defenders faces heightened stakes when she insists on booking Carnegie Hall for a night. With characteristic deftness, Streep gets across both the full ridiculousness and the touching pathos of the situation. But her complex marital arrangement, and her spouse’s concurrent relationship (with Rebecca Ferguson), though mitigated by extenuating circumstances, require viewer discernment. Possibly acceptable for especially insightful older teens. Mature themes, including adultery and venereal disease, a morning-after bedroom scene, vague references to homosexuality, at least one profanity, a couple of uses each of crude and crass 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)
 
"The Lodger" (Blu-ray Edition; 1944) 
 
Suspenseful tale in 1880s London where a couple (Cedric Hardwicke and Sara Allgood) rent a room to a mysterious stranger (Laird Cregar), then come to suspect he’s Jack the Ripper and turn to a Scotland Yard inspector (George Sanders) to protect their niece (Merle Oberon). Directed by John Brahm, the sinister proceedings are heightened by Cregar’s creepy performance and Lucien Ballard’s moody photography. Off-screen murders, menacing situations and a psychopathic character. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Kino Lorber)
 
"Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children" (2016)
 
Following the mysterious death of his beloved grandfather (Terence Stamp), a Florida teen (Asa Butterfield) convinces his dad (Chris O’Dowd) to take him to the remote island off the coast of Wales where the old man had been sent during World War II to see if the otherworldly tales Grandpa used to tell him about the institution of the title (run by Eva Green) could possibly be true. A complicated premise and the head-scratching implications of time travel hobble director Tim Burton’s otherwise mildly entertaining gothic fantasy, populated by kids endowed with paranormal gifts and adapted from Ransom Riggs’ 2011 novel. As the lad falls for a girl (Ella Purnell) who can float in the air and battles an eyeless villain (Samuel L. Jackson), familiar Hollywood tropes about the value of being different from everyone else and substituting a self-selected family for an inadequate biological one are trotted out yet again. While too scary for tots, the film is generally well suited for their older siblings, the occasional touch of slightly vulgar language aside. Much stylized violence with minimal gore, some disturbing images, at least one use of profanity, a milder oath, a few crass terms. 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-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"Morgan" (2016)
 
Unoriginal sci-fi thriller omits even an occasional reflection on what it means to have a human moral sense. Instead, director Luke Scott and screenwriter Seth Owen put Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy), a creature made of synthetic DNA, through the paces of shlock 1980s horror as she wreaks murderous havoc on her creators. Frequent references to the artificial creation of human life, much physical violence, occasional gore, fleeting rough and profane language. 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. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"Sudden Fear" (Blu-ray Edition; 1952)
 
Slickly contrived thriller in which a wealthy playwright (Joan Crawford) weds a struggling actor (Jack Palance), then discovers he has a girlfriend (Gloria Grahame) and they plan to murder her. Directed by David Miller, the slow-starting narrative quickens the pace after the menaced writer devises her own counterplot with growing suspense as matters spin out of control in the tense climax. Menacing situations, implied marital infidelity. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
 
"Suicide Squad" (2016)
 
A lurid atmosphere marks this initially stylish but ultimately ridiculous and chaotic DC Comics-based adventure. A hard-bitten intelligence agent (Viola Davis) assembles a team of violent villains (most prominently Will Smith and Margot Robbie), places them under the command of the military’s leading special ops warrior (Joel Kinnaman), and compels them to take on an evil specter whose campaign of destruction has forced the evacuation of an entire city. As if to complicate a murky plot still further, Batman’s (Ben Affleck) long-standing adversary, the Joker (Jared Leto), gets added to the mix, pursuing an agenda of his own. Writer-director David Ayer’s film is barely passable while the action is chugging along, but scenes attempting to give moral shading to the characters — Smith’s career hitman loves his young daughter (Shailyn Pierre-Dixon), for instance — and bonding them as a pseudo-family misfire completely. Pervasive action violence but with minimal gore, scenes of debased sensuality, a couple of uses of profanity, much crude and crass language. 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 PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" (2016)
 
With a clear target audience of adolescent boys, Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael (Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek and Alan Ritchson) take on an evil scientist bent on world domination, and sometimes discuss the importance of teamwork and what it means to be fully human. Director Dave Green and screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec remain faithful to the tropes of action pictures with ramped-up CGI animation. Intense action sequences, cartoonish violence, a single scatological reference. 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-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (Paramount Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
 
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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