Video releases for Feb. 8, 2017 - Catholic Courier

Video releases for Feb. 8, 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.
 
"Almost Christmas" (2016)
 
By turns raucous and sentimental, this ensemble comedy charts the efforts of a recently widowed family patriarch (Danny Glover) to keep the peace as his combative relatives gather for the holiday. The principal challenge to his desire for harmony comes from the longstanding rivalry between his two daughters (Kimberly Elise and Gabrielle Union). But the roving eye of his son-in-law (JB Smoove) as well as the unresolved grief and consequent prescription-drug addiction of his youngest child (Jessie T. Usher) also threaten to cause yuletide disruption. So too does the sassy tongue of his good-hearted sister-in-law (Mo’Nique). As the dysfunction-driven proceedings follow their predictable path, writer-director David E. Talbert uses flashbacks to showcase the model marriage Glover’s character enjoyed. And his script sends the whole clan to an upbeat church service and some of its members to help out at a homeless shelter. Dialogue larded with vulgarity, however, taints this otherwise crowd-pleasing — if easily forgotten — treat. Off-screen adultery, drug use, some sexual humor, a few instances of profanity, a handful of milder oaths, frequent crude and crass language. Spanish titles option. 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. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"Dirty Dancing" (30th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition; 1987)
 
Coming-of-age story set in the 1960s about a middle-class girl (Jennifer Grey) and a local dancer (Patrick Swayze) who teaches her a few bold new steps. Director Emile Ardolino’s lightweight effort at evoking the teen scene of a generation ago uses an ill-conceived plot contrivance about an abortion, brief nudity and an acceptance of casual sex. Spanish titles option. 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. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
 
"Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner" (Anniversary Blu-ray Edition; 1967)
 
Pat comedy starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as parents whose daughter (Katharine Houghton) suddenly announces her plans to marry a distinguished black physician (Sidney Poitier). Directed by Stanley Kramer, the movie has some good comic moments and by showing the efforts of both families to cope with the racial issues and the generation gap, it achieves a dimension of truth. Spanish language and titles options. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
 
"Loving" (2016)
 
Writer-director Jeff Nichols’ fact-based drama about the Virginia couple (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga) whose legal crusade led to a landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision demolishing race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States is so restrained and decorous that it nearly obscures the historical significance of the events it recounts. Drawing contempt from local police — embodied by the sheriff (Marton Csokas) who initially arrests them — but eventually supported by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (most prominently Nick Kroll), the duo is forced to stay on the move as they seek to avoid harassment. The original circumstances must have been extraordinarily stressful for the pair since they had no way of knowing whether any given nightfall would be the cue for a hate crime. Yet Nichols keeps his film free from the histrionics that surely must have occurred. Valuable viewing for mature teens based on the cultural impact of the real-life story. A premarital pregnancy, a couple of crass terms, fleeting racial slurs and two scenes of childbirth. 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. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962)
 
Provocative Western in which a lawyer (James Stewart) from the East becomes the territory’s leading politician after confronting a notorious badman (Lee Marvin), though the legend of the shootout omits the role of a local cowboy (John Wayne). Director John Ford shows the power of myth in shaping the past’s meaning as the narrative recounts how the frontier’s law of the gun gave way to more civilized notions of justice. Stylized violence, some of it quite brutal. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Paramount Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"No Highway in the Sky" (Blu-ray Edition; 1951)
 
Fretful American scientist (James Stewart) aboard a British jetliner warns a jittery movie star (Marlene Dietrich), a sensible stewardess (Glynis Johns) and a stern pilot (Niall MacGinnis) that metal fatigue will soon cause the plane’s tail section to disintegrate. Director Henry Koster’s plodding treatment of the distressing premise results in a disappointing mix of fitful tensions and sentimental characterizations. Life-threatening situations and mild romantic complications. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Kino Lorber; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"The Passion of the Christ" (2004)
 
Unflinching dramatization of the final agonizing hours of the earthly life of Jesus Christ (Jim Caviezel), from the Garden of Gethsemane to his crucifixion and resurrection, intercut with flashbacks to his childhood and public ministry. Although the film’s brutality poignantly conveys the depth of Christ’s love by showing him freely enduring such extreme agony for the redemption of all sinners, the graphic nature of the raw visuals is played to diminishing returns. Following the basic outline of the Gospel Passion narratives, director Mel Gibson embroiders his interpretive retelling of Scripture with extrabiblical sources as well as his own imagination, to craft an at times profoundly moving movie which succeeds in stripping Christ’s sacrificial suffering of its Sunday school sugar-coating. While it is the film’s assertion that responsibility for Christ’s torture and death rests squarely with the Roman authorities, and away from the collective Jewish populace, the movie presents a historically skewed depiction of the Temple elite’s sway with their imperial overlords. Subtitles. Gory scenes of torture and crucifixion, a suicide and some frightening images. Spanish language and titles options. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. 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)
 
"Prince of Foxes" (Blu-ray Edition; 1949)
 
Tale of intrigue and adventure in 1500 Italy where an ambitious courtier (Tyrone Power) tries to save the lands of an aged noble (Felix Aylmer) and his lady (Wanda Hendrix) from conquest by the notorious Cesare Borgia (Orson Welles). Director Henry King’s elegant costume melodrama has some interesting twists as well as spectacular location photography of fortified castles and other period settings. Stylized violence, duplicity and romantic complications. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Kino Lorber; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"The Sicilian Clan" (1969)
 
Epic French heist tale is a duel of wits and guts between white-maned crime patriarch (Jean Gabin) and ambitious Paris hood (Alain Delon) over an impossibly complicated plane hi-jack of a fortune in jewels, with frustrated but persistent police inspector (Lino Ventura) keeping one step behind all the way. Directed by Henri Verneuil, the briskly-paced story of honor among thieves has a number of superior action sequences from an ingenious jail escape at the start to a grandly anti-climactic shoot-out. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (Kino Lorber; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"Trolls" (2016)
 
Loopy but charming animated comedy in which two Trolls — one (voice of Anna Kendrick) an irrepressibly sunny optimist, the other (voice of Justin Timberlake) a perpetual worrier — set out to rescue a group of their friends (voiced by, among others, James Corden and Gwen Stefani) who have been kidnapped by an evil chef (voice of Christine Baranski) from a race of Troll-eating giants called Bergens. The outcome of the duo’s quest turns on the secret, seemingly hopeless love harbored by the cook’s sensitive — and much put-upon — scullery maid (voice of Zooey Deschanel) for the young king (voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) of the Bergens. Though its originates with a product line of plastic dolls, directors Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn’s infectiously fun 3-D fable feels more like a party than a commercial. As the titular creatures sing, dance and group-hug their way through the story, screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger promote loyalty and teamwork as well as the transformative power of romance. Only the looming threat of one set of characters consuming another, along with touches of slightly naughty humor, indicate that this is not a good choice for the smallest moviegoers. A flash of rear nudity, brief scatological humor and wordplay, a few very mild oaths. 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. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
 
"What a Way to Go!" (Blu-ray Edition; 1964)
 
Deadly one-joke comedy told in flashbacks as psychiatrist Bob Cummings listens to widow Shirley MacLaine explain how the untimely demise of husbands Dick Van Dyke, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum and Gene Kelly left her enormously wealthy, but all she wants is penniless janitor Dean Martin. Directed by J. Lee Thompson, the lumbering production glitters with period costuming and decor but the witless plot and humor are painfully heavy-handed. Much sexual innuendo. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Kino Lorber)
 
"Winning" (1969)
 
Paul Newman is ruggedly impressive as a race-car driver whose obsession with the track leads his neglected wife (Joanne Woodward) to dally with his chief competitor (Robert Wagner). Directed by James Goldstone, the movie is as slick and quick as the race cars that provide its action thrills, and its message boils down to the fact that sometimes winning is really losing. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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