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.
"Blair Witch" (2016)
The brother of the girl who disappeared in 1999’s "The Blair Witch Project" leads an expedition into the woods around Burkittsville, Maryland, seeking an ancient witch who predictably outsmarts this group of young campers. Director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett don’t try to do much with the "found footage" conceit of the original, which added considerably to the claustrophobic terror of a single girl armed with only her video camera. Brief gore, fleeting rough and crude language. 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. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
A prominent attempt to erase one of history’s most notorious genocides — and the possible strategies for defeating that effort — are explored in this morally powerful fact-based drama. Director Mick Jackson recounts the case for libel initiated in 1996 by British writer David Irving (Timothy Spall) against American historian Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) after Lipstadt labeled Irving a Holocaust denier. David Hare’s script mostly avoids courtroom histrionics in favor of delineating how the defense arguments boring in on Irving’s false theories were constructed. He also shows how Lipstadt, a professor of Jewish history at Emory University in Atlanta, misunderstood her legal team’s tactics nearly to the end of the trial. Detailed discussions of atrocities, a single rough term. 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)
"Glitter" (Blu-ray Edition; 2001)
Pathetic musical drama set in the 1980s New York City club scene that tracks the rise of a young singer (Mariah Carey) from a childhood spent in foster homes to her discovery by a disc jockey (Max Beesley) and on to ultimate fame. Along with indistinguishable original songs, a pitiful narrative and contrived camera work, director Vondie Curtis Hall’s leading lady has no charisma to pull off the vanity vehicle. An implied sexual encounter, brief violence and some crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents are strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (Mill Creek Entertainment)
"Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life" (2016)
Parents may not care for the underlying message of this comedy for kids in which an artistically gifted but mildly troubled preteen (Griffin Gluck) rebels against the excessive discipline enforced by the rigid principal (Andy Daly) of his new school. Though his revolt, in which he’s aided by his best friend (Thomas Barbusca) and supported by the sprightly classmate (Isabela Moner) for whom he’s fallen, mostly involves harmless pranks, director Steve Carr’s screen version of James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts’ novel briefly veers into endorsing vandalism via the lad’s domestic troubles. The troubles arise from his sympathetic mom’s (Lauren Graham) relationship with her creep of a live-in fiance (Rob Riggle) whose true love is an expensive sports car. As the live action alternates with animated sequences, much of the juvenile humor hovers at the level of a routine sitcom episode. The dramatic elements, by contrast, are handled deftly and to poignant effect. All told, though, youngsters should only be given permission to see this film after very careful consideration — if at all. Cohabitation, youthful defiance of authority, mature themes, including the death of a child, much scatological humor, a handful of crass terms, some wordplay and brief sexual references. Probably acceptable for older teens. 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. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
"Zero Population Growth" (Blu-ray Edition; 1972)
In some brave new world of the future, joy has gone out of life because childbirth has been made punishable by death, though Oliver Reed and Geraldine Chaplin risk all to procreate. Directed by Michael Campus, the movie pretends to be an indictment of 20th-century decadence but is simply a rather plodding exercise whose outcome is ridiculously anticlimactic. Adult theme. 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)
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.