There are better films than this month’s DVD releases

By Gary Clift

The recent general-release movies—the ones that showed here in town at the twelve-plex—that are scheduled for distribution as DVDs this month are only five in number. Five. Total.

“Django Unchained,” an un-acknowledged re-make and “Gangster Squad,” a mob movie that may not have even showed out on Seth—those make up forty percent of the new videos.

Then there’s “Guilt Trip,” an unassuming road trip film in which son Seth Rogan takes his interfering mother Barbra Streisand on a cross-country sales trip. And there’s Marky Mark Wahlberg’s “Broken City,” in which lots of things happen without any reason, with Wahlberg playing a drunk PI, working for a politician, who has an uncanny and unbelievable knack hearing about other people’s meeting plans.

The most interesting of the new videos is “Silver Linings Playbook,” which is supposed to be out the 30th. This movie was nominated for a lot of Academy Awards. Jennifer Lawrence, the girl from “The Hunger Games,” won the Oscar for Best Actress. This has to be puzzling to anyone who has ever seen the movie and who knows something about acting.

Best Director, Best Picture, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Robert DeNiro) and Best Supporting Actress (Jacki Weaver)—”SLP” was nominated for all of these Academy Awards. But when you watch it, see if it doesn’t seem like another “Rocky” plot to you.

It ends, you see, in a ballroom dancing competition. In Philadelphia. And scenes showing the training make up much of the film’s running time. Cooper is pretty impressive here, but the movie leaves several dangling ends and never develops Lawrence’s character in a way that prepares us for her romantic attachment to Cooper’s. So “Silver Linings Playbook” seemed to this moviegoer to be of mixed quality.

But, then, Academy Awards are almost as controversial as are Nobel Prizes.

Consider the last few Best Picture Oscar winners. In this century they have been “Argo,” “The Artist” (the nearly silent movie), “The King’s Speech,” “The Hurt Locker” (Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraq movie—her Afghanistan movie was last year’s “Zero Dark Thirty”), “Slumdog Millionaire,” the Cohen Brother’s “No Country for Old Men,” “The Departed,” the Los Angeles racism movie “Crash,” Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” the thirty year-old flop stage-musical “Chicago,” and “A Beautiful Mind.”

Movie fans could rent or purchase some of those movies to make up for the poverty of this month’s new offerings. But not all of those movies are ones everyone will like. I hope never to see “A Beautiful Mind,” “Crash,””Chicago, or “Slumdog Millionaire” ever again, for example. “The Artist,” “The Departed,” and “Million Dollar Baby” are interesting, but are not films I have a hankering to see.

“Argo,” this year’s Best Picture, is a historically-based suspense movie. It is very entertaining, as was “The King’s Speech,” about George VI’s speech impediment and his ascension to the throne on the abdication of his brother. Geoffrey Rush, an Aussie we’ve been watching in the movies for years, has one of his best outings playing the speech therapist.

“The Hurt Locker” has a lot of its own suspense, but this is a more literary movie than is the straight-forward “Argo.” “No Country for Old Men” has a two-part form, but the part that is about the old sheriff really doesn’t seem to contribute to its full effect. And the Lord of the Rings movie was the last of a terrific trilogy—literate, moral, active, colorful, and visually stunning. If you haven’t seen it, do so.

See any of the movies in that trilogy and you will have used your time better than you would have watching any of this month’s five new releases.

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