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We have lots of choices in new videos this month

By Gary Clift

This month folks who rent or buy DVDs of movies that recently showed in area theaters are going to have more than the usual number of choices.

Those looking for films to entertain children can pick “Wreck It Ralph” or “Rise of the Guardians.” Those who like old circus acts dressed in new costumes might want to look at “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away.” If you didn’t get enough Tolkien on film in the three Lord of the Rings movies, you can check out “The Hobbit.”

I want to see a couple of films I missed on the big screen. One is “Hitchcock,” a movie about the filming of the original “Psycho.” One is “Zero Dark Thirty.” As I learned from “Hurt Locker,” Kathryn Bigelow knows how to present difficult material set in contemporary war zones.

The films I’ve already seen that will be released on home viewing media this month are not really all that attractive. But they are numerous. And various.

For example, there’s “The Collector.” Made by a couple of guys who were involved in the “Saw” movies, this horror film about a serial torturer has a good beginning—mass killing in a back-street disco—and an original ending. But its bulk is same-old, same-old.

“Killing Them Softly” is fake independent production noir. An operator played by Brad Pitt is called in by the mob to punish those involved in the highjacking of a regular poker game. James Gandolfini has a good character, but his hit man has nothing whatsoever to do with the story.

Billy Crystal and Marisa Tomei are featured in “Parental Guidance,” one of those supposedly heart-warming entertainments about generations closing gaps. My recollection is that the movie wanders along trying to make contact with its own plot.

If you think in pictures and care mostly how things look, the cliche metaphor that is “Life of Pi” may amuse you. A young South Asian man finds himself stuck on a lifeboat with animals from the zoo his father had been shipping to Canada. This is not a silent movie. But it isn’t much of a talking movie.

Speaking of cliche, “Playing for Keeps” is about a divorced couple finding each other again. Gerrard Butler is the man, a retired professional soccer player having trouble securing a new profession. He is distracted by Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Judy Greer, each of whom has a child on the team he is coaching.

Then there’s the completely unnecessary re-make of “Red Dawn,” in which Communist invaders are incommoded by local young people who get their ya-yas out as guerrillas. Josh Hutcherson and Chris Thor Hemsworth lead the kids, who spray paint the word “Wolverines” on local commercial buildings.

At least the fighting is pretty good in that movie. The action scenes in “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt. 2” are pretty silly. And then the movie explains that they have all essentially been a dream. Movie fans who think Taylor Lautner’s bare chest attractive may find details in this movie to like, but I think the fans of the series were vaguely disappointed by it.

I didn’t enjoy Les Miserables. Its circular plot grinds away at viewer emotions without giving them reason to care what happens, over and over again, to its characters. The music is undistinguished. And Anne Hathaway is really the only one in the cast who can sing. Besides, the thing runs three hours.

“This is 40” continues our exposure to characters director Judd Apatow introduced in “Knocked Up.” The soap opera plot is held together by timing—the characters played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann are both turning forty. I didn’t find the movie to be funny.

But, then, with this many new videos, there will be something out fresh that will intrigue just about anyone. Too bad there isn’t one title among these that will likely entertain a majority of movie fans.

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