There's a wide variety of new DVD releases hitting stores this week.
"Man on a Ledge," Grade B-: The purely escapist filmmaking from novice director Asger Leth looks at the efforts of former New York detective Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) to prove he's been falsely charged with the theft of a $40 million diamond. The falsely accused cop gambit has played plenty of times before, but it gets a fresh twist from the towering setting.
The script by Pablo F. Fenjves falls apart under close scrutiny. There's no explanation as to how these average people can be so adept at high-tech larceny, which includes knowing everything from bomb making to safe cracking.
The most interesting characters are played by Elizabeth Banks and Genesis Rodriguez.
"We Need to Talk About Kevin," Grade B: Tilda Swinton is remarkable in this uncomfortable story of Eva, a mother dealing with her first-born son, Kevin (Ezra Miller), who gets increasingly hostile toward her with each passing year. She's torn between her natural motherly instincts and her growing concerns that she's raising a sociopath.
Director Lynne Ramsay tells the story in flashbacks as Eva has become a physical and emotional wreck. What has caused this total collapse becomes increasingly clear as the horror of her life is slowly revealed.
Swinton sells every painful scene with her expressive face and telling body language. There are long passages of silence where Swinton's so good that the scenes scream with startling details.
"Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp," Grade B-: Four years after The Monkees arrived, TV viewers were introduced to a singing chimp. The live-action 1970 series focused on Lancelot Link (voiced by Dayton Allen), a chimp who was a member of the pop band Evolution Revolution and worked as an agent of the Agency to Prevent Evil (APE).
The series featured an all-chimp cast voiced by a group of actors, including "Love Boat" star Bernie Kopell. It's like watching a dubbed foreign movie, except all of the actors are real animals.
Don't take the show too seriously. Look at it for the campy fun. It was designed to entertain youngsters more than 40 years ago.
Also coming to DVD May 29
- "True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season": Anna Paquin stars in the HBO vampire series.
- "Sing Your Song": The documentary looks at the fascinating life of Harry Belafonte.
- "Monroe: Series 1": James Nesbitt plays a surgeon with a quick wit and a heart to match his massive ego.
- "The Diamond Queen": Story of the young girl who never expected to reign over the United Kingdom.
- "96 Minutes": A look at a day leading up to a carjacking.
- "Memorial Day": A reluctant veteran tells his grandson about the war through three objects.
- "Henning Mankell's Wallander": Swedish TV series starring Krister Henriksson.
- "The Queen's Palaces": Documentary on the history and architecture of the Royals.
- "Jules Verne's The Mysterious Island": Five northern Civil War POWs escape in a hot air balloon that takes them to a strange new world.
- "Titanic's Final Mystery": Titanic detective Tim Maltin looks to shed new light on the disaster.
- "Maverick: The Complete First Season": James Garner stars in the TV Western.
- "Drop Dead Diva: The Complete Third Season": Brooke Elliott plays a brilliant yet shy attorney brought back to life with the spirit of a wannabe model.
- "Coriolanus": Ralph Fiennes stars in the film version of the William Shakespeare play.
- "Gone": A woman (Amanda Seyfried) goes on a quest to save her kidnapped sister.
- "too perfect": The first day of summer vacation is the last day of innocence for five teenage boys.
- "Rookie Blue: The Complete Second Season": Missy Peregrym stars.
- "Murdoch Mysteries: Series 4": Includes 13 episodes of the Canadian detective series.
- "Royal Pains: Season 3, Volume 2": Mark Feuerstein stars.
- "The Garfield Show: Summer Adventures": Garfield and his pals morph into superheroes.
- "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers": A young woman lives with a lie about the fate of her abusive aunt.
- "Goon": Hockey movie starring Seann William Scott.
- "The Aggression Scale": Two teens confront heavily armed bad guys.
- "The Jungle Bunch": John Lithgow voices the character of Maurice, a penguin who thinks he's a tiger.
- "You'll Know My Name": A look at young adults who are living in the moment.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com
or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.