New on DVD Dec. 31: 'Don Juan,' 'Sweetwater'

The Fresno BeeDecember 25, 2013 

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Writer/director Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars with Scarlett Johansson in "Don Jon."

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There's a limited number of new DVD releases hitting shelves Tuesday.

"Don Jon," Grade D: The film written, directed and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a mish-mash of ideas mixed with an episode of "Jersey Shore."

The general theme is about dealing with addictions, but it gets lost in the bits and pieces of romantic comedy, stalker film and family drama. It's completely out of focus.

The title would make you believe this is the tale of a successful ladies' man. Jon (Gordon-Levitt) can bed any female in a bar with a wink and a nod. But, Jon's got one flaw — he loves porn. It's a life-controlling existence. He hops out of bed after every sexual encounter to seek more gratification at his laptop.

The biggest problem is Jon. He's unlikable from the start and never improves. Any emotional awakening he experiences feels forced and unrequited. If you don't like the central figure, then all the porn, oddball friends, hot dates and Jersey stereotypes aren't going to save a movie.

"Sweetwater," Grade D+: The film — a mix of "The Unforgiven," "The Fantasticks" and "I Spit on Your Grave" — offers a dark and brutal look at life in the Old West.

A former prostitute (January Jones) becomes a farmer with her new husband. Those attempts are thwarted when the local religious looney (Jason Isaacs) enters their life. This all sets up the woman scorned scenario for Jones to play with dull, heavy overtones.

In contrast, Ed Harris plays a renegade sheriff who looks like he escaped from a traveling musical theater company. Harris has played some odd roles over the years, but this is one of the strangest.

Director Logan Miller's pacing is painfully slow. There's only one direction a film like this can take. That means there's no reason to sit around and enjoy the view. The film would be better served to get to the gunbattles. The slow pace isn't good for Jones because it requires acting skills far above her abilities.

This all comes together to make "Sweetwater" rather sour.

Also new on DVD Tuesday:

"CBGB": Alan Rickman stars in this look at New York's punk rock scene in the early '70s.

"Insidious: Chapter 2": A family tries to discover the answer to a secret that haunts them. Patrick Wilson stars.

"Wolf Blood Season 1": Teens must deal with their special abilities while facing the daily challenges of school.

"Sanitarium": Three stories set in a mental asylum starring Lou Diamond Phillips, Malcolm McDowell and Robert Englund.

"Love, Marilyn": Film includes dramatic readings of Marilyn Monroe's personal papers.

"Last Love": A widowed, world-weary professor meets Pauline, a free-spirited young dance instructor.

"Cassadaga": Deaf girl's efforts to contact her dead sister go very bad because of the ghost of a murdered woman.

"Shaolin Warrior": A young man tries to impress the king in hopes of being granted the chance to become a warrior.

"InAPPropriate Comedy": Rob Schneider, Michelle Rodriguez and Adrien Brody star in this outrageous comedy.

"Ritual": A couple learns just how far a cult will go to perform its rituals. Lisa Summerscales stars.

"Zombie Hamlet": Director agrees to adds zombies to his film based on William Shakespeare's work.

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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