Gyllenhaal, Renner shine
This week’s new DVD releases include two films that have top-notch acting performances overlooked by the Academy.
“Nightcrawler,” Grade B+: Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as a hustler looking for work selling footage to local TV news falls somewhere between Norman Bates and Gordon Gekko in his entrepreneurial efforts.
At times he seems driven by sociopathic tendencies, while other times his work borders on the madness of a great artist. The combination makes Bloom a character to be feared, but also the guy you want wading into the latest carnage to get the story.
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Dan Gilroy is fearless in his writing and direction. He never backs off from making his main characters morally bankrupt and overly zealous when it comes to the job. These are not people to like as much as fear and respect for their lack of boundaries.
“Kill the Messenger,” Grade (B+): Although the story deals with an important moment in history, the film finds its power in the personal story of those involved — the heralded and eventually crucified San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner ).
Renner finds the perfect beat to show the stages of Webb’s rise and fall. At the start, he plays Webb with the kind of optimistic enthusiasm writers have when they latch on to a big story. Just as quickly, Renner shifts to a reserved humbleness after his story becomes a sensation. What makes Renner’s work so masterful is that he’s equally as believable when Webb’s life and career crash.
“Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” Grade: C+: This movie banks heavily on the natural charms of Steve Carell and the motherly ways of Jennifer Garner to win over an audience.
Just as in movies like “Holes” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid, “ the key is how much moviegoers will like the movie’s central young star. Ed Oxenbould comes across as an average kid, a trait that must make his family happy but is not the best description for the person at the core of a feature film. The audience would be more sympathetic to Alexander if his own bad day was filled with more disasters.
“Laggies,” Grade B-: In lesser hands, “Laggies” would have been little more than an after-school special about the uncertainties highschoolers have about their future, emotional connections and family. That perspective is offered through Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz ), a confused teen living with her divorced father, Craig (Sam Rockwell).
The film never gets overly deep in its examination of generational and parental frustrations. It’s the dependable Moretz, Keira Knightley and Rockwell who get the most out of the script and make this production work.
Also new on DVD Feb. 10
• “Addicted”: Sharon Leal portrays a woman who puts her career and family life in jeopardy when she has an affair with a painter.
• “We Are Giants”: Filmmaker Greg Barker targets dilemma of justice and freedom through different mediums.
• “Love at First Bite/Once Bitten”: Double feature of the George Hamilton and Lauren Hutton comedies.
• “Mama’s Family: Season 6”: Vicki Lawrence stars in this spinoff from the “Carol Burnett Show.”
• “Turbo Charged Chugger”: The latest release in the “Chuggington” series.
• “Poker Night”: Detective is caught in sadistic game. Ron Perlman stars.
• “Dora and Friends: Into the City”: Dora and her friends go on adventures.
• “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons: The Complete Series”: Includes 32 episodes of the TV series.
• “Nurse Jackie: Season 6”: Jackie (Edie Falco ) enjoys her sobriety.
• “Batman: Season 2: Part One”: The Dynamic Duo continue to protect Gotham City.
• “Syncopation”: William Dieterle’s 1942 musical feature with Benny Goodman.
• “The Song”: Romantic drama inspired by the Song of Solomon.
• “Strawberry Shortcake: Snowberry Days”: Playtime is interrupted when someone notices that the squirrels are low on supplies.
• “Frankenstein vs. the Mummy”: Two monsters face off in an epic battle.
• “Tarzan”: Animated tale of the jungle lord featuring the voice of Kellan Lutz.
• “RPG”: Rutger Hauer plays a multimillionaire who faces battle for survival.
• “Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds”: Documentary on what can be done to protect the source of nearly all food.
• “EARTH A New Wild”: Examination of the way humans are connected to wild animals.
• “The Lookalike”: Frantic search starts when the obsession of a drug lord dies.
• “Brotherhood of Blades”: Young emperor’s determined to take down a major threat to his people.
• “101 Dalmatians Diamond Edition”: The animated tale of Cruella De Vil and all of the puppies has been re-released.
• “Kink”: Documentary on sexual extremes.
• “Quiero Amarte”: The telenovela is a remake of “Imperio de Cristal.”
• “A Mouse Tale”: Magic crystal must be found to stop an attack by evil rodents.
• “Transformers Rescue Bots: Jurassic Adventure”: Dino-themed collection of mystery tales.
• “Digimon Fusion”: Includes all 30 episodes from the first season.
• “Foreclosure”: Family deals with a haunted house. Michael Imperioli stars.
• “Walker, Texas Ranger: War Zone”: Walker must deal with the death of a close friend.
• “Power Rangers Super Megaforce – The Silver Warrior”: Rangers are joined by an unexpected ally.
• “Predestination”: Temporal agent travels through time to stop future killers.
• “Olive Kitteridge”: Cable mini-series starring Frances McDormand.