New to DVD and On Demand Releases for December 11 - 17

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11 December 2016
VIEW FROM THE COUCH
By Jay Bobbin Zap2it
(Ratings for each film begin with a "star'' rating -- one star meaning "poor,'' four meaning "excellent'' -- followed by the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and then by a family-viewing guide, the key for which appears below.)

 
Releasing this Week:
Suicide Squad"Suicide Squad": Certainly not the typical breed of DC Comics characters, the title group is more villainous than heroic -- though they're forced into missions for the U.S. government in a post-Superman world -- in this enjoyably subversive adventure written and directed by David Ayer ("Training Day''). Joel Kinnaman and Viola Davis ("How to Get Away With Murder'') play those in charge the so-called Task Force X, whose unpredictable members include assassin Deadshot (Will Smith), ex-psychiatrist Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, also Smith's "Focus'' co-star earlier), fire-throwing El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and a possessed sorceress known as the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). Through his link to Harley, The Joker (Jared Leto) also inserts himself into the proceedings, which connect to other tales in the DC movie universe through a couple of cameo appearances. Despite mixed-at-best reviews, the picture registered strongly at the box office, and a sequel is in the works. DVD extras: extended and deleted scenes. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Florence Foster Jenkins"Florence Foster Jenkins": Yet again proving she can do no wrong, Meryl Streep is typically terrific in director Stephen Frears' ("The Queen'') fact-inspired comedy about a New York socialite who aspires to a singing career ... though she can't sing. Hugh Grant is a fine match for Streep as the woman's hugely supportive husband, who rather literally turns a deaf ear to the situation as he tries to make her dream of performing at Carnegie Hall. A relatively unsung (pun intended) hero of the movie is "The Big Bang Theory's'' Simon Helberg as Jenkins' accompanist, who plays along with the charade as best he can. Rebecca Ferguson ("Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation'') also appears. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Bridget Jones' Baby"Bridget Jones's Baby": Twelve years after Renee Zellweger had last embodied novelist Helen Fielding's adorably insecure Englishwoman, the actress doesn't miss a beat in reprising the role in this third comedy in the movie series -- and yes, the character is "with child'' this time. However, she's not entirely sure who the father is: her old flame Mark (fellow returnee Colin Firth) or an appealing newcomer to her life ("Grey's Anatomy'' alum Patrick Dempsey). Hugh Grant's absence from this chapter is explained early on, and music's Ed Sheeran has an amusing cameo in a sequence set at the renowned Glastonbury Festival. Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones also are back as Bridget's parents. *** (R: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Ben-Hur"Ben-Hur": Spouses Mark Burnett ("Survivor'') and Roma Downey were among the producers of this revisiting of the story by Lew Wallace, also the source of one of the most classic movies (and top Oscar winners) ever made. Modern visual effects enhance the legendary chariot-race sequence here, but that also serves to make it even more amazing that the 1959 version was achieved without those. Jack Huston has the title role as the prince relieved of his birthright and sent into slavery, then determined to avenge himself against his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell). The cast also includes Morgan Freeman, Rodrigo Santoro ("Lost''), Ayelet Zurer and Sofia Black-D'Elia. ** (PG-13: AS, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)


Also Releasing this Week:
"Southside with You": The young Barack Obama's (Parker Sawyers, "Zero Dark Thirty'') Chicago courtship of future wife Michelle (Tika Sumpter, "Ride Along'') is dramatized in this by-the-numbers, but still entertaining, offering executive-produced by musician John Legend. Apart from their striking resemblance to the eventual White House occupants they portray, both stars do a fine job of evoking the very start of the relationship ... and given the tightly unified image the couple long has had, it's intriguing that writer-director Richard Tanne plays up the fact that Michelle didn't make it easy for her then-suitor to win her over. Vanessa Bell Calloway also is featured. DVD extras: audio commentary by Tanne; production-art gallery. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Star Trek: The Original Series -- The Roddenberry Vault": Just when you thought you might have seen all there is to see of one of television's all-time-classic shows ... no. This new Blu-ray set boasts footage never before released (and acquired from the estate of series creator-producer Gene Roddenberry), covering deleted scenes and alternate takes of others, snippets that went to the editing-room floor, and even dialogue that was removed or replaced. Among those seen in new interviews are William Shatner, guest stars including Clint Howard and Leslie Parrish, and a number of key behind-the-scenes staff members (director Ralph Senensky, writers D.C. Fontana and David Gerrold, special-effects master Richard Edlund). And don't fear that there aren't any complete "Star Trek'' episodes here: There are a dozen. *** (Not rated: AS)


Upcoming Releases:
"The Disappointments Room" (Dec. 20): A woman (Kate Beckinsale) finds a hidden room in her family's new home, leading to terror. (R: AS, P, V)
"The Hitchcock/Truffaut" (Dec. 20): The impact that the two iconic filmmakers had on other directors is discussed by many of them. (PG-13: AS, V)
"The Magnificent Seven" (Dec. 20): The remake of the classic Western casts Denzel Washington as the leader of an oppressed town's hired defenders; Chris Pratt also stars. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"Sully" (Dec. 20): Tom Hanks has the title role as the airline pilot who landed a damaged plane in the ``Miracle on the Hudson'' in director Clint Eastwood's true drama. (PG-13: P)
"The Dressmaker" (Dec. 27): A stylish woman's (Kate Winslet) return to her Australian hometown is tinged with a taste for revenge against those who maligned her. (R: AS, P, V)
"Snowden" (Dec. 27): Oliver Stone's drama casts Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the source of the leak of many classified documents. (R: AS, N, P)


Oldies But Goodies:
"Ben-Hur" (1959): One of the towering movies of all time, the original version stars Charlton Heston -- and features that ever-impressive, vibrantly filmed chariot race. **** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Mamma Mia!" (2008): Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and the rest of the cast give their vocal chops a workout in the musical inspired by ABBA's music. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (1979): Directed by Robert Wise, the first feature film based on the series pits the Enterprise crew against a force that's destroying space vessels. *** (Also on Blu-ray)


TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending November 27, 2016, Courtesy of
comScore)

1) "The Legend Of Tarzan"
2)  "Independence Day: Resurgence"
3)  "Finding Dory"
4)  "Central Intelligence"
5)  "Bad Moms"
6)  "Mechanic: Resurrection"
7)  "Sausage Party"
8)  "X-Men: Apocalypse"
9)  "Ice Age: Collision Course"
10)  "Hell or High Water"


FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence


 
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