The Bye Bye Man
People commit unthinkable acts every day. Time and again, we grapple to understand what drives a person to do such terrible things. But what if all of the questions we’re asking are wrong? What if the source of all evil is not a matter of what … but who? When three college students move into an old house off campus, they unwittingly unleash a supernatural entity known as The Bye Bye Man, who comes to prey upon them once they discover his name. The friends must try to save each other, all the while keeping The Bye Bye Man’s existence a secret to save others from the same deadly fate. But once the Bye Bye Man gets inside your head, he takes control: it’s a psychological force of evil who grows in power every time you think of his name or say it out loud. Unrated version.
Vitals: Director: Stacy Title. Stars: Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas, Douglas Jones, Carrie-Anne Moss, Faye Dunaway.
2017, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 96 min., Horror Thriller, Box office gross: $22.377 million, Universal.
The true story of how Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a salesman from Illinois, met Mac and Dick McDonald, who were running a burger operation in 1950s Southern California. Kroc was impressed by the brothers’ speedy system of making the food and saw franchise potential. He maneuvered himself into a position to be able to pull the company from the brothers and create a billion-dollar empire.
Vitals: Director: John Lee Hancock. Stars: Michael Keaton, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, Nick Offerman, Laura Dern, John Carroll Lynch, B.J. Novak.
2017, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min., Drama, Box office gross: $11.205 million, The Weinstein Co./Anchor Bay
Extras: “The Story Behind the Story” featurette, “Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc” featurette, “The McDonald Brothers” featurette, “The Production Design” featurette, “Building McDonald’s: Time Lapse Video,” press conference with filmmakers and cast.
In the early 1960s, as the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. Based on the unbelievably true life stories of three of these women, known as “human computers,” the film follows them as they quickly rise up the ranks of NASA alongside many of history’s greatest minds specifically tasked with calculating Glenn’s trip into space, and guaranteeing his safe return. The visionary trio, Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), had to fight rampnat sexism and racism and to cross all gender, race, and professional lines to succeed. Their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.
Vitals: Director: Theodore Melfi. Stars: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Glen Powell.
2016, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 127 min., Drama, Box office gross: $153.291 million, Fox.
Extras: “It All Adds Up – The Making of Hidden Figures” five-part featurette: “No Limits – The Life of Katherine Johnson,” “The Right People for the Job,” “Recreating an Era – The Look of Hidden Figures,” “A Spiritual Journey – The Music of Hidden Figures” and “Moving the Decimal – Honoring Katherine Johnson”: deleted scenes; “Hidden Figures: Filming in Georgia”: audio commentary by Theodore Melfi and Taraji P. Henson; gallery.
La La Land
“La La Land” was the exhilarating widescreen musical that set hearts thumping in the latter part of 2016, just in time to ameliorate (somewhat) a presidential election that tore the country apart. From the original and creative opening dance number staged on a freeway overpass during Los Angeles rush hour traffic to the alternative, dreamlike film ending, this original, post-modern musical was a breath of fresh air with gorgeous visuals, flashy dance sequences, catchy songs, and jazzy score — not to mention terrific performances by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling (who woulda thought he could be so cute AND sing and dance). The storyline — kind of “New York, New York” meets “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” — follows Stone and Gosling as Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts; it’s an uplifting movie about everyday life that explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams. Winner of six Academy Awards (Stone won for Best Actress) and a record-breaking seven Golden Globes.
Vitals: Director: Damien Chazelle. Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons.
2016, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 128 min., Musical, Box office gross: $148.644 million, Lionsgate.
Extras: Audio commentary with writer-director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz; “Another Day of Sun: They Closed Down a Freeway” featurette; “La La Land’s Love Letter To Los Angeles” featurette; “Ryan and Emma: Third Time’s the Charm” featurette; song selection. Blu-ray adds “La La Land’s Great Party” featurette; “Ryan Gosling: Piano Student” featurette; “Before Whiplash: Damien Chazelle’s Passion Project” featurette; “The Music of La La Land” featurette; “John Legend’s Acting Debut” featurette; “The
Look of Love: Designing La La Land” featurette; “Epilogue: The Romance
of the Dream” featurette that explores the unusual ending to the film;
“Damien & Justin Sing: The Demo.”
The film, based on a true story, follows five-year-old Indian boy Saroo (Sunny Pawar) who gets lost on a Calcutta train traveling away from his home and family. Frightened and bewildered, he ends up thousands of miles away, in chaotic Kolkata. Somehow he survives living on the streets, escaping all sorts of terrors and close calls in the process, before ending up in an orphanage that is itself not exactly a safe haven. Eventually Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham), and finds love and security as he grows up in Hobart. As an adult, not wanting to hurt his adoptive parents’ feelings, Saroo (Dev Patel) suppresses his past, his emotional need for reunification and his hope of ever finding his lost mother and brother. But a chance meeting with some fellow Indians reawakens his buried yearning. Armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, Saroo sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.
Vitals: Director: Garth Davis. Stars: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, Nicole Kidman, Abhishek Bharate, Sunny Pawar.
2016, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 119 min., Drama, Box office gross: $25.852 million, The Weinstein Co./Anchor Bay.
Extras: Deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes gallery, “Never Give Up” official lyric video performed by Sia.
Office Christmas Party
When an overbearing CEO (Jennifer Aniston) decides to close her hard-partying brother’s failing branch, he (T.J. Miller) and his fired up co-workers (Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon) decide to throw an epic office party to land a big shot client and save everyone’s jobs. Fueled by booze and bad decisions, things quickly spiral out of control in one of the craziest nights of their lives.
Vitals: Director: Josh Gordon & Will Speck. Stars: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, Courtney B. Vance, Jillian Bell, Rob Corddry.
2016, CC, MPAA rating: R, 105 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $82.329 million, Paramount.
Blu-ray extras: Unrated version, commentary by directors Josh Gordon & Will Speck, “Throwing an Office Christmas Party,” outtakes, deleted and extended scenes.