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"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Feb 032016
 

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Black Mass

In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly persuades Irish mobster James “Whitey” Bulger to collaborate with the FBI in order to eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob. The drama tells the story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement, consolidate power and become one of the most ruthless and dangerous gangsters in Boston history.
Vitals: Director: Scott Cooper. Stars: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, Kevin Bacon.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 122 min., Drama, Box office gross: $62.575 million, Warner.
Extras: "Johnny Depp: Becoming Whitey Bulger" featurette. Blu-ray adds "The Manhunt for Whitey Bulger," "Black Mass: Deepest Cover, Darkest Crime."
3 stars
Available: 02/16.  
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Bridge of Spies

Real-life dramatic thriller set against the backdrop of a series of historic events: the story of James Donovan (Tom Hanks), a Brooklyn lawyer who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on a near impossible mission to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot who was shot down over Russia at the height of the Cold War.
Vitals: Director: Steven Spielberg. Stars: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Scott Shepherd, Amy Ryan, Alan Alda, Sebastian Koch, Eve Hewson, Will Rogers.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 142 min., Drama, Box office gross: $70.677 million, DreamWorks/Disney.
Extras: "A Case of the Cold War: Bridge Of Spies": The story of James Donovan, Francis Gary Powers and Rudolf Abel encapsulates the Cold War era — a tense political climate shrouded in propaganda, espionage and the threat of nuclear war. This piece explores the characters and the real-life people they're based on; "U-2 Spy Plane: Beale Air Force Base" showcases spectacular footage shot at the Beale Air Force Base of the U-2 plane and the scene where Powers and other pilots are instructed about their spying mission, including a cameo appearance in the film by Francis Gary Powers son, Gary Powers Jr.; "Spy Swap: Looking Back on the Final Act": Spielberg and his team stage the pivotal scene of the film at Glienicke Bridge, the very same location where the historic exchange of Soviet spy Rudolf Abel and U-2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers took place; "Berlin 1961: Recreating The Divide": A mix of behind-the-scenes footage with iconic archival imagery transports viewers to another place and time as the filmmakers construct the Berlin Wall, envision what it was like to cross through Checkpoint Charlie, and recreate the divide.
3 stars
Available: 02/02.  
photo for Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak

When her heart is stolen by a seductive stranger, a young woman is swept away to a house atop a mountain of blood-red clay — a place filled with secrets that will haunt her forever. Between desire and darkness, between mystery and madness, lies the truth behind Crimson Peak: a house that breathes, bleeds — and remembers.
Vitals: Director: Guillermo del Toro. Stars: Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Charlie Hunnam.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 119 min.,Gothic Horror, Box office gross: $31.090 million, Universal.
Extras: Deleted scenes; "The Light and Dark of Crimson Peak" production featurette; "Beware Of Crimson Peak" walking tour of the many secret spaces in Allerdale Hall; feature commentary with co-writer and director Guillermo Del Toro. Blu-ray adds "I Remember Crimson Peak" interviews with del Toro, Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain; "A Living Thing" set featurette; "A Primer on Gothic Romance"; "Crimson Phantoms" make-up effects featurette; "Hand Tailored Gothic" costume design featurette.
2 stars
Available: 02/09.

photo for Grandma

Grandma

Unapologetic and candid film navigating the intricacies of relationships between three generations of women. Elle Reid (Lily Tomlin) has just gotten through breaking up with her girlfriend when her granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) unexpectedly shows up needing $600 before sundown. Temporarily broke, Grandma Elle and Sage spend the day trying to get their hands on the cash, as their unannounced visits to old friends and flames end up rattling skeletons and digging up secrets.
Vitals: Director: Paul Weitz. Stars: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox, Sam Elliott.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 79 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $6.952 million, Sony.
Extras: "A Family Portrait: The Making of Grandma"; Q&A with Lily Tomlin, Sam Elliott and director Paul Weitz; commentary with Lily Tomlin, Sam Elliott, Julia Garner and Paul Weitz. 2 stars
Available: 02/09.  
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The Last Witch Hunter

Vin Diesel stars as the heroic Kaulder, an immortal witch hunter who has spent centuries tracking down those who practice evil magic. When history's deadliest witches resurrect their bloodthirsty Queen Witch, Kaulder becomes humanity's last hope as he clashes with the supernatural in an epic battle for the ages.
Vitals: Director: Breck Eisner. Stars: Vin Diesel, Elijah Woo, Rose Leslie, Julie Engelbrecht, Michael Caine.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: P-13, 106 min., Action Fantasy, Box office gross: $27.133 million, Lionsgate.
Extras: "Crafting the Magic: The Last Witch Hunter" featurette, animated short films: "The Origins of the Axe and Cross," "The Last Witch Hunter" sizzle reel/"Paint It, Black," commentary with director Breck Eisner, deleted scenes.
2 stars
Available: 02/02.  
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99 Homes

In sunny Orlando, Florida, construction worker Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) is evicted from his home by a charismatic, gun-toting real-estate broker, Rick Carver (Michael Shannon). Humiliated and homeless, Nash has no choice but to move his mom and 9-year old son into a shabby, dangerous motel. All seems lost. Until an unexpected opportunity arises for Nash to strike a deal with the devil — he begins working for Carver in a desperate attempt to get his home back. Carver seduces Nash into a risky world of scamming and stealing from the banks and the government; he teaches Nash how the rich get richer. Living a double life, Nash hides his new boss and job from his family. He rises fast and makes real money; he dreams bigger. But there is a cost. On Carver's orders, Nash must evict honest families from their homes — just as it happened to him. Nash's conscience starts tearing him apart … but his son needs a home.
Vitals: Director: Ramin Bahrani. Stars: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, Tim Guinee, Noah Lomax, Clancy Brown.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 112 min., Drama, Box office gross: $1.410 million, Broad Green Pictures.
3 stars
Available: 02/09.

photo for Secret in Their Eyes

Secret in Their Eyes

Thriller that explores the murky boundaries between justice and revenge. A tight-knit team of investigators — Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Jess (Julia Roberts) and their supervisor Claire (Nicole Kidman) — is torn apart when Jess’s teenage daughter is brutally and inexplicably murdered. After obsessively searching for the elusive killer every day for 13 years, Ray finally uncovers a new lead that he’s certain will resolve the case. No one is prepared, however, for the shocking secret that will reveal the enduring, destructive effects of personal vengeance on the human soul. A reimaging of the 2009 Academy Award-winning Argentinian film "The Secret in Their Eyes."
Vitals: Director: Billy Ray. Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Dean Norris, Michael Kelly, Joe Cole, Alfred Molina.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 111 min., Mystery Thriller, Box office gross: $20.167 million, Universal.
Extras: "Adapting the Story for Today’s World," "Julia Roberts Discusses Her Most Challenging Role," commentary with director-screenwriter Billy Ray and producer Mark Johnson. 2 stars
Available: 02/23.  
photo for Spectre

Spectre

Twenty-fourth "official" James Bond/007 big-screen adventure (not including the 1967 "Casino Royale" and the 1983 "Never Say Never Again"). A cryptic message from the past sends James Bond (Daniel Craig) on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE. Meanwhile back in London, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of the Centre for National Security, questions Bond's actions and challenges the relevance of MI6, led by M (Ralph Fiennes). Bond covertly enlists Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to help him seek out Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), the daughter of his old nemesis Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), who may hold the clue to untangling the web of SPECTRE. As the daughter of an assassin, she understands Bond in a way most others cannot. As Bond ventures towards the heart of SPECTRE, he learns of a chilling connection between himself and the enemy he seeks, played by Christoph Waltz.
Vitals: Director: Sam Mendes. Stars: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Monica Bellucci, Lea Seydoux, Jesper Christensen, Dave Bautista, Christoph Waltz, Rory Kinnear.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 148 min., Action-Thriller, Box office gross: $197.104 million, MGM/Sony/Fox.
Extras: Video Blogs: Director – Sam Mendes, Supercars, Day of the Dead Festival, Introducing Lea Seydoux and Monica Bellucci, Action, Music, Guinness World Record. Blu-ray adds "SPECTRE: Bond's Biggest Opening Sequence," gallery.
3 stars
Available: 02/09.  
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Spotlight

Gripping true story about the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation that uncovered a scandal that rocked one of the world's oldest and most trusted institutions. Delving into allegations of child abuse within the local Catholic Archdiocese, a tenacious team of Boston Globe reporters exposes a decades-long cover-up that reaches the highest levels of Boston's religious, legal, and government establishment. Nominated for six Oscars, including Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Mark Ruffalo, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Rachel McAdams, Best Achievement in Directing for Tom McCarthy, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen and Best Achievement in Editing. Vitals: Director: Tom McCarthy. Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Billy Crudup, Stanley Tucci, John Slattery, Lana Antonova, Jamey Sheridan, Brian d'Arcy James.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 128 min., Drama, Box office gross: $31.045 million, Universal.
Extras: "Uncovering the Truth: A Spotlight Team Roundtable," "Spotlight: A Look Inside," "The State of Journalism."
3 stars
Available: 02/23.

photo for Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

An intimate and revealing portrait of one of the chief architects of the digital age, the film is an up-close-and-personal look at the founder of Apple, a remarkable creative genius whose vow to put computers in the hands of ordinary people changed the world. Set backstage at three iconic product launches and ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac, "Steve Jobs" takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter. The flm is directed by Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle and written by Academy Award-winner Aaron Sorkin, working from Walter Isaacson's best-selling biography of the Apple founder. Michael Fassbender plays Steve Jobs, the pioneering founder of Apple, with Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet starring as Joanna Hoffman, former marketing chief of Macintosh. Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple, is played by Seth Rogen, and Jeff Daniels stars as former Apple CEO John Sculley. Received Oscar nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Fassbender and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Kate Winslet.
Vitals: Director: Danny Boyle. Stars: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 122 min., Drama, Box office gross: $17.766 million, Universal.
Extras: "Inside Jobs: The Making of Steve Jobs," commentary with director Danny Boyle, commentary with writer Aaron Sorkin and editor Elliot Graham.
3 stars
Available: 02/16.  
photo for The 33

The 33

In 2010, the eyes of the world turned to Chile, where 33 miners had been buried alive by the catastrophic explosion and collapse of a 100-year-old gold and copper mine. Over the next 69 days, an international team worked night and day in a desperate attempt to rescue the trapped men as their families and friends, as well as millions of people globally, waited and watched anxiously for any sign of hope. But 200 stories beneath the surface, in the suffocating heat and with tensions rising, provisions — and time — were quickly running out. A story of resilience, personal transformation and triumph of the human spirit, the film takes us to the Earth's darkest depths, revealing the psyches of the men trapped in the mine, and depicting the courage of both the miners and their families who refused to give up. The film is based on the story by Jose Rivera and the book "Deep Down Dark" by Hector Tobar, and was filmed on location — with the cooperation of the miners, their families and their rescuers — in Chile's harshly remote yet stunningly beautiful Atacama desert just kilometers away from where the event took place, and deep within two mines located in central Colombia.
Vitals: Director: Patricia Riggen. Stars: Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, James Brolin, Lou Diamond Phillips,Bob Gunton, Gabriel Byrne.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 127 min., Drama, Box office gross: $12.188 million, Warner.
Extras: "The 33 The World Was Watching," theatrical trailer. Blu-ray adds "The Mine Collapse."
2 stars
Available: 02/16.  
photo for Trumbo

Trumbo

The successful career of 1940s screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) comes to a crushing end when he and other Hollywood figures are blacklisted for their political beliefs when the House Un-American Activities Committee begins investigating "Communist infiltration" of Hollywood's creative community. The film tells the story of his fight — and the fight of other members of the "Hollywood 10," whose lives and livelihood were strangled by the Blacklist — against the U.S. government and studio bosses in a war over words and freedom, which entangled everyone in Hollywood from Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) and John Wayne to Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger. A tour-de-force performance by Cranston — and an over-the-top supporting performance by John Goodman as an exploitation-film producer who supports Trumbo during the Blacklist. Cranston has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.
Vitals: Director: Jay Roach. Stars: Bryan Cranston, Louis C.K., Elle Fanning, Helen Mirren, Diane Lane, Alan Tudyk, John Goodman, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Dean O'Gorman, Michael Stuhlbarg.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 124 min., Drama, Box office gross: $7.361 million, Universal.
Extras: "Who is Trumbo?", "Bryan Cranston Becomes Trumbo.".
3 stars
Available: 02/16.  
photo for Truth

Truth

Based on award-winning TV producer Mary Mapes' memoir, "Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power," which chronicles the story of Dan Rather (Robert Redford) and Mary Mapes' (Cate Blanchett) investigation into a sitting President's military service and one of network news' biggest scandals. As a renowned producer and close associate of Rather, Mapes believes she's broken the biggest story of the 2004 election: revelations of irregularities in President George W. Bush's military service. But then allegations come pouring in, sources change their stories, document authenticity is questioned, and the casualties begin to mount. This dramatic thriller goes behind the scenes to expose the intricacies of journalistic integrity and what it takes to reveal the truth.
Vitals: Director: James Vanderbilt. Stars: Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Topher Grace, Elisabeth Moss, Bruce Greenwood, Dennis Quaid. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 121 min., Drama, Box office gross: $2.522 million, Sony.
Extras: "The Team" featurette; Q&A with Cate Blanchett, Elisabeth Moss and James Vanderbilt; commentary with Vanderbilt, producers Brad Fischer and William Sherak. Blu-ray adds deleted scenes, "The Reason for Being" featurette.
2 stars
Available: 02/02.

 

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