Flick Picks 2/18/2016


New releases on DVD this week are led by some formidable characters - a crime boss, a grandmother...and that Apple guy.  To contrast that age and hard-won life experience, we have a couple of recent French films more concerned with coming of age.  Among the new arrivals in series DVDs is season three of the popular Silk.



Feature Films

The second biopic of Apple mastermind Steven Jobs, this one based on the best-selling biography of the same title by Walter Isaacson, has arrived on DVD.  And if you're going to watch only one film about the brilliant, mercurial Jobs, perhaps you want to see the one starring Michael Fassbender (Sorry, Ashton Kutcher fans).  Kate Winslet continues to garner acclaim for he portrayal of Jobs' confidant, Joanna Hoffman.      



Speaking of acclaim, Bryan Cranston has accumulated a number of best actor nods for his performance as the once blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.  Helen Mirren stars as one of Trumbo's main nemeses, gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.  




It seems that Johnny Depp must always get into character.  Really into character.  You know - those pirate outfits, something of a debonair wolf (Into The Woods), going decidedly goth in Dark Shadows.  And then, of course, his role as Tonto in The Lone Ranger - the less said there, the better.  Depp's shape, wig and makeup shifting is done to good end in Black Mass, a very solid crime thriller about the notorious Boston crime boss James Joseph "Whitey" Bulger.  More strange than the unnaturally receding hairline is Depp's usually brown eyes gleaming malevolent blue in Black Mass.  The always watchable Joel Edgerton co-stars as the FBI agent who unwisely uses Bulger as an informant.      



Among the major snubs in this year's Academy Awards nominations is Lily Tomlin for her fierce, deeply-felt performance in Grandma.  Tomlin plays a poet in the painful aftermath of a relationship breakup when her granddaughter arrives, in need of $600.  Since Grandma lacks the money, the two head out on an odyssey to find the money.  As you might expect, a few feathers are ruffled along the way.  Despite the obvious contrivances of plot here, what's particularly refreshing is the main character's sexual orientation, her age and even the reason for which the money is required - all potentially the stuff of cheap melodrama - simply are the case.  This particular Grandma is a character almost unprecedented in film history, brought fully to life by Lily Tomlin









Right on the heels of season two comes the third and final season of this popular BBC drama about the lives of barristers in the Shoe Lane Chambers.





This HBO series is a comedy-drama affair from the Duplass brothers.   It's about relationships, family, careers....you know, life.  Look for the ever-charming Mary Steenburgen as the free-spirited friend of the series main character, Brett Pierson (Mark Duplass). 





The magnetic Cillian Murphy stars as boss of the Peaky Blinders gang in this BBC series based on the exploits of the actual criminal gang that was based in Birmingham, England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.





Foreign Film


Lastly we have two recent DVD arrivals in French, one from France, the other from Canada.  Both could be termed coming of age films and both involve relationships between young women.  Actress and director Melanie Laurent's Breathe is the more dramatic of the two films.  While some of the markers of plot - the alluring and troubled newcomer and the more conventional good girl, not to mention school assignments which always manage to perfectly reflect the action of the film - are common enough, Laurent is obviously a perceptive director with a good eye.  And she gets very committed performances from her young leads.  Writer/director Stephane Lafleur's Tu Dors Nicole (You're Sleeping Nicole), offers a much more lighthearted take on that limbo of youth between high school and finding a place in the world.  If you enjoy films that are as much about character and mood as plot, check out the sweet, sometimes absurd Tu Dors Nicole.








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