DVD/Blu-ray Releases — 11/15/2011

 New options for your home viewing this week:

The title, like a lot of the film, might seem like stating the obvious, but Beginners challenges that thematic simplicity with its games of word association and visual gags.  See, the hero Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is artistically minded and adept at compartmentalizing, so writer/director Mike Mills simply goes along with his thought process.  The film tells the story of Oliver’s budding romance with Anna (Mélanie Laurent), a fetching actress who’s about to leave L.A. for an audition in New York and begin travelling for her career, and his memories of his father Hal (a wonderful Christopher Plummer), who at 75 announced that he was gay.  It’s a story of loss and regret, and yet the film is somehow joyous in the places we’re accustomed to misery.  My review is here.  Available on DVD and Blu-ray.

The hypothesis put forward by Larry Crowne is that a romantic comedy can exist without the usual complications.  On one hand, good for co-screenwriters Tom Hanks (who also directed and stars in the title role) and Nia Vardalos for trying; on the other, there are really no challenges for the characters to overcome, making it dramatically static.  Hanks’ character is fired from the big-box store he loves and starts community college.  The main point is the eventual quasi-romance between Larry and his teacher (Julia Roberts), and the two are charismatic.  Still, this might be too happy-go-lucky for its own good.  My review is here.  Available on DVD and Blu-ray.

A story of how messed-up people love messed-up company, Bellflower was made on a shoestring budget (most of it apparently spent on a Mad Max-inspired car).  It might be admirable and all, but the movie is still like amateur hour in the screenplay and acting departments.  Woodrow (writer/director Evan Glodell) falls for Milly (Jessie Wiseman), and they break up eventually.  The move into flights of fancy afterward is edited well enough, but there’s something terribly discomforting about it.  The bigger issue is that the whole movie is a hollow take on a romantic breakup and nothing much else.  My review is here.  Available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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About Mark Dujsik

Film critic since 2001. Writer/editor/publisher of Mark Reviews Movies, and contributor for RogerEbert.com and Magill's Cinema Annual. Member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society.
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