Presidents Day weekend is the time to take advantage of sales and get that new couch you’ve been eyeing or drive that new car off the lot, but it is, apparently, not the best time to get new DVDs. There are only a handful of new releases to choose from this week, and just a few of them will generate much interest. Thanks to HBO for pumping some excitement into the column this week. Read on for details:

Game of Thrones – Season Three

Even if you’ve never seen an episode of Game of Thrones, chances are you heard from someone about season three’s infamous “Red Wedding” episode. Such has been the cultural impact of HBO’s hugely popular adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, the first novel of which is where the series gets its name. Now, for those who have yet to watch the series, but are intrigued, we’re not going to spoil anything here. Suffice it to say that Game of Thrones chronicles the rise and fall of political and military forces largely in a fictional, magic-infused Dark Ages-era land known as Westeros, following the exploits of a handful of powerful families as they wrestle either for freedom or dominion. Season three approximately covers the first half of Martin’s third novel in the series, though anyone who’s read the books is almost certainly already following along with the HBO show. In any case, the full season, along with a number of special features, is available this week on DVD and Blu-ray.

Afternoon Delight


It’s a small film that saw only a limited release, but it’s a pretty slow week for home video releases, so we’ll take it. Afternoon Delight stars Kathryn Hahn as Rachel, a hip 30-something mother and housewife whose life seems just about perfect, except for the fact that she’s getting a bit bored. When she visits a strip club with some friends and meets dancer McKenna (Juno Temple), she finds a source of inspiration and asks McKenna to be her live-in nanny. Hahn, who has been very funny in several supporting roles, managed to impress critics here with a slightly more understated performance, and her chemistry with Juno Temple was largely what drove this comedy. Critics found the film mostly agreeable, awarding it a 62% on the Tomatometer and calling it a light, refreshing look at a dilemma many women may relate to, even if it’s a bit tonally uneven and doesn’t quite know exactly what it wants to say.

Also available this week:

  • On the Job (100%), an action import from the Philippines about four men — two criminals and two law enforcement officers — whose lives collide.
  • The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (90%), a documentary exploring the nature of ideology by examining how films like The Sound of Music or Jaws reinforce what we believe.
  • South Korean import Fists of Legend (71%), about three former street fighters who get back in the ring for different reasons.
  • A complete series collection of the original 1978 Battlestar Galactica is available.
  • And finally, two more great choices from Criterion: a rerelease of Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox (93%) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent (93%) are both available in new DVD/Blu-ray combo packs.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a popular boy band (the concert documentary One Direction: This Is Us), a desperate ex-racecar driver (Getaway, starring Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez), and attorneys under surveillance (Closed Circuit, starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall). What do the critics have to say?

One Direction: This Is Us


If you’re a diehard fan of English/Irish pop sensations One Direction, no movie reviewer is likely to dissuade you from seeing One Direction: This Is Us. If, however, you’re a parent or significant other who gets dragged to the theater, critics say there’s a decent chance you’ll find this slick, well-shot, admittedly skin-deep concert documentary to be reasonably entertaining. Directed by Morgan Spurlock (of Super Size Me fame), the film follows the group from its X-Factor beginnings to the big time, capturing the lads on stage in full 3D splendor. The pundits say that while One Direction: This Is Us is hardly muckraking (or even revelatory), it’s a well-assembled and visually striking look at one of pop’s hottest contemporary acts. (Take a look at this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of music documentaries.)



Rarely does a film’s title serve as an inadvertent warning, but critics say that’s pretty much the deal with Getaway –audiences should get away from this borderline incompetent chase thriller at all costs. Ethan Hawke stars as an ex racecar driver whose wife has been abducted; to save her, he must follow the orders of the kidnapper (Jon Voight) and drive around Sofia, Bulgaria with a would-be carjacker (Selena Gomez) in tow. The pundits say Getaway is an implausible, suspense-free mess, and its chase sequences are ineptly staged and photographed. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Voight’s best-reviewed movies.)

Closed Circuit


The time would seem ripe for a smart thriller about government surveillance; unfortunately, critics say Closed Circuit, while well-acted, is smart without being particularly thrilling. Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall star as attorneys and former sweethearts who find their loyalties tried and their lives in danger when they join the defense team of an accused terrorist; as they investigate the case, they find themselves under constant scrutiny. The pundits say Closed Circuit raises some interesting issues, but its plot is alternately predictable and far-fetched. (Watch our video interviews with Bana, and director John Crowley.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Our Nixon, a documentary utilizing footage shot by staffers during Nixon’s administration, is at 91 percent.
  • I Declare War, an action comedy about a group of 13-year-olds participate in a militaristic daily game of capture the flag, is at 79 percent.
  • Brian DePalma‘s Passion, starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace in a thriller about the fraught relationship between a advertising executive and her ambitious assistant, is at 40 percent.
  • American Made Movie, a documentary about the state of domestic manufacturing, is at 40 percent.
  • Afternoon Delight, starring Juno Temple and Jane Lynch in a dramedy about an affluent mom who hires a stripper as a nanny, is at 35 percent.
  • The Lifeguard, starring Kristen Bell and Mamie Gummer in a dramedy about a thirtysomething woman whose professional and romantic failings lead her to try to relive her teenage years, is at 12 percent.

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