There aren’t many big new releases available this week on home video, but we’ve at least got one seasonally appropriate release (Deliver Us from Evil), along with a well-received indie dramedy and a handful of smaller films. In addition, we’ve got the complete series of a classic sitcom and a couple of noteworthy releases from the Criterion Collection, including a Jacques Tati compilation. Read on for details:



Deliver Us from Evil

29%

Scott Derrickson has recently chalked up a number of scary movies as writer and/or director, including 2005’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose, 2012’s Sinister, and Devil’s Knot, which premiered earlier this year. Sinister is his best reviewed work thus far, and his latest offering, Deliver Us from Evil, posed no threat to that title. Eric Bana stars as a police officer named Ralph Sarchie who begins investigating a series of mysterious crimes that all seem to be linked. As he digs deeper, he uncovers the supernatural cause of the city’s strange occurrences and teams up with a local priest to fight it. Critics agreed that Derrickson got some mileage out of his knack for chilly atmosphere, but also felt the film unwisely relied on overly familiar scare tactics, resulting in a mediocre 28 percent Tomatometer score. Special features include a commentary track, a profile of the real life Ralph Sarchie, whose experiences inspired the film, and a few making-of featurettes.



Begin Again

83%

Back in 2007, director (and former bassist for Irish band The Frames) John Carney scored a surprise indie hit with Once, a thoughtful, melancholy drama about two musicians who share a brief time together. This year, he brought us Begin Again, another story about a pair of musical souls who meet, connect, and make music, but with a lighter touch. Keira Knightley is struggling and newly single songwriter Gretta, who impresses record exec Dan (Mark Ruffalo) so much that he signs her to his label. Faced with opposition from his partner (Mos Def), Dan suggests he and Gretta record her album independently, and the two begin an unlikely friendship. Begin Again was Certified Fresh by the critics at 82 percent; though many felt the film didn’t quite hit the high notes of Once, they were charmed by the chemistry between Knightley and Ruffalo. The only two special features available are a making-of doc and a few music videos, including co-star Adam Levine’s rendition of one of the film’s songs, “Lost Stars.”

Also available this week:

  • Life of Crime (66 percent), starring Jennifer Aniston and Will Forte in an ensemble caper comedy about a kidnapping gone awry when the corrupt land developer being squeezed decides he’d rather not pay the ransom.
  • Zach Braff’s famously crowd-funded Wish I Was Here (46 percent), starring Braff and Kate Hudson in a dramedy about a thirtysomething man coming to grips with his adult life.
  • James Franco’s Child of God (37 percent), starring Scott Haze and Tim Blake Nelson in an adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel about a Tennessee man whose life misfortune isolates him from society.
  • Good People (12 percent), starring James Franco and Kate Hudson in a thriller about a couple in debt who discover a bag of cash and keep it, running afoul of the thief who stole it in the first place.
  • The Prince (0 percent), starring Bruce Willis and John Cusack in a thriller about a retired assassin who jumps back into action when his daughter is kidnapped by his old rival.
  • Shout! Factory is releasing the Complete Series of WKRP in Cincinnati for all you fans of classic sitcoms. The Emmy-nominated series, which ran from 1978-1982 and followed the eccentric staff at a struggling radio station, aired successfully in syndication for years after its cancellation.
  • And lastly, two rereleases from the Criterion Collection: George Sluizer’s 1988 thriller The Vanishing (100 percent) is available in a new DVD and Blu-ray; and a DVD and Blu-ray box set of The Complete Jacques Tati, which contains all six of the French director’s films, including Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (100 percent) and Playtime (100 percent), as well as seven of his short films and a ton of special features.

It’s that time of year again. The Gotham Independent Film Awards have announced their nominees for 2014, unofficially kicking the film industry into the beginning of the anual awards season. While we still have several prestige films yet to hit the big screen, acclaimed films from earlier in the year like Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin are up for multiple Gotham Awards, alongside more recent releases like Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman and Justin Simien’s Dear White People. The awards ceremony is scheduled for December 1 in New York, but you can see the full list of nominees below:

Mark Seman bestows Zach Braff with a new nickname, and also speaks to Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, and Joey King from the new film Wish I Was Here.


  • Watch more video interviews
  • This week at the movies, we’ve got winged heroes (Planes: Fire And Rescue, with voice performances by Dane Cook and Ed Harris), criminal-minded citizens (The Purge: Anarchy, starring Frank Grillo and Michael K. Williams), and a mortified married couple (Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel). What do the critics have to say?



    Planes: Fire And Rescue

    45%

    Some animated features offer enough magic and wonder to entertain the whole family, while others might keep the kiddies occupied but won’t do much for their parents. The critics say Planes: Fire And Rescue is an example of the latter; the visuals are striking, but the characters are bland and the action is predictable. This time out, Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) has left racing behind to join Blade Ranger (Ed Harris) and his squad of fire and rescue planes, who must contain an out-of-control forest blaze. The pundits say Planes: Fire & Rescue is sure to delight vehicle-obsessed children, but their parents or guardians are likely to find it thin and inoffensive at best.



    The Purge: Anarchy

    57%

    If you’re in the mood for disreputable B-movie thrills ‘n’ chills, critics say you could do worse than The Purge: Anarchy, a ludicrously-plotted, blood-drenched sci-fi action flick whose pulpy pleasures are unfortunately undermined by its overreaching message. Like its predecessor, The Purge takes place during a 12-hour stretch during which all laws are suspended and criminals run wild; this time, a grizzled cop (Frank Grillo) defends several law-abiding citizens while seeking to avenge the death of his son. The pundits say The Purge: Anarchy is gritty and tense, but its predictable narrative and allegorical pretensions dull its occasionally sharp edge. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of horror sequels.)



    Sex Tape

    16%

    Sex Tape promises a playful blend of heart and raunch, and it stars two dependable comic talents in Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel. Unfortunately, critics say the movie has a few good moments but never generates the kind of manic energy that this kind of farce requires. Diaz and Segel star as a married couple looking to add a dash of spice to their stagnant relationship. However, when they accidentally distribute a video of their private activities, our heroes go to absurd lengths to destroy the evidence. The pundits say Sex Tape too often strains for laughs while keeping its naughty premise from achieving full boil. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Diaz’s best-reviewed films.)

    Also opening this week in limited release:

    • Fanny, a drama about a woman who marries a rich man before the father of her child realizes he loves her, is at 71 percent.
    • Alive Inside, a documentary about how music helps to engage people with debilitating memory loss, is at 70 percent.
    • A Five Star Life, a drama about a luxury hotel critic dealing with a shakeup in her support system, is at 60 percent.
    • Michel Gondry‘s Mood Indigo, starring Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris in a romantic fantasy about a man who tries to save a woman with an unusual medical condition, is at 56 percent.
    • Aftermath, starring Edward Furlong in a sci-fi thriller about a group of strangers hiding in a basement in order to survive nuclear radiation and zombie hoards, is at 56 percent.
    • I Origins, starring Michael Pitt and Brit Marling in a sci-fi drama about a researcher whose study of the human eye leads to a dramatic discovery, is at 50 percent.
    • Zach Braff‘s Wish I Was Here, co-starring Kate Hudson in a comedy about a thirtysomething dad in the midst of reevaluating his life, is at 29 percent.
    • Video Games: The Movie, a documentary about the pioneers of the medium, is at 25 percent.
    • Persecuted, starring James Remar and Bruce Davison in a thriller about an evangelist who runs afoul of a corrupt senator, is at zero percent.

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