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.
This week at the movies, we’ve got a ragtag superhero team (Guardians of the Galaxy, starring Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana) and the Godfather of Soul (Get On Up, starring Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis). What do the critics have to say?



Guardians of the Galaxy

92%

How strong is the Marvel juggernaut right now? It’s so strong it’s making movie stars out of even its second and third string superheroes. The critics say Guardians of the Galaxy, with its fast-paced thrills, eye-popping special effects, and playful sense of humor, is one of the most purely enjoyable comic book adaptations in a while. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a devil-may-care space adventurer, teams with a group of oddballs to transport and sell a mysterious and valuable orb. However, the evil Ronan the Accuser wants to harness the orb for his own nefarious purposes, so it’s up to our heroes to save the universe. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Guardians of the Galaxy exudes the giddy swagger of old-school swashbucklers within its slick packaging, making for a funny, exciting night at the movies for comics buffs and neophytes alike. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of great movie spaceships, and watch our interviews with Pratt and co-stars Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, and Dave Bautista.)



Get On Up

80%

James Brown was such an electrifying performer — and his life was so colorful — that you’d be forgiven for thinking that no biopic could possibly do him justice. But critics say Get On Up comes close, thanks to a dynamite performance by Chadwick Boseman that captures the great soul singer’s onstage magnetism and offstage complexities. The film doesn’t proceed chronologically; instead, it jumps around to depict key moments in Brown’s life, from his hardscrabble childhood to his legendary Apollo concerts, from his famously rigorous work habits to his problems with the law. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Get On Up occasionally falls prey to standard biopic elements, but mostly, it’s an energetic portrait of a fascinating, often difficult man, and Boseman is simply out of sight. (Check out this week’s Total Recall for a list of some of cinema’s funkiest movies, and watch our interviews with Boseman and co-stars Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis, and Jill Scott.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Calvary, starring Brendan Gleeson and Chris O’Dowd in a drama about a country priest who struggles to continue his work after receiving a death threat during a confessional, is Certified Fresh at 88 percent.
  • Finding Fela!, a documentary about the life and music of the great Nigerian Afrobeat star, is at 77 percent.
  • Moebius, a South Korean drama about the twisted relationship between a family and another woman, is at 75 percent.
  • Rich Hill, a documentary about three teenagers growing up in an economically depressed town in the Midwest, is at 77 percent.
  • The Strange Little Cat, a closely-observed dramedy about a middle-class family in a Berlin apartment, is at 70 percent.
  • The Almost Man, a Norwegian comedy about a 30-something man-child whose life is upended when his girlfriend announces that she’s pregnant, is at 67 percent.
  • Around the Block, starring Christina Ricci in a coming-of-age drama about a troubled 16-year-old torn between the theater and a life of crime, is at 50 percent.
  • War Story, starring Catherine Keener and Ben Kingsley in a drama about a photojournalist attempting to help a refugee escape a war zone, is at 43 percent.
  • Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero, a horror film about group of vacationers who find themselves in the midst of a terrifying viral outbreak, is at 38 percent.
  • James Franco‘s Child Of God, a period drama about a troubled cave-dweller in rural Tennessee, is at 35 percent.
  • 4 Minute Mile, starring Richard Jenkins in a drama about a high school runner attempting to turn his life around with the help of a gruff track coach, is at 29 percent.
  • Louder Than Words, starring David Duchovny and Hope Davis in a drama about a grieving couple who work to help establish a hospital for their community, is at 14 percent.
  • Behaving Badly, starring Nat Wolff and Selena Gomez in a comedy about a guy who makes a bet that he can win the girl of his dreams, is at zero percent.

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