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 misunderstood monsters (The Boxtrolls, featuring voice performances from Elle Fanning and Ben Kingsley) and an enigmatic vigilante (The Equalizer, starring Denzel Washington and Chloë Grace Moretz). What do the critics have to say?



The Boxtrolls

Witty, original, and darker than your average family fare, Coraline and ParaNorman proved that Laika was a force to be reckoned with in the animation world. Critics say the studio’s latest effort, The Boxtrolls, offers a less compelling story than those films, but it’s meticulously crafted and often delightfully weird. The titular creatures are kindly, goofy monsters that have raised a little boy named Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead-Wright) as one of their own. But the nefarious Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) wants to wipe out the Boxtrolls for personal gain, so it’s up to Eggs and his new friend Winnie (Elle Fanning) to stop him. The pundits say The Boxtrolls is visually striking, but it lacks the charm and narrative pull of previous Laika features.(Check out our video interviews with Kingsley and Fanning.)



The Equalizer

60%

The last time Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua teamed up, the result was Training Day, a searing portrait of a crooked cop that earned Washington an Oscar. They’re back together for The Equalizer, but critics say the results are mixed this time; Washington is his usual compelling self, but the script often succumbs to thriller cliches. Washington stars as McCall, a man with a mysterious past who’s trying to keep a low profile. However, when he stumbles upon Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz) a troubled young woman under the thumb of heartless mobsters, McCall decides to take matters into his own hands. The pundits say The Equalizer is stylish and gritty, but the formulaic plot doesn’t always make the best use of Washington’s fine central performance. (Watch our video Q&A with Fuqua, as well as Washington’s best-reviewed films.)

Certified Fresh on TV this week:


Expanding upon the Batman universe, Gotham (90 percent), which stars Ben Mckenzie and Jada Pinkett Smith, delves into the history of the key players of the Dark Knight saga. The critics say Gotham features high production values, a talented cast, and an appealingly stylized approach to the Batman mythos.

black-ish (86 percent) stars Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne in a comedy series about a father who’s concerned that raising his his kids in the suburbs will force them to lose touch with their African American roots. The critics say black-ish is smart, ingratiating, and often very funny.

Viola Davis is an exceptional talent, and critics say she’s the best reason to watch How to Get Away With Murder (84 percent). The pundits say this legal thriller is slick and exciting, which helps it to overcome its sometimes shaky plotting.

Also opening this week in limited release:

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