DVD reviews: Mr. Nice Guy

This week, we begin on the couch: Marjane Satrapi, the Iranian-born director of the animated marvel Persepolis, guides a wide-eyed Ryan Reynolds through his spirited role as Jerry, a shy, unassuming man who seems to lead two lives.


Second verse

It’s never too late to make amends, or so says Danny Collins, the man as well as the movie. And for the title character in this tale of redemption, the acts of contrition and absolution come just in time..


Disney Enterprises

DVD reviews: Shadow dance

This week, we begin in the forest: In this handsome, Oscar-nominated production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s stage musical, an excellent cast of actors, singers and singing actors enlivens the fairy-tale mash-up directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago).


Hardly rebellious

Conformity is the scourge of the Divergent series — and much of its young-adult ilk (The Hunger Games, Twilight). It’s a shame that the films, including the new Insurgent, do so little to stray from well-worn YA paths.



DVD reviews: Biting realism

This week, we begin in Australia: Ewan McGregor stars in this action-filled Australian crime drama as Brendan Lynch, a jailed convict who befriends a naive young prisoner, JR (Brenton Thwaites), and protects him from prison abuse.


If the shoe fits

The beguiling new Cinderella is based on a centuries-old French fairy tale, but it has an overwhelmingly British flavor to it. That English tastiness, however, is never enough to overlook the obvious fact that it is, in most respects, a Disney production.


Cohen Media Group

DVD reviews: Revolutionary role

This week, we begin in South America: Alberto Arvelo directed this Spanish- and English-language bio-pic about Simón Bolívar, the revolutionary leader who helped liberate much of South America from the Spanish in the early 1800s (a liberator, not a dictator).


Doomed from the start

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel welcomes you to the Indian branch of God’s Waiting Room. For that’s what has become of the hotel featured so prominently in the 2011 surprise hit that now spawns this lame sequel.


DVD reviews: Mad wrestlers and animated fairies

In this fact-based, five-time Oscar-nominated film directed by nominee Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball), Channing Tatum plays Olympic wrestler Mark Shultz, with nominee Mark Ruffalo as his brother and co-medalist Dave Shultz.


Life among the jihadis

The people move slowly, but justice moves swiftly in Timbuktu, a spare yet compelling examination of living life under siege.


Bullhorn Publicity

Where they began

Seryn fans had to wait four years for the follow-up to the band’s critically lauded 2011 debut, This Is Where We Are.


From Jakarta to Denton

Denton filmmakers Susan Carol Davis and Jennifer Batchelder are ready for at least one question about the short film, “Retno’s Refusal,” set to premiere on Sunday night at Thin Line, a documentary film, music and photography festival that opened in Denton Wednesday night.


Something to embrace

You’ve seen feel-good football and baseball movies, plus great underdog stories of boxing, basketball, soccer and cycling. So what’s left? The 1980s-set McFarland, USA has the answer: It’s cross country.


Kino Lorber

DVD review: Wartime thriller

This week we begin in the Civil War: A relatively unknown but highly talented cast and crew combined to create this excellent period piece filled with dynamic characters and compelling themes.


Bluish movie

What first comes to mind with the guiltily salacious new Fifty Shades of Grey is an old Woody Allen gag. When asked if he thinks sex is dirty, he replies, “Only when doing it right.”...


A24 Films

DVD reviews: ‘Laggies’ has rewards amid few missteps

Director Lynn Shelton works from Andrea Seigel’s script to set up a ridiculous premise before turning it into a film that’s decently entertaining — and at times insightful. Shelton also has help from a trio of likable performers who bring some levity to a series of awkward situations.

Proud Mother Pictures

Universal childhood

The Australian documentary film I Am Eleven is the official “Thin Line for the Fam” selection for Thin Line, Denton’s documentary film, music and photography festival on Feb. 18-22. I Am Eleven screens at 10 a.m. Feb. 21 at the Campus Theatre, 214 W. Hickory St.


Arrow Films

DVD reviews: Behind ‘Close’ doors

This week, we start in front of the television: According to an accompanying 20-page English-language booklet, by the start of 1870, Paris had 3,656 “kept” women, with 1,066 of them situated in registered “houses.”

SALT Project

Color commentary

“Strange Fruit” is a needling song. It’s a voluptuous sounding tune that throws the lyrics -- a stark depiction of the lynching of two young black men -- into sharp and uncomfortable relief. Billie Holiday made the song popular, when she began singing it to close each of her shows at Cafe Society in 1939. Cafe Society was New York’s first integrated nightclub. Owner Barney Josephson set a few rules about the song: Holiday would end each show with the number. The waitstaff would halt service just before she sang, the lights would go off, and Holiday would narrate the scene — the broken bodies of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, hanged from a tree above a mob of panicked and angry white people in Marion, Indiana, in 1930 — in a tight spotlight.


AP file photo

DVD reviews: Fully drawn

This week, we begin in Tokyo: This excellent Japanese documentary examines the people of and the inner-workings at Tokyo’s Studio Ghibli.


‘Cake’ crumbles

Ah, to de-glam. It’s one of the surest shortcuts to newfound artistic appreciation: a bedraggled deviation into dowdy drama by a beautiful star. Acclaim by way of sweatpants.



The New York Times

DVD reviews: About a boy

This week, we begin online:The Internet’s Own Boy (3 1/2 stars) Not rated, 105 minutes.

Fox Searchlight

Intrigue, if not diversity, in Oscar race

The Oscar nominations added intrigue if not diversity to an Academy Awards race by favoring one late-season release (American Sniper) over another (Selma).



Sparse ‘Parts’

Spare Parts is a pleasant enough run-of-the-mill outsiders-beat-the-odds dramedy in the Race the Sun mold. It’s about undocumented high school kids who enter a big robot-building competition, and make a splash in that state most hostile to illegal immigration — Arizona. So it’s a little more concerned with making a statement than with covering new ground in an original and entertaining way.

Courtesy photo

DVD reviews: Below the surface

This week we begin in post-World War II Italy: The Skin (3 stars) Not rated, 142 minutes. Available Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray and in various digital formats.


Long, winding road

In the wandering new Inherent Vice, director Paul Thomas Anderson tackles the work of author Thomas Pynchon (Bleeding Edge, The Crying of Lot 49). Or maybe it’s the other way around?


Emerging Pictures

DVD reviews: Sweet surrender

This week, we begin in Italy: Honey (3 stars) Not rated, 98 minutes. Available Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray and in various digital formats

Dare to tread into dark ‘Woods’?

NEW YORK — “Into the Woods, who knows what may be lurking on the journey?” goes a lyric from the beloved 1987 Stephen Sondheim musical. It also sums up the fears many ardent Sondheim fans had when they learned a movie version was coming.

Gritty ‘Year’

In his exciting first three films, writer-director J.C. Chandor, the son of a Merrill Lynch investment banker, has proven to be a canny, clear-eyed studier of capitalism, sensitive to its strivers and alert to its ethical storms.


Fox Searchlight Pictures

Year in review: Critics name ‘Birdman’ best of 2014

The Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association voted the backstage drama Birdman as the best film of 2014, according to the results of its 21st annual critics’ poll released today.


Check this list for movies you may have missed

What follows is a rundown of my 2014 film favorites. Labeling them as “The Best” or “The Top” seems arbitrary, if not crazy. And unless you are my long-lost identical twin (Brad Pitt, is that you?), your list will be different from mine.


Familiar sights

Clint Eastwood goes to war in the new drama American Sniper. And then he goes several more times in telling the true story of Chris Kyle, the celebrated soldier who became the legendary American sniper of the title.


Through new eyes

Director Tim Burton’s new Big Eyes tells the true story of a woman whose dreams came true, and then lived to regret it. But artist Margaret Keane has had the last laugh, living longer and becoming more successful and acclaimed than the man who almost ruined her life.


Sad camouflage

The corrosive effects of secrets and lies inform The Imitation Game, a biopic about a man who had many secrets and told many lies. But those misdeeds were in service first to winning a war, and second, to keep from going to jail.



Sony re-gifts ‘The Interview’ in limited Christmas release

NEW YORK — The Interview was put back into theaters Tuesday when Sony Pictures Entertainment announced a limited Christmas Day theatrical release for the comedy that provoked an international incident with North Korea and outrage over its canceled release.


Maybe not

It’s impossible to talk about Annie without admitting up front that you first experienced John Huston’s 1982 film.