This week, we begin in Bolivia: Even the Rain (***1/2) Not rated, 103 minutes. Available Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray.
In Spain’s Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, a film crew descends on a Bolivian city to take advantage of the breathtaking countryside and cheap labor.
They plan to make a film about Spain’s 16th-century foray into the country. But before filming completes, a local dispute over water rights engulfs the poverty-ridden indigenous peoples.
The members of the film crew, headed by the director (Gael Garcia Bernal) and the producer (Luis Tosar), also begin to have their own philosophical and personal differences. Fascinating dynamics unfold.
High Ground (***1/2) This inspirational documentary centers on 11 U.S. military veterans who nurse wounds of some sort, such as post-traumatic stress or the loss of a limb or, in one case, sight. But they all have positive attitudes, which fortify them as they undergo training at a Colorado camp before they attempt to climb the 20,000-foot Mount Lobuche in the Himalayas.
Their mission seems impossible, but they confront it with understandable pride and determination.
Not rated, 92 minutes. The DVD includes two deleted scenes and two trailers.
A Man’s Story (***) Documentary filmmaker Varon Bonicos immersed himself in his subject, designer Ozwald Boateng, for 12 years, following him and capturing the pivotal events in his exhausting life.
The animated Boateng goes from virtual unknown to having his own fashion line, opening London’s Fashion Week, to becoming head of Givenchy and eventually designing for several Oscar nominees. Boateng also meets, falls in love with, marries and then has children with a Russian model. By the end of the film, Boateng has gone to his parents’ native Ghana, separated from his wife and facing financial difficulties.
Boateng flies through it all, exuding his undeniable charm and always looking quite stylish.
Not rated, 98 minutes. The DVD includes a comprehensive 35-minute “making of” featurette.
Your Sister’s Sister (***1/2) Lynn Shelton wrote and directed this romantic comedy with a twist, which sparkles with clever dialogue.
Iris (Emily Blunt) lets her friend Jack (Mark Duplass), the brother of her deceased ex-boyfriend, spend a weekend at her family’s isolated lakeside cabin. Unknown to both, Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), a lesbian, has camped there for the weekend. But Hannah lets Jack in, and before long the two share too much wine, setting the stage for a conversation-filled weekend of regrets, recriminations and reconciliations.
Rated R, 90 minutes. The DVD holds two separate commentaries.
The Pact (**1/2) Much of this horror flick unfolds like any other standard entry in the genre. But writer-director Nicholas McCarthy delivers some unexpected, noteworthy jolts.
When her mother dies, Annie (Caity Lotz) returns home for the funeral. Younger sister Nichole (Agnes Bruckner) still harbors ill feelings for the departed and stays away.
But when Annie goes missing, Nichole returns to the house she grew up in. There, she enlists a psychic (Haley Hudson) and before long, Nichole is fighting against evil forces, both human and ghostly.
Not rated, 89 minutes. The DVD includes a 20-minute “making of” featurette.
Snowmageddon (**) In this Syfy channel disaster movie, David Cubitt and Laura Harris play John and Beth Miller, who find that the snow globe that they thought was a Christmas present is instead a powerful device that, when shaken, can upset their town. Of course, the intrepid Millers and their children set things right. Rated PG-13, 89 minutes.
Maximum Conviction (**1/2) Action and abundant head-knocking are provided by Steve Austin and Steven Seagal as they play a pair of ex-soldiers who arrive at a prison about to be decommissioned. There, their assignment is to relocate two female prisoners, a task that seems routine until another group shows up wanting to wipe out the entire facility.
Rated R, 98 minutes. The DVD holds a 10-minute behind-the-scenes featurette and brief segments on Austin, Bren Foster and “Icons.”
Louie Anderson: Big Baby Boomer Louie Anderson, stand-up comic, author and Emmy-winning star of TV’s Life With Louie, performs his act in front of a receptive Las Vegas crowd. In the live show, big Louie tells stories and shoots off one-liners, while reflecting on many topics, with a focus on his growing older. Not rated, 44 minutes.
The Love You Save (**1/2) Robin Givens plays Alexis, a single mother who takes an unplanned examination of her life when her grown son brings a homeless man to dinner. Alexis reflects about her bounteous life and how she has much to be thankful for. Not rated, 89 minutes.
And, finally, for kids this week:
Totally Tinsel Collection: Prep & Landing and Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice Disney has packaged two animated holiday treats starring a savvy team of elves known for their “prep and landing” for Santa. In the first, mischievous elves Wayne (voiced by Dave Foley) and Lanny (Derek Richardson) prepare for Santa’s latest landing, but things just keep going wrong. In the second, Lanny and Wayne must retrieve some of Santa’s new technology from a bad little boy.
Both shows are rated TV-G with a total running time of around 46 minutes. The DVD comes in Blu-ray, various formats and combo packs. Also included are two animated shorts.
The Muppet Christmas Carol: It’s Not Easy Being Scrooge Special Edition The Muppet gang is all here for this reissue and Blu-ray edition of the Muppets’ 1992 version of Charles Dickens’ immortal Christmas classic.
Michael Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge, while the various Muppets take well-known roles, including Kermit the Frog (performed by Steve Whitmire) as Bob Cratchit. Combining the Muppets with the magical Dickens tale guarantees laughs, songs and constant entertainment.
Rated G, 89 minutes. The DVD comes in various combo packs and formats. It offers commentary, the interactive feature “Disney Intermission,” a behind-the-scenes featurette, bloopers, a “Pepe Profiles” segment, and a featurette on how Christmas is celebrated in other countries.
And, finally, from this week’s TV arrivals:
Copper: Season One The first original drama ever produced by BBC America quickly became its highest-rated series ever. Tom Weston-Jones plays Kevin Corcoran, a New York City policeman in 1864. He has returned from the Civil War to learn his wife has disappeared and his daughter has been murdered.
In each of the 10 episodes, on three discs and on Blu-ray, Corcoran seeks to find his wife while uncovering various crimes in the notorious Five Points slums. He finds himself becoming increasingly drawn into a seemingly futile struggle against New York’s upper classes who seem immune to the laws.
Not rated, 440 minutes. The collection also includes select commentaries, about 36 minutes of deleted scenes, “making of” featurettes of 13 and 44 minutes, eight character video profiles and more.
Also available Tuesday on DVD: The Amazing Spider-Man, Arthur Christmas, Dinotasia, Fire With Fire