This week’s DVD releases range from a true crime story to a bloody sequel.
“CAPTAIN PHILLIPS,” GRADE B-PLUS: Based on actual events in 2009 off the coast of Somalia, the film tells the story of a handful of pirates who take over a freighter being helmed by Capt. Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) in an attempt to earn millions in ransom dollars. The right casting starts with Tom Hanks, who adds another Oscar-caliber (though he wasn’t nominated) performance to his already stellar résumé.
“BLUE JASMINE,” GRADE B: Woody Allen’s latest film — the sobering tale of a fall from grandeur — travels such a similar path to Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” that a better name for the film would have been “A Trolley Car Named Jasmine.” Jasmine’s ride is not nearly as dramatic as Blanche DuBois’ emotional deconstruction in “Streetcar,” but her journey is made tolerable by an Oscar-worthy performance by Cate Blanchett.
“INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED,” GRADE B-PLUS: The film works because it starts with a simple story. Valentín’s (Eugenio Derbez) carefree playboy life comes to an end when his ex-girlfriend Julie (Jessica Lindsey) drops off the baby daughter he didn’t know he had and heads back to the United States. The only recourse Valentín has is to travel from Acapulco, Mexico, to Los Angeles to find the missing mom. Through a series of light comedy events, Valentín ends up staying in the United States, where he has a newfound job as a stuntman. Things seem perfect until Julie returns.
“MACHETE KILLS,” GRADE C-PLUS: Danny Trejo reprises his role as the ex-Federale agent who is recruited by the president to take on an impossible mission. It looked like director Robert Rodriguez had crashed into the absurdity ceiling with his 2010 tongue-in-cheek action film “Machete,” a festival of blood, bullets and babes. It’s only fitting that since that movie now appears to be the first of a trilogy, it was simply setting a standard for the outrageousness to come. Preposterousness, thy name is Rodriguez.
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Also new on DVD Jan. 21:
“ALL IS LOST”: A lone sailor (Robert Redford) battles the dangers of the sea.
“IN A WORLD …”: Father and daughter battle in the cutthroat world of movie-trailer voiceovers.
“OLD GOATS”: Taylor Guterson’s look a three men who don’t feel their ages.
“CONCRETE BLONDES”: Three bombshell friends face dangerous criminals.
“BEST MAN DOWN”: One man’s death is another man’s enlightening journey.
“RAISE THE TITANIC”: Special agent looks to recover critical material from the Titanic.