Menu

Videoview by Jay Bobbin

(NOTICE: Ratings for each film begin with a ‘star’ rating — one star meaning ‘poor,’ four meaning ‘excellent’ — followed by the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and then by a family-viewing guide, the key for which appears below.)

STARTING THIS WEEK:
“LIFE OF PI”: Director Ang Lee’s stunningly visual version of the Yann Martel novel earned him a recent Oscar nomination for the film, which also was in the best picture race. A young man (played in his teen years by Suraj Sharma) and a Bengal tiger become wary lifeboat mates after a shipwreck, then develop into partners in survival as their unique adventure evolves. Gerard Depardieu and Rafe Spall also appear, but Sharma, Lee and the visual-effects team clearly own the film. *** (PG: AS, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“HITCHCOCK”: Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren are typically credible as legendary “master of suspense” Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma, in director Sacha Gervasi’s docudrama, but the bigger interest is the movie’s detailing of the complications — financial and emotional — the famed filmmaker ran into while making his classic “Psycho.” Scarlett Johansson plays actress Janet Leigh, she of the shower scene. Jessica Biel appears as “Psycho” co-star Vera Miles, with Michael Wincott as killer Ed Gein, whom Hitchcock envisions himself engaging in conversation. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“RISE OF THE GUARDIANS”: The title guardians are some of the most famous characters ever, who band together to save the world’s children from an overdose of fear aimed by the so-called Bogeyman (voice by Jude Law), in this enjoyable fantasy. Santa Claus, Jack Frost, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy — respectively voiced by Alec Baldwin, Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman and Isla Fisher (“Wedding Crashers”) — try to prevent the intended fright from taking hold. *** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“SMASHED”: A young couple, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Emmy winner Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”), struggle to get a handle on their drinking in this well-played drama honored at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The wife has an especially hard time making the journey toward sobriety, which forces her to come to terms with personal and professional dilemmas. The impressive cast also includes Oscar winner Octavia Spencer (“The Help”), Mary Kay Place, and spouses Megan Mullally (“Will & Grace”) and Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”). DVD extras: “making-of’’ documentary; audio commentary by Winstead and director and co-writer James Ponsoldt; deleted scenes; Toronto Film Festival footage. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“THIS MUST BE THE PLACE”: It didn’t get as much theatrical distribution as most of his films, but Sean Penn remains a singular acting force in this unusual mix of personal drama and revenge tale. The star plays a retired rock music legend who decides to patch things up with his father, but after traveling from Ireland to New York on that mission, he finds his dad has died ... before completing his targeting of a former Nazi war criminal, which the son then takes up. Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch, Eve Hewson (daughter of U2’s Bono) and music icon David Byrne also star for director Paolo Sorrentino. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“THE MOB DOCTOR: THE COMPLETE SERIES”: Rarely is an entire television show available on video before the end of the season in which it’s aired, but that’s an indication of the short life of this Fox drama about a surgeon (played by Jordana Spiro) indebted to a Chicago underworld leader (William Forsythe). That forces her to take on some assignments she’d prefer not to have. Zach Gilford (“Friday Night Lights”) and Zjelko Ivanek also are in the regular cast. ** (Not rated: AS, P, V)

COMING SOON:
“BADLANDS” (March 19): Director Terrence Malick’s much-revered 1973 drama of young lawbreakers (Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek) on the run gets Criterion Collection treatment. (PG: AS, P, V)

“THIS IS 40” (March 22): Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprise their “Knocked Up” roles as spouses now coping with reaching what, to them, is a milestone age in director Judd Apatow’s comedy. (R and unrated versions: AS, P)

“THE COLLECTION” (March 26): In this equally gruesome follow-up to “The Collector,” Josh Stewart reprises the role of a serial killer’s almost-victim enlisted to help save the felon’s latest captive. (R: AS, N, P, GV)

“KILLING THEM SOFTLY” (March 26): Brad Pitt stars as an underworld “fixer” called in after novice thieves make the mistake of robbing mobsters. James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta also appear. (R: AS, P, V)

“PARENTAL GUIDANCE” (March 26): Billy Crystal and Bette Midler play a couple who get a firsthand education in modern generational differences by baby-sitting their grandchildren. (PG: AS)

“RIZZOLI & ISLES: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON” (May 14): As the start of the TNT series’ fourth season nears, Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander play the Boston detective and medical examiner in the most recent episodes. (Not rated: AS, P, V)

FAMILY-VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.