DVD Picks

February 13, 2014 

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Picks of the Week

‘Afternoon Delight’

(R, 93 minutes, Cinedigm): You know Rachel (Kathryn Hahn), or someone like her. At school, she’s the busy mother volunteering for social committees and fundraisers. At home, this loyal wife oversees the tidy schedules of son Logan (Sawyer Ever) and husband, Jeff (Josh Radnor). When no one’s looking, she’s happy to sneak a cigarette or dish about her dormant sex life with her frank-talking girlfriends.

But writer-director Jill Soloway’s complicated indie dramedy hides a corrosive underbelly that threatens to shift the story in unexpected directions. Lurking beneath the surface is an emotional discontent that’s threatening to swallow Rachel’s staid existence whole. She’s dismayed by the superficial minutiae her peers on mommy blogs have embraced. The thought of intercourse with her shlubby spouse sends her into a panic. She’s unfulfilled and isn’t fully able to express why.

“Afternoon Delight” puts the typical suburban mother’s lifestyle under an uncomfortably honest microscope, then documents the sporadically funny and occasionally sad results. The movie is cut from the same basic material that spawned the forthright and sexually explicit “Knocked Up” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”

But it has a darker, and more sympathetic view because of Soloway’s feminine perspective.

Contains strong sexual content, language and some drug use. Extras: commentary with Soloway and Hahn; a making-of short; six featurettes.

‘Zaytoun’

(Unrated, 105 minutes, in Hebrew, Arabic and English with subtitles, Strand Releasing): A road movie pairing enemies who must help each other in order to survive, “Zaytoun” again finds Israeli filmmaker Eran Riklis (“The Syrian Bride,” “The Lemon Tree”) dramatizing political conflicts in the Middle East and spreading blame for the strife around freely.

Stephen Dorff, better known for American indies and the occasional action flick, plays Yoni, an Israeli fighter pilot whose plane is shot down over Beirut in 1982. A group of Palestinian refugees capture him, locking him in a makeshift jail sometimes guarded by a group of kids.

Among them is Fahed (Abdallah El Akal), whose father died recently as a result of Israeli bombing. Fahed never openly accuses Yoni of killing his father, but the idea is clearly on his mind. The buddy movie begins when Fahed realizes Yoni could, if freed, help him sneak across the border to his familial home in Palestine.

Even when the film’s plot grows a little unlikely, its tone is never sappy. That’s partly due to El Akal’s performance, which keeps humor in check and is informed by too much real-world loss to ever be cute.

Contains violence and some strong language. Extras: making-of featurette.

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