Picks of the week
(R, 132 minutes, Warner): Bradley Cooper stars in Clint Eastwood’s respectful – if somewhat superficial – treatment of decorated Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle’s 2012 memoir of the same name. The film treats Kyle, who was honored with the sobriquet “The Legend” during four tours of duty in Iraq, as a martyred hero. And while that portrayal may be justified, Cooper’s portrayal – while less than reverential – also reveals a man remarkably unburdened by conscience. Kyle, typically stationed on a rooftop to protect fighters on the ground, is a surrogate father, keeping an eye on his “children” through the scope of a sniper rifle. His real family back in the U.S. provides some contextual counterpoint. As Kyle’s wife (Sienna Miller) tells him, “It’s pretty egotistical to think you can protect us all.” Contains strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references. Extras: A making-of short and “One Soldier’s Story: The Journey of American Sniper” featurette.
(R, 140 minutes, in Russian with subtitles, Sony): A man fights eviction in this Oscar-nominated Russian drama, which won the Golden Globe for best foreign language film. The exquisite drama takes viewers on an icy plunge into the grim realities of life in post-Soviet Russia, where citizens are caught in a system of corruption so thoroughly ingrained that it touches even the most intimate, transcendent moments of life. Contains strong language and some sexuality and graphic nudity. Filmed and framed with stately elegance by director Andrey Zvyagintsev, the film’s blue-gray palette and arresting natural setting heightens the physical beauty of its lead players, Elena Lyadova and Aleksei Serebryakov. Extras: Commentary with Zvyagintsev and producer Alexander Rodnyansky, a making-of featurette, a Q&A with Zvyagintsev from the Toronto International Fillm Festival and deleted scenes.
‘What We Do in the Shadows’
(Unrated, 86 minutes, Paladin Pictures/Team Marketing): Delightfully silly vampire mockumentary was written and directed by New Zealanders Jemaine Clement (“The Flight of the Conchords”) and Taika Waititi (“Boy”) and made in partnership with the comedy website Funny or Die. Based on their 2005 short “What We Do in the Shadows: Interviews With Some Vampires,” the film is set in a Wellington group house, where four undead housemates – ranging in age from 183 to 8,000 – are being followed by a documentary film crew. Contains obscenity, cheesy blood and gore, some suggestive dialogue and a drug reference. Extras: Original short film, commentary by Clement and Waititi and deleted scenes.
‘Hot Tub Time Machine 2’
(R, 93 minutes, Paramount): Clark Duke, Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson once again engage in time-travel shenanigans – and make a stop in the future – in this comedy sequel. In the 2010 film, a group of 40-ish bros revisit one wild weekend of their misspent youth via the time portal of a malfunctioning hot tub. The sequel takes the boys into the year 2025 to solve the attempted murder of Lou (Corddry), which opens the film. Contains crude sexual content and strong language throughout, graphic nudity, drug use and some violence. Blu-ray: Unrated version, commentary by director Steve Pink and writer Josh Heald, making-of short, deleted/extended scenes, bloopers and featurettes “The Future as Seen from the Tub” and “You’re in the Hot Tub Now!”
“The Blue Room”
“Before I Disappear”
“American Hercules: Babe Ruth”
“Bordering on Bad Behavior”
“Maya the Bee Movie”
“Holocaust: Genocide & Survival”
“Cowboys vs Dinosaurs”
“The Vatican Exorcisms”
“Glee: Complete Series”
“Orange Is the New Black: Season Two”
“Welcome to Sweden: First Season”
“Boardwalk Empire: Complete Series”
“Duck Dynasty: Season 7”
“Midsomer Murders, Series 14 and Series 15”
“CPO Sharkey: First Season”
“Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty: The Plantagenets”