‘Straight Outta Compton’
(R, 147 minutes, Universal): Unrated Director’s Cut. This drama about the origins of the West Coast gangsta rap group N.W.A. was well received by both critics and audiences. Ann Hornday from The Washington Post wrote: “Compton” deserves a much wider reach than the group’s hard-core fans. Thanks to eerily on-point timing and adroit direction from F. Gary Gray, this classic star-is-born story manages to transcend its own tight focus. Even viewers who think N.W.A. is an airline will probably be electrified by a story that, while succumbing to its share of hagiography, still puts its subjects in context as avatars, not just of their time and place but of our own. As the film makes clear, the unfiltered rage that got the band into so much trouble — with parental groups, federal authorities, radio stations and censorious social critics — had its roots in grim realities that are all too palpable today.
Contains obscenity throughout, strong sexuality, nudity, violence and drug use. Extras: “N.W.A. The Origins,” in which Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, and many others talk about N.W.A.’s start in the 80s and how it all began; “Impact,” an exploration of the impact of N.W.A. and their breakout album; “Director’s Journey” featurette; “The Streets: Filming in Compton” featurette; “N.W.A Performs in Detroit”; commentary with director-producer F. Gary Gray. Blu-ray: Deleted scenes; “Becoming N.W.A.” casting featurette; never-before-seen performance. Washington Post
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(PG-13, 121 minutes, Warner): Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway star in this comedy about a 70-year-old retiree who goes back into the workforce as an intern at an online fashion site. Hathaway plays things snappy and assertive, barking orders as she pedals across her vast headquarters on a bike – with a coffee cup holder on the handle bars and an assistant trotting alongside. She’s the quintessential thirtysomething success story, but that doesn’t mean she’s not capable of breaking down in tears. De Niro, jaunty and reserved at the same time, hasn’t been this good in ages. Ben’s an upbeat and adaptable septuagenarian, bonding with his fellow interns, befriending his coworkers and Jules’ daughter, too. It piles on the drama – corporate intrigue, domestic unrest, a burglary necessitated by an errant email – but it’s not really drama at all. Just Meyers working her magic.
Contains some suggestive content and brief, strong profanity. 121 minutes. Extras: “Learning From Experience” featurette. Blu-ray: “Designs on Life” and “The Three Interns” featurettes. The Philadelphia Inquirer
‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’
(R, 103 minutes, Sony): 15-year-old Minnie, living in San Francisco in the 1970s, has an affair with her mother’s boyfriend. Bel Powley makes her debut as Minnie; Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard also star. Every performance is good and true, but the movie truly needed a spectacular Minnie, which it got. Powley was 21 at the time of filming, but she’s a wholly convincing young teen, whose passions are multidirectional and consuming. The film is harsh but wonderful. It shouldn’t be funny, too, but somehow it is, and somehow it’s the right kind of funny.
Contains strong sexual content including dialogue, graphic nudity, drug use, language and drinking - all involving teens. Extras: “Marielle’s Journey: Bringing The Diary to Life” making-of featurette; LA Film Festival Q&A with Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard and Marielle Heller; commentary with cast & director; deleted scenes. Chicago Tribune
(PG-13, 122 minutes, Universal): Dramatization of disastrous 1996 attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain. Filmed in Imax 3-D, the movie is an orgy of suffering, a powerfully affecting experience that you feel with your gut more than with your emotions. Even if you didn’t know the outcome of the controversial climb – which involved too many competing commercial expeditions, hubris, judgment lapses, bad weather and communications failures – the movie plays out like a foregone conclusion as things move from bad to worse with the steady, dirgelike drumbeat of a funeral march.
Contains scenes of intense peril and disturbing images. Extras: “Race to the Summit: The Making of Everest” featurette, “Aspiring to Authenticity: The Real Story” featurette, commentary with director Baltasar Kormakur. Blu-ray: “Learning to Climb: The Actor’s Journey” featurette, “ A Mountain of Work: Recreating Everest” featurette. Washington Post
Also out Jan. 19
- “The Condemned 2”
- “A Girl Like Her”
- “I Believe in Unicorns”
- “The Saint: Seasons 3 & 4”
- “Sisters: Season Three”
- “Swamp People Season 6”