Movie News & Reviews

DVD Picks: Tom Hanks’ ‘Hologram for the King’ tops Aug. 9 releases

‘Hologram for the King’

(R; 90 minutes; Roadside): Tom Hanks plays a globalized version of Willy Loman in “A Hologram for the King,” Tom Tykwer’s intriguing, if uneven, adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel.

Hanks brings all of his native, optimistic can-doism to his character, Alan Clay, an aging corporate executive working for a communications company in New England. Thanks to a chance encounter with a nephew of the king of Saudi Arabia, Alan’s been tasked with traveling to the kingdom to sell the government some interactive holographic conferencing technology. Jet-lagged, frequently hung over and perpetually out of his depth, Alan is true to his last name: a man in the process of being formed, in this case by a world that’s changing around him with dizzying uncertainty, beauty and speed.

The viewer comes to see Saudi Arabia through Alan’s eyes: first as an exotic, forbidding geographical and cultural “other,” eventually as a quasi-familiar embodiment of economic and social realities that are collapsing into each other faster and more dramatically than ever. Bringing his all-American persona with him, Hanks makes an appropriate foil for Alan’s own regrets, naivete and dawning sense of self-discovery, especially when he meets a quietly competent doctor played by Sarita Choudhury. His is the sentimental education of a new cosmopolitan, similar to that of Richard Jenkins’s character in the tender 2007 drama “The Visitor.”

As in that film, the hero’s journey in “A Hologram for the King” is mostly interior, and it’s ultimately gratifying. It’s that rare fish-out-of-water story in which the fish miraculously manages to stop needing water, and learns to crave air instead.

Contains some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use. Washington Post

‘Fathers and Daughters’

(R; 114 minutes; Voltage Pictures): “Fathers and Daughters” might as well have been titled “Daddy Issues: The Movie,” lazily relying on that old chestnut that women who have complicated relationships with their fathers become self-destructive sex addicts – until of course, they find a man who reminds them of dad.

That’s the overarching theme that rises out of this literary melodrama, which hops between the childhood and adulthood of Katie (played by Kylie Rogers and Amanda Seyfried), the daughter of brilliant but troubled writer Jake Davis (Russell Crowe).

Directed by Gabriele Muccino, “Fathers and Daughters” is imbued with all the syrupy earnest dramatics of Muccino’s films “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Seven Pounds.” It tries to do too much, over-stuffed with soap operatic events – a drunken car crash that kills Katie’s mom, her father’s institutionalization and subsequent psychological troubles, a custody battle between Jake and his sister-in-law (Diane Kruger). The timelines don’t make temporal sense – aside from the seemingly anachronous cultural references, there’s no way 25 years passed between the two periods, as is claimed on screen.

Contains some sexual content/references. Los Angeles Times

Also out Aug. 9

  • “11.22.63”
  • “Addicted to Fresno”
  • “Code Black: Season 1”
  • “Halt and Catch Fire: Season 2”
  • “NCIS: New Orleans Season 2”
  • Supergirl: Season 1”
  • “The Tunnel: Season 1”
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