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March DVD Releases

This month there are several great movies are coming to DVD so I thought I’d give you my opinion on just a few.

Steve Carell as John DuPont
Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz
Mark Ruffalo as Dave Schultz
5 out of 5

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Foxcatcher is the true story of the events that lead to the murder of Olympic Gold medal wrestler Dave Schultz. John E. DuPont heir to the DuPont fortune recruited Mark Schultz for a wrestling team he was putting together with intent to compete for the world wrestling championship. Mark and his brother Dave were both Olympic gold medalists, but while Dave seemed to gain more from his achievement, Mark was always in the background. DuPont was driven to create an unstoppable team “Foxcatcher,” and he built a private training facility on his state, and he recruited Mark for the team. He also encouraged Mark to invite his brother Dave to also join the team. Mark accepted DuPont’s offer, but at first Dave did not. DuPont demanded absolute loyalty from his team and he forged an eerie friendship with Mark that became obsessive and cocaine fueled. Mark became driven to prove himself to DuPont and gain his approval, but ultimately John wanted Dave to also join the team. Dave’s decision to join Team Foxcatcher ultimately lead to his death at the hands of John DuPont. Fox catcher is an intense film driven by the chilling performance of Best Actor Oscar nominee Steve Carell as John DuPont. Steve Carell is normally known for his comic acting, notably from the 40-Year -Old Virgin or the role of Michael Scott on TV’s The Office, but in Foxcatcher he is absolutely chilling as the obsessive and ultimately deadly John DuPont. For that alone this movie is worth seeing. Channing Tatum  and Mark Ruffalo fit the bill as Mark and Dave Schultz. Director Bennett Miller (Moneyball) paints a stark picture of this true life crime story that was Oscar nominated for Best Picture. Foxcatcher is well worth seeing—5 out of 5

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark
Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy
5 out of 5

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This is the continuation of the Hunger Games movie series based on the book trilogy by Susanne Collins. Mockingjay Part 1 continues to follow heroine Katniss Everdeen after her rescue from shutting down the arena in the hunger games quarter quell from Catching Fire. Katniss finds herself in the presumably destroyed District 13. District 13 is the seat of the rebellion against the government, the Capital, and in a cat and mouse game with President Snow. The leaders of district 13 reveal to Katniss that through a series of propaganda videos, they want her to be the face of the revolution. Jennifer Lawrence is strong and yet vulnerable in her portrayal of Katniss, a young girl who has the weight of the world on her shoulders. She is truly a girl on fire. If you are a fan of the Hunger Games, this movie should not disappoint. While I have not read the books, I have seen all of the movies so far. The action and suspense is taut and I found myself really hating that this movie was split into two parts. I wanted to see the entire story now! The studio (Lionsgate) seems to be handling the cinematic universe of these books like MGM is handling The Hobbit series: milking it for all it’s worth by splitting the final book into two movies. If you’re into these movies, I recommend Mockingjay Part 1 highly. If you have not seen any of these movies do not start here, you need to start from the beginning, because this is a continuing and growing story. The Hunger Games movies would make an excellent binge watch. 5 out of 5

Meryl Streep as The Witch
Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife
James Corden as The Baker
Anna Kendrick as Cinderella
Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince
Tracey Ullman as Jack’s Mother
Christine Baranski as Cinderella’s Stepmother
Johnny Depp as The Wolf
4 out of 5

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Disney strives to be the keeper of all things fairy tale so it should be no surprise that their studio produced the long awaited movie adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s beloved musical Into The Woods. With a star-studded cast, Director Rob Marshall delivers a fanciful visual fairytale feast. Future Late Late Show host James Corden is absolutely cuddly and charming as The Baker. Chris Pine embodies superficial charm as The Prince. Emily Blunt is suprisingly refreshing as is Anna Kendrick. What can you say about Meryl Streep as the witch except that she gives life in another flawless Oscar nominated performance, especially in her final number of the film. For those who are not fans of the stage musical, the movie may seem slow in places to you. Each of the fairytale characters have a wish to change their lives that ultimately leads them “into the woods” to seek out their desires. “The Woods” themselves is an allegory for times in our lives where things are not clear, a moment of doubt, a moment of difficulty, a trial to be faced. “The Woods” is an area of uncertainty that we have to make our way through. That theme and intent is much more evident in the stage musical, and that may be lost on someone who has not seen it on stage. As with most musicals that are transferred to film, several songs have been cut and slight story changes have been made in the name of story or character development, but the bulk of the work remains intact. While I think that they didn’t have to drop all of the songs, this is still an an enjoyable film. If you are a Sondheim devotee, I think you will enjoy this film. If you are one for whom musicals are difficult, this may not be your cup of tea. Even though I knew the plot, I admit I was feeling a little disconnected to the story construction, so I understand if anyone coming to this fresh is a little confused. Still, I think it’s well worth it to see Streep belting in full on drag mode and the costumes, which are to die for.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Touring
Kiera Knightly as Joan Clarke
Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander
Charles Dance as Cdr. Alastair Denniston
Rory Kinnear as Detective Nock
5 out of 5

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Best Actor nominee Benedict Cumberbatch stars as British mathematician and computer pioneer Alan Touring who, along with a team of cryptographers, is trying to decrypt the Enigma machine that the Nazis use to send coded messages. Alan Touring is considered to be the father of modern computers. His work is the reason we have computers. In fact, his formulas and algorithms are still used in computing today. Touring and his team constructed a machine that ultimately deciphered coded Nazi messages, information that was key to helping the war effort. The information that was gathered actually helped to bring WWII to an end two years earlier than predicted. Because the work that this genius group of people were doing was in the name of world security, it was classified and top secret. They could never reveal any of what they were doing, not to friends or family. Alan touring was a genius, but he was also a gay man in a time when it was illegal to be a homosexual in the UK. After it had been discovered that he was in a homosexual relationship, he was convicted on indecency charges and was given a choice between being imprisoned for 2 years or accepting chemical castration. He chose chemical castration so that he could continue his work. Some time shortly after this conviction he committed suicide. Benedict Cumberbatch gives a brilliant performance as he brings Alan Touring to life with all of his genius and awkwardness. The Imitation Game, a Best Picture Oscar nominee, is a MUST see!

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