July 16th-22nd Downloads
& DVDs
 
  • Shazam!:

    If this isn't the worst movie I have ever seen, it's certainly in the top five or ten.  Shazam! is a character owned by DC comics (which also has such titles as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman), and is not a major superhero, but rather one of the minors.  He started life in comics in the 1930s as Captain Marvel, but over the years mergers, acquisitions, and corporate in-fighting had DC lose control of the character's name to Marvel Comics, so here we have Shazam!, a 14 year-old boy named Billy Batson, who morphs into the title character by saying the name emphatically ... the white-caped, red-suited Shazam played by a very adult Zachary Levi (from the TV series "Chuck").  We have to bear in mind, as the action plays out, that even though the heavily muscled, and very big Shazam is maybe 39 years old, in his mind, he's still 14 year-old Billy Batson, and he acts like it.  The movie is two hours and twenty-nine minutes long, and that's too long by a half-hour at least.  It's an origins story that tells us how foster child Batson came to be chosen to fight evil and to save the world, but the backstory goes on far, far too long.   This was clearly meant to be a Christmas release, as there are Santas and snowbanks everywhere, and it was inspired by both the movie "Big" and the TV series "Stranger Things."  Watching either of those is a far better experience than this mash-up.  Rated 14A.

     

  • Breakthrough:

    This faith-based movie stars Chrissy Metz (she is Kate on This Is Us) and Topher Grace (Spider-Man) in a story about a boy who falls through the ice on a frozen lake and drowns.  When his mother (Metz) enters his hospital room in prayer, he begins to breathe on his own, and therein lies the tale.  Based on actual events, what sets this film aside from many faith-based movies, is that it does not seem to have been scripted, acted, or produced for a Christian audience alone.  Some similar productions have made those outside the faith feel left out and adrift because of the "innsy" terminology and story lines.  Here, Chrissy Metz as Joyce Smith, the mother of the boy who went through the ice, is not portrayed as a particularly nice person.  She is abrupt, opinionated, and has made many people in her son's school, basketball team, and fellow parishioners uncomfortable with her attitude and behaviour.  And he son John is no prize either.  A selfish, self-centred teen who disrespects his teachers, his parents, and his coaches on the basketball court, makes him difficult to like.  Normally one would expect a story arc that would take these people from where they are, to being models of behaviour in every way, but that doesn't happen overtly here, leaving us with the sense that these are real people, real families, and individuals fraught with troubles that they just can't get past.  Chrissy Metz is particularly strong in her portrayal of Joyce Smith.  The producer here isn't new to this genre - it's DeVon Franklin, preacher, author, and producer, who did the movie "Heaven is for Real."  Also executive producing is Steph Curry of the NBA.  It's set in the US, but was filmed in Manitoba. Rated PG.

  • Teen Spirit:

    This could be an update on the Cinderella story, the stock rags-to-riches tale that sees the protagonist go from underdog to top dog, and then back again – maybe.  Elle Fanning is the star here, and she could be a story right out of America’s Got Talent, or American Idol. Her character’s name is Violet, she is an acutely shy, small-town girl with a big talent for singing, but the deck is stacked against her.  She has the voice, but she doesn’t have the opportunity … until a surprise mentor steps out of the shadows and tells her that she has what it takes, that she could be on the biggest stage in the world, and that she can work her way up to this. Violet learns, as she goes to work, that it isn’t just talent, and it isn’t just opportunity.  It’s luck, it’s a test of integrity, and it’s a test of her ambition – is she really cut out to do what she thinks she wants to do? A youthful cast backs her up on her journey to the top … or maybe to somewhere else. Rated 14A.
  • Point Blank (2019):

    A Netflix original film that stars Marcia Gay Hardin as a nurse whose patient is a criminal whose wife has been kidnapped.  Taking on the approach that the best thing for her patient is to find his wife, she goes on the lam with him while being pursued by police.  A good cast that includes Frank Grillo and Anthony Mackie.  Rated 14A.

     

    Kidnapping Stella (2019):

    Another Netflix original, this one from Germany, tells its story from the point of view of Stella (Jella Haase) a young woman plucked off the street by a pair of abductors, bound, gagged, and taken to a secluded apartment.  Uncertain of the motives of her captors, Stella uses her limited resources to attempt escape, but as time slips by, it becomes clear that neither she nor her captors are exactly what they appear to be. Rated 14A.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Director's Cut (1977):

This superb Steven Spielberg film depicting our first contact with an alien species is further enhanced with two extra minutes of scenes that don't appear in the theatrical version, and an ending that leaves a little more to the viewer's imagination.  Richard Dreyfuss stars, and remember that most computer generated imagery did not yet exist, so much of what you see of the UFOs and creatures is real, albeit models and makeup. Rated 14A.

 

New on AMAZON PRIME

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot (2018):

Based on actual events, Joaquin Phoenix stars as John Callahan, a young man severely injured in a car accident in which he was the impaired driver.  His alcoholism led him to that place, where he emerged a quadriplegic, and it appeared that his life was pretty much over.  While in rehab, he found that he had an ability to draw editorial cartoons, and with the help of his girlfriend (Rooney Mara) and his sponsor (Jonah Hill), he learns that perhaps there is a life worth living after all.  Set and shot in Portland, OR, home of the real-life John Callahan.  Rated 14A.