Home Theater: ‘Nine to Five,’ ‘The Automatic Hate’ and ‘Doughgirls’ are some of the new releases in the eclectic mix of movies
Any week featuring a new, critically acclaimed Beatles doc is a good one. Factor in a tense HBO series and some new-to-Blu thrillers and your craving for quality entertainment has been nourished.
The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years: Exclusively on Hulu, Ron Howard’s bubbly documentary chronicles the Fab Four from 1963 to 1966, when the band was at its most popular. In addition to interviewing die-hard fans like Elvis Costello and Whoopi Goldberg, Howard also speaks to Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr who weigh in on what it was like to experience Beatlemania from the inside. There’s a fascinating interlude about the Beatles’ refusal to play before racially segregated audiences and great concert footage too.
The Automatic Hate: A low thrum of dread hums below the surface of this tense thriller about a Boston chef (Joseph Cross) who, at the urging of a newly-discovered cousin (Adelaide Clemens), heads to the backwoods of New York to meet the family he never knew existed. After plenty of secrets and lies are uncovered, long-simmering tensions ignite during a reunion dinner. Beautifully acted and tautly directed by Justin Lerner, “The Automatic Hate” keeps springing one jaw-dropping surprise after another. On DVD, Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
The Night Of: HBO’s latest hit series received a low-key launch but it picked up plenty of viewers along the way. Based on the BBC series “Criminal Justice,” the show unravels the story of a Pakistani-American college student who awakens the morning after a wild party with a dead woman in his bed. John Turturro co-stars. On HBO Now.
Nine To Five: Leave it to Jane Fonda to produce a socially conscious comedy about inequality in the workplace. Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton star as three disgruntled employees who take their sexist boss (Dabney Coleman) hostage. While he’s tied up, they transform their office into a space that’s not only kinder and gentler but also more efficient. Parton, in her film debut, is a delight as she threatens to change Coleman “from a rooster to a hen with one shot.” Thanks to the actress’s remarkable chemistry and the endless stream of zingers, “Nine To Five” is as essential today as when it first released. On Blu-ray.
The Ides of March : When the idealistic press aide (Ryan Gosling) for a wild-card presidential candidate (George Clooney) discovers that his boss has the morals of a snake, it sends shockwaves through the campaign. The plot of this Clooney-directed film is far from fresh but the performances, particularly by the supporting players (Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Philip Seymour Hoffman), are so razor-sharp that the film grabs you and won’t let go. On Hulu.
Night Train To Munich: The great filmmaker Carol Reed (“The Third Man”) is at his most Hitchcockian in this little-seen espionage thriller that makes a delicious cocktail out of light comedy, nail-biting suspense and killer action scenes. Rex Harrison stars as a British undercover agent who poses as a Nazi to help a Czech scientist and his daughter (Margaret Lockwood) escape from Germany into the Swiss Alps. Reed paces the movie like a fast-moving locomotive yet he makes time for a delightful flirtation between Lockwood and Harrison as well as a darker relationship between Lockwood and a German spy (Paul Henreid). On Blu-ray.
Quantico: The Complete First Season: Before the second season begins, check out the first batch of episodes which introduced viewers to Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra), a new recruit for the FBI desperate to track down the terrorists behind a NYC attack. Described by its creators as a mash-up of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Homeland,” the series is occasionally over-heated but never dull. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu and abc.go.com.
Raising Cain: Director Brian DePalma returns to his horror movie roots for this preposterous yet wildly entertaining thriller. John Lithgow stars as a child psychologist who, after catching his wife (Lolita Davidovich) cheating with an old lover (Steven Bauer), undergoes a mental collapse. Cue the murders, the kidnappings and multiple-personality weirdness. In a bold move, DePalma melts down the barriers between dream and reality so the whole picture has a woozy, jarring quality. On Blu-ray.
The White Helmets: In this Netflix original documentary, the spotlight is on ordinary Syrians caught in the crossfire of their country’s civil war. Set in Aleppo and Turkey in early 2016, the movie follows three volunteer rescue workers as they put their lives on the line to save civilians affected by the conflict. This doc is likely to be remembered at Oscar time.
Doughgirls: The World War II-era housing shortage in Washington D.C. inspired a number of comedies, including the sublime “More The Merrier” with Jean Arthur. This 1944 screwballer isn’t in the same league but it does provide plenty of laughs as it unreels the saga of three ex-showgirls (Jane Wyman, Ann Sheridan, Alexis Smith) who find themselves sharing a bridal suite with their trio of beaus. Crashing the cramped quarters: one ex-wife, two bumbling bureaucrats and a Russian sharpshooter (Eve Arden) who likes to brag about her Nazi-sniping skills. Despite being a smidge too frantic, “Doughgirls” exudes a daffy sweetness that’s tough to resist. On DVD.
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