Topping this week's new DVD releases are three movies about men facing major turning points in their lives.
"The Place Beyond the Pines," Grade B-: Lives of two different men intersect. Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling star.
The film's a three-act examination of how hard it is not to cross the line between good and evil. This deep concept starts brilliantly, but it slowly loses design and focus with each new story. By the third act, the writer/director has allowed the film to settle into what plays out as little more than a rejected script from a teen angst TV series.
All three parts come together to make "The Place Beyond the Pines" a beautifully shot film, whether it be the chaos of a midway or the calm of a baby's crib. It's the story that fades, and no amount of photography can create enough distraction to overlook those flaws.
"Mud," Grade B+: Jeff Nichols' script is a lot like the Mississippi River that serves as a backdrop for the tale of unrequited love. There are times it is big and powerful and times when it becomes so serene it's easy to forget the depths that hide below.
The flow of this film comes from the friendship that forms between lovesick teen Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Mud (Matthew McConaughey), a rambling man who has taken refuge on a small island in the middle of the river. Mud returns to the small Arkansas community where he grew up, a place where he killed a man who abused the love of his life, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). Mud wants to reunite with Juniper, but he's being hunted by the family of the man he killed.
"Mud" is a quiet movie about love and loss. Its strength comes from one of the best performances in McConaughey's career.
"Oblivion," Grade B: Tom Cruise stars in this end-of-the-world science-fiction drama after an alien invasion more than a half-century ago. Director Joseph Kosinski has created a beautiful film, including the stark image of the moon broken into millions of pieces. But too often the movie comes across as a small story that's just trying to look big.
These are problems, but they're not a death sentence for the film. All of the elements that make for good science fiction are there, but they are presented in just enough of a skewed manner that the grand ambitions end up making the movie come up short.
"The Bruce Lee Legacy Collection," Grade A: The 11-disc box set not only includes the first Blu-ray presentation of "The Big Boss," "Fist of Fury," "Way of the Dragon" and "Game of Death," but it also has three feature-length documentaries. This is a must own for any fan of the martial arts legend and a good way for those not familiar with his work to get caught up with his work.
Also new on DVD Aug. 6:
"Strike Back: Cinemax Season 2": Section 20 crosses the continent of Africa hunting down terrorists.
"Quicksilver": Kevin Bacon's film about a bicycle messenger on a collision course with danger is now available on Blu-ray.
"Care Bears: A Belly Badge for Wonderheart-The Movie": A little bear's desire to ignite her Belly Badge creates a storm of adventure.
"Gallowwalkers": Mysterious gunman is the son of a nun who breaks her covenant to ensure his survival.
"5 Souls": Man discovers consequences of making a pact with the Devil.
"Smiley's People": Sequel to John le Carre's classic Cold War spy drama "Tinker Tailor Solider Spy."
"To the Wonder": Romantic drama that explores the many phases and seasons of love.
"The Borgias: the Third Season": Jeremy Irons stars as Rodrigo Borgia, the cunning, manipulative patriarch of The Borgia family who builds an empire through the corruption of the church.
"Magic Magic": Young tourist's road trip across Chile with friends turns into a nightmare.
"The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fourth Season": Guest stars include Bill Bixby, Burgess Meredith, Burt Reynolds, Dennis Hopper, Jack Klugman and Anne Francis.
"Midsomer Murders Set 22": Series returns with four new mysteries.
"Not Today": Young man fights to make a difference in the lives of one family in India.
"The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Fifth Season": Includes 31 episodes, plus network promotional commercials and audio commentaries with Dick Van Dyke and Carl Reiner.
"Charlie Chan Collection": Included are "Shadows Over Chinatown," "Docks of New Orleans," "Shanghai Chest" and "The Golden Eye."
"My Little Pony Equestria Girls": When Twilight Sparkle's crown is stolen from the Crystal Empire, she pursues the thief.
"Community: The Complete Fourth Season": End of the summer brings the social misfits back to school. Joel McHale stars.
"Adventures in Zambezia": Animated adventure about a falcon that journeys to the bird city of Zambezia.
"A Boy and His Dog": Dark trip through a post-apocalyptic world, where the friendship between a boy and his dog is the only currency that matters.
"Political Animals: The Complete Series": Cable series about a high-profile former first family as they weather the dynamics of their political and personal lives.
"Ishtar": Director's cut of the film about two terrible lounge singers get booked to play a gig in a Moroccan hotel.
"Tom and Jerry's Giant Adventure": The cat and mouse journey to Fairyland and confront a greedy giant.
"Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal": Struggling artist gets inspiration from sleepwalking cannibal.
Rick Bentley: firstname.lastname@example.org
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