‘The Sea of Trees’ awash with dark po­etry

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - By Amy Longs­dorf For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Sure, “The Sea of Trees” (2016, Lion­s­gate, PG-13, $20) was booed at Cannes but don’t let that dis­cour­age you. A third-act swerve into sen­ti­men­tal­ity aside, the movie is full of dark po­etry.

Matthew McConaughey stars as a de­spon­dent pro­fes­sor who trav­els to Ja­pan’s Sui­cide For­est to kill him­self. But he de­cides not to go through with his plan af­ter en­coun­ter­ing a Ja­panese man (Ken Watan­abe) in dire need of help.

As the men strug­gle to find their way out of the leafy labyrinth, the movie flashes back to McConaughey’s com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship with his wife (Naomi Watts). Di­rec­tor Gus Van Sant not only cap­tures the eeri­ness of the for­est but he brings a raw­ness to the scald­ing scenes be­tween McConaughey and Watts. Ex­tras: fea­turette.

Also New To DVD

Im­perium (2016, Lion­s­gate,

R, $20): While this hurtling thriller doesn’t of­fer any­thing you haven’t seen be­fore, it still man­ages to be a sus­pense­ful dive into the heart of dark­ness. Daniel Rad­cliffe stars as an FBI agent who, at the urg­ing of his re­source­ful boss (Toni Col­lette), poses as a Nazi in or­der to find the white su­prem­a­cists who’ve stolen toxic ma­te­ri­als that could be used to build a dirty bomb. Straight­for­ward and oc­ca­sion­ally very scary, “Im­perium” will keep you on the edge of your seat. Ex­tras: fea­turettes and com­men­tary by di­rec­tor Daniel Ra­gus­sis.

*** What We Be­come (2016, Shout Fac­tory, un­rated,

$30): Zom­bies go in­ter­na­tional with this Dan­ish hor­ror thriller that looks at how a mid­dle-class fam­ily named the Jo­hanssons (Mille Di­ne­sen, Troels Lyby, Ben­jamin En­gell) deal with an un­dead out­break in the ‘burbs. De­spite a cou­ple of nerve-shred­ding scenes, this sus­penser never shakes off a feel­ing of fa­mil­iar­ity. “What We Be­come” is par­tic­u­larly dinged by one-di­men­sional char­ac­ters and di­rec­tor Bo Mikkelsen’s in­abil­ity to sus­tain a sense of claus­tro­pho­bia. Ex­tras: none.

*** The Mid­night Swim (2016, Candy Fac­tory, un­rated,

$20): Af­ter their mother’s sus­pi­cious drown­ing death, three es­tranged sis­ters (Jen­nifer Lafleur, Aleksa Pal­ladino, Lind­say Bur­dge) gather to­gether at their fam­ily’s lake­side home to re­con­nect. Af­ter in­vok­ing the lo­cal leg­end of the Seven Sis­ters, the women no­tice strange things hap­pen­ing, in­clud­ing the ap­pear­ance of dead birds out­side their door. Writer/di­rec­tor Sarah Ad­ina Smith aims to un­set­tle view­ers rather than scare them silly but the end re­sult is a con­fus­ing and poorly paced drama pop­u­lated with char­ac­ters who never make much sense. This one swims in the shal­low end. Ex­tras: none.

Gypsy (2016, Shout Fac­tory, un­rated, $15): There’s no mu­si­cal that blends great tunes, hu­mor and emo­tional fire­works as mag­nif­i­cently as this stun­ner based on the mem­oirs of strip­per Gypsy Rose Lee (Lara Pul­ver). As Rose, the stage mother to end all stage moth­ers, Imelda Staunton (“Vera Drake”) is a pow­er­house. De­spite start­ing off on a bad note thanks to too-chaotic open­ing num­ber, the ac­tress quickly set­tles into the role, peel­ing back lay­ers of a com­pli­cated woman who craves star­dom for her daugh­ters at any cost. Staunton also sells the qui­eter mo­ments, es­pe­cially a lovely duet with Peter Dav­i­son on “You’ll Never Get Away From Me.” Bravo. Ex­tras: none.

*** The Cap­tive (1915, Olive,

un­rated, $25): Once thought lost, Ce­cil B. DeMille’s si­lent ro­mance has been given a lovely spit-and-pol­ish job for its Blu-ray de­but. Set dur­ing the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, “The Cap­tive” stars Blanche Sweet as a peas­ant from Mon­tene­gro who’s un­able to work her farm alone af­ter her brother goes off to war. She even­tu­ally re­ceives help from a Turk­ish no­ble­man (House Peters) who’s a pris­oner of war. Watch­ing this pair fall in love, de­spite be­ing from dif­fer­ent classes and on op­po­site sides of the con­flict, is sur­pris­ingly mov­ing. Fea­tur­ing a new score writ­ten by Lucy Duke, “The Cap­tive” is a ma­jor find for

si­lent film fans. Ex­tras: none. *** Miss Sadie Thomp­son (1953, Twi­light Time,

un­rated, $30): Clad in a red dress, backed by a swing­ing jazz orches­tra and lusted af­ter by an en­tire bar full of Marines, Rita Hay­worth prac­ti­cally sets the screen ablaze as she per­forms “The Heat Is On.” Now on 3D Blu-ray, “Miss Sadie Thomp­son” is a sur­pris­ingly pro­gres­sive mu­si­cal that pits the sul­try Sadie against a hyp­o­crit­i­cal mis­sion­ary (Jose Fer­rer) who has the hots for her. In be­tween dis­cus­sions of moral­ity and siz­zling dance num­bers, Sadie falls for a love-struck sol­dier (Aldo Ray.) Pre­pared to be wowed. Ex­tras: com­men­taries and in­tro by Pa­tri­cia Clark­son.


The Ex­or­cist III: Col­lec­tor’s Edition (1990, Shout Fac­tory, R, $30): The sec­ond “Ex­or­cist” se­quel bombed in the­aters but the thriller, now on Blu-ray, boasts some in­trigu­ing ideas about the na­ture of evil. It also ex­pertly blends el­e­ments of a de­tec­tive saga with a the­o­log­i­cal puz­zle and a slasher flick. Ge­orge C. Scott stars as a po­lice of­fi­cer who’s try­ing to solve a se­ries of bru­tal mur­ders that ap­pear to be the work of the Gemini Killer de­spite the fact that the se­rial slayer was ex­e­cuted 15 years ear­lier. “Ex­or­cist III” de­serves a sec­ond look. Ex­tras: the­atri­cal and di­rec­tor’s cut, fea­turettes, bloop­ers and deleted scenes.

“The Sea of Trees” is now available on DVD.

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