‘Hell or High Water,’ a gritty western for the modern age
“Hell or High Water” (2016, Lionsgate, R, $20) bristles with the tension of two thieving brothers (Chris Pine, Ben Foster) hitting banks in their native West Texas in order to save their family’s ranch from foreclosure.
It’s got a lawman (Jeff Bridges) who matches wits with the bandits. Whatever an action movie is, “Hell or High Water” takes it to the next level.
Credit screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (“Sicario”) and director David Mackenzie (“Starred Up”) with injecting a vein of sadness into a film that’s as much about economic hardship and brotherly love as it is about heists and shootouts. It’s one of 2016’s best. Extras: feautrettes.
Also New To DVD
Pete’s Dragon (2016,
Disney, PG, $40): The rare remake that bests the original, this invigorating adventure re-imagines the 1977 film as an eye-popping spectacle that’s filled with characters you care about. The action kicks into high gear when a feral orphan named Pete (Allentown native Oakes Fegley) is rescued by a gentle park ranger (Bryce Dallas Howard). The youngster eventually reveals that his best pal is Elliot, a kindly, often invisible dragon who resembles a beast once glimpsed by Howard’s father (Robert Redford). Director David Lowery deserves high marks for delivering a special-effects extravaganza aimed at kids that doesn’t give adults a case of sugar shock. There’s a nifty environmental message too. Extras: featurettes and bloopers.
The Intervention (2016, Paramount, R, $30): Actress Clea DuVall makes an impressive writing and directing debut with this comedy about eight thirtysomethings unwilling to face some hard truths about themselves. Three couples (DuVall and Natasha Lyonne, Melanie Lynskey and Jason Ritter, Alia Shawkat and Ben Schwartz) gather together to urge a constantly-warring pair (Cobie Smulders and Vincent Piazza) to divorce. Not surprisingly, this “marriage intervention” goes hilariously awry. The entire cast is note-perfect, with top honors going to Lynskey who works miracles with the role of a neurotic woman who grows surprisingly sympathetic as the movie goes along. Extras: blooper reel and music video.
Mia Madre (2016, Music Box, R, $30): There’s a lot going on in Nanni Moretti’s latest drama about a Italian filmmaker (Margherita Buy) struggling with her mother’s terminal illness while also attempting to put the finishing touches on a movie starring an overbearing actor (John Turturro). But even though individual sequences sparkle, particularly the ones in which Moretti (“The Son’s Room”) fluidly dissolves the boundaries between dreams and reality, “Mia Madre” never really comes into focus. In the end, Moretti’s message remains obscure. Extras: outtakes, featurette and deleted scenes.
Eye of the Needle (1981, Twilight Time, R, $30): Distinguished by slowburn tension and an almost Hitchcockian elegance, this adaptation of a Ken Follett bestseller ranks as one of the most underrated movies of the 1980s. Donald Sutherland is mesmerizing as a Nazi spy operating in Britain who has vital information about the upcoming D-Day invasion. Before he can get back to Germany, he winds up stranded on a Scottish island where he stumbles into a romance with the lonely wife (Kate Nelligan) of a bitter, disabled husband. Director Richard Marquand (“Return of the Jedi”) serves up the saga with crackling energy and an intimacy rare for spy yarns. Extras: commentaries.