Recliner Reviews for Feb. 28, 2013

February 26, 2013 

Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.

“The Master”

Since 1994, Paul Thomas Anderson has earned five Oscar nominations for his directorial efforts in his six feature films. Each one varies in substance and time periods. In addition, all the storylines veer onto wild routes into various deviant behaviors. There are a few things tying these films together - and they all have deeply delicious soundtracks. The filmmaking is deftly confessional. And Anderson has the ability to mix up a tasty brew of actors. That’s why it’s no coincidence Philip Seymour Hoffman has been in five of Anderson’s six films. Here, Hoffman plays a loose interpretation of Scientology creator, L. Ron Hubbard and earned his fourth Oscar nomination. Joaquin Phoenix, a three-time Oscar nominee, a one-time Oscar winner and all-the-time crazy, is right in his element as a drunk set adrift in 1950 and trying to attach to anything he can believe in. Four-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams controls her role and has excelled past her debutante image of a doughy-eyed maiden. The chemistry of these three together make the drama powerful, earned all three Oscar nods and is just plain fun to watch – worth a watch.

“The Pirates! Band of Misfits”

Claymation and stop-motion animation is an art form not many filmmakers have the patience to delve into. Filmmakers Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt have the patience and bravery to not only take up the painstaking process but do it again and again. Their history in funny-looking clay goes back before their work on the critically acclaimed, “Wallace and Gromit” and “Chicken Run.” This time, Hugh Grant leads the way voicing the moving mud in this tale of pirates versus English royalty and the coldness of the scientific method – pretty heavy topics for a kids’ movie. The popularity of this film on video and its Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film proves kids are not as dumb as they look. It deserves the accolades, but didn’t we all know Pixar’s “Brave” had that Oscar up its kilt the whole time? It’s still worth a watch.

“ParaNorman”

This is another animated film with heavy topics for kids – death, bullying, homosexuality, intolerance for abnormalities – all while running from ghosts and zombies and witches. The filmmakers also had a hand in two great spooky kids films, “Corpse Bride” and “Coraline.” But they ramp it up here. There are some pretty intense scenes but they work because of an empathetic and humorous approach. Kodi Smit-McPhee voices the title character, his previous work in “Let Me In” and the boy from “The Road” probably prepped him for being eerie. Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin and Casey Affleck lend great support. We all know creepy doesn’t win Oscars, no matter how many issues they cover on the way to the “boo.” But it should become a staple for Halloween viewing for the whole family – worth a watch.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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