Recliner Reviews for April 4, 2013

April 8, 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.


Nominated for 12 Oscars, it won two, but only one of those really mattered, Best Actor. Daniel Day-Lewis – five-time Oscar-nominated, three-time Oscar-winning, the method acting Englishman playing an American president – owns this role. From start to stop, this is Day-Lewis’ movie. Steven Spielberg puts him in all the right places, knowing what a special actor he is, the scenes roll out around him. Spielberg ranks as one of the few directors that can extenuate big actors in small roles. Take a look at the integral parts Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Hawkes, Hal Holbrook and James Spader play in this film. And there’s more. “Munich” writer Tony Kushner reteams with Spielberg to adapt Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book and the story doesn’t try to do too much. It takes a small piece of Lincoln’s legacy and makes the most of it. Spielberg has always been able to jump genres successfully, partly because of his precision behind the camera and partly because of the people he hires to get the job done. Day-Lewis is his employee of the year – really worth a watch.

“Paranormal Activity 4”

This is genius – take five million bucks, spend half of it making a movie with a shaky video camera and spend the other half running a publicity campaign, telling everyone how scary the film is. And miraculously, the movie will make $50 million, over and over again. Somehow, this franchise has broken through the trilogy threshold into plus-1 territory. Four times they have told almost the same story, used the same camera tricks, accentuated the same slow starts and weakly-built tension. Four times? And people keep watching? The best we can do is say, “Stop.” Because there’s already a “Paranormal Activity 5” in production, so our only course of action as an audience is to put a lock on our wallets and purses and refuse to pay for something we can do with a web cam, a shaky hand and a creepy kid. The saddest part of all – this is the best of the four films. But it’s too little, too late – pass and pass again and keep passing until they stop.

“Celeste and Jesse Forever”

Rashida Jones is not your typical nepotistic daughter. Yes, she is the offspring of Quincy Jones. Yes, she is a Harvard graduate. But she works hard for the money. And she worked hard for this movie – working her day job at TV’s “Parks and Recreation,” doing like a half-dozen smaller parts in other movies and co-writing this film with her writing partner, Will McCormack. This movie shows that small films about relationships don’t have to be overly schmaltzy or unwatchable artsy-fartsy, this script is smart and funny and it entertains. Andy Samberg works in a graceful tandem with Jones and the casting allows Elijah Wood and Emma Roberts to play ridiculous characters with heart. A rare romance and friendship film for realist adults who love childish humor – worth a watch.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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