PICKS OF THE WEEK
“Rio” (PG) — Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) is a rare macaw — thought to be the last of his kind — living the good life as a pet in Minnesota. When it’s discovered that there is another member of his species in Brazil, Blu is taken on a trip to meet his female counterpart (voiced by Anne Hathaway.) What follows is a formulaic animated adventure of madcap talking critters fleeing bumbling animal smugglers.
The vibrant colors, wild (yet forgettable) music and sheer volume give “Rio” something to appreciate. While it falls short of charming, there’s something to be said for “Rio” as a spectacle — a sort of dazzling Carnivál for the rugrats.
“The Perfect Host” (R) — David Hyde Pierce (Niles from “Frasier”) stars in this confusing-yet-admirable jumble of neuroses, thrills and unsettling humor. A criminal on the run (Clayne Crawford) lies his way into the home of Pierce’s unsuspecting urbane gentleman, who is preparing for his big dinner party. A game of predator and prey ensues, in which few things are what they seem.
It’s dark comedy with notes of Hitchcock and a heaping pile of role reversals, twists and mind games. While plenty of laughs and chills are contained within, some audience members may suffer from crippling plot-twist fatigue by the end of the film.
“In a Better World” (R) — This Danish foreign-language drama explores gripping issues in justice, civility, grief and parenthood. Anton is a doctor torn between two worlds: his family life in the suburbs of Denmark, and his work as a doctor in a war-torn corner of Africa. The characters must navigate unclear moral landscapes in the parallel worlds of schoolyard bullies and brutal warlords. The story is well-crafted, perhaps too tidy at times, but the conflicts faced by the characters are not so tidy, and the story has enough gravitas to turn down easy answers.
“Coen Brothers Collection” (Blood Simple/Fargo/Miller’s Crossing/Raising Arizona) [Blu-ray] — Ever want to gorge yourself on brainy thrillers with chunks of absurdist humor? As a writing/directing team, the Coen brothers are the purveyors of fine films with smart dialog, complicated characters, oddball humor and respected visual prowess. This collection of four of their earliest movies includes some of the finest performances by the stars involved, including Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Albert Finney, John Turturro, Marcia Gay Harden and Holly Hunter. Nick Cage’s role in the hilarious “Raising Arizona” has been used to defend the existence of his career to this day.
“Sons of Anarchy: Season Three”
“House, M.D.: Season Seven”
“Nikita: The Complete First Season”
“Wonders of the Universe” [Blu-ray]
“Meet The Browns: Season One”
“Running Wilde: Season One”
© 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.