Two good dramas and a so-so animated effort hit stores this week.
“American Pastoral”: 3 out of 4 stars. Hollywood has long embraced stories of war and the effect it has on those who face it. The drama comes from either the heroic efforts in the heat of battle or the heart-tearing events that unfold when soldiers come home.
A less-common topic has been the impact war has on the homefront, especially with those who have no direct connection to the conflict. Emotions can be just as big and painful, even when not staring down the barrel of a gun.
John Romano’s adaptation of the book cuts some corners, but the essence is there and is given life by the strong cast.
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“Loving”: 3.5 stars. The story of Richard and Mildred Loving is one of the most important in the world of social change and race relations. It was their mixed marriage that became the basis for the 1967 Supreme Court ruling that state laws prohibiting interracial marriages were invalid.
That element is the framework for the feature film from director/writer Jeff Nichols. While the court battle is historic, the real truth and passion in the production comes out of the relationship between Mildred (Ruth Negga) and Richard (Joel Edgerton). There is an honesty in the way the actors bring this couple to life that gives the movie heart.
“Trolls”: 2.5 stars. The juvenile humor and dazzling use of color in “Trolls” makes it fancifully designed to entertain the young. There are a few elements – from the trippy psychedelic look to retro selection of music — that may lure adults, but those are not plentiful enough to give the film a broad all-ages appeal.
The overall design of the film is as frazzled as a troll’s hairdo. Because of that, the animated movie will be hair today and gone tomorrow.
ALSO NEW ON DVD
“Almost Christmas”: Estranged family must reunite for the holidays. Danny Glover stars.
“Life on the Line”: Linemen work to keep locals safe during a deadly storm.
“Nocturne”: Insomniac becomes romantically fascinated with a sleepwalking co-worker.
“Shimmer and Shine: Friendship Divine”: The genies-in-training meet some fantastical new friends.
“The 9th Life of Louis Drax”: Youngster faces series of near-death accidents.
Jonathan”: Young man discovers his father has a hidden life.
“Like Cotton Twines”: Story of sexual slavery justified by religious tradition.
“Sesame Street: Singing With the Stars 2”: Gwen Stefani, Janelle Monae, Nick Jonas and Fifth Harmony are featured.
“Underground Kings”: Officer finds out his partner was set up to be killed by a dirty cop.
“Baby, Baby, Baby”: Couple faces problems after moving in together.
“Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man”: Documentary featuring performances of Leonard Cohen songs by U2, Rufus Wainwright and Beth Orton.
“Graves: Season One”: Nick Nolte stars as a former two-term president of the United States.
“Dirty Dancing”: The film is being re-released to mark its 30th anniversary.
“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Complete Series”: Includes all of the episodes of the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” spinoff.
“Akron”: Gay coming-of-age story.
“Come What May”: To escape the German invasion, inhabitants of a small village in northern France flee their homes.
“Antibirth”: Hard-living woman faces weird pregnancy.
“Burn Country”: A missing woman and a dead body force a man to look at his life.
“The Take”: American pickpocket in Paris is hunted by the CIA.
“The Eagle Huntress”: Young girl pursues her passion of hunting with golden eagles.
“Blush”: Female-focused Israeli rebel romance.
“Dead West”: Outlaw sets out on a murderous cross-country trip to find true love.
Season three of “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series”: Seth and Richie fight their way through culebras.
“Look at Us Now, Mother!”: Examination of the complex bond between mother and daughter.
“Spirit of the Game”: Missionaries are recruited to help Australian national basketball team.
“Nerdland”: Paul Rudd and Patton Oswalt provide voices for two showbiz nobodies who are determined to become famous.
AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL HD
“Manchester By the Sea”: Man deals with becoming guardian of his 16-year-old nephew.
“Cold War 2”: Commissioner of police needs help from a former rival when his wife and daughter are kidnapped.
“Peter and the Farm”: Documentary about Peter Dunning, an individualist to the extreme.