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'The Man Who Knew Infinity' is on Blu-ray and DVD this week

Posted August 27

"Dark Horse" is a feel-good documentary about a racehorse that went from underdog to champion. (Deseret Photo)

One of this year’s overlooked gems is on Blu-ray and DVD this week, an enthralling film that deserves to be seen.

“The Man Who Knew Infinity” (Paramount, 2016, PG-13). One of the year’s best, albeit unsung, films is a fascinating true story of a self-taught math genius, who, despite being born into impoverished conditions in India, earns a spot at Cambridge at the outset of World War I.

In the film, Srinivasa Ramanujan, wonderfully played by Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire,” the “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”), finds the English university rather stifling thanks to culture clash and prejudice — until he is taken under the wing of an eccentric professor (Jeremy Irons), under whose tutelage he begins to thrive, developing equations that are still being used today. Co-stars include Toby Jones, Stephen Fry and Jeremy Northam.

“Dark Horse” (Sony Classics, 2016, PG, photo gallery). Charming, uplifting documentary about a barmaid and her husband in South Wales who rally 23 friends and neighbors to pool their modest wages to purchase a foal, which, against all odds, grows to become a horse-racing champion.

“The Huntsman: Winter’s War” (Universal, 2016, PG-13, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers). This sequel/prequel to “Snow White and the Huntsman” melds “Snow White” and “The Snow Queen” to create a bizarre and often unpleasant “fairy tale” of revenge and petulance. But who’s it for? Too violent and surprisingly sexual for a movie aimed at youth. Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain star.

“Shooting the Prodigal” (Virgil, 2016, not rated/probable PG). A Jewish film student is hired to help a Baptist minister make a religious movie updating the biblical story of the Prodigal Son. The comedy is broad in this independently produced faith film and the target is the more-forgiving Christian-based audience, which should willingly embrace it. Tim Reid (“WKRP in Cincinnati”) has a supporting role.

“Ratchet & Clank” (Universal, 2016, PG, featurettes). So-so sci-fi animated action comedy based on the video game about a young alien spaceship mechanic, a Lombax named Ratchet, that is teamed up with a robot named Clank to save the universe. Voice cast includes Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Rosario Dawson and Sylvester Stallone.

“Sunset Song” (Magnolia, 2016; R for sex, nudity, violence). During the run-up to World War I a young woman (Agyness Deyn) in a rural Scottish community struggles to keep the family farm going after her mother dies, her brother leaves and she is left alone with her abusive father. Beautifully photographed and performed but never quite gets off the ground.

“The Nice Guys” (Warner, 2016; R for violence, language, sex, nudity, drugs; featurettes). An inept detective (Ryan Gosling) reluctantly joins forces with a low-level enforcer (Russell Crowe) to find a missing girl and solve a porn star’s murder. There are some laughs as the film re-creates the feel of a grungy 1970s crime flick but the many over-the-top excesses get in the way. Co-stars include Kim Basinger, Matt Bomer and Keith David.

“High-Rise” (Magnet, 2016; R for violence, sex, nudity, language, drugs; audio commentary, featurettes, trailer). Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons star in this British adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s sci-fi novel about a luxury high-rise in the 1970s that places the rich on upper floors and the poor below them in apartments whose infrastructure is crumbling. Dark allegory of class distinction and socio-economics has some interesting ideas but can’t sustain them. Sienna Miller and Elisabeth Moss co-star.

“Maggie’s Plan” (Sony Classics, 2016, R for language and sex; audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers). Offbeat comedy about a New York woman, Maggie (Gerta Gerwig), who falls in love with an older anthropology professor (Ethan Hawke) whose marriage to a workaholic academic (Julianne Moore) is on the rocks. A few years later, Gerwig falls out of love and plots to get Hawke back together with his ex. Co-stars include Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph and Wallace Shawn.

“The First Monday in May” (Magnolia, 2016, PG-13, deleted scenes, featurette, trailer). Behind-the-scenes documentary about an annual fashion gala at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, focusing on the eight months before the event as curator Andrew Bolton and co-chair Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, travel to Paris and Beijing to gather support.

“Weiner” (Sundance Selects, 2016, R for language and sexual material). Raw, audacious documentary about the meltdown of New York Congressman Anthony Weiner in 2011 and his attempt two years later to rebuild his career in a run for mayor. Weiner’s cluelessness and the access he allows filmmakers are truly astonishing.

Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at hicks@deseretnews.com.

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