Entertainment

Swedish comedy-drama 'A Man Called Ove' is on Blu-ray, DVD

Posted December 30, 2016

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Edward Snowden in Oliver Stone's "Snowden," now on Blu-ray and DVD. (Deseret Photo)

The highlight of this week’s new DVD/Blu-ray releases is “A Man Called Ove,” an off-kilter Swedish drama with heart.

“A Man Called Ove” (Music Box, 2016, PG-13, in Swedish with English subtitles, featurettes, trailer). Irascible and irritating, Ove (Rolf Lassgard) is pushing 60 and just wants to join his late wife, whose grave he frequently visits. And as the disgruntled former president of his condo association, Ove spends too much of his time wandering through the grounds, nitpicking about every perceived misstep by his neighbors, grumbling and complaining all the way. Then one day, boisterous new neighbors move in, which at first pushes Ove closer to the edge, but eventually, of course, they will soften his heart.

The central idea may be predictable, but the film unfolds in an unexpected manner and is most engaging. It includes gradual flashbacks that explain how his sweet wife was a leavening factor in his life. And, as the pregnant matriarch among Ove’s new neighbors, an Iranian immigrant that sees right through his bluster, Bahar Pars, an Iranian-Swedish actress, is a real find.

“The Dressmaker” (Broadgreen, 2016, R for language and violence, featurettes, photo gallery). Kate Winslet stars as the title character, a worldly, patrician dressmaker who returns home to her small Australian hometown and the shack that is home to her seemingly balmy mother (Judy Davis), someone who has more up her sleeve than is initially observed. But is Winslet back to see dear old Mum, or to stir up trouble with the locals, who accused her of murder when she was a child? This witty, surprising comedy-drama boasts terrific performances by all, but Davis especially stands out.

“When the Bough Breaks” (Sony, 2016, PG-13, deleted/extended scenes, audio commentary, featurette). When a married couple (Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall) is unable to conceive, a surrogate mother (Jaz Sinclair) is hired, but as the pregnancy advances, she is eventually revealed to be a psychopath with a fixation on the husband. A reworking of the 1992 thriller “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle,” whose direct antecedent was “Fatal Attraction.”

“Snowden” (Universal, 2016; R for language, sex, nudity; deleted scenes, featurettes). Oliver Stone co-wrote and directed this story of Edward Snowden’s leaking thousands of classified documents to the press, revealing the illegal surveillance practices of the National Security Agency. Hero or traitor? You can probably guess Stone’s position. The film gets most of its juice from Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s electric performance as Snowden.

“In a Valley of Violence” (Universal, 2016, R for violence and language; featurette). This Western casts Ethan Hawke as a drifter who wanders out of the desert with his well-trained dog and into a rundown town, where he immediately gets into a confrontation with the town bully, who also happens to be the son of the marshal (John Travolta). Hawke suffers a beat-down and is thrown off a cliff, but he shakes it off and heads back to town for revenge. This dark, generally low-key effort is uneven but bolstered by the stars.

“Stevie D” (Candy Factory, 2016, not rated/probable R for language). When the crass, obnoxious son (Chris Cordone) of a Los Angeles construction magnate goes into hiding after a mob-connected altercation, a low-rent, lookalike, nice-guy actor (Cordone again) is hired to impersonate him. This wildly uneven low-budget comedy is way too long (a full two hours) but benefits from familiar character actors in supporting roles, including Hal Linden (TV’s “Barney Miller”).

“Road to the Well” (Candy Factory, 2016; not rated/probable R for language, sex, violence, drugs). An office worker whose personal and work lives have just imploded gets an out-of-the-blue phone call from an old friend, which leads to his being implicated in a seemingly random murder. But when they take a road trip to bury the body, it soon becomes apparent that the murder wasn’t so random after all.

“Phantasm: Ravager” (Well Go, not rated/probable R for violence and language, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurette, bloopers, trailer). The fifth and final Phantasm film brings back its three stars — A. Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister and, as the ominous Tall Man, the late Angus Scrimm (who died earlier this year at age 89) — along with more interdimensional travels, more killings by flying silver spheres and more confused plotting. Don Coscarelli, who wrote and directed the first four films beginning in 1979, co-wrote but did not direct this one.

“American Honey” (Lionsgate, 2016; R for sex, nudity, language, drugs; featurette). An Oklahoma teen (Sasha Lane) escapes her abusive household by allowing herself to be recruited by a group of teenagers crisscrossing the country to sell magazines and party hard. Eventually, she begins a relationship with one of the group (Shia LaBeouf), who proves to be a thief who is both jealous and volatile.

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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