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“The Family” – Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer shine in French action auteur Luc (“La Femme Nikita,” “The Fifth Element”) Besson’s pitch black comedy about an American mob family chafing under constraints of the witness protection program. The tonal shifts can give you whiplash, but it’s so entertaining and expertly played you’re willing to forgive the occasional faux pas (B).
“Insidious: Chapter 2” – This half-hearted sequel feels cobbled together out of spare parts from the previous (and superior) “Insidious.” The jejune “Psycho” riffs in the final act are what make it truly obnoxious, though. Otherwise, it’s just lazy, dull and fatally redundant, especially if you’ve seen the 2011 original (C-).
New on DVD:
“Behind the Candelabra” – Michael Douglas and Matt Damon are brilliant as Liberace and domestic partner Scott Thorson in Steven Soderbergh’s stunning, incredibly brave biopic which ranks among the year’s best films despite having been made for HBO. Yes, that’s a nearly unrecognizable Debbie Reynolds as Liberace’s strong-willed mom (A).
“The Bling Ring” – Director Sofia Coppola’s gorgeously stylized, if emotionally opaque true-life account of a group of middle-class L.A. teens who robbed celebrities’ homes just for kicks. (And the bling, of course.) Despite its surface pleasures–and they are considerable–the movie feels somehow incomplete at just under 90 minutes (B+).
“The East” – A ponderously paced eco-thriller that runs out of steam midway despite the best efforts of a talented cast (including co-writer Brit Marling, Alexander Sarsgaard and Ellen Page (C).
“World War Z” – This discreet, even tasteful zombie apocalypse flick is exceedingly well-made, surprisingly intelligent and expertly played by an international cast. Closer to Steven Soderbergh’s global pandemic procedural “Contagion” than to the visceral intensity of, say, AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” it’s likely to disappoint gore-hounds (B+).