A tale of a very different family and the fame a young man finds through singing are subjects of new DVD releases.
“Captain Fantastic”: 4 out of 4 stars. The film relies more on brain than brawn to tell the story of a family living way off the grid. Under the guidance of director Matt Ross, the story offers alternative opinions, smart arguments and real conversations about the health and development of children when they don’t have to deal with the distractions of the world.
This is everything that comic book-inspired movies aren’t. Instead of trying to visually overpower the viewer with crashes, explosions and huge fight scenes, “Captain Fantastic” is a deep examination of parenting, family, excess, isolationism, hope and the challenge of making the right decisions.
“The Idol”: 3 1/2 stars. Director Hany Abu-Assad doesn’t take a lazy route in “The Idol.” He spends more time with the story behind the headlines. Instead of just rehashing the musical accomplishments of Mohammad Assaf (Tawfeek Barhom) that stole the hearts of a nation, he offers a deeper look into the emotional and political events in the singer’s life that helped him along his musical path.
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Assaf became a superstar in the Middle East in 2013 when, as a Gaza refugee, he won “Arab Idol,” the Arab version of “American Idol.” Don’t worry, that information does not spoil the film. It’s a far more interesting story seeing how the singer gets to the competition.
“Lights Out”: 3 1/2 stars. Director David F. Sandberg has teamed with writer Eric Heisserer to create a film that proves it is possible to generate long-lasting scares without resorting to gore. Playing on the general fear of what lurks in the dark, the pair have created a product that will terrorize moviegoers without turning their stomachs.
It’s easy to shock with blood and guts, but Sandberg takes the horror path less traveled these days and commits to a film that piles on old-fashioned scares.
“Nerve”: 1 1/2 stars. “Nerve” wants to be an action film. It also wants to be a romance, an indictment of the ills of society and a postcard from New York. In an effort to do so much, nothing really takes complete shape.
The film has its problems, but its timing couldn’t be any better. The screenplay by Jessica Sharzer, based on the novel by Jeanne Ryan, suggests that our obsession with cellphones and online games has reached an epidemic level. The movie hits at the same time millions are wandering around the streets trying to catch “Pokemon Go” characters.
ALSO NEW ON DVD
“Be Somebody”: A pop superstar (Matthew Espinosa) has a big dream: He just wants to live like a regular teenager.
“Simple Gifts: The Chamber Music Society at Shaker Village”: Featured are performances of “Appalachian Spring” and “Sonatina.”
“Vampire Ecstasy”: This 1973 movie looks at the efforts of three young women to reincarnate their deceased vampire leader.
“Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict”: A look at the New York-born collector’s life.
“Mr. Church”: Unique friendship forms when a little girl and her dying mother retain the services of a talented cook.
“American Masters: Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You”: Documentary about the 94-year-old television legend.
“The Exorcist III”: William Peter Blatty’s cult favorite is now available on Blu-ray.
“Suddenly”: Frank Sinatra stars in the 1954 film about a war veteran determined to assassinate the president.
“Men & Chicken”: Slapstick comedy starring Mads Mikkelsen.
“Indignation”: Coming-of-age story about forbidden obsessions that result in tragic consequences.
“Living in the Age of Airplanes”: Harrison Ford narrates this look at aviation.
“Ancient Aliens: Season 9”: A look at whether intelligent beings visited Earth thousands of years ago.
“Skiptrace”: Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville star in this buddy comedy.
“Papa: Hemingway in Cuba”: A Miami journalist travels to Cuba to meet the legendary writer.
“The Killing of America”: The 1981 documentary that looks at America’s violent history is available for the first time since its debut.
“Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”: A special edition of the Will Ferrell comedy is being released to mark its 10th anniversary.
ON DIGITAL HD
“Nine Lives”: A businessman finds himself stuck inside the body of a cat. Kevin Spacey stars.
“Gleason”: Documentary about Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans Saints who has ALS.