By Sam Struckhoff
EDITOR’S NOTE: DVDs reviewed in this column are available in stores the week of Jan. 16, 2017
PICKS OF THE WEEK “The Girl on the Train” (R) — Rachel (Emily Blunt) is an alcoholic and a mess since her divorce, and she rides the commuter train through a little suburb twice a day. A woman goes missing (Haley Bennett) and Rachel thinks she saw something from the train, because she looks at that woman’s house from the train every day and idealizes the beautiful couple living there. However, the missing woman was Rachel’s ex-husband’s nanny, and she looks a lot like Rachel’s ex’s new wife! Got it? Oh, and everybody is really dreary because of all the suburban angst. When your plot is so tangled, plot twists just look like regular ol’ plot developments. When your characters are so consistently distraught or uptight, major emotional moments lose their flair. I can’t speak to the book, but the film had some complicated narrative threads that weren’t woven as intended.
“Keeping Up with the Joneses” (PG-13) — On a quiet cul-de-sac, two unbelievably attractive and stylish people move in, paying cash. Karen (Isla Fisher) keeps an eye on them from across the street, because the kids are at summer camp and she needs something to do while her husband Jeff (Zach Galifinakis) works in human resources. Snooping reveals that these new neighbors (John Hamm and Gal Gadot) are actually spies, pushing the unassuming Jeff and Karen into high-stakes espionage hijinks. There isn’t a bad member of the cast, but every action is stuck in a very tired formula. Jokes come in predictable pacing with expected delivery. You might not be able to call what the misdirect is, but you know what’s going to be a misdirect. Galifinakis needs the freedom to be a little weirder, and Hamm shows in some moments that he really does have the timing and tuning for comedy.
“Ouija: Origin of Evil” (R) — Set in the late 1960s, the prequel bests its predecessor with better suspense and a relish for the old-fashioned scare flicks of its setting. Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) runs a scam psychic business out of her home, with the special effects run by her two daughters: Lina (Annalise Basso), the teen, and Doris (Lulu Wilson), who is whatever age makes the creepiest possessed-little-demon girls. Once they bring a Ouija board into the act, Doris takes a real liking to it, opening up herself and their home to some really bad spirits. As supernatural terrors mount, Father Tom (Henry Thomas) is called in for support.
“Zero Days” (PG-13) — This chilling documentary tracks the near-invisible attack of Stuxnet, a self-copying computer virus that got a grip on pretty much all of the technology we rely on today. This type of threat isn’t just taking personal information, but is able to cripple power grids and financial systems. Using interviews with experts from the CIA and NSA, director Alex Gibney explores world of cyberwarfare, exposing unfathomable dangers where most of us are unaware or uninformed. While the creation of Stuxnet remains unclear, the implications for future peace and security are impossible to ignore.
TV RELEASES “12 Monkeys: Season 2” “Rizzoli and Isles: The Complete and Final Seventh Season” “NYPD Blue: The Final Season” “The Love Boat: Season 3 Volume 1” “The Love Boat: Season 3 Volume 2” “Scarlett The Mini Series Event” (c) 2017 King Features Synd., Inc.