This Week in Movies & TV, April 30, 2013: Demented Dancers & Dreamers

Silver Linings Playbook

In Silver Linings Playbook by director David O. Russell (Three Kings, The Fighter, I Heart Huckabees), former high school history teacher Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) gets out of a state institution after spending eight months incarcerated there. Having lost his house, job, and wife, he now lives in the care of his craze-inducing father (Robert DeNiro) and mother (Jacki Weaver). Pat's goal is to get his life on track and win back his ex-wife. Then he meets kooky neighbor Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who has her very own mental problems. Both have poor social skills, say only inappropriate things, and are liable to outbursts. Tiffany, though, is offering to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he'll do something very important for her in return: be her dance partner in a competition.

Pat seems completely out-of-control crazy - that is until he meets this someone who's crazier or at least different crazy, which seems to give him support. Soon they just seem unrestrained by socialization, undiplomatic and honest compared to their cold families, therapists, and everyone else who lie, bluster, and conform, hiding in their misery of hypocrisy, part playing, and doing what's expected, living lives of quiet desperation.

Fortunately, there's enough well-timed, straight-faced wry comedy to make this message palatable and even fun.

The bright picture has gentle, uncontrolled lighting, and softish focus. Images are flat throughout. There are rich colors - De Niro's green Philadelphia Eagles football shirt, Tiffany's mauve ensemble - and a broad range of pastel tones, especially in the institutions. Pat's shirt and garbage-bag jogging outfit, Tiffany's top, and trick-or-treat witches outfits are all deep blacks, but whites . . . well they could be whiter. Checks in Pat's parents' hideous sofa are well defined, but skin tones, unless in bright, sunlit exteriors, are generally brown and don't show much differentiation. Detail is fair, but there's not enough to make hair strands, pores, and skin variations visible. Exteriors fare better with textures in clothes, intricacy to items, and more natural color.

Since Silver Linings Playbook relies on dialogue more than filmmaking language, it's important that the compulsive conversations are all clear and, fortunately, the soundtrack comes through with voices that are distinct and fairly full. Surrounds aren't used much, except with the lite, indie rock soundtrack and the odd suburban birds atmospherics, but the music sounds good, instruments well separated with piano and vocals up front, guitar and drums beside you.

Video: 2.40:1. Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Extras: 26 minutes of deleted scenes, "Silver Linings Playbook: The Film that Became a Movement" Q&A highlights with Russell, De Niro, Cooper, Lawrence and others, dance rehearsal footage, "Learn to Dance Like Pat and Tiffany" with choreographer Mandy Moore and "Going Steadicam with Bradley Cooper" featurettes; DVD, and UltraViolet digital copy for streaming/downloading. Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay.

Season of the Star Treks

Spring is traditionally the time when starships warm up their warp drives and, hearts beating faster, viewers are anxious to boldly go out into the world to meet strange races - like girls - in strange environments - like parks - once they've finished their Star Trek marathon. This time it's going to be tough.

Many of the Star Trek movies released this week have already been included in both the 7-disc Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture Collection (which includes the first six films in the series) and the 3-disc Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture Trilogy Blu-ray sets, but now some of them are available as individual releases: Star Trek: The Motion Picture,Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,Star Trek V: The Final Frontier,Star Trek: Generations,Star Trek: Insurrection, andStar Trek: Nemesis - most of them with 7.1-channel sound. In addition Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 3 and Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Best of Both Worlds are also available this week.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

A decade or so after the original Star Trek TV series created by Gene Roddenberry in 1966 that ran for just three seasons was canceled, the growing cult audience created by broadcast syndication of the episodes and the enormous success of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind brought about the decision to make the first of the films - and as a high prestige, high budget, special-effects extravaganza: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)!

Reuniting the cast of the original show, Star Trek: The Motion Picture sends the officers and crew of the starship Enterprise to boldly go and deal with an enormously powerful, massive alien energy cloud that has entered Federation Space, destroying three Klingon cruisers and everything else in its path. It, of course, is heading directly for Earth and only the now admirable Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner), returning to the helm of a refitted Enterprise, can hope to deal with the threat.

The Motion Picture is directed by Robert Wise (editor of Citizen Kane, director of The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story, and The Sound of Music) and co-stars Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Stephen Collins, and Majel Barrett.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Picking up immediately after the events of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) - in which, in which Spock (Leonard Nimoy) makes the greatest act of personal sacrifice by giving up his life to save the ship - Star Trek III:The Search for Spock (1984) starts with the seriously damaged U.S.S. Enterprise returning to Earth from the newly formed Genesis planet. Upon arrival, the officers are informed that the Enterprise is to be decommissioned, replaced by USS Excelsior, Starfleet's new flagship. On top of that, Scotty (James Doohan) is to be reassigned and Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), because of the mind meld Spock had made with him before the Vulcan's death, starts acting loopy. But then Kirk learns from Spock's father that there might still be some life in the old Vulcan yet, that he might survive if the officers and crew can get him back to the Vulcan homeworld. First, though, they must disobey orders, disable the Excelsior, and steal the Enterprise. After that, all they have to do is take on the Klingons, commanded by Kruge (Christopher Lloyd), return to the Genesis planet to retrieve Spock's body which had been jettisoned there, and take it, with Spock's katra (or living spirit) - which was transferred to McCoy during the mind meld - to Vulcan.

The Search for Spock was directed Leonard Nimoy and co-stars Shatner, Kelley, Doohan, Koenig, Takei, Judith Anderson, and Nichols.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

On board the new Enterprise (the last being crashed into San Francisco Bay in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home), the untried ship's systems are constantly malfunctioning leaving Scotty with his hands full while Kirk  (demoted back to captain), McCoy, and Spock taking their shore leave in Yosemite National Park, Kirk climbing a mountain called El Capitán, Spock flying around in jet-powered boots, and McCoy muttering complaints.

Sybok - an outcast Vulcan who believes that the true meaning of Vulcan culture and existence is the embracing of emotion - takes his religious zealot followers and forms an army, taking prisoners of the human, Klingon, and Romulan ambassadors.

Kirk and co. are recalled by Starfleet and get their mission orders from Admiral Bennett (Harve Bennett) to travel to planet Nimbus III in the Neutral Zone to rescue the prisoners. Unbeknownst to Starfleet, though, Sybok has created the hostage situation for the sole purpose of luring in a Federation starship and hijacking it in order to get to the mythical planet of Sha Ka Ree (Valhalla) in the center of the galaxy and seeing the face of God.

Not to be outdone by Nimoy, Shatner helms this 1989 Trek. It co-stars Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley, Doohan, Koenig, Takei, Nichols, and Laurence Luckenbill.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 3

Created by Gene Roddenberry as part of the Star Trek franchise in 1987 - 21 years after the original Star Trek show - The Next Generation is set in the nearby regions of the Milky Way galaxy in the 2360s, about 100 years after the original series' setting. Headed up by Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), the new crew and new starship Enterprise no longer need to fight the Klingon Empire - they've since ceased wartime hostilities and become galactic allies with the United Federation of Planets - but now Picard and co. must face more threatening foes like the Romulans and the dreaded Borg.

This set features all 26 episodes of Season 3 (1989-1990) of The Next Generation TV series, including "Evolution," "The Ensigns of Command," "The Survivors," "Who Watches the Watchers," "The Bonding," "Booby Trap," "The Enemy," "The Price," "The Vengeance Factor," "The Defector," "The Hunted," "The High Ground," "Deja Q," "A Matter of Perspective," "Yesterday's Enterprise," "The Offspring," "Sins of the Father," "Allegiance," "Captain's Holiday," "Tin Man," "Hollow Pursuits," "The Most Toys," "Sarek," "Menage a Troi," "Transfigurations," and "The Best of Both Worlds Part 1."

The Next Generation – Season 3 co-stars Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton, and Marina Sirtis.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Best of Both Worlds

This 1990 two-episode, two-part storyline of The Next Generation TV series - the Season 3 cliffhanger finale and the Season 4 premiere - has been fully restored in high def and edited seamlessly together into one feature-length presentation.

The officers of the Enterprise discover the remnants of a Federation colony that seems to have disappeared, which has all the earmarks of . . . the Borg. When the Enterprise confronts a Borg Cube, devastatingly for all the crew, Borg drones board the ship, abduct Captain Picard, and assimilate him into their collective, absorbing his knowledge and mutilating him in the process. Commander Riker must take over as captain of the Enterprise as Starfleet prepares to do battle in a final attempt to defend Earth. But . . . resistance is futile.

The Best of Both Worlds stars Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Marina Sirtis.

Star Trek: Generations

By 1994 the guys from the original Star Trek TV series were getting past it and The Next Generation TV series was coming to an end. So the seventh Star Trek feature film was made to bridge the gap between the old Star Trek movies fans and those of The Next Generation show and provide some sort of crossover between both sets of characters.

This was achieved when, during an all-out battle with madman Soran (Malcolm McDowell), Picard is thrown into the Nexus and comes face-to-face with Captain Kirk who has been trapped there for decades.

The story of how Kirk got there in the first place is as follows. While attending a press event on board the new Enterprise B during its christening in 2293, an emergency arises when a strange energy ribbon traps two refugee vessels and only the Enterprise B is in range to help. The experienced Kirk is forced to step up from the sidelines to overcome the Enterprise's rookie crew and captain's mistakes and save the endangered vessels' passengers, but in the process he's blasted by an energy wave into space.

Seventy-eight years later, the Enterprise D, helmed by Captain Jean-Luc Picard, is out investigating a distress call from a deep space science station. What they find when they arrive is that everyone, except Doctor Tolian Soran, has been killed by Romulans. Soran, a mysterious scientist and one of the survivors that Kirk had rescued, is conducting experiments to return to the energy ribbon, an alternate dimension called the Nexus, a place of ultimate happiness where all dreams come true. But to summon the energy ribbon, Soran is altering its path by collapsing stars, in doing so endangering an entire inhabited planet's population.

In trying to prevent him, Picard - as well as Soran - is sucked into the Nexus, and the rest is Star Trek history: Kirk and Picard unite to facie down powerful enemies together to save the day (if in timelessness it is possible to save a day).

Star Trek: Generations co-stars Shatner, Stewart, Kelley, Doohan, Koenig, Frakes, Spiner, Dorn, McFadden, Burton, Sirtis, Alan Ruck, Jacqueline Kim, Barbara March, Gwynyth Walsh, Patti Yasutake, and Whoopi Goldberg.

Star Trek: Insurrection

In the ninth film of the franchise, while secretly observing the tranquil Ba'ku people, Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner) violently malfunctions revealing the hidden presence of the joint Federation and Son'a task force. So the Starfleet sends Picard and crew in to retrieve him. The Son'a are a mummified-looking bunch who've learned to cheat death through various medical procedures and the face-lifted freaks are decidedly not to be trusted. In contrast, the Ba'ku are technologically advanced but have opted to live in harmony with nature.

In the process of capturing Data, Picard and the Enterprise crew discover a cloaked Federation ship containing a gigantic holodeck set up to recreate the Ba'ku village and that there's a plot by members of Starfleet to take over the planet in order to collect its healing radiation and ship off the entire remaining Ba'ku race and dump them on another planet. Picard must now stand against Starfleet to save this peaceful people.

Insurrection (1998) co-stars Stewart, Frakes (who also directed), Burton, F. Murray Abraham, Donna Murphy, Dorn, McFadden, Sirtis, and Anthony Zerbe.

Star Trek: Nemesis

In Nemesis (2002), the 10th film in the series, when the Romulan military present their plans to the Imperial Senate - to unite their forces with the Reman military and invade the Federation and, of course, destroy Earth - their Praetor refuses to cooperate. Bad move, since green thalaron radiation mist is soon sprayed into the room, killing everyone. Dead.

The coup d'état is led by Shinzon, a Reman clone of Picard (!) who has taken control of the Romulan Star Empire and rules the planet Remus. Shinzon is dying and needs Picard's genetic material to survive, but kidnapping of Picard fails thanks to Data's rescue, setting the stage for an all-out battle for control of the universe!

Nemesis was directed by Stuart Baird, scored by Jerry Goldsmith, and co-stars Stewart, Frakes, Burton, Spiner, Dorn, McFadden, Sirtis, Tom Hardy, Ron Perlman, Brent Michael Gates, and Alan Dale.

The Motion Picture, Video: 2.40:1. Audio: Dolby TrueHD 7.1. Extras: commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and Daren Dochterman, "The Longest Trek: Writing The Motion Picture," "Special Star Trek Reunion," and "Starfleet Academy: Mystery Behind V'Ger" featurettes, Library Computer, BD Live: Star Trek I.Q. test, deleted scenes, storyboards.

The Search for Spock, Video: 2.35:1. Audio: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Surround. Extras: commentary by Nimoy, Harve Bennett, Charles Correll, and Robin Curtis, commentary by Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor, "Industrial Light & Magic: The Visual Effects of Star Trek," "Spock: The Early Years," "Star Trek and the Science Fiction Museum Hall of Fame," "Terraforming and the Prime Directive," "Space Docks and Birds of Prey," "Speaking Klingon," "Klingon and Vulcan Costumes," and "Starfleet Academy: Mystery Behind the Vulcan Katra Transfer" featurettes, Library Computer, BD Live: Star Trek I.Q., Captain's Log, photo galleries, storyboards.

The Final Frontier, Video: 2.40:1. Audio: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Surround. Extras: commentary by William and Lisabeth Shatner, commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and Daren Dochterman, "Star Trek Honors NASA, "Hollywood Walk of Fame: James Doohan," "Starfleet Academy: Nimbus III," "Harve Bennett's Pitch to the Sales Team," "The Journey: A Behind-the-Scenes," "Rockman in the Raw," "Star Trek V press conference," "Herman Zimmerman: A Tribute," "Original interview with William Shatner," "Cosmic Thoughts," "That Klingon Couple," and "A Green Future?" featurettes, Library Computer, BD Live: Star Trek I.Q., makeup tests, pre-visualization models, deleted scenes, production gallery, storyboards.

The Next Generation, Video: 1.33:1. Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Dolby Digital 2.0. Extras: commentary on selected episodes (with Rene Echevarria, Jonathan Frakes, Ron Moore, Ira Steven Behr, David Carson and others), archival mission logs, exclusive HD content, "Resistance is Futile: Assimilating The Next Generation," "Star Trek: The Next Generation – Inside The Writer's Room," and "A Tribute to Michael Piller" featurettes, bloopers gag reel, promo trailers for all 26 episodes.

The Best of Both Worlds, Video: 1.33:1. Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Dolby Digital 2.0. Extras: commentary by director Cliff Bole, actress Elizabeth Dennehy, and Mike and Denise Okuda, "Regeneration: Engaging the Borg" featurettes, gag reel, episodic promo Part 1, episodic promo Part 2, gag reel.

Generations, Video: 2.40:1. Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround. Extras: commentary by David Carson and Manny Coto, commentary by Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore, "Next Generation Designer Flashback: Andrew Probert," "Stellar Cartography on Earth" with scientists Amy Mainzer, Charles Beichman, Michael Werner and Scott Kardell, "Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond – Part One," "Trek Roundtable: Generations," "Starfleet Academy SciSec Brief: Trilithium," "ScoringTrek," "A Tribute to Matt Jefferies," "The Enterprise Lineage," "Captain Picard's Family Album," and "Creating 24th Century Weapons" featurettes, production featurettes, visual effects featurettes, scene deconstruction featurettes, deleted scenes, storyboards production gallery.

Insurrection, Video: 2.35:1. Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround. Extras: commentary by Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis, Westmore's Legacy, "Marina Sirtis: The Counselor Is In," "Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond – Part Three," "Trek Roundtable: Insurrection," "Starfleet Academy: The Origins of the Ba'ku and Son'a Conflict," "Star Trek's Beautiful Alien Women," "Westmore's Aliens," and "Creating the Illusion" featurettes, production featurettes, deleted scenes with intro by Peter Lauritson,  storyboards, photo gallery.

Nemesis, Video: 2.35:1. Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround. Extras: commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda, commentary by Stuart Baird, commentary by Rick Berman, "Reunion with the Rikers," "Today's Tech, Tomorrow's Data," "Robot Hall of Fame," "Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond – Part Four," "Trek Roundtable: Nemesis," "Starfleet Academy: Thalaron Radiation," "A Star Trek Family's Final Journey," "A Bold Vision of The Final Frontier," "The Enterprise-E," and "The Romulan Empire" featurettes, production featurettes, deleted scenes with intro by Rick Berman, storyboards. Studio: Paramount.

 

Not Fade Away

In his feature film directorial debut, David Chase (The Sopranos) tells of a group of friends in Vietnam-era New Jersey who form a rock band and try to make the big time. Douglas (John Magaro), a kid who had grown up in a picturesque post-war American suburb, returns home from college with long hair, Cuban boots, and a whole different way of seeing the world, horrifying his old-fashioned father, Pat (James Gandolfini). Pat hates the cultural changes the decade is bringing - adolescent rebellion, a rising anti-war movement, and rock 'n' roll music - that are beginning to affect everything he holds dear and he intends to fight them, especially in the form of his son.

Meanwhile, Douglas has found his life aspiration in music and inspirations in The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and he and band-mates Eugene (Jack Huston) and Wells (Will Brill) will do whatever it takes to emulate their heroes and become the next big band.

This intergenerational-strife fest capturing the look and feel of an era co-stars Bella Heathcote, Jack Huston, Dominique McElligott, and Brad Garrett.

Video: 1.78:1. Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Extras: 35minute "The Basement Tapes" making-of featurettes, "Building the Band" featurette on the casting of the band members, deleted scenes; UltraViolet digital copy for streaming/downloading and digital copy. Studio: Paramount.

Broken City

Broken City - from Allen Hughes, one of the director-producers-screenwriters twin Hughes brothers (Menace II Society,The Book of Eli, Dead Presidents) and his first solo directing effort - is a tense political-crime (or is that redundant?) thriller.After being involved in a controversial shooting - of the guy who raped and murdered the sixteen-year-old sister of Taggart's girlfriend Natalie Barrow (Natalie Martinez) that effectively kills his career, tough street cop Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) becomes a tough street private investigator. Taggart was spared a prison sentence by the intervention of the city's popular Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) who eliminates the evidence against Taggart.

Seven years later, Hostetler hires a broke Taggart to find out if his wife, Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones), is cheating on him. Helped by his assistant, Katy Bradshaw (Alona Tal), Taggart learns that Cathleen is seeing Paul Andrews (Kyle Chandler), the campaign manager of Hostetler's rival in the upcoming elections. Taggart gives pictures he's taken of Cathleen with Andrews, and shortly afterwards Andrews is found dead.

Taggart realizes that to stay alive, spiritually and physically, he needs to reveal the truth.

Broken City co-starsBarry Pepper and Justin Chambers.

Video: 2.40:1. Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Extras: 5 deleted/extended scenes, alternative ending, "Putting It All Together" behind-the-scenes in-depth documentary; DVD, digital copy, and UltraViolet digital copy for streaming/downloading. Studio: 20th Century Fox.

Strictly Ballroom

Set in the world of championship ballroom dancing,Strictly Ballroom (1992), from director Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge!, Romeo + Juliet) is a romantic comedy that tells of Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio), a champion-caliber dancer. He's grown up with ballroom dance thanks to his parents, Shirley (Pat Thomsen) and Doug (Barry Otto), running a studio. But despite being brought up strictly ballroom, he's willing to break all the rules.

Scott believes in dancing his own steps to his own rhythm, creating an individual, innovative dance style  which upsets the tried traditions of the Australian ballroom dance community.

After his unorthodox style causes his longtime regular partner Liz Holt (Gia Carides) to sashay away to go work with a more reserved partner, Fran Fran (Tara Morice), a plain beginner whose own Spanish family have brought her up to perform the pasodoble, asks star Scott to be his partner for the big, upcoming competition. Together, these two misfits try to win the Australian Pan Pacific Championships and show the Ballroom Confederation that dance steps can't be set in stone.

Strictly Ballroom, co-written by Luhrmann, Andrew Bovell and Craig Pearce, with its over-the-top stagings and characters was a hit with fans and critics worldwide, putting Australian Luhrmann on the international map.

Video: 1.78:1. Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Extras: commentary by Luhrmann, production designer Catherine Martin and choreographer John "Cha Cha" O'Connell, "Strictly Ballroom: From Stage To Screen" and "Samba to Slow Fox Dance" featurettes, deleted scene, design gallery with narration. Studio: Lionsgate.

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