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Reviewed: 'Larry Crowne,' 'Beginners,' 'Bellflower,' 'Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie'

November 13, 2011|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks in "Larry Crowne."
Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks in "Larry Crowne." (MCT, MCT )

Larry Crowne

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

"Larry Crowne" marks Tom Hanks' second outing in the director's chair, and, well, it's a major disappointment. Hanks plays the title character, a valued U-Mart employee who gets fired and has to go back to college to improve his chances of getting another job. There, he meets a cynical speech professor played by Julia Roberts and teaches her to enjoy life. Hanks and co-screenwriter Nia Vardalos have good intentions here, making a warm-hearted movie about second chances in a time of economic uncertainty. But the humor is too broad and corny. Oddly, there are more genuine laughs in the deleted scenes and featurettes on the DVD and Blu-ray, which show Hanks having fun on what must have been a relaxed, happy set.

Beginners

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Writer-director Mike Mills' semi-autobiographical "Beginners" stars Ewan McGregor as Oliver, a graphic artist looking back on his last few years with his father, Hal (Christopher Plummer), who came out as gay in his 70s, just before being diagnosed with cancer. At once funny, sad and true, "Beginners" survives some of Mills' quirkier touches — like subtitling the thoughts of Oliver's dog — because the writer-director keeps pulling back to see the big picture of how people come together and affect each other's lives, however briefly. The DVD and Blu-ray include a Mills commentary and a 15-minute video diary about the making of the film.

Bellflower

Oscilloscope, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99

The strange indie romance "Bellflower" is about two amateur inventors who spend their copious spare time designing homemade flamethrowers, so they'll be ready when the "Mad Max" apocalypse comes. Meanwhile, one of the duo — played by writer-director Evan Glodell — endures a tumultuous relationship that itself feels like the end of the world. Both ugly and beautiful, incoherent and eloquent, "Bellflower" isn't a conventional DIY project by any means, and some may find it too raw. But it is a true original: a grubby '70s-style exploitation flick crossed with a twentysomething slice-of-life. The DVD and Blu-ray add behind-the-scenes footage.

Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie

Docurama, $29.95

The name "Wavy Gravy" conjures up the silly side of the '60s for those with hippie fatigue, and the sweet side for those who romanticize the counterculture. But boosters and naysayers alike likely will learn something from "Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie," Michelle Esrick's documentary about how the man born Hugh Romney became a different kind of activist, looking to change the world while still celebrating life's goofy joys. The movie is straightforward in its approach but inspirational. The DVD expands on Wavy Gravy's story via additional material.

And…

Farscape: The Complete Series

A&E Blu-ray, $199.95

Flypaper

MPI, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Giorgio Moroder Presents Metropolis

Kino, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95

Infernal Affairs

Lionsgate Blu-ray, $19.99

Sigur Rós: Inni

XL Blu-ray, $28.99

White Chapel: The Ripper Returns

BBC Warner, $24.98

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