To the Wonder
Available on VOD beginning April 12
Early buzz on Terence Malick's film pegged it as a muddled rehash of the director's crazily ambitious "The Tree of Life," but that's not entirely accurate. Some of Malick's trademarks have become overfamiliar — such as the abundant shots of swaying grass and the elliptical, poetic narration — but "To the Wonder" is a beautiful and rewarding film and not that oblique. Olga Kurylenko plays a single mom who falls in love with an environmental scientist (played by Ben Affleck), then moves to his Oklahoma home with her daughter. When the couple struggles, they turn to a priest (Javier Bardem), who himself is feeling beaten down. This is a movie about people seeking some spiritual connection and finding it only fleetingly. Malick captures it all by casting his eye on suburban tract homes and Sonic Drive-Ins, finding some spark of the divine even there, for those willing to look past the thrumming power lines and industrial waste.
Hyde Park on Hudson
Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98
Available on VOD beginning April 9
The same "humanizing a world leader" idea that led to the Oscar-winning "King's Speech" takes a turn for the ridiculous with this middlebrow drama that uses one of the most famous state visits in American history as a backdrop for a mildly scandalous romance. Bill Murray plays President Franklin D.Roosevelt, and Laura Linney plays his distant cousin Daisy Suckley, with whom the president has been rumored to have had an affair. The movie is set during the summit between FDR and King George VI in 1939, which set in motion the United States' eventual involvement in the European theater of World War II. But any insights that director Roger Michell and screenwriter Richard Nelson have into U.S./British relations in the 1930s get swamped by furtive glances and soap opera. The "Hyde Park" DVD and Blu-ray add deleted scenes, featurettes and a Michell commentary.