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4 New Releases for Summer Viewing - by Diane McCurdy


DVD Reviews by Diane McCurdy 

4 New Releases for Summer Viewing 

by Diane McCurdy

A remarkable true story with strong performances can’t quite give Woman in Gold the punch it strives to attain. A role perfectly cut out for Helen Mirren is that of Maria Altman, an eccentric, Jewish lady who becomes obsessed with trying to legally lay claim to the famous painting by Gustav Klimt that the Nazi’s had confiscated from her family years ago in Vienna. The woman in the portrait is actually Maria’s aunt. An untested young lawyer, the son of a friend, Ryan Reynolds, becomes Maria’s champion. Flashbacks in sepia tone flesh out Maria’s difficulties during the German occupation. With dynamite material like this one would expect a script with more energy.

Once in a blue moon a sequel will equal the original from which it sprang. This is not that time. Even though The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is expertly carried through by Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and crew, this time including Richard Gere, it still cannot recapture the charm and delight of the first Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. What is enjoyable are the flamboyant Bollywood conventions, the obvious chemistry that exists amongst cast members and the rainbow fantasy backdrop from which the action is generated. Otherwise, it is just a geriatric soap opera.



In Ex Machina, the special effects are not bombastic they are slippery, surreal and superb. The story, though sophisticated and complex, is slow and dreamy, a lingering examination of artificial intelligence. The machina in question is Ava who proves to be not only cognizant but manipulative as well. Most critics swooned over this one, but I found it to be a soporific.

The Water Diviner

The Water Diviner is Russell Crowe’s directorial debut. He stars as a grizzled Australian who seeks out springs beneath the parched earth of his homeland. Due to the loss of her three sons in the Battle of Gallipoli, his wife has gone mad and eventually commits suicide. Russell decides to go to Turkey to seek out the graves of his boys in order to bring back their remains to bury them in their native soil. He has become, in essence, another kind of diviner. Finally, this is a film I could recommend heartily, good cinematography, good acting and a really strong narrative.