‘Burt Wonderstone,’ ‘The Call’ new on DVD

From Beacon Journal wire services

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Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) in TriStar Pictures thriller The Call. (Greg Gayne)

New and recent releases on home video:

The Call: A 911 operator (Cleveland native Halle Berry) takes a call from a teen who has just been abducted.

If the cell service for The Call had run out after 60 minutes, the new film from director Brad Anderson would have been an edge-of-your seat thriller about the operator’s valiant efforts to save a kidnapped young girl. Sadly, it continues and the last third of the movie is where it turns into a complete wrong number.

It’s as if script writers Richard D’Ovidio, Nicole D’Ovidio and Jon Bokenkamp became completely disconnected with reality as they tried to come up with an ending.

— Fresno Bee

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: Comedy — like magic — has to be performed quickly, cleanly and with enough intelligence that it makes the improbable entertaining. Fail to do this, and the comedic illusions lead to disillusions.

This film fails on all three counts. There are a few funny moments in this story of a Las Vegas magician (Steve Carell) who loses his magical touch, but the pacing is too slow, the performances too uneven and the writing too juvenile to make this a bewitching comedy.

Don Scardino, a veteran TV director, should have kept his actors in line and not let their flights of fancy become such big distractions. He also has trouble getting the movie started: The introduction of the movie’s central magic buddies takes forever. Then, the transformation of Wonderstone from self-absorbed jerk to caring person comes so quickly that it feels painfully forced.

Buried under all the comedy misdirection and emotional sleight of hand is the potential for a good movie. It’s a potential that’s never fulfilled.

— Fresno Bee

CSI: NY: Ninth Season: The final season of the CBS procedural cop show includes 17 episodes, plus behind-the-scenes features and cast interviews.

Story lines in the final season feature a serial killer who bases his victims on the board game Clue. It was these kinds of stories that allowed the series to go out in style, with stars Gary Sinise, Sela Ward, Carmine Giovinazzo and Eddie Cahill solving interesting crimes to the bitter end.

The show was the darkest of the three CSI series, which made it stand out. It also worth a look to see Sinise, who provided a strong acting core for the series.

— Fresno Bee

No: Rene, a Chilean advertising executive (Gael Garci­a Bernal), is enlisted by forces opposed to the Pinochet dictatorship to build public support for a referendum that would peacefully bring down the government. Pablo Larrai­n directed. “Rene may be vaguely interested in selling the country on life without Pinochet, but what reels him in is the challenge of pitching a superior product,” Manohla Dargis wrote in the New York Times in February.

— New York Times

Stoker: This is a visual treat from the creative opening credits to the colorful splendor of nature that’s almost blinding. Director Park Chan-wook embraces texture, shapes and colors with such exuberance that each scene is a celebration of the visual. It’s almost brilliant enough to distract from a plot that has some very dark problems.

Mia Wasikowska turns in a creepy performance as India, a young woman who just turned 18 and has lived an emotionally confined life. That world gets even smaller and darker when her father dies in an automobile accident. The arrival of Charles Stoker (Matthew Goode), an uncle she never knew existed, could be the spark she needs to come out of her emotional cocoon.

The film’s big question is whether she will emerge as a beautiful butterfly or killer moth.

The script by Wentworth Miller, best known as the star of Fox TV series Prison Break, delves deep into these questions: Are we predestined to be the people we become? Does our family or the environment shape the way we become? These deep questions can’t be perfectly answered in the 98-minute running time and that forces the film to make large leaps that leave points in its dust.

— Fresno Bee

Upside Down: Argentine director Juan Solanas (The Man Without a Head) offers a science-fiction romance between residents of two different worlds: A woman (Kirsten Dunst) who lives in the seemingly normal world of Up Top, and a man (Jim Sturgess) who resides in Down Below, where everyone appears to live upside-down.

— New York Times


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