Rental Central

Tom Doty Times Columnist

January 24, 2014

Renters had nothing but good choices this week from a variety of film genres, as 2014 continues to offer top notch entertainment.

“Captain Phillips” — Incredible and true story of the titular boat officer who must endure a severe trial when his ship is boarded by four Somali pirates. Tom Hanks does a fine job as the beleaguered officer. The story gets a boost from the frenzied camerawork of director Paul Greengrass. He used the same technique in “United 93” and it serves the film well.

“Blue Jasmine” — A woman moves in with her sister after her husband is jailed for fraud, in this well acted character study from Woody Allen. Cate Blanchett is very good as a Park Avenue wife who never had to lift a finger until she moves in with her sister and her two children, in San Francisco. There, she tries to reinvent herself while causing a fair amount of ruckus in her new home. There are shades of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in the story, and it doesn’t hurt that Alec Baldwin (who starred in a remake of that show at the height of his popularity) is cast as the sister’s ex-husband. Allen’s best film in years.

“Machete Kills” — If you want low-brow action, then prepare to get hammered senseless by this loud and crude sequel to a film (“Machete”) that started as a fake trailer in “Grindhouse.” Machete is back and hired by the president (Charlie Sheen) to take down a terrorist with a nuclear agenda (played with maniacal energy by Mel Gibson). Lots of stuff blows up and the cast is more than happy to get dirty while playing along. Robert Rodriguez does a fine job of making this feel like a comic book.

“Never Sleep Again” — This week’s real surprise is a documentary on the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films. The movie takes a wide glance at the series and its impact on our culture (most grammar school kids know who Freddy Krueger is, even if they can’t find Portugal on a map). Interviews with all of the players, as well as examinations of the TV series as well as the comic spinoffs and novels make this four-hour epic worth a look, though not in one sitting.