Last updated: May 08. 2014 11:45AM - 928 Views
Tom Doty Times Columnist

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A minor release week saw the return of a cult TV character and several direct-to-video efforts.

“The Veronica Mars Movie” — The cult series about a teenage sleuth went off the air seven years ago but returns as a film thanks to the fans. The series was known for its arch dialogue and ensemble acting. It focused on a young lady who aids her father in his bid to clear his name by opening a detective agency after he is unfairly dismissed from the sheriff’s department. Here, the characters return to show us how they turned out and solve another mystery, thanks to fan dollars. This flick was fully financed by fans of the show, via an online drive to raise funds. This is good news for those cult shows that left the air too soon. Here’s hoping “Firefly” fans get the message that it can be done.

“China Beach” — The penultimate season of the Vietnam-set series finally arrives on DVD. What kept this show back was the music rights, as the series featured many hit tunes of the early-1970s and late-1960s. The characters continue to toil at a military hospital during the Vietnam war. The standout episodes include a flashback story set in the present, as well as a powerful episode in which a character decides to do the best for a war baby that his conscience won’t let him abandon when he gets orders to go home. Dana Delaney, Jeff Kober, and Michael Boatman star.

“Art of the Steal” — Two brothers, with opposing agendas, plot a museum heist in this entertaining crime drama. The film benefits from a smart script and a well-executed heist sequence but failed to make it to theaters. Too bad, as Kurt Russell and Matt Dillon are just fine as the siblings who have every reason not to trust each other.

“Call Me Crazy” — This comedy/drama consists of five short films written and directed by women. It is a sequel of sorts to a similar effort that focused on cancer. Here, the stories take a look at mental illness and how the perception of the problem affects treatment and attitudes in society. Sounds heavy, but the stories are engaging and mostly avoid preaching. The directors include Laura Dern and Ashley Judd, who turn their cameras towards a topnotch cast that includes Jennifer Hudson, Octavia Spencer and Melissa Leo.

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