“Silver Linings Playbook”: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in David O. Russell’s psychiatric dramedy. Cooper is a former school teacher recently returned from an extended stay in mental institution and Lawrence is an unstable young woman who is still recovering from a painful tragedy. Beneath a patina of handheld camerawork and hyperventilating performances, “Playbook” is standard issue Oscar bait with a board audience pleasing storyline and a big Disney movie fake out ending. Cooper shows heretofore unseen depth and Lawrence is good in a child star sort of way but there’s a core of falseness to this film that overpowers its careful manipulations. Russell used to make strange, small movies that meant something and now he doesn’t. Also starring Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, deleted scenes, and five featurettes on of which is subtitled The Movie That Became A Movement.
“Broken City”: Mark Wahlberg stars as an ex-cop drawn into the web of the Mayor of New York City (Russell Crowe). Wahlberg is good when playing stupid or terrifying but is too bland to work in straight ahead dramatic roles. That’s the biggest problem with this film but hardly the only one. It has a needlessly convoluted plot designed to hide how generic it is and its toothless enough to pass as a CBS drama. And I’m not sure what happened, but sometime after “Cinderella Man,” Crowe stopped trying and with this film and “Les Misérables” he seems to have hit a new benchmark of apathy. I’d be hopeful about his future but his next film is Zach Snyder’s “Man of Steel.” Also starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright and Barry Pepper.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, three featurettes, deleted scenes and an alternate ending.
“The Guilt Trip”: Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand star as a mother and son on a road trip, ostensibly to promote his new invention. It’s always a bit dismissive to break a film down to a silly “this meets that” paradigm but this movie is “Meet the Parents” meets “Seth Rogen improvs a lot.” Streisand is Streisand and Rogen can be very funny in a mixed bag sort of way but it’d be nice if he could get back to the acting he demonstrated in “Observe & Report.” If he stays on the path he’s on, he’s going end up fighting Andy Samberg for Adam Sandler’s legacy. Also starring Brett Cullen, Adam Scott and Ari Graynor.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, gag reel, deleted scenes, alternate openings and endings and featurettes.
“Not Fade Away”: A small town garage band tries to make it big in 1960’s New Jersey. The film is “Sopranos” creator David Chase’s first work since the ending of his landmark Television series. While an obvious departure from his existential crime, the film does evidence Chase’s fascination with ‘60s pop culture and impeccable visual sensibility. It’s a bit too musty in tone to really convey the youthful energy of the time but it’s a promising first film. Starring John Magaro, Jack Huston and James Gandolfini.
Special features: Deleted scenes and two featurettes.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org