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Home movies

By Philip Martin

This article was published November 2, 2012 at 2:00 a.m.

— Some recent DVD releases:

Americano

(Not rated, 90 minutes) - This is the debut feature of actor Mathieu Demy, the son of eminent filmmakers Jacques Demy and Agnes Varda, and it might be best read as a not exactly homage to his parents. In it Demy plays a French real estate agent named Martin who travels to Southern California to settle his late mother’s estate. When he arrives, he is instantly flooded by memories of his childhood in Los Angeles. (These flashbacks are composed of repurposed scenes from Demy’s mother’s 1981 quasi-documentary Documenteur - which starred an 8-year-old Demy.) Yet while the device is intriguing on a number of levels, it’s the only really interesting thing about the movie - Martin is a callow idiot of a character, and we soon come to understand why his mother may have preferred surrogate daughter Lola (Salma Hayek), a wearisome Tijuana sex worker who speaks in cliches. (The name Lola is significant in that it echoes Demy’s father’s first film, Lola [1961], that starred Anouk Aimee as the titular cabaret performer. And may have given Ray Davies an idea.)

Grade: 83

The Campaign

(R, 85 minutes) - Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis play dumb North Carolina congressional rivals with predictable results. Galifianakis wins, but we really wish we’d had a real choice. A few funny moments denatured by Jay Roach’s predictably uneven pacing. But that’s what happens when you try to stretch 20 minutes of material into a full-length feature.

Grade: 78

Ruby Sparks

(R, 104 minutes) - Zoe Kazan is the granddaughter of Elia Kazan and a welcome screen presence. What she is not, at least not so far, is a writer with any real ballast. That’s all right; this film shares with her earlier effort The Exploding Girl a refreshing lack of the usual rom-com conventions and it finally and fatally defaults to a different kind of obviousness. It’s not nearly as meta - or as smart - as it seems to think. Still, it’s breezy and it features people (Paul Dano co-stars) who are attractive in believable ways. While I wouldn’t call it a triumph, I would allow it’s a good start.

Grade: 82

Safety Not Guaranteed

(R, 86 minutes) - Sporadically charming, odd Sundance favorite about “cynical” reporters for an alternative newspaper investigating a classified ad looking for a partner for time travel. Inspired by a true story. Pleasant, if forgettable.

Grade: 85

E-mail:

pmartin@arkansasonline.com

More DVD reviews at

blooddirtangels.com

MovieStyle, Pages 37 on 11/02/2012

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