New on DVD

2014-01-09T00:00:00Z 2015-01-07T14:27:17Z New on DVDThe Washington Post Arizona Daily Star
January 09, 2014 12:00 am  • 

“Thanks for Sharing” (R, 100 minutes, Lionsgate): This dramedy about sex addicts by first-time director Stuart Blumberg walks the same fine line between laughter and tears as “The Kids Are All Right,” which Blumberg wrote with director Lisa Cholodenko. Like that 2010 film, which concerned the reunion of a lesbian couple and their teenage children’s sperm donor, “Sharing” deals with all relationships.

Those relationships may be messy, and the circumstances of the story’s protagonists might be extreme, but the emotional truths at the heart of the tale are universal. It’s surprisingly wise, funny and affecting, thanks in part to a sensitive script, and in part to a strong ensemble cast. The action centers on several members of a 12-step group. Mike (Tim Robbins) is the wise elder: a man who’s 15 years “sober” in the parlance of sex-addiction recovery. Joely Richardson plays his saintly wife, Katie. Mike, the battle-scarred veteran, is quick with the profound, self-help-themed one-liner: “Feelings are like children,” he cracks. “You don’t want them driving the car, but you don’t want to stuff them in the trunk, either.”

At the other extreme is Neil (Josh Gad), a young, porn-and-food-obsessed doctor who has just been fired from the hospital for trying to videotape up his female supervisor’s skirt. He’s attending the 12-step program only as a condition of a legal settlement. “It’s not funny anymore,” he laments to the group, in a telling comment that’s both a measure of his level of denial and an indication of the film’s willingness to admit that, yes, some of this is kind of hard not to snicker at. The mostly male group, of course, titters at this remark, and then, like the film, gets serious.

“Closed Circuit”

(R, 96 minutes, Universal): With its thematic concerns of surveillance, privacy, global terrorism and due process, this contemporary thriller should crackle and pop with topical relevance. But somehow the film, set in London after a Sept. 11-type attack, captures the driest legalisms of the issues it engages with no genuine energy or verve. “Closed Circuit” gets off to a promising start, in an opening sequence ingeniously structured around multiplying images from closed-circuit television cameras. Fast-forward six months: An attorney named Martin Rose (Eric Bana) and a special advocate named Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall) set about defending the man accused of bombing a popular London shopping area. One twist is that, as the only lawyer with access to classified evidence and testimony, Claudia can’t share her evidence with Martin, so the two are forced into a game of cat-and-mouse in which they’re on the same side. Their relationship is even more complicated by what can be politely called emotional baggage. Both screenwriter Steven Knight (“Dirty Pretty Things” and “Eastern Promises”) and director John Crowley (“Intermission,” “Boy A”) have done much better work in the past.

”I’m So Excited” (R, 95 minutes, in Spanish with subtitles, Sony): Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar’s strange and confounding new sex farce plays like a recruitment video for the Mile High Club produced by the team behind “Airplane!” Despite its plentiful and playful sexuality, this dose of Spanish fly is anything but exciting, or even very funny. Set mostly in the first-class section of an airliner en route from Spain to Mexico, the film consists of an alternating series of random conversations and random sexual couplings among a rogue’s gallery of would-be colorful characters. Unfortunately, none of them is the least bit interesting.

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