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Movie reviews: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara melt hearts in poetic period drama ‘Carol’

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By Jay Bobbin

Starting this week

Carol

Widely acclaimed, Oscar-nominated performances by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara fuel director Todd Haynes’ (“Far From Heaven”) compelling version of Patricia Highsmith’s novel “The Price of Salt,” focusing on the early-1950s relationship of a novice photographer (Mara) and the Carol of the title (Blanchett), a woman whose marriage is coming apart. Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights”) plays Carol’s husband, who threatens to use her homosexuality in lobbying for custody of their child, and Sarah Paulson (“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”) plays a friend of the Mara character who has her own connection to Carol. Screenwriter Phyllis Nagy also earned an Academy Award nomination. **** (R: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Concussion

In the true story of a forensic pathologist who linked pro football’s necessary roughness to brain damage in some players, Will Smith gives an involving performance that forces him to downplay many of his familiar screen “tricks.” The stakes rise for his alter ego, Dr. Bennet Omalu, as National Football League executives reject the findings he’s determined with the help his coroner boss (Albert Brooks) and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ team doctor (Alec Baldwin). Guga Mbatha-Raw plays Omalu’s wife in a fine cast that also includes David Morse, Eddie Marsan (“Ray Donovan”), Hill Harper, Paul Reiser, Luke Wilson and Stephen Moyer (“True Blood”) … but the show here always is predominantly Smith’s. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Sisters

“Baby Mama” co-stars, “Saturday Night Live” veterans, and past Golden Globe Awards hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are together again in this bawdy and often genuinely funny comedy, playing siblings who decide to stage a massive party at their former home. The place is about to be sold, and as the sisters do a necessary cleanout of their old bedroom, they also host a wild bash that will be hard for anyone to forget. Fey and Poehler also were producers on the film, which features several other talents with “SNL” ties – Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch and Kate McKinnon – as well as John Cena, John Leguizamo and current “Life in Pieces” co-stars James Brolin and Dianne Wiest. DVD extras: audio commentary by Fey, Poehler, director Jason Moore and writer Paula Pell; deleted and extended scenes; outtakes; “Improvorama.” *** (R and unrated versions: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

The classic cartoon trio (voiced again by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney) returns in computer-animated form and hits the road for Miami to stop pal David Seville (Jason Lee), who apparently is on the verge of proposing to his girlfriend (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) – whose son (Josh Green) is relentlessly mean to the Chipmunks, prompting them to try to thwart Seville’s plans. Tony Hale (“Veep”) and Bella Thorne also appear, and Christina Applegate, Anna Faris and Kaley Cuoco also are in the voice cast as Chipettes. *** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season

The hugely popular HBO drama series based on George R.R. Martin novels continues its home-video releases, with a season that set a record by winning half of the 24 Emmys it was nominated for. A revolt by the so-called “Sons of the Harpy” prompts Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) to take drastic action – and to take Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) as her counsel. The fate of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) became a major question, and major controversy, in this round of the show. Other continuing stars include Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Aidan Gillen, Charles Dance and Natalie Dormer. Season 6 starts its television run April 24. DVD extras: four “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by cast and crew members; deleted scenes. *** (Not rated: AS, N, P, GV) (Also on Blu-ray)

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

The late Apple Computer co-founder and CEO has been the subject of several movie dramas, but this documentary by Oscar winner Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side”) shows Jobs himself in the course of a profile that isn`t always flattering. Many of the controversies that plagued Jobs and the firm he poured everything he had into are considered, but on the upside, the film stresses how his values remain those by which the firm continues to operate today. Several of Jobs’ Apple colleagues discuss their dealings with him. DVD extras: theatrical trailer; deleted scenes; interview with Gibney. *** (R: P) (Also on Blu-ray)

Coming soon

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (March 22)

The movie franchise concludes as Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) targets her society’s leader … who’s also targeting her. (PG-13: AS, P, V)

Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series (March 22)

The cult-classic show, about a Detroit high school circa 1980, makes its Blu-ray debut and features Seth Rogen and James Franco. (Not rated: AS, P)

Exposed (March 29)

Keanu Reeves plays a New York police detective whose probe of his partner’s death comes to involve a troubled woman (Ana de Armas). (R: AS, P, V)

Jackie Robinson (April 12)

The same week it debuts on PBS, Ken Burns’ profile of the baseball and civil-rights icon (voiced in some sequences by Jamie Foxx) comes to home video. (Not rated)

Lou Grant: The Complete First Season (May 3)

Edward Asner carried his “Mary Tyler Moore Show” character into this drama series, which made Grant a Los Angeles newspaper editor. (Not rated: AS, P)

Cop Rock: The Complete Series (May 17)

Producer Steven Bochco’s cult-classic musical-drama series comes to DVD; stars include Ronny Cox and Anne Bobby. (Not rated: AS, P, V)


FAMILY-VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.
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