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Movie Reviews: Steve Jobs movie gets to the core of Apple’s founder

Starting this week

Steve Jobs

Talent abounds in director Danny Boyle’s (“Slumdog Millionaire”) extremely smart portrait of the technology visionary and Apple co-founder and CEO, an extremely evident example being Michael Fassbender in a superb portrayal that reflects the complex personality that Jobs embodied. Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay zeroes in on several key points in the subject’s life and career, with Kate Winslet playing Apple’s marketing executive – and an ear for Jobs. Seth Rogen (as Steve Wozniak), Jeff Daniels (who won an Emmy for working with Sorkin’s writing on “The Newsroom”), Michael Stuhlbarg and Katherine Waterston also star, but the Fassbender acting is key to making the movie work. And work, it does … quite brilliantly. DVD extras: “making-of” documentary”; audio commentary by Boyle, Sorkin and editor Elliot Graham. **** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Black Mass

Johnny Depp’s riveting portrayal of longtime Boston underworld figure James “Whitey” Bulger anchors director Scott Cooper’s drama, detailing the gangster’s role as an informant for an FBI agent and childhood friend (Joel Edgerton) – which largely gave Bulger the license to do as he wished, often quite violently. Among others in the fine cast are Benedict Cumberbatch as Bulger’s politician brother, as well as Rory Cochrane, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons (“Fargo”), Peter Sarsgaard, Dakota Johnson (“Fifty Shades of Grey”), Julianne Nicholson and Corey Stoll – but the picture absolutely belongs to Depp and his total commitment to his performance. DVD extra: “making-of” documentary. *** (R: AS, P, GV) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

The 33

An impressive acting ensemble re-creates a true-life crisis in this drama, about the desperate 2010 effort to rescue nearly three dozen workers trapped by a mine collapse in Chile. Though time was of the essence, given the steadily depleting resources and oxygen, the mission ultimately took just over two months – generating great tension for loved ones waiting above, and most certainly for those far beneath the surface. The cast includes Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, Lou Diamond Phillips, Gabriel Byrne and “NCIS” alum Cote de Pablo. DVD extras: theatrical trailer; “making-of” documentary. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Togetherness: The Complete First Season

It took a while to be televised, but the wait for this seriocomic HBO series proved to be worth it, thanks to incisive writing and excellent work by the four lead actors. Mark Duplass – who created the show with his brother Jay and fellow star Steve Zissis – and Melanie Lynskey play a couple who take in the wife’s loose-cannon sister (a very entertaining Amanda Peet) and the husband’s best friend (Zissis). The result often is a little too much togetherness for all concerned as they go on their respective journeys of personal rediscovery. The show’s second season premieres Feb. 21 on HBO. DVD extras: deleted scenes; interview with Peet and Zissis. *** (Not rated: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray)

The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series

For those who hold a place called Mayberry in their hearts, this set – amounting to just under 250 episodes – clearly is a must. Griffith plays Sheriff Andy Taylor in the gentle CBS sitcom, which reteamed him with earlier stage comrade Don Knotts, a winner of multiple Emmy Awards as high-strung Deputy Barney Fife … and it also started the career of a young actor who would grow up to be an Oscar-winning producer-director, Ron Howard, alias the show’s Opie. Among others notable in the regular cast: Frances Bavier as Aunt Bee; Jim Nabors as gas-station attendant Gomer Pyle, who would get his own spinoff series, and George Lindsey as Gomer’s cousin Goober; barber Floyd (Howard McNear); and the perpetually intoxicated Otis Campbell (Hal Smith). The show was filmed in black-and-white for its first five seasons, then was in color for its final three. *** (Not rated)

Saints & Strangers

This National Geographic Channel drama of the Pilgrims’ voyage to – and arrival in – America couldn’t have been better-timed for its television debut last fall, since it ran during the week of Thanksgiving. The group divided into different factions, one principally concerned about securing their religious freedom, and the other focused on potential economic prosperity. Native Americans greet them warily, but the newcomers also might face treachery from within their own ranks. Cast members include Ron Livingston, Vincent Kartheiser (“Mad Men”), Anna Camp (“Pitch Perfect”), Ray Stevenson and Natascha McElhone (“Californication”). DVD extras: deleted scenes. *** (Not rated: AS, V)

Coming soon

Fargo: Year Two (Feb. 23)

A young couple (Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons) is caught up in larceny in the FX series’ sophomore round; Patrick Wilson and Ted Danson also star. (Not rated: AS, P, V)

Secret in their Eyes (Feb. 23)

Years after her daughter’s murder, a sleuth (Julia Roberts) is stunned by new information about the crime; Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor also star. (PG-13: AS, P, V)

Room (March 1)

A woman and her young son (Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay) are confined to a single room by a captor in this much-acclaimed drama. (R: AS, P)

Open Season: Scared Silly (March 8)

The supposed presence of a werewolf puts the residents of a forest – human and otherwise – on edge in this animated, direct-to-video sequel. (Not rated)

The Peanuts Movie (March 8)

Snoopy goes after the Red Baron again, while Charlie Brown deals with another affair of the heart, in this computer-animated feature. (G)

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)


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