This week on home video, we’ve got an acclaimed hip-hop biopic, a thrilling mountain trek, an inspirational sports story, and an underseen indie. After that, we’ve also got a poorly received teen musical, a solid music documentary, and a couple of choice selections from Criterion. Read on for details:


The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015) 95%

This Certified Fresh coming-of-age drama, based on Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel of the same name, stars Bel Powley as a sexually curious 15-year-old in 1976 who begins an affair with her mother’s boyfriend. Bonus features include deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and an LA Film Festival Q&A with Powley, co-star Alexander Skarsgard, and director Marielle Heller.

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Straight Outta Compton (2015) 89%

This Certified Fresh biopic charts the formation, rise, and eventual breakup of one of the most influential 1990s hip-hop groups, N.W.A. — along with all the tension and drama that surrounded them. Special features include interviews with the remaining real-life members of the group about its influence and its music, filming on location in Compton, deleted scenes, and more.

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Everest (2015) 72%

Jake Gyllenhaal and Jason Clarke star in this based-on-true-events survival thriller, which focuses on two expedition groups who simultaneously attempted to summit Mount Everest in 1996, with tragic results. Extras include a making-of doc, a look at cast preparations, interviews with people connected to the expeditions, and more.

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All Things Must Pass (2015) 94%

Colin Hanks directed this documentary, which is exactly what its title suggests: a look at the history of the iconic Tower Records chain. Bonus features include additional interviews and some deleted scenes.

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Woodlawn (2015) 73%

Sean Astin and Jon Voight star in this faith-based inspirational drama, about a real-life football team that came together in the midst of racial tensions in Alabama in 1973. No information on special features is available.

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Jem and the Holograms (2015) 22%

Inspired by the 1980s cartoon of the same name, this truly outrageous musical film follows an unlikely YouTube star who agrees to a record deal in order to help keep her aunt’s house from being auctioned off. Extras include a gag reel, a music video, a look at the big screen adaptation process, and a commentary track.

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12 Monkeys: Season 1 (2015) 60%

Based on Terry Gilliam’s mindbending time travel film of the same name, 12 Monkeys follows a man from the post-apocalyptic future who travels to 2015 in order to stop the plague that would eventually wipe out humanity. The season one set includes deleted scenes from four of the episodes, a gag reel, cast auditions and more.

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Gilda (1946) 90%

And finally, two choices from the Criterion Collection, beginning with Charles Vidor’s noir starring Rita Hayworth in one of her most iconic roles as the titular wife of a wealthy casino owner whose new employee is her old flame. It’s also that movie all the prisoners were giddy about in The Shawshank Redemption. Special features include 2010 interviews with Martin Scorsese and Baz Luhrmann talking about the film, an audio commentary by film critic Richard Schickel, and more.

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Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) 92%

Last up, we have the Coen brothers’ most recent effort, 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis, starring Oscar Isaac and Carey Mulligan in a modest dark comedy about a struggling 1960s singer-songwriter trying desperately to sign a record deal. Extras include conversations between the Coens and Guillermo del Toro and T-Bone Burnett, a feature-length concert doc celebrating the music of the film, a short film by Dan Drasin, and more.

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This week at the movies, we’ve got fairy tale creatures (Strange Magic, with voice performances from Alan Cumming and Evan Rachel Wood), an eccentric adventurer (Mortdecai, starring Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow), and a troubled teacher-student relationship (The Boy Next Door, starring Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman). What do the critics have to say?

Strange Magic

18%

On paper, an animated musical inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream sounds reasonably promising. Unfortunately, critics say Strange Magic could use a whole lot more pixie dust — along with visual inspiration and interesting characters. It’s the story of Marianne (voiced by Evan Rachel Wood), a fairy princess who’s been jilted by her Prince Charming. The cad then discovers a love potion, which sets off a series of battles and daring rescues. The pundits say Strange Magic is oddly charmless, and its few clever ideas are smothered by a plot that’s both patchwork and overly busy.

Mortdecai

12%

What’s the deal with Johnny Depp? With the exception of the animated Rango, the man who was once the biggest star in Hollywood hasn’t had a critically approved starring vehicle since Public Enemies in 2009. The critics say Mortdecai is a stunning misfire, a tonally-jarring would-be caper comedy that reduces its talented cast to broad, goofy caricatures. Depp is Charlie Mortdecai, a mustachioed, anachronistic rogue who’s tasked with recovering a stolen Goya painting; hilarity, in the form of pratfalls and double-entendres, ensues. The pundits say Mortdecai is visually sharp but comically dull; it’s an attempt at satire that seems unsure of what exactly it’s lampooning. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of Johnny Depp’s wildest looks through the years.)

The Boy Next Door

12%

The divide between trashy fun and plain ol’ trash is often razor thin. Critics say The Boy Next Door falls on the wrong side of the line, promising campy thrills that it can’t ultimately deliver. Jennifer Lopez stars as a high school English teacher who’s taking a break from her husband when she has a tryst with a teenager. Naturally, he becomes obsessed and possessive, threatening our heroine’s security and peace of mind. The pundits say The Boy Next Door simmers but never reaches full boil, so its silly dialogue and ludicrous plotting are never quite as entertaining as they could be. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Lopez’s best-reviewed movies, as well as director Rob Cohen’s Five Favorite Films.)

What’s Hot On TV:

Critics say Justified (100 percent) returns to form for its endgame, rebounding with crisp storytelling and colorful characters who never take themselves too seriously.

The critics say the high quality execution and cool characters are top-notch, but the nonsensical time-travel scenarios make 12 Monkeys (54 percent) less watchable than its original source material.

The pundits say the stale cop humor of Backstrom (33 percent) is a cop-out, availed little by the talented cast’s attempt to make the best of its sloppy schtick.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Red Army, a documentary about the legendary Soviet hockey team, is at 100 percent.

  • The Duke Of Burgundy, a drama about an erotic relationship between two entomologists in a lavish country estate, is at 97 percent.

  • Mommy, a drama about a single mother dealing with her difficult teenage son, is Certified Fresh at 91 percent.

  • Salvation Army, a coming-of-age drama about a gay Moroccan teenager dealing with complex family and societal dynamics, is at 83 percent.

  • Killers, a thriller about a serial killer and a vigilante who each record videos of their bloody deeds, is at 83 percent.

  • Black Sea, starring Jude Law and Scoot McNairy in a thriller about a submarine crew searching the deep for rumored treasure, is Certified Fresh at 78 percent.

  • Son of a Gun, starring Ewan McGregor and Brenton Thwaites in a drama about a small-time crook who falls under the influence of a seasoned criminal, is at 59 percent.

  • The Humbling, starring Al Pacino and Greta Gerwig in a drama about an emotionally fragile actor who is rejuvinated by a much younger woman, is at 56 percent.

  • Cake, starring Jennifer Aniston and Anna Kendrick in a drama about a woman suffering from chronic physical and emotional pain, is at 38 percent.

  • Song One, starring Anne Hathaway and Mary Steenburgen in a drama about aspiring New York City folkies, is at 37 percent.

  • Manny, a documentary about the champion prizefighter and politician Manny Pacquiao, is at 25 percent.

  • We’ll Never Have Paris, starring Melanie Lynskey and Simon Helberg in a romantic comedy about a passive guy who chases the ex he dumped when she relocates to the City of Lights, is at 20 percent.

  • Americons, a drama about the rise and fall of a shady real estate investment firm, is at 17 percent.

Just in time for the series premiere, Rotten Tomatoes got to ask the stars of the new SyFy series 12 Monkeys about their show, the original film(s), and their own theories on time travel. Amanda Schull plays Dr. Cassandra Railly, originally portrayed by Madelaine Stowe in the 1995 film, and Aaron Stanford plays James Cole, Bruce Willis’ time-traveling character, on a mission to prevent a future pandemic. So read on while there’s still time. And if you don’t have the time, you just may be able to travel back and give yourself more.


1. How does the new series differ from the 1995 film 12 Monkeys?

Having seen the first two episodes, we can attest that the tone of the series respects that of the film and, as Amanda Schull puts it, “It’s got the same sort of original kernel but it’s its own entity.” What fans may not be aware of, though, is that the 1995 film was based on another film, a 1962 foreign short called La Jetée by Chris Marker. Aaron Stanford said, “It was a small bite-sized chunk and then [the film] 12 Monkeys took that and they expanded it and made it their own and now what we’ve done is the same thing.”

While the world of the film did not permit significant changes during time travel, it needed to be modified to accommodate the series. In the film, time was essentially fixed so that events could not be altered. James Cole was enlisted only to observe and deliver information. “That holds with the current theory of time travel that comes from Einstein’s theory of relativity, that you can travel through time but you cannot change it,” explained Stanford. “So, for the series … in order to tell the kind of story they wanted to tell, they needed there to be the possibility of change. So they sort of went a different route and there are alternate theories of time travel that do allow things to be altered and changed and that’s quantum theory. So, the movie goes with relative theory and the TV show goes with the quantum theory.”

Stanford respected Bruce Willis’ performance in the original film version and wanted to borrow from that. He described James Cole’s experience of our world in the film version as being “very similar to that of a newborn; he’s experiencing everything for the very first time” and he chose to bring that sensibility to his own rendering of the character. But Schull wanted her performance to stand alone and chose to avoid re-watching the film prior to shooting: “I didn’t want Madeleine [Stowe’s] performance to affect my performance because we’re different characters and I don’t think I could ever do her performance. She’s brilliant you know?”


2. How do the actors approach the show’s time-traveling themes?

Both actors admit that the timelines can grow confusing as they unravel within a time-travel plot, particularly having to work with multiple versions of one’s self. But research and a production team on-hand devoted to keeping each timeline coherent help to keep them grounded.

While doing research for the series, Aaron Stanford discovered the real-world possibilities of time travel. “It’s mathematically possible,” he said “which was not something I was aware of. I thought it was entirely a flight of fancy and fiction … It’s just a matter of having the technology and the resources to do it.” Schull recounted how, during an early hair and makeup test, Stanford had brought a carry-on suitcase with about six books on the topic of time travel. “He thought he was going to somehow read [them] all in one evening and be able to totally understand time travel by the time we started,” she told us, to which Stanford laughed, “I didn’t really think that one through.” With his new-found theory of real time travel, though, maybe Stanford will still have a chance to go back and finish those books before production begins!

If given the chance to go anywhere in time and make changes, Stanford would not opt to travel into the past: “I mean do you really want to give up hot showers? Do you want to give up indoor plumbing?” He said he would consider going back to offer his younger self more experienced life advice, but Schull warned, “That would totally change what you would be like going forward.” When asked what she might want to change about the past, Schull quipped, “There are probably some people whose numbers I would delete a lot faster than I did.”


3. What was the casting process like?

Stanford said casting processes can be confusing because the producers are seeking the perfect chemistry between their stars. Schull recalled that she had received the script before Stanford had: “I did go into the hopper before Aaron did, but I think it wasn’t until Aaron and I had a chemistry read together that they finalized their casting.”

Stanford felt it was a challenge, “There was a lot of improv and [Amanda] came 100 percent prepared and ready and it was extraordinarily helpful.”


4. So how did the two create their onscreen chemistry?

“Well, Amanda couldn’t stand me at first,” Stanford joked. “Despised me in fact. And it was a long period of having to win her over. That’s what [has] bled over into our characters.” Since the actors don’t always know the whole storyline from the get-go, the chemistry revealed itself gradually on set. Schull thought a lot of what translates to onscreen chemistry is how the actors treat each other and the material, “[Aaron] shows at the set very prepared and he gives you 110 percent for every single scene, for every single page … It’s nice working with someone who gives you as much as you give them.”


Whether you’re a fan of the 1995 film or just a sci-fi enthusiast in general, there is much to look forward to in this time-changing 12 Monkeys universe. Amanda Schull and Aaron Stanford hope their characters’ journeys are long and exciting ones, and so do we!

12 Monkeys airs tonight, Friday, Jan. 16, on SyFy 9 p.m. Will you be watching?


SyFy unveiled a new extended trailer for its original series, 12 Monkeys, based on the 1995 film by Terry Gilliam. Take a look:

12 Monkeys explores the story of a time traveler journeying from 2043 to the present day on a mission to locate and eradicate the source of a deadly plague that will all but annihilate the human race. Aaron Stanford (as time-traveler Cole), Amanda Schull (Dr. Cassandra Railly), Kirk Acevedo (Ramse), Barbara Sukowa (Jones) and Noah Bean (Aaron Marker) star.

12 Monkeys will premiere on Friday, January 16 at 9 pm ET/PT on SyFy. Will you be watching?

Gossip-lovers are already well aware of the relationship between Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, but since I couldn’t care less about what movie stars do in their private lives, I’ll just offer you the trailer to the pair’s new movie, a romantic comedy called "The Break Up."

Aniston and Vaughn play a couple going through a bitter divorce who are forced to live together without killing each other.

Directed by Peyton Reed ("Bring It On," "Down With Love") and written by Jay Lavender & Jeremy Garelick, "The Break Up" also features Jason Bateman, Cole Hauser, Vincent D’Onofrio, Justin Long, John Michael Higgins, Peter Billingsley, Joey Lauren Adams, and Jon Favreau.

Universal’s "The Break Up" hits theaters on February 17th.

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