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'THE CONJURING'  (3 stars)

"The Conjuring" was drawn from the real-life case files of married demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren -- played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga -- who lend a gravitas to the proceedings about a family hectored and haunted from the first night in their Rhode Island farmhouse in the early 1970s.

Big-rig driver Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) and their five daughters ages 8 to 18 pull up in their station wagon, and, despite the family dog's refusal to enter the premises and the immediate discovery of a concealed cobwebby cellar, the mom utters those fateful words: "It's gonna be great, isn't it?"

There is no honeymoon period here as Carolyn develops bruises for no apparent reason, the girls report funky smells in the bedrooms and the clocks all stop at 3:07. That's nothing compared with what's to come, from a girl being dragged across the floor by her hair to the levitation of a chair -- and the person in it -- which is then spun upside down.

It's a job for the Warrens, paranormal investigators who meet their macabre match.

"The Conjuring" reunites director James Wan ("Saw") and CMU grad Wilson, who teamed on "Insidious."

"The Conjuring" is not exactly "The Exorcist," still the scariest movie ever, but it gets the jittery job done. Its 1970s setting means no modern ghost-hunting tools, and its low or modest budget seems apparent, but that gives it an old-fashioned vibe. It may not give you nightmares, but it should produce a gasp or two and plenty of chills.

The DVD extra is a "Scaring the "$*% Out of You" featurette, and the Blu-ray adds "Face-to-Face With Terror" and "A Life in Demonology" featurettes.

Rated R for sequences of disturbing violence and terror.

-- Post-Gazette

 

'The Internship' (3 stars)

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson apply their "Wedding Crashers" charm to this comedy about suddenly unemployed salesmen who wind up as interns at Google.

What looks like a workplace paradise -- a very cool California campus, free coffee and food, volleyball court outside, nap pods inside -- proves to be a cutthroat atmosphere as summer interns are split into teams and pitted against one another, with the winning group promised jobs.

It's like a "mental 'Hunger Games,' " Nick (Owen Wilson) says, as the pair end up on a squad with the interns no one wanted. "The Internship" tracks their team -- including an anxious home-schooler, another who spends most of his time staring at his phone and a woman who is brilliant but boyfriend-less -- as they tackle geeky challenges and try to prove their "Googliness."

Directed by Shawn Levy ("Real Steel," "Date Night") and co-written by Mr. Vaughn, "The Internship" is lightweight summer entertainment that turns on the leads' comfort and comic chemistry.

Extras include commentary with Mr. Levy and "Any Given Monday" featurette.

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language.

-- Post-Gazette

'The Way, Way Back'  (3-1/2 stars)

Steve Carell and Toni Collette team up in "The Way, Way Back," a coming-of-age summer cocktail that's a perfect blend of poignant drama and comedy.

Mr. Carell plays Trent, overbearing boyfriend of Pam (Ms. Collette) and potential stepfather to 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James). They take a summer beach vacation that looks to be a nightmare for Duncan. He is an outsider, hunched over on the sand in his jeans, plaid shirt and sneakers while everyone splashes in the water.

But the introverted teen finds an unlikely refuge at the nearby water park where wisecracking manager Owen (Sam Rockwell) recognizes something of himself in Duncan and takes a friendly or big brotherly interest in him.

While Pam, Trent and visiting pals (Amanda Peet and Rob Corddry) act like adults on spring break, Duncan secretly takes a job at the water park and flourishes. He dons swim trunks, ogles some girls in bikinis, gains some confidence and has fun with people who constitute a wacky makeshift family.

Adolescent and adult angst bobs to the surface early and often, along with fun, the power that comes with standing up for yourself or someone you love, and mastering the twists and turns of life and the Devil's Peak water slide.

Extras include deleted scenes, a water park "tour," at look at filmmakers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash and an "Ensemble" featurette. Also, on Blu-ray: a making-of featurette.

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, language, some sexual content and brief drug material.

-- Post-Gazette

'Before Midnight' (3-1/2 stars)

In "Before Sunrise" 18 years ago, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) were carefree strangers in their 20s who met aboard a train in Europe and spent a night in Vienna, walking, talking, coupling and vowing to reunite again in six months. In 2004, they reconnected in "Before Sunset," as he was on a publicity tour for the successful novel inspired by their enchanting encounter.

Now, in "Before Midnight," it's the present day, and Jesse and Celine are not only together but parents of 7-year-old twin girls and concluding a glorious vacation in Greece with Jesse's almost 14-year-old son, Henry.

"Before Midnight," workshopped and written once more by the leads and director Richard Linklater in a way that seems as if we're eavesdropping on a real couple, addresses the sorts of questions 40-somethings face. Money doesn't loom large for this couple as with most, but they thrash out questions about sacrifice, parenting, division of labor, fidelity, anger, spontaneity, longevity and love.

You don't need to have seen the previous two movies to appreciate or understand "Before Midnight," but you will have a richer experience if you have. You likely will find yourself rooting for everyone to just calm down, mellow out with some more wine and realize fate brought this couple together for a reason.

Extras include Q&A and making-of feature.

Rated R for sexual content/nudity and language.

-- Post-Gazette

ALSO THIS WEEK:

 

■ "Bruce Lee the Legacy Collection": The set includes the first ever Blu-ray versions of "The Big Boss," "Fist of Fury," "Way of the Dragon" and "Game of Death." If that isn't reason enough to pick up the DVD collection, there's a bonus disc with hours of new content exclusive to the set, plus 68 pages of archival materials and never-before-released photos.

■  

"Just Like a Woman": Two emotionally scarred women pair up to take control of their lives.

 

 

■ "Transformers Rescue Bots: Griffin Rock Rescue": Autobot first responders are back on the job.

■ "The Vincent Price Collection": Six films starring Price, including "Fall of the House of Usher."

■ "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey": The extended edition includes 13 minutes of new footage.

■ "Love and Bullets" / "Russian Roulette": Charles Bronson double feature.

■ "Dead in Tombstone": Story of greed, revenge and atonement set in a Gold Rush boomtown.

■ "Kindred: The Embraced - The Complete Series": Includes unseen footage of the conclusion to the the short-lived thriller series starring C. Thomas Howell.

■ "The Garfield Show: A Purr-fect Life": Includes six episodes of the animated show.

■ "The Wall": A woman is trapped behind an invisible, unyielding wall on the Austrian countryside.

■ "The JFK Collection": A 3-disc DVD set that explores one of America's most legendary families.

-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers

 

 

 

 


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