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"The Pawnbroker" 3.5stars

The film directed by Academy Award winner Sidney Lumet features one of the greatest performances in the career of Rod Steiger. He earned a 1965 best actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the survivor of a World War II Nazi death camp who lives a life of misery and hatred.

Sol Nazerman (Steiger) has not been the same since he saw his parents, wife and children murdered in a concentration camp. His decision to open a pawnshop in Harlem -- where the clients are mostly thieves and prostitutes -- reflects the emptiness that he's living with on a daily basis.

As if Steiger's performance wasn't enough, "The Pawnbroker" features a jazz-influenced score by Quincy Jones and a supporting cast of Geraldine Fitzgerald, Brock Peters, Raymond St. Jacques and a very young Morgan Freeman.

The black-and-white film -- which was selected in 2008 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress -- has been remastered in high definition.

-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers

"The Address"  3stars

Filmmaker Ken Burns takes a look at the students at the Greenwood School -- a tiny Vermont learning institute for boys ages 11-17 who face a range of personal, academic and social challenges -- and their annual task of learning Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

It's a moving story of how a speech given more than 150 years ago is helping heal these students. The documentary shows their growth and development as they dig into the history, context and importance of President Lincoln's most powerful address.

-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers

"Stan Lee's Mighty 7: Beginnings"  3stars

Marvel Comics guru Stan Lee has had a cameo role in the big budget movies based on the characters he helped create. This animated film takes Mr. Lee from cameo to star.

The first person seven aliens meet when their spaceship crashes on Earth is Mr. Lee. After years of creating fictional costumed heroes, Mr. Lee realizes he can now write about real people who have special powers. He invites the aliens to live with him where he turns them into media stars while they deal with a great evil.

This different look at the superhero genre is fun plus introduces a group of new and interesting heroes. This is the first of a trio of films featuring Mr. Lee and company. Along with Mr. Lee, voice talent includes Armie Hammer, Christian Slater, Mayim Bialik, Teri Hatcher, Flea, Darren Criss, Sean Astin, Jim Belushi and Michael Ironside.

"The Stan Lee's Mighty 7: Beginnings" comes with a $6.25 e-Movie Cash, extended scenes and a Stan Lee trivia game.

-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers

"Barefoot" 

It's nice to see the talented Evan Rachel Wood, better known for her darker roles in films such as "Thirteen" and "Mildred Pierce," play an innocent in this romantic comedy. But you never really buy her relationship with the "black sheep" son of a wealthy family (Scott Speedman). Despite nice turns by character actor JK Simmons ("Juno") and Treat Williams, the film is too full of plot holes and contrivances to take seriously, and it's not particularly funny for a rom-com. PG-13. No extras.

-- Washington Post

"The Suspect"

A small town bank robbery leads to a brutal showdown between a sheriff (William Sadler) and a mysterious stranger. When the obvious suspect is apprehended not far from the crime scene, the police think that the case is solved. But the real crime hasn't yet happened. Also stars Mekhi Phifer as the not-so-usual suspect. Unrated. Extras include commentary by director Stuart Connelly and a producer; a conversation with Mr. Connelly; extended scenes; a making-of featurette and "Happy Endings" music video.

-- The Washington Post

"Bettie Page Reveals All"

There's plenty of cheesecake in this documentary portrait of the beloved 1950s pin-up, but the highlight is its meaty narration, courtesy of Page herself, speaking in the low, slightly gravelly register of an aging Southern belle.

Getting this audio was a coup for filmmaker Mark Mori, who befriended Page in the years before her 2008 death, at age 85. But beyond some wordless archival footage from old photo shoots, we never see Page as she looked after her modeling career ended, abruptly, in the late 1950s, just before she disappeared from the public eye. That's by design, Page tells us; she wants people to remember her from her photos. Her recollections are supplemented by alternately philosophical and sociological interviews with such Bettie Page experts as Greg Theakston, an illustrator and publisher of the comic/fanzine The Betty Pages, and Hugh Hefner, whose Playboy magazine featured Page as its January 1955 centerfold. It's just a shame that "Bettie Page Reveals All" isn't a technically better film.

Rated R for nudity. Extras include restored Irving Klaw Wiggle movies starring Page; deleted scenes and bonus footage; phone call with Page and Paula Klaw; Page's funeral video and photo gallery of never-before-seen Page images.

-- Washington Post

ALSO THIS WEEK: 

 

• "Tyler Perry's Madea's Neighbors From Hell (The Play)": A musical from director, writer and producer Tyler Perry, staged in a single performance weekend in Atlanta.

"Doctor Who: The Web of Fear": A 1968 six-part adventure featuring Doctor Who.

"Nikita: The Complete Fourth and Final Season": Last six episodes from the TV series.

"Seven Warriors": A modern take on Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai."

"Big Bad Wolves": Lives of three men go on a collision course after a series of brutal murders.

"Scream Park": Amusement park owner has a murderous idea to sell tickets.

"Corazon Indomable": Young woman reinvents herself to avenge those who cruelly mistreated her.

"The Hooping Life": A look at the origins and rise of modern-day hula-hooping.

"Chances Are: 25th Anniversary Edition": A woman's dead husband comes back into her life in a new body.

"Sorcerer": William Friedkin's 1977 cult suspense thriller.

"The Good Witch's Garden": Cable movie starring Catherine Bell.

"Newhart: The Complete Third Season": Bob Newhart plays the owner of an inn that's filled with odd people.

• "Martial Arts Double Feature": Includes 'Lady Whirlwind" and "Hapkido."

-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers

 


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