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“The Lunchbox”

In writer-director Ritesh Batra's beguiling romance, a virtual relationship blossoms not through a sexy operating system as in "Her" or email as in "You've Got Mail," but the old-fashioned way, through carefully written notes delivered by hand every day. Even though much of "The Lunchbox" transpires in Ila's kitchen and in Saajan's office, Batra nonetheless plunges the audience into the riotous city life of Mumbai, where we follow Saajan (played by Indian star Irrfan Khan) onto crowded buses and streets to his lonely apartment and where Ila barely ventures forth.

What begins as a nagging sense of dissatisfaction eventually reveals the deeper, sorrowful reality of a woman's life in India, as Ila's hopes for her future become increasingly thwarted and constrained. Contains thematic material and smoking.

Rated PG; with subtitles.

Extras include commentary with Batra.

-- Washington Post

“The Unknown Known”

Through skillful editing and a stirring score by Danny Elfman, "The Unknown Known" invests former U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld's otherwise banal Washington trajectory with unlikely tension and suspense. What's more, his maddening habit of pseudo-philosophical speculation fits neatly into filmmaker Errol Morris' own ruminative, erudite rhetoric.

But if viewers come to "The Unknown Known" hoping for catharsis -- or even just a few answers -- about Rumsfeld's role in planning and executing the invasion of Iraq in 2003, they may find themselves leaving more frustrated than rewarded.

Rated PG-13 for some disturbing material and brief nudity.

-- Washington Post

“Like Father, Like Son”

Two couples, each with 6-year-old sons they cherish, discover that a hospital mix-up switched their babies at birth. Yet this Japanese film is more of a head-scratcher than a tear-jerker. Whether because this mistake has been a problem before -- at least in the somewhat backward hospital where the births took place -- or because of something deep in the personal character or national culture of the people involved, all the parents seem more dazed than wrenched by the news. Eventually, filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-Eda invites us to ponder: Is being a father defined by DNA or by love?

Unrated, in Japanese with subtitles.

-- Washington Post

ALSO THIS WEEK: 

• "Helix: The Complete First Season": The cable series from Ronald D. Moore is a gripping thriller about a team of scientists on an Arctic expedition to research a viral outbreak.

• "Lovejoy, Series 1": Ian McShane played the likable Lovejoy in this BBC mystery series that aired on A&E in the early 1990s.

• "Twilight Zone: Essential Episodes (55th Anniversary Collection)": This collection includes those episodes: "Time Enough at Last," "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," "To Serve Man" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet."

• "Vinyl": Based on Mike Peters' rock 'n' roll hoax of 2004.

• "Afflicted": A journey around the world takes a horrifying turn.

• "Operation Petticoat": The 1950s film from director Blake Edwards is being re-released.

• "Anna Karenina": BBC's 10-episode version of Leo Tolstoy's masterpiece.

• "Hinterland, Series 1": Welsh detective drama.

• "A Young Doctor's Notebook: Season One": Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe star in the comedy based on Mikhail Bulgakov's writing.

• "Wild Brazil: Land of Fire and Flood": A look at the home to more specials than any other country.

• "No Vacancy": Stop at a roadside motel proves deadly.

• "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Good, The Bad, And Casey Jones": Six episodes featuring Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo.

• "The Final Terror": The '80s horror movie starring Daryl Hannah is now on Blu-ray.

• "The Legend of Korra -- Book Two: Spirits": Tells the story of the very first Avatar.

-- Rick Bentley, The Fresno Bee

 


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