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Posted: November 23, 2012 at 3:01 a.m.

— Some recent DVD releases:

2 Days in New York (PG, 93 minutes) - There are two quick and felicitous points of reference for the ever-impressive Julie Delpy’s sprightly and determinedly small-scale 2 Days in New York - the Manhattan drawing-room comedies of Woody Allen and the Richard Linklater films (Before Sunrise and Before Sunset) that introduced her to American audiences. If you appreciate either of these forms, then you’ll likely enjoy New York, which is itself a kind of sequel to Delpy’s 2007 film 2 Days in Paris, though the tone of this film is markedly sillier than its prequel, which was only nominally a comedy. (Roger Ebert called it a “contemplation of incompatibility,” and he was right.)

In this film, photographer and conceptual artist Marion (Delpy) has split from her husband, Jack (Adam Goldberg in Paris, not seen here), and taken up with Village Voice writer/radio host Mingus (Chris Rock, in a thoughtful and textured role that represents his best dramatic acting since he was Pookie in New Jack City). They are raising, in an almost realistically sized New York apartment, Marion’s young son Lulu and sometimes Mingus’ amusingly morbid preteen daughter Willow (Talen Riley). (They really should be in Brooklyn, but maybe someone’s inherited some money.)

Grade: 86

Brave (PG, 93 minutes) - Brave introduces us to the latest Disney princess, a flame tressed Scottish tomboyish royal named Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) with a mommy problem. Rebelling against her arranged nuptials, she embarks on an adventure that involves a witch and eventually rebalances her family dynamic. Beautiful to look at, but less layered and sophisticated than the best of the Pixar canon, Brave is nevertheless a fine animated diversion.

Grade: 84

Savages (R, 130 minutes) - A candy-colored black valentine to titillation, garish brutality and groovy post-finde-siecle excess, this ode to cinema’s most exploitative pleasures finds Oliver Stone chronicling America’s dark side at its most sun-kissed. As protagonist O (Blake Lively) explains in the detached, So-Cal voice-over that threads through the film, she has been living in a blissed-out menage a trois in Laguna Beach with Chon and Ben, marijuana dealers who grow the best product in the country. When they come into the sights of a Mexican cartel, O is kidnapped and they become embroiled in a battle. Casting Ben and Chon’s struggle as a mom-and-pop operation against a big-box store, the director makes an otherwise throwaway crime story chime with real-time politics, from the recession to the victory in July of the Institutional Revolutionary Party in Mexico. The perversities, predilections and pitiless viciousness that drive Savages aren’t for the faint of heart, but those who partake of the cinematic substances on offer are likely to catch a strong, if immediately forgettable, buzz.

Grade: 83

  • The Washington Post

The Watch (R, 102 minutes, Fox): The premise of the movie is so goofy, the performances so winningly wacky, that a willing suspension of disbelief has rarely been easier. As the movie opens, Evan (Ben Stiller) explains in a voice over why he’s so happy in the suburban idyll of Glenview, Ohio - where he lives with his pretty wife, Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt), manages a nearby Costco and pursues a devotion on civic engagement that borders on the obsessive. When one of his night watchmen is gruesomely killed on the job, Evan immediately organizes a group to prevent further attacks. Soon, Evan is joined by Bob (Vince Vaughn), Franklin (Jonah Hill) and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) in a bumbling series of encounters with an unseen, green goo-spewing foe. Spiked with cheerful profanity and giddy sexual references, The Watch is a hard-R comedy with a soft heart at its center.

Grade: 79

  • The Washington Post

MovieStyle, Pages 32 on 11/23/2012

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