February 05, 2017

Penelope Cruz ‘Embraces’ another Almodovar role

BY SEAN O’CONNELL

HollywoodNews.com stays on top of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases so you know which films are worth your time and money. This week, we recommend:

‘Broken Embraces’
Normally I’m a fan of Penelope Cruz’s collaborations with Pedro Almodovar, from “Volver” (a high) to “Live Flesh” (a low, but still worth a look). But I had a hard time embracing their latest, “Broken Embraces,“ which professes its love for Alomodovar’s other muse — cinema — yet buries its message in a twisty yet ultimately hollow ode to the act of filmmaking.

Lluis Homar’s excellent as Mateo Blanco, a one-time director who reinvents himself as an author following a tragic car accident. Cruz plays Homar’s muse, and eventual love interest, who was present when his life took a turn for the worse. There are mysteries that beg to be unraveled in “Embraces,“ and Almodovar’s an expert at guarding secrets. But the film’s ultimate revelation of Blanco’s pain – what amounts to “final cut” on a finished film – disappoints. Given Almodovar’s passion for the filmmaking process, it’s easy to understand why the resolution means as much to him. But if he put a little distance between “Embraces” and his audience, he might realize it doesn’t mean quite as much to us.

Special features on Sony’s “Embraces” DVD include deleted scenes; a Q-and-A with Cruz; a featurette on Almodovar and Cruz’s past works; short films by the award-winning director; and footage from the red carpet at the New York Film Festival, which selected “Broken Embraces” as its closing night film.

The movie – **1/2 out of 4 stars
The DVD – *** out of 4 stars

‘Ninja Assassin’ (Blu-ray)
Last year’s “Truth In Advertising” award goes to James McTeigue’s “Ninja Assassin,” a bloody (and bloody good) action flick about a chiseled warrior (pop star Rain) mowing down armies of ninjas in an effort to protect a Europol agent (Naomie Harris) and exact revenge on his vicious rivals.

The plot is thin, and Rain’s back story is even thinner, but the violence is wall-to-wall and the fight choreography is inspired. McTeigue’s payoffs are gruesome, even is his edits are somewhat choppy. But if you’re paying for “Ninja Assassin,” this film delivers.

Warner’s Blu-ray release of McTeigue’s film boasts a digital copy for your portable devices, a standard-edition transfer of the movie, a sneak peek at the upcoming “Clash of the Titans” remake, as well as exclusive “Ninja” content that includes “The Myths and Legend of Ninjas,” a clip on Rain’s ninja training, and a featurette on the “Extreme Sport” of being a ninja.

The movie – *** out of 4 stars
The DVD – *** out of 4 stars

About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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2 Comments

  • March 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    I had always wanted to see “Broken Embraces” when it was at the art theater by my place, but never got around to it. Glad to see that it got 3 stars, I think I may have to break down and rent this one now

  • March 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    The ninja one looks awesome, blood, guts, glory

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