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Chris Hicks: Redemptive baseball movie leads this week’s DVDs, Blu-rays

SHARE Chris Hicks: Redemptive baseball movie leads this week’s DVDs, Blu-rays
J. Richey Nash stars as a down-and-out baseball player in "Hitting the Cycle," now on DVD. Nash also wrote, produced and co-directed the film.

J. Richey Nash stars as a down-and-out baseball player in “Hitting the Cycle,” now on DVD. Nash also wrote, produced and co-directed the film.


A low-budget, independent baseball melodrama leads a wide variety of movies new to DVD and Blu-ray this week.

“Hitting the Cycle” (Monarch, 2013, not rated, $24.95). Self-righteous, alcoholic baseball player with a bad knee is cut from his minor-league team so he reluctantly returns home, ostensibly to visit his dying father but really to purge his demons. (The title is a baseball term for the batter hitting a single, double, triple and home run in one game.)

Well-intentioned if overly familiar effort is about 15 minutes too long but filled with nicely fleshed-out supporting characters, especially Bruce Dern as the bedridden father in a single scene after the hour mark.

This is something of a vanity project for producer/writer/co-director J. Richey Nash, a baseball player-turned-actor who made the film in his hometown of Lexington, Ky. He has some charm but plays the chip-on-his-shoulder lead character as too surly, and when he eventually sees the light, the change occurs too quickly. (Though unrated, the film is in PG to PG-13 territory.)

“The Iceman” (Millenium, 2013; R for violence, language, sex; $28.99, featurettes). Gruesome, very dark alleged true story of a devoted family man (Michael Shannon) who managed to keep his wife (Winona Ryder) in the dark about his career as a freelance hitman. Shannon is excellent; co-stars include Ray Liotta, James Franco and, about as far away from their usual roles as they can get, Chris Evans and David Schwimmer. (Also on Blu-ray, $29.99, and DVD/Blu-ray combo pack, $34.99)

“Floating City” (Well Go, 2013, not rated, $24.98, in Cantonese with English subtitles). In the 1990s on the eve of Hong Kong’s liberation from British imperialism, a business executive who has risen in the ranks ponders his roots as a half-Caucasian outsider as he continues to struggle with his own cultural identity. Flawed but interesting character study with obvious parallels to Hong Kong’s cultural identity. Based on a true story. (Also on Blu-ray, $29.98)

“Arthur Newman” (Cinedigm, 2013; R for sex, language, drugs; $24.95, featurette). Offbeat, structurally weak comedy-drama about a middle-aged failure (Colin Firth) that escapes his drab life by faking his death and adopting a new identity. When he meets up with a young woman (Emily Blunt) who has similarly escaped her past, they take a wobbly road trip together until they realize their new lives are just as empty as the old ones. (Also on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, $29.95)

“Amour” (Sony Classics/Blu-ray, 2012, PG-13, $35.99, in French with English subtitles, featurettes). Morose story of an elderly couple, former music teachers in their waning years, as the husband (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is forced to care for his wife (Oscar-nominated Emmanuelle Riva) after she has multiple strokes and is stricken with dementia. How you will react to this film hinges largely on how you take to the conclusion. Winner of the Academy Award for best foreign-language picture. (Also on DVD, $30.99)

“Vampire” (Lionsgate, 2013, R for violence and language, $26.98, trailers). A teacher (Kevin Zegers) coerces unhappy young women into letting him drink their blood. Despite the title, this is not really a vampire film as such, but rather a muddled, artsy attempt at psychological melodrama pondering depression and suicide. Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rachel Leigh Cook and Kristin Kreuk have minor roles. Written and directed by Japanese filmmaker Shunji Iwai. Supposedly based on a true story.

“Graham Parker & The Rumour: This Is Live” (Shout!/Blu-ray, $21.99, 12 songs, Blu-ray and DVD versions). The complete live concert that was seen in the movie “This Is 40,” filmed in the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles, and, obviously, with some songs that were not in the film.

Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent's Guide to Movie Ratings." His website is www.hicksflicks.com

Email: hicks@deseretnews.com