The faith film “Miracles from Heaven” arrives on Blu-ray and DVD this week, along with a number of other recent pictures.
“Miracles from Heaven” (Columbia, 2016, PG, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, concept art, music video). In a small rural Texas town, 10-year-old Anna Beam (Kylie Rogers) suffers from a rare digestive disorder that leaves her unable to eat and ensures a painful death will eventually follow. Her father, Kevin (Martin Henderson), is sure things will work out but her mother, Christy (Jennifer Garner), finds her faith shaken and becomes her daughter’s most forceful advocate. Then one day Anna falls three stories from a tree, has a near-death experience and is inexplicably cured, later saying that while comatose she spoke with God.
Several notches above most recent faith films, this one is based on Christy Beam’s memoir of her daughter’s experiences and benefits from better-than-usual production values and Rogers’ better-than-most-child-actors performance. But mostly it gets a tremendous boost from Jennifer Garner, whose all-out star-wattage dominates the film and argues that this may be her personal best.
“With Child” (MVD, 2016, not rated/probable PG-13, trailers). This dry, quirky, low-key comedy-drama loaded with wry, sharp-edged dialogue is about a morose, widowed construction worker (Kerry van der Griend) struggling to raise his 4-month-old daughter. He’s in a custody battle with his well-meaning but overbearing sister-in-law (Lori Kokotailo) and is at sea in terms of parenting skills. After being hired by a college physics professor (Leslie Lewis) to renovate her basement, he finds himself in an awkward relationship with her.
This disarming charmer sneaks up on you and is made all the more endearing thanks to a cute baby that coos and gurgles happily most of the way.
“Flight of the Butterflies” (Shout!, 2012, not rated/probable G, featurettes, image gallery, trailers).
“Rocky Mountain Express” (Shout!, 2011, not rated/probable G, featurettes, image gallery, trailers). Gorgeously photographed and spectacular in scope, these two 45-minute Canadian documentaries are fascinating documents of their respective subjects. The first is about butterfly migration and pursues the question of where monarchs spend the winter. The second retraces the original 19th-century route of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Both were made for IMAX theater screens, so something larger than your laptop is recommended.
“The Dresser” (Anchor Bay, 2016, not rated/probable PG-13, featurettes). This period piece about a company of Shakespeare players touring the provinces toward the end of World War II focuses on an aging, unwell veteran actor (Anthony Hopkins) preparing to play “King Lear” and his dresser and verbal sparring partner (Ian McKellen). This was previously made into a theatrical film with Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay (who created the title role on stage), but this British TV adaptation gives it a run for the money. Emily Watson co-stars.
“The Divergent Series: Allegiant” (Lionsgate, 2016, PG-13, audio commentary, featurettes). This disappointing third entry in the franchise has Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) leading rebels over the wall, literally. The good cast includes returning Jeff Daniels, Miles Teller, Maggie Q, Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer, among others. (The fourth and final film in the series will be released next June.)
“No Women Beyond This Point” (Sony, 2016, not rated/probable PG-13). In the 1950s, women learned how to impregnate themselves without men and began giving birth exclusively to daughters. Now, women rule the world and men are on their way to extinction, living out their days in camps. But what happens when the 37-year-old youngest man on the planet begins a surreptitious inter-gender romance? The amusing high concept overcomes the well-worn “mockumentary” approach of this Canadian social satire, but it could have used more bite.
“The Dark Horse” (Broadgreen, 2016, R for language and drugs). In this true New Zealand drama, Genesis Potini (Cliff Curtis), a speed-chess prodigy suffering from bipolar disorder, teaches the game to kids he hopes to deter from lives of crime and involvement with gangs, even as he was living in the care of his brother, a street-gang leader. Curtis delivers an extraordinary performance (having gained 60 pounds for the role).
“Everybody Wants Some” (Paramount, 2016; R for language, sex, drugs, nudity; featurettes). Richard Linklater (“Boyhood,” “School of Rock”) concocted this raunchy nostalgia piece in the spirit of his “Dazed and Confused,” a sort of “Animal House” set in the 1980s with a college baseball team’s high jinks taking center stage.
“My Golden Days” (Magnolia, 2016; R for sex, nudity, language; in French with English subtitles, featurettes, trailer). An anthropologist reflects on his youth, growing up in France during the 1980s with difficult parents, as well as on a life-changing student trip to Russia, and the later meeting and wooing the love of his life.
“Green Room” (Lionsgate, 2016; R for violence, language, drugs, audio commentary, featurette). A punk band is held hostage and terrorized after one of them witnesses a murder following their performance in a neo-Nazi bar. Twenty-seven-year-old Anton Yelchin, who died last month, stars, and Patrick Stewart, although he’s not onscreen much, has earned accolades for his against-type performance as the bar’s evil owner.
“Traders” (Dark Sky, 2016, not rated/probable R for violence and language, audio commentaries, featurette, trailers). This bizarre, very dark Irish satire on the recession, is about the development of “econoside,” or economics suicide, a secret online challenge. Two people cash out their entire worth and each brings the cash in a bag to a remote location. Then they dig one grave and fight to the death. The winner buries the loser and keeps both bags of cash.
“Stressed to Kill” (MVD, 2016, not rated/probable R for violence and language). Another very dark social satire, this one is sort of “Death Wish” crossed with Bobcat Goldthwait’s “God Bless America.” A heart-attack victim (Bill Oberst Jr.) is told by his doctor to eliminate the stress in his life, so he starts killing people that annoy him. A cop (Armand Assante) tips to it but proves to be even more insane than his quarry.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at email@example.com.