“End of Watch”: Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as two LAPD officers who patrol the treacherous the South Central beat. While uneven in places, this is writer/director David Ayer's best film. After writing the Academy Award winning “Training Day” and spending the rest of his career exploring that film’s themes to ever diminishing returns, Ayer again tells a story about the thin blue line that keeps Los Angeles from to the savagery of its minority citizens, he finally breaks his pattern and tells a story about cops that doesn’t involve corruption. Instead he uses a bunch of handheld cameras to document the incredibly dangerous and totally outmatched circumstances that police officers find themselves in every day. The film develops a very believable relationship between Gyllenhaal and Peña and shows a greater level verisimilitude than any previous Ayer film. It only falters in the way that Ayer always falters, with blatant racial stereotypes, with lazy over reliance of random connect, and writing a lead with weaker characterization than its supporting cast. “End of Watch” is a visceral but flawed thrill ride. Also starring Anna Kendrick, Natalie Martinez, and David Harbour.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, five featurettes, commentary with Ayer, and deleted scenes.
“The Paperboy”: Lee Daniels (“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push” by Sapphire”) co-writes and directs this gonzo southern gothic melodrama about a young paperboy (Zac Efron) who gets in over his head while chauffeuring his older crusading older brother (Matthew McConaughey) around as he tries to prove that John Cusack’s vicious hillbilly doesn’t belong on death row. This is a movie so lurid and campy that a scene where one character urinates on another isn’t even the most outrageous. Read my full review here. Also starring Nicole Kidman, David Oyelowo, and Macy Gray.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, two featurettes, and cast and director interviews.
“For a Good Time, Call...”: Two broke roommates (Ari Graynor, Lauren Miller) become phone sex operators to make ends meet. This film straddles the line between being an R rated episode of “Two Broke Girls” and a “Bridesmaids” style buddy comedy. Co-writer and star Lauren Miller tries to maneuver the film out of sitcom territory toward the end of the film but it has such a conventional structure and character dynamics, it doesn’t quite make it. Ari Graynor is hilarious though. Justin Long, Sugar Lyn Beard, and Mimi Rogers.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, an unrated presentation of the film, deleted scenes, and commentary with Graynor, Miller, director Jamie Travis and co-writer Katie Anne Naylon.
“The Imposter”: Bart Layton directs this documentary about serial imposter Frédéric Bourdin and his impersonation of a missing Texas teenager than he barely resembled. That fascinating thing about Layton’s film isn’t Bourdin’s sociopathic need for acceptance and affection but rather the kind of family that would believe that in the space of a few years, their missing son had become a decade older, changed eye color and become acquired a pronounced French accent. Though legality of the situation keeps Layton from outright feelings on his subjects, it’s clear that his film is meant to underscore that when a need becomes overwhelming, any lie can become the truth.
Special features: A making of and a Q&A with Layton and some the documentary’s subjects.
“Searching for Sugar Man”: Academy Award nominated documentary about two South African music fans trying to find out what happened to American folk musician Rodriguez after his musical career failed to take off back in the ‘70s. If you like your documentaries life affirming and colorful as opposed to disturbing and cold, I’d recommend Malik Bendjelloul’s sweetheart ode to the everlasting power of music than Bart Layton’s devastating treatise on the power of human deception.
Special features: A making of, commentary with Bendjelloul and Rodriguez, and a Q&A featuring the same.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org