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Catching Up With Movies I Missed In 2014

One of the blessings of the holidays, for me, is a respite
from deadlines, following the crush of major December releases. My wife and I
enjoyed our quiet time at home, watching DVDs of films I didn’t get a chance to
see, or review, when they opened in 2014. I can’t think of a better way to
start the new year than by spreading the good word about them. I’m sorry I
missed the following three the first time around, but they’re all available
online and on disc. Besides, it’s never too late to see a good movie.

Pride-Ben SchnetzerPride has been
called a crowd-pleaser, which is a perfect way to describe this British import that offers juicy roles to such wonderful actors as Bill Nighy, Imelda
Staunton, Paddy Considine, and Dominic West, along with some newer faces who
are equally well cast. The time is 1984, and a gay activist (Ben Schnetzer) realizes
that the gay and lesbian community has a lot in common with the striking miners
who are being quashed by Margaret Thatcher, bullied by the police, and
pilloried in the tabloid press. He and a group of followers in London start
raising money for the struggling miners and adopted a Welsh village at random
as their beneficiaries. Not everyone is grateful for their generosity, however,
and therein lies the tale. Stage director Matthew Warchus orchestrates the
diverse ingredients of Stephen Beresford’s canny screenplay with panache, using
humor and an array of well-drawn characters to enliven a serious—and
still-relevant—story. Available on DVD and Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home
Entertainment.

Trip to Italy-680Remaining on
the other side of the Pond, I would also recommend The Trip to Italy, a welcome sequel to 2010’s The Trip, in which Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon resume their
gastronomic adventures in a country that’s known for its food. As before, these
friendly rivals needle each other, compete for supremacy at celebrity
impressions, and have a variety of personal encounters while making their way
from one glorious hotel and restaurant to another. Like the earlier film, this
originated as a six-part miniseries and has been deftly edited to feature
length by director Michael Winterbottom. If you saw the first film you’ll
definitely want to take in the sequel, and if you haven’t yet been introduced
to the comedic badinage of Coogan and Brydon, you’re in for a treat. I hope it
goes without saying that it would be unwise to watch this movie on an empty
stomach. Available on DVD and Blu-ray from MPI Home Video.

Chef - Jon Fareau

Another
food-related movie was a word-of-mouth hit here at home, but somehow I missed
Jon Favreau’s Chef during its long
run in theaters. It’s a lightweight but entertaining film about a master chef
with a healthy ego who loses his job—and damages his reputation—after a blow-up
at the Los Angeles restaurant where he works for owner Dustin Hoffman. He finds
new inspiration by purchasing a food truck and driving it cross-country, with
purposeful stops in such epicurean centers as New Orleans and Austin, Texas.
This adventure also enables the divorced dad to bond with his adolescent son.
Favreau apprenticed with the celebrated restaurateur Roy Choi so he could cook
convincingly on-camera, and his homework certainly paid off. The screenplay
might not bear scrutiny, but the movie has a good vibe overall and is easy to
take. (As in The Trip to Italy, the
food itself looks luscious.) Available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD from Open Road Films and Universal Home Entertainment.

         

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