Facing fears is a common theme among this weeks new releases.
The Possession, Grade B: The film is proof a movie can be scary without having to resort to an onslaught of blood, guts and profanity that would earn it an R rating. Director Ole Bornedal gets the maximum chills from gloomy weather, a foreboding soundtrack, lighting trickery, decent special effects and acting performances that sell each startle. And it still comes in with a PG-13 rating.
Its shocking that the film was produced by Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert, who helped ramp up horror film violence with the Evil Dead opus. The restraint they showed should open up Possession to a larger audience.
Men of a Certain Age: The Complete Second Season. Grade B-plus: The cable series looks at three average guys who wonder whether their lives have been well spent. The focus is on males around the age of 50 but should reach viewers of all ages because of a first-rate cast and very smart writing.
It works because of the honest dialogue between these men. They dont suddenly know the meaning of life, but struggle just to get through another day.
Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher turn in first-rate performances.
Wont Back Down, Grade C: This feels like a Lifetime film that lacks clarity. It bounces through hot-button issues with such randomness that the central message ends up muddied.
Buried under all of the distracting elements is a gem of an idea. But the numerous tangled plots leave this story of class struggle incomplete.
At the heart is the story of two mothers (Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal) who decide to transform their childrens failing inner-city Pittsburgh school. They start the long bureaucratic process of taking over the school so they can run it.
The script by Brin Hill and director Daniel Barnz piles on the emotional fodder with stories about dyslexia, learning disorders, marital problems and poverty.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK.
Thomas & Friends: Muddy Matters: Thomas and his friends get messy.
Being Human: Season Four: BBC series about supernatural roommates.
Merlin: The Complete Fourth Season: British series starring Colin Morgan.
Taken 2: Liam Neeson stars in this sequel.