August got off to a strong start for renters with two films worthy of discovery as well as two series that should hold interest.
CHILD 44 – Though it got a token release in theaters this adaptation of Tom Rob Smith’s detective story should do even better on DVD. The story remains true to the book in Richard Price’s adaptation and centers on a detective investigating child murders in Russia during the Stalin era. the political machinery of the time denies that such a crime could happen under Stalin and is swept under the rug but the man assigned to the case won’t let it go. He teams with his wife to pursue the killer despite the fact that his own freedom will be at risk should he expose such a criminal. Fine work by Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace as the couple .
INTO THE GRIZZILY MAZE – An Alaskan Sheriff decides to search for his wife (who is working in a forest) when a series of savage bear attacks upset his community. He is distracted when he runs into his ex-con brother but the family reunion has to be tabled when the titular beats catches their scent. Solid wilderness terror with a terrific cast that includes Billy Bob Thornton , Thomas Jane, and James Marsden.
THE AFFAIR ” SEASON 1 – Showtime’s adult drama finds two wounded people embarking on an affair rather than dealing with their troubles marriages. It is an honest depiction of wounded people attacking out. The man is hurting over attempts to replicate the success of his first novel while the young lady he meets is also on the ropes after losing her only child. The only downside is an eleventh hour decision to continue this as a series that mars the ending . Frankly these people work out most of their junk and the story seems about over until a clumsy final scene reveals that there will be more dram to come.
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. : SEASON 1 – The popular spy series form the 60’s finally rates a season by season release whereas it had been previously available only in its entirety, with whopping price tag to bot. Here you get season one(three more would follow) that introduces agents Napoleon Solo(Robert Vaughan) and his comrade Ilya(David McCallum) who defend the world from the evil organization known as THRUSH. This season is in black and white and tends to be more serious in tone. It is excellent television with sneering bad guys , cool gadgets, and great guest stars.
Tom Doty is a columnist for the Hazard Herald.