Productions dealing with life and death are released this week.
▪ “Where Hope Grows” — The film could have made its debut as a Lifetime or Hallmark Channel offering. It has the kind of emotional tension that Lifetime loves to put in their films. And, it’s loaded with the sentimentality that makes Hallmark movies so warm and fuzzy.
What elevates the movie is the solid performances by Kristoffer Polaha (Calvin Campbell) and David DeSanctis (Produce). Polaha brings the kind of gravitas that comes with a veteran actor taking on a familiar role, while newcomer DeSanctis makes up for his lack of training with an enthusiasm that is infectious.
The film is marketed as a faith-based movie. If that’s critical for you, then that’s an important distinction to make. But just like the approach that Down syndrome doesn’t define Produce, the faith-based elements don’t define this film.
The elements are there. No denying that. But the film is more. It’s a complicated story about family, success, addiction and loss. Those are presented in a classy way by Polaha and DeSanctis.
▪ “Elementary: The Third Season” — The CBS series continues to be one of the smartest written and best-acted shows on the schedule.
In this season, Watson (Lucy Liu) has moved out of the brownstone and Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) has accepted a job offer in London from MI6, the British intelligence agency. Fortunately for the fans, the pair figure out a way to keep working together.
The series is at its best when Liu and Miller are trading intellectual jabs. She gives the series a solid base, while Miller has found a way to breathe fresh life into this often played character.
▪ Also new this week:
“Aloha”: Military contractor reconnects with a love from his past. Bradley Cooper stars.
“Citizenfour”: Filmmaker and reporter meet with Edward Snowden.
“Transformers Rescue Bots”: Fun with Chase, Heatwave and Boulder.
“Skin Trade”: Detective begins search for human trafficker.
“Love & Mercy”: Portrait of Brian Wilson (John Cusack, Paul Dano), singer and songwriter for the Beach Boys.
“Father Forgive Him”: A look at the abuse of power in the church.
“The Good Wife: The Sixth Season”: One of the story lines is a race for the state’s attorney job.
“Harry”: Man begins a homicide investigation while dealing with his own grief.
“Iris”: Documentary by Albert Maysles on fashion maven.
“Welcome to New York”: Gerard Depardieu stars in this film based on a true story.
“Camilla Dickinson”: Film adaptation of “Camilla.”