COUCH THEATER —  DVD PREVIEWS

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Masaharu Fukuyama in “Like Father, Like Son”

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PICKS OF THE WEEK
“Like Father, Like Son” (Unrated) —  A hardworking young couple receive a shock after their son is accepted into an elite school: The boy they have been raising and loving for six years is not their son, but was accidentally switched at birth. While two sets of parents and two young boys are pulled into an emotional situation, the film focuses on one of the fathers. Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) realizes that he is rather cold as a father, and his long work hours as an architect don’t necessarily make him a great provider for his son, Keita.

This Japanese import draws its premise from real-life events, but comes across as more of an original drama than an adapted story. The movie delicately handles difficult questions about what makes a family, and how do imperfect people make the best decisions for children.

“A Young Doctor’s Notebook” (Mini-series) —  A Russian doctor (Jon Hamm) revisits his old journal and gets pulled back into his early days as an overwhelmed young physician (Daniel Radcliffe) working in a hospital far away from everything. Apparently, practicing medicine in rural Russia around 1917 was a brutal, stomach-twisting business. The doctor’s older self (Hamm) has brief but entertaining exchanges with the memory of his helpless younger self (Radcliffe).

A mix of dark comedy and darker drama pervades these few episodes. There’s enough dry humor and lower-brow gags to keep you laughing for the entire season. However, there are stretches where it’s almost impossible to keep your eyes on the screen: amateur surgery in the early 20th century was a very messy business.

“Afflicted” (R) —  Hey, everyone! Somebody just made a new found-footage horror movie that isn’t boring crap! Just when I thought the genre had been picked clean, along comes a little flick about Clif and Derek —  two Canadian pals documenting their yearlong trip around the world. Somewhere along the way, Derek gets attacked while hooking up with a one-night-stand, and he starts displaying odd symptoms. As the duo continue their travels, Derek develops inhuman strength and a weird skin condition. Things escalate viscerally, paying off in a horror flick that makes you best friends with a monster.

“All the Wrong Reasons” (Unrated) —  In a big-box superstore, a dramatic love quadrangle forms among some of the broken young employees. Ascher (the late Corey Monteith of TV’s “Glee”) is the store manager and husband to Kate (Karine Vanasse), the store’s boundary-obsessed security director. Also in the mix: Nicole (Emily Hampshire), a cashier and single-mother who has her eyes on her ambitious young boss, and Simon (Kevin Zeggers), a firefighter who lost a hand and now works as the store’s security guard. This isn’t exactly a two-for-one bargain of comedy and drama —  more like an off-brand value pack.

TV RELEASES
“Hinterland: Series 1”
“Legend of Korra: Book Two, Spirits”
“WWE: Payback 2014”
“Lovejoy: Series 1 DVD”
“Helix: Season 1”

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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