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Diane Keaton in "Darling Companion"; photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics 

“Unexpected Pleasures”

When we look at the list of new releases on the Blue Ray schedule our eyes generally go to the established hits that we saw in the movie theaters. Sometimes in doing this we miss out on some excellent movies that don’t have the big stars involved, or didn’t get the big theatrical push. Lately it seems there have been more of those than usual.

For example “Darling Companion.” This movie was released on Blu Ray at the same time as the animated film “The Pirates: Band of Misfits.” Which movie got the most attention? You guessed it, “Band of Misfits.” Now don’t get me wrong “Misfits” is a movie children will love but adults need to see “Darling Companion.”

“Darling Companions” stars Kevin Kline and Diane Keaton. It tells the story of an older couple whose kids are leaving the nest. One day Keaton’s character finds a dog on the side of the road and takes it home. She doesn’t plan to keep it – yeah, sure! Anyway she and her husband, (Kline’s character) come to love the dog.

One day Kline takes the dog for a walk in the woods. The dog takes off after a deer and Kline can’t get him back. The dog is lost. Keaton feels like Kline didn’t take enough precautions with keeping the dog with him. The whole movie is all about trying to find the dog. The way it impacts the couple’s marriage makes up the meat of the story.

The acting is great; the story is sweet; the emotional impact is large. Why on earth didn’t this movie find an audience! Well it can now, if you find and watch the Blu Ray.

Another movie you need to watch is “Touchback.” This is a straight to video movie that stars Kurt Russell, Brian Presley and Melanie Lynskey. It is a touching film about a man who gets the chance for a do over of his life. This plot gimmick has been done to death in a million other movies but “Touchback” puts a unique spin on it all by having the hero of the film be a high school football hero who got injured in the championship game of his senior year.

This injury affected where he lived, who he married, and what his economic outlook is. Scott Murphy (Presley) thinks life has handed him a rotten deal and knows if he had a chance to do it over he would duck that big game and go on to fame and fortune.

Russell plays Murphy’s high school coach and Lynskey is his faithful wife. Christine Lahti makes an impression as Murphy’s hard working mother. The rest of the supporting players are perfectly cast right down the line.

There is so much to like about “Touchback” that you wonder why didn’t it make it to the big screen. It has solid acting, a wonderfully touching story, and an easy to absorb message. Make sure you don’t miss out on watching this totally enjoyable film the whole family will love.

Also worth watching is the Iranian film “A Separation.” This film may be from another country but the issues it raises are as American as apple pie and also universal. It concerns a couple in conflict. Nader and Simin love each other but they disagree on one big issue. Simin wants to take their daughter and move out of the country to a place where she thinks she will have more opportunities for a better life. Nader wants what is best for his daughter but he refuses to leave his father who has Alzheimer’s. Finally desperate to go away with her daughter, Simin files for divorce. This starts a series of events that go beyond the basic question of where they will live.

“A Separation” deals with complex issues and does it all with fairness and effectiveness. The audience is drawn into the complexities of their lives and must take sides as the story progresses.

This film won the Academy Award as Best Foreign Film in 2012, as well as awards from a variety of other countries. All of its acclaim is justified. It is an exceptional film and one you should enjoy.

 
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