By Robin E. Simmons

NOW PLAYING:

THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

Based on Garth Stein’s best-selling novel, Simon Curtis’ movie retains the novel’s conceit of nearly non-stop narration by a dog named Enzo, (voiced by Kevin Costner). The wise and witty hound recounts life with his owner, auto-mechanic Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia), an aspiring Formula One racecar driver.

Enzo’s insight into the human condition acknowledges that skills needed on the racetrack can also be applied to one’s life journey are sometimes heavy-handed (or pawed).

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The movie follows Denny and the loves of his life – his beautiful wife Eve (Amanda Seyfried), their daughter Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), and finally his best friend, Enzo – who, by the way, wants to be reincarnated as a human!

Amazingly, this heartfelt 2008 book was banned in a suburb of Dallas (no surprise) for reading in a 10th grade English class.  The issue was a scene involving an underage girl who tries to force herself on Denny and later accuses him of rape.

The book is a good read whether or not you are a dog lover.  Like the popular book, the movie’s perspective is from Enzo as he observes his master’s struggling with his wife’s illness and death and the resulting legal issues with her parents over his daughter’s custody.  The contrived melodrama may sound dumb, but the movie, like the book, is rewarding and in the end, there’s no doubt that Enzo is a hero to love.

NEW BLU FOR THE HOME THEATER:

BEHOLD A PALE HORSE (1964)

Finally on hi-def Blu-ray: three supremely talented actors join with a four-time Oscar© winning producer-director on the tension-packed tale of a defiant freedom fighter’s last stand against the agent of a dictatorial regime who would bring him down.

This unjustly neglected work set against the backdrop of the dark decades following the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War is based on Emeric Pressburger’s novel and stars Gregory Peck as a Spanish Civil War guerilla who continues waging a one-man offensive years after hostilities have officially ceased

Peck is quite moving as the aging revolutionary exiled to France but lured back to Spain.  Anthony Quinn is superb as the dogged police chief who lays a trap to catch him.  Omar Sharif shows a warm, sensitive side playing a young priest torn between obligations of personal morality and the official laws of government. 

Starkly photographed on French locations by Jean Badal and powerfully scored by three time Academy Award ® winner Maurice Jarre.  Twilight Time Limited Edition (only 3,000 units).  For more info: www.screenarchives.com.

KILLERS ANONYMOUS

Tensions mount in a support group for killers — yes, you read that correctly — as the members of the group try to unravel a mystery: Which one of them is responsible for the assassination attempt on a U.S. senator that has the police in the city on high alert.

It’s hard to generate much sympathy for the main characters – after all, they are killers!  Gary Oldman, Jessica Alba and Tommy Flanagan, the above-the-title stars, do their best to bring life to the labored screenplay, but even so, the movie finally disappoints and seems longer than it is.  Lionsgate.

robin@coachellavalleyweekly.com

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