New Releases for Tuesday, March 8, 2016


The Corpse of Anna Fritz

Genre: Thriller Directed by: Hèctor Hernández Vicens Run time: 71 minutes Rating: Unrated Format: DVD

The Lowdown: As a movie released by Invincible Pictures, the company that unleashed “A Serbian Film” onto the world, it’s fair to say that high expectations might create the potential for disappointment.

After all, “A Serbian Film” – the unedited, NC-17 threat to the sanctity of all that most people hold holy and pure – was widely condemned for its graphic, taboo-shattering imagery and nihilistic worldview. Note: While this may guarantee me a direct ticket to purgatory, I must confess to actually having an appreciation and affinity for the boundary-breaking film.

That said, the studio’s latest release, The Corpse of Anna Fritz, has some big shoes to fill, so naturally the central thrust of its sleek, streamlined plot centers on necrophilia.

Not your every day, garden-variety, grave-robbing necrophilia, but the kind of star-struck, vanity fueled, if you could do it and not get caught-kind of necrophilia that would signify the mic-drop moment of even the most brazen and debaucherous game of “Never Have I Ever.”

See, the titular corpse at the heart of this film belongs to Anna Fritz, who is described as the most desired female celebrity in all of Spain. Poor Anna has died suddenly, as many celebrities do, and her body has freshly arrived at a local hospital morgue where a young male attendant is working, about to be visited by a pair of brash, drug-fueled friends, who quickly demand to see the starlet’s naked body on display.

What happens next is best left to be discovered, but suffice to say, strange things are afoot down in the bowels of the hospital, and all is not as it appears once Anna’s gurney is wheeled out to be viewed.

If The Corpse of Anna Fritz simply existed to shock, even its ridiculously brief run time wouldn’t justify it as casual entertainment. The calculated and well-crafted hook, the film’s meat, so to speak, is its rueful examination of youthful folly, its escalating exploration of morality and its nimble execution in playing with the audience’s perception of good and bad, right and wrong.

Films like this must have an antagonist just as they must feature a victim. The Corpse of Anna Fritz gleefuly plays with such conventional expectations. It deftly toys with the notion of whether one terrible wrong should demand the ultimate consequence, or if redemption is possible despite willful participation in a singularly atrocious act.

As a genre, the taboo subject of necrophilia is host to a (very) few deserving titles. It’s a genre filled with more misses (“Nekromantik”) than hits (“Deadgirl”).

The Corpse of Anna Fritz is very much worthy of being considered a hit.

The Stuff You Care About: Hot chicks – Yes. Nudity – Yes.

Gore – Minimal. Drug use – Yes.

Bad Guys/Killers – Self-entitled millennials. Buy/Rent – Buy it.

In the Heart of the Sea (Warner Bros., 122 minutes, PG-13, Blu-Ray 3D): As a filmmaker, Ron Howard’s signature movies have never captivated me the same way they enthralled his hardcore fans. I always gravitated more to his early works, the edgy social satires like “Night Shift” and “Gung Ho.” It has been a long time since I actually sat down and enjoyed a Ron Howard film and I did not expect that to change with In the Heart of the Sea, his sea-faring ode to the legend of the origin of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.” As much an action film as a historical period piece, “In the Heart…” showcased some amazing visuals that allowed me to forgive its conventional story structure, and I found myself immersed in the mechanics of what it must have been like to be aboard a whaling vessel at a time when sailors had no true knowledge of how far or how deep the sea literally extended. While it failed to generate much box office, this is not the bomb that I expected. It’s actually an enjoyable and at times gripping man-versus-nature thriller.

Victor Frankenstein (Fox, 110 minutes, PG-13, Blu-Ray): The umpteenth adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic “Frankenstein” gets a much-needed goose in the form of an origin story for the doctor’s unlikely assistant, Igor. It’s not great, but it has its moments, and the playful rapport between Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy helps carry it past its many, major plot contrivances.

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The Bible Stories: Abraham

The Bible Stories: Moses

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