Upside Down (PG-13, 2013, Millennium Entertainment)
Adam (Jim Sturgess) loves Eden (Kirsten Dunst) and she loves him too, but circumstances have stupidly and then tragically forced them to part. It’s a story that’s been told a thousand times, and it’s funny how fresh it can feel when the storyteller applies a few unique rules to the proceedings. In the case of “Upside Down,” Adam and Eden not only live on separate planets, but reside on planets whose separate gravitational forces have them literally facing each other like a person standing on the floor would view a person standing on the ceiling. Connecting the two planets is a megacorporation, where employees from both worlds share a cubicle farm that exists at the intersection of the gravitational fields. But it’s also that corporation that drove a class warfare wedge between the two worlds that, along with some extremely fuzzy science, keeps the worlds (and the two lovers who meet in the middle) apart and mostly forbidden from interacting with one another. The aforementioned fuzziness of “Down’s” science cannot be overstated: To overthink its laws is to allow plot holes to open that are large enough to accommodate a third planet. But that’s the price of “Down’s” ambition, which is enormous and opens the door to some extremely creative ideas. If there’s a bigger problem here, it’s that the science behind these dual worlds is so fascinating that a movie is too short to take full advantage. Fortunately, while “Down” is smart enough to tell this particular story without leaving too many unacceptable loose ends behind, a few stray lines tease the possibility of more stories to come from this universe. With all due respect to the fuzzy logic-intolerant among us, here’s hoping that bears out, because there appears to be a ton more creativity and fun where this came from. Timothy Spall also stars.
Extras: Deleted scenes, three behind-the-scenes features, library of sketches, storyboards and previsualization footage.
As Luck Would Have It (NR, 2012, Sundance Selects)
When an iron rod penetrating the back of your head enters the running as the arguable best thing to happen to you that day, you’re probably having a bad day. Or perhaps, like Roberto (José Mota) — who finds himself pinned by just such a rod to the floor of a soon-to-be museum just as a throng of media has come to check it out, and it’s a long story how he got there — it simply represents a different way of looking at things. For the sake of enjoying “As Luck Would Have It” at its fullest, it’s best to curb the details of what happens next (even if the back of the box is happy to spoil away, so try and resist the urge to peek). But in a vein similar to that of its incapacitated main character, “Luck” doesn’t see only one road from what at least seems to be an inevitably tragic turn of events. It’s observant of that sadness, if not necessarily sad itself. But “Luck” also invests in irony and dark comedy, and it doesn’t invest lightly in either. Exactly how it parlays impalement into funny parable is (or should be) part of the surprise, but if you already know what happens next, it’s worth noting that this is neither the only surprise nor the biggest one that awaits. Rather, the real surprise is the way “Luck” smartly mixes its completely contrary moods so that they cease feeling contrary despite never getting blurred together. That, in turn, gives “Luck” the freedom to be unpredictable as the second act gives way to third, and the movie seizes the moment with similar deft. Salma Hayek also stars. In English with Spanish subtitles. No extras.
Supporting Characters (NR, 2013, Tribeca Film)
Film editing isn’t a thankless job, but when the film isn’t very good and a temperamental tandem of directors and producers constantly interferes with any attempt to fix it, it probably feels like one. From the looks of things, that’s the predicament in which longtime editing collaborators and head-butting friends Nick (Alex Karpovsky) and Darryl (Tarik Lowe) find themselves, and with a new project in the pipeline that wants Nick but not necessarily Darryl on board, the light at the end of the tunnel may be even dimmer than the lights inside it. Isn’t making movies, as Darryl remarks, supposed to be fun? “Supporting Characters” is a story about a story in limbo, and fittingly, it exists in a kind of limbo all its own, with relationships, friendships and assessments of one’s self-worth hanging precariously from a ledge alongside the movie Nick and Darryl are editing. Taken the wrong way, that’s a diplomatic way of saying nothing happens. But when nothing happening is the catalyst that that launches the plot into the air in the first place, is that a compliment instead of a dig? Given how well “Characters” captures it — all the while developing some sneakily strong characters and relationships and giving them some funny and insightful wisdom to play with — it may actually be. Anyone who has ever been mired in group project hell — in film, elementary school or anywhere else — will certainly be able to relate. Arielle Kebbel, Melonie Diaz, Kevin Corrigan and Sophia Takal also star.
Extra: Cast/filmmaker interviews.
Pusher (R, 2012, Anchor Bay)
After a drug deal goes south and the cops give chase, Frank (Richard Coyle) does the only thing he can do to preserve his freedom: run, run some more, jump into the nearest body of water, and watch the evidence literally dissolve. Pretty crafty, right? Sure, were it not for the part where Frank now hangs on the hook for $55,000 worth of unsold cocaine, considerably deepening his debt to some dangerous people who already had him on thin ice. So who tipped the cops? And how does the traditionally affable Frank strong-arm his customers into paying their debts to him before his own debt makes him wish he was in jail instead? If all this sounds a little familiar, it’s no deception, because if “Pusher” has any qualms about being yet another movie that reinforces just how quickly the exciting life of drug pushing can break for the drain, it certainly isn’t showing them. Tasked with adding anything new to this long-known conventional wisdom, it simply can’t: Frank’s a likable but forgettable lead, most of the cast that surrounds him could pass for cartoon characters, the soundtrack design is straight out of the self-consciously cool movie playbook, and the bevy of twists aren’t as clever as they are just entertaining. But there, right there, is “Pusher’s” saving grace. Among the many things it lacks, energy and tempo aren’t two of them, and the frantic way the movie merges the ugliness and silliness of its world is, while never special or memorable, plenty entertaining enough to offset its lack of imagination.
Extras: Cast/crew Q&A, behind-the-scenes feature.
Come Out and Play (R, 2013, Flatiron Film Co.)
To celebrate the imminent birth of their child, Francis (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and Beth (Vinessa Shaw) have not only ventured down to Mexico for a romantic getaway, but have rented a boat and taken it to a sleepy resort town where they can celebrate in complete tranquility. And boy, is the spot they picked ever deserted. The adults have seemingly completely disappeared, and all that remains is a legion of children who together form a cross between a cult and a pack of hungry lions. Talk about an unnerving turn of events. Problem is, “Come Out and Play” — which isn’t even an original movie, but a remake of 1976’s “Who Can Kill a Child?” — has next to no idea what to do with it. Plenty of what happens next is creepy and occasionally gross, but until maybe the very end, it’s all a product of an idea just coasting on inertia alone. Francis and Beth wander around in terror but don’t really do anything truly desperate or crazy. The kids, meanwhile, are even less interesting — creepy for sure, but completely deficient of anything remotely resembling motive or desire or even will. What turned these kids feral? Eh, who knows? “Play” either can’t think of a clever answer or doesn’t care, and the first 95 percent of the film seems like a stall for time until the remaining five cashes in with a culmination that may surprise some of the audience. Unfortunately, past potential shock value, even this part comes up mostly empty.
Extras: Deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes feature, cast interviews.
— “Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids: The Complete Series” (NR, 1972, Shout Factory): Fat Albert’s adventures have received a smattering of DVD releases before, but this set — finally available following a last-minute delay last year — is the only way to get all 110 episodes across all three of his shows. Also included: A behind-the-scenes documentary, commentary with Cosby and a 20-page companion booklet.