Home Video Picks & Passes 03.05.17

Hackshaw Ridge is a pick

(photo: Lionsgate)

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) — PICK

Manchester by the Sea (2016) — PASS


Two grueling 2016 “Best Picture” nominees are among the latest home video picks. One of my top 30 films of 2016, Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge stars Andrew Garfield as real-life World War II hero Desmond Doss, the first Medal of Honor recipient who was a conscientious objector, serving as a medic but refusing to carry a gun.

That’s once he gets to the battlefield. First, Doss must fight for the right to serve in a manner consistent with his beliefs as a Seventh-Day Adventist. In many ways, this is an old-fashioned film, as its hero is an old-fashioned guy. Gibson makes no apology for either. Hacksaw Ridge powerfully makes the case that there should be room in this world for people like Desmond Doss and for movies like this.

Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s acclaimed drama Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Affleck as a self-destructive Boston area loner named Lee Chandler who is dragged back into his painful, dysfunctional past life when his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies.

The story’s center is Lee’s awkward relationship with his young nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), who is trying to weather his father’s death with a façade of normality.

Affleck is persuasively broken, divided between the man he was and the hollow shell he is. Lonergan structures his story around mundane conversations and events, gradually revealing the immense traumas beneath the surface. It’s honest, sometimes insightful, but virtually without hope.


Caveat Spectator: Hacksaw Ridge: Extreme, graphic battlefield violence and gore; a depiction of ritual suicide and beheading; rear male nudity; some cursing. Manchester by the Sea: A suicide attempt; a number of fistfights; moderate sexual content (nothing explicit); heavy profane, obscene and crude language. Both mature viewing.