“Her,” Grade A: Emotional loner Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his newly purchased operating system, which goes by the name Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). It’s not the person who provides the computer voice, it’s the operating system that steals his heart.
Call it “Close Encounters of the Intellectual Kind.”
Director Spike Jonze, who also penned the script, takes a painfully serious look at what actually defines love. It’s often depicted in films – and experienced in real life – as a physical, emotional and intellectual connection between two people. They might have different philosophies, social backgrounds or any of a million other variances, but they are pulled together by a force that’s as intangible as the wind.
The world and characters in “Her” come with a certain degree of emptiness created by the loss of spontaneity. It’s the perfect environment for this original look at the meaning of falling in love.
“Orange Is the New Black,” Grade A-minus: The original series from Netflix is based on the memoirs of Piper Kerman. The 13-episode comedy/drama follows a young woman (Taylor Schilling) whose seemingly perfect life is turned upside down when she must serve time in a federal women’s prison – a place where orange jumpsuits are always in fashion.
The cast also includes Jason Biggs, Laura Prepon, Kate Mulgrew, Michelle Hurst and Danielle Brooks.
From the writing to standout performances by Schilling and Prepon, this production is entertainment in the first degree.
“Barney Miller: Season Five,” Grade A-minus: This comedy about the off-beat squad of cops who daily face arresting developments showed some real heart in this season that originally aired during the 1978-79 TV season on ABC.
Among the 24 episodes is the season finale, “Jack Soo, a Retrospective,” where the cast pay tribute to the late actor who played detective Nick Yemana. Soo’s dry humor was a big part of the series.
“Afterlife: Season One”: Andrew Lincoln plays a fierce skeptic who meets a real psychic.
“Stalingrad”: Drama set during one of the most important battles of World War II.
“Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection Volume 8”: Includes 30 theatrical animated shorts.
“I, Frankenstein”: Frankenstein’s monster gets caught in a battle between immortal clans.
“Scooby Doo! 13 Spooky Tales: Field of Screams”: Scooby gang face scary adventures.
“Regular Show: The Complete Third Season”: Include 40 season three episodes starring Mordecai, Rigby and their collection of pals.
“Crocodile Dundee & Crocodile Dundee II”: Both films starring Paul Hogan are on one DVD.
“Yu-Gi-Oh! Classic: Season 5”: First volume in the animated set is being released.
“That Awkward Moment”: Best friends must decide where the relationship is going.
“Theatreland”: Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen provide a look behind the scenes of a production of “Waiting for Godot.”
“PAW Patrol”: Puppies are ready to save the day.
“Final Exam”: Prank backfires on a group of students.
“Wolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today”: Wolverine’s life becomes complicated when cybernetic robots from the future embark on a superhero killing spree.
“Martha’s Superhero Adventures”: Based on the children’s book series by Susan Meddaugh.
“Evilspeak”: Blu-ray release of the story of a bullied military academy student who discovers a hidden evil.
“The Godfather Part III”: Third part of the trilogy is available on Blu-ray.
“Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”: Animated tale is being released as a Blu-ray combo pack.
“Poseidon Rex”: Secluded island terrorized by a deadly predator from the planet’s past.
“One Direction: Reaching for the Stars Part 2: The Next Chapter”: Gets up close and personal with the pop group.
“Easy Money, Life Deluxe”: This installment in the series has JW (Joel Kinnaman) more determined that ever to find his missing sister.
“Movies 4 You: Horror”: Includes four scary films including “The Screaming Skull.”
“Piggy”: Grieving brother takes justice into his own hands.
“The Adventures of Raggedy Ann & Andy”: Includes 13 episodes of the Saturday morning series.
“Generation Iron”: A look at the professional sport of bodybuilding today.
“Deadly Code”: Leader of a Siberian criminal clan schools his grandson on the “honest criminal” code of their community.
“The Zombienator”: Group of college students come face to face with the undead.
“Dinosaur Big City / Dinosaurs A to Z Double Feature”: Features 17 prehistoric adventures aimed at children.
“Special ID”: Donnie Yen plays undercover police officer.
“Perry Mason Movie Collection: Volume 2”: Includes six made-for-TV movies.
“French for Kids”: Animated way to teach French.
“American Jesus”: Documentary on American religion.
“Little Girl”: Australian revenge thriller.
Rick Bentley, The Fresno Bee