Rental Central

Tom Doty Times Columnist

January 3, 2014

The New Year got off to a slow start with major releases but here are four projects that flew in under the radar.

“Don Jon” — Adult relationships are explored in this film about two people who grew up watching decidedly different entertainment. The female half enjoyed those romantic comedies of the 1940s that featured big stars and rapid paced dialogue, while the male indulged in adult films. These different backgrounds make for a tenuous romance in this feature film directing debut from Joseph Gordon-Leavitt (“The Dark Knight Rises”). Leavitt does fine job here and is well matched by Scarlett Johansen as his girlfriend. An interesting take on how we should only take movies with a grain of salt.

“The Perry Mason Movie Collection” — This exclusive boxed set from Amazon.com features the first six TV movies that reunited the cast of “Perry Mason.” Raymond Burr toplines as the attorney who now rules the court as a circuit judge. When his former secretary, Della Street, is charged with murder, he comes back to defend her. These are well mounted productions but Amazon is asking a whopping 50 bucks for them, so wait it out.

“Sweetwater” — Westerns need to make a comeback, but this slow-paced oater won’t do the job. January Jones (“Mad Men”) is quite good as a former prostitute who comes to New Mexico to embark on a new life with her husband. Unfortunately, she is pursued by a deranged preacher and her only hope for survival might just rest with an ex-sheriff who is on the run. Some good scenery and shootouts, but way too many slow spots.

“Sanitarium” — Malcolm McDowell (who is in everything now) stars as a psychiatrist who relates the back stories behind three patients at the titular facility in this effective horror yarn. Fun but forgettable, with a solid genre cast that includes Lacy Chabert, Robert Englund and John Glover. Killer dolls and imaginary monsters that really bite figure prominently.