Rental Central

Tom Doty Times Columnist

March 14, 2014

Crime thrillers ruled the shelves this week, though there was room for a well made adaptation of a popular young adult novel.

“The Book Thief” — Young adults have known about this excellent story, by Marcus Zusack, for years, but this excellent adaptation should bring new fans to the work. The story follows a young girl who is separated from her family in Nazi Germany. She winds up with a foster family. She becomes the titular character when she saves a random tome from a Reich-fueled book burning. Soon, she teams up with other like-minded souls to create a secret library. Heartfelt and well made, with good performances by Emily Watson and Geoffrey Rush.

“Homefront” — A recently widowed DEA agent retires to a small town to raise his 10-year-old daughter in this dark thriller that focuses on the characters before becoming more of an action movie. The approach works, thanks to a good script from Sylvester Stallone, who also produced. Jason Statham has the chops to pull off the acting and the fighting, and he is well matched against James Franco, as a small town hood.

“Out of the Furnace” — A blue collar worker takes on an organized crime group in this well acted drama that also gets more action packed as it moves along. Christian Bale stars as a man who works in a steel mill during the day and nurses his terminally ill father at night. His brother comes home after serving in Iraq but proves useless. He goes to work for some hoods and promptly vanishes. Brother goes looking for him and becomes more violent towards the opposition as they throw up roadblocks in his way. Great acting from a fine cast distinguishes this flick. Look for Forrest Whittaker, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepherd, and a smarmy Woody Harrlelson.

“In the Heat of the Night” — The rest of this series adaptation of the Oscar-winning film finally hits DVD, after a bizarre release schedule that saw the first and last season brought out first. Carroll O’Connor and Howard Rollins stars as Sheriff Gillespie and detective Virgil Tibbs (in the roles originally played by Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier). The show picks up on events after the film and finds Tibbs moving back to Sparta and working for Gillespie before eventually taking over the department. Lots of great stories and supporting performances. Alan Autry shines as a thick-necked macho deputy who blossoms under the tutelage of Gillespie and Tibbs.