Robert Tanitch reviews the latest DVDs
MANGLEHORN (Artificial Eye). A locksmith (Al Pacino), a lonely, elderly widower, writes letters to the woman he once loved but they are always returned unopened. He can unlock other people’s troubles but not unlock his own life and malaise, which, in one surreal moment, is likened to a multiple car crash. His only companion is his cat and the cat needs an operation. On his first date with a nice bank teller (Holly Hunter), which is easily the best and most poignant scene, he talks obsessively of “the best woman in his life” to her obvious distress. There is also a good scene with his estranged son (Chris Messina) whom he refuses to help. Pacino’s expert acting may be enough for some viewers.
GET SANTA (Warner Bros Home Entertainment). Christmas may have to be cancelled this year. Santa has been arrested. Can an ex-convict (likeable Rafe Spall) and his young son (Tom Connor) get him out of prison and reunited with his sleigh and reindeers in order that he can delivers presents to all the kids in the world? The more Chris Smith’s film sticks with Spall and Connor and especially Jim Broadbent’s Santa and the less time he spends on the low-budget and non-magical special effects the better it is. Warwick Davis is outraged to be mistaken for an elf.
ON ANGEL WINGS (Kaleidiscope). The story of the Nativity has been told endlessly on stage (mostly in primary schools until very recently) and in numerous paintings. Dave Unwin’s 30-minute animation, which is based on Michael Morpugo’s book, is one of the worst I have seen. (Did you know that young Amos was the first visitor to see the newly-born Christ?) The cartoonish shepherds may be acceptable but the portrayal of Angel Gabriel in image and script (voiced as one of the lads by Dominic Cooper) is terrible kitsch. The flight to Bethlehem sequence makes him look like a carpet. Yong children deserve better at Christmas.