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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Home Movies/Out on Digital: Mar. 4

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Burton and Taylor

Helena Bonham Carter is magnificent—and well out of her recent wacko-role comfort zone—as Elizabeth Taylor in this believable dramatization of a troubled 1983 Broadway run with Richard Burton. Her Taylor is emotionally demanding and alcohol frazzled; Dominic West is credible as Burton, playing the role with willful intelligence. In Burton and Taylor, Liz tries to pick up the tangled personal and professional threads with her former lover and partner. Dick had already moved on.

 ■  Diana

Although Naomi Watts is unconvincing as Princess Diana, the film by director Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) captures the royal celebrity bubble she inhabited. Written by playwright Stephen Jeffreys from a book on Diana’s affair with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, Diana imagines the guises and disguises of her covert romance. Naveen Andrews (“Lost”) gives a good performance as Khan, a thoughtful man unimpressed with Diana’s stardom but ultimately frustrated by the impossible glare of publicity.

 ■  Amber Alert

From Blair Witch through Paranormal Activity, faux “found footage” films have usually been associated with horror. In Amber Alert, the horror is distinctly human. A couple of fun-loving 20-somethings, making an audition video for a reality TV show, notice a car on the freeway that corresponds to the wanted vehicle on an amber alert warning. They follow the driver; the police prove inadequate; suspense and panic mount; and moral issues of responsibility are parsed.