On Demand Picks
ALI(HBO on Comcast) A big high-energy biopic that jabs away at the life of Muhammad Ali until Will Smith clinches him. It’s approached as stylized iconography, and often seems detached and disjointed, but it gets the big things right, including the complex social, cultural, and political spheres Ali influenced - and was influenced by. And Smith makes contact with Ali’s swagger, sweetness, wit, and pride; he seems to connect with the performer in Ali. He and Jon Voight’s Howard Cosell make quite a comedy team. (R; runs through Nov. 16)
APOLLO 13(HBO on Comcast) Ron Howard’s compelling docudrama about what happened when a 1970 moon shot went wrong, endangering Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton. Mission Control, headed by Ed Harris back in Houston, provides dramatic counterpoint. Not as complex as it might have been - but the period reconstructions are terrific, and the warmth and decency are real. (PG; runs through Nov. 16)
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