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On Demand Picks

January 29, 2010

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ROCK STAR
(HBO on Comcast) Showbiz cliches in a rock-band setting. But the film lands on its feet because it has the right energies and a get-up-and-go performance from Mark Wahlberg (pictured). He’s a Pittsburgh wannabe who gets his big chance with a bunch of Brits who zoom him to the top, where he encounters the usual misery of excess. (R; runs through Feb. 8)

DEAL
(Showtime on Comcast) A card-tournament drama that suggests the movies ought to find a more compelling sport. Although it’s often more pleasant to watch the poker in this film than the face of its star. Burt Reynolds’s body distracts from the little bits of soul he’s put into this performance as an aged gambler looking to win his first championship. With Bret Harrison as the up-and-comer he mentors. Directed and co-written by Gil Cates Jr. (PG-13; runs through Feb. 6) WESLEY MORRIS

DEATH BECOMES HER
(HBO on Comcast) Great first half, but the second half is a letdown as Robert Zemeckis takes on our phobia about aging. Two anxious rivals played by Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn compete for Bruce Willis, the plastic surgeon they want nearby to provide the touch-ups they feel they can’t do without. Terrific special effects, stylish visuals, and Streep is very funny as a self-absorbed monster. But the film backs away from the bite it could have mustered, turning hollow, avoiding social context, vanishing into its effects, only skin-deep. (PG-13; runs through Feb. 8)