New and noteworthy experiences among home video, games, gadgets and the Web.
Police drama with grit
There are no dirty cops in “End of Watch,” a tense, violent — and surprisingly affecting — police drama from writer David Ayer, who also directs. He has created a portrait of law enforcement under pressure that proves as ennobling as it is gritty.
Rapper Yahira “Flakiss” Garcia plays a scary gangbanger that L.A.P.D. officers Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena) tangle with when, in the course of their routine patrols, they inadvertently interfere with the local operation of a ruthless Mexican drug cartel.
On the downside, it’s yet another movie utilizing the “found footage” gimmick. Much of the film consists of shaky, handheld images purportedly shot by Brian for a filmmaking class he’s taking. It’s an unnecessary distraction from the story, which is a good one.
The DVD and Blu-ray (Universal, $25-$35) include commentary, deleted scenes and five featurettes.
Colin Covert’s take: The actors’ outstanding work in spasms of ferocity and moments of gentleness makes “End of Watch” a victory of craft over clichés.
Also out Tuesday:
Movies: “Death Race 3: Inferno,” “The Paperboy,” “Searching for Sugar Man,” “Tai Chi Zero,” “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning.”
TV: “The Abolitionists,” “The Men Who Built America,” “Scarecrow and Mrs. King” (Season 4).
Blu-ray debuts: “Deadly Blessing,” “Pina,” “The Quiet Man,” “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution.”
More like ugly duckling
In “The Unfinished Swan” ($15 download for PS3; rated Everyone), you play as Monroe, who keeps a painting of an unfinished swan that his recently deceased mother painted. As the game unfolds in a series of stark white levels, you use the controller to fling paint splotches all over the place. The paint slowly reveals the design, and along with the swan (which acts as a pseudo guide to each mission) you partake in solving puzzle after puzzle.
The game is rich with moving music and the act of discovery as a game-play element feels novel, until it fails to reach a proper crescendo and thus feels monotonous. Younger gamers with a thirst for discovery might take to the game with gusto, while veteran players might wonder what all the fuss is about.
Scripps Howard News Service
Do yoga the easy way
When apps cost money, we expect big things. Yoga Studio by Modern Lotus ($1.99 via iTunes) does not disappoint.
It provides 30 complete yoga classes rendered in HD video that you can even display on your TV if you have an Apple TV or Airplay. You can choose from 15-, 30- or 60-minute classes categorized by beginner, intermediate and advanced.
If you don’t like a class, you can alter it. You can add poses to an existing class or make up your own by choosing the poses you want to practice, linking them together and even deciding how long you want to hold each pose.
The class files are downloaded to your iPhone, and the size is intentionally compressed so that your phone isn’t overloaded. Now you can play a class, anytime, without an Internet connection. You also can put classes on your calendar.
The app’s yoga pose library has more than 280 poses with vivid images and detailed information. You choose your class environment by selecting background music and ambient sound options. You can also pick your level of instruction — full teacher commentary (for ready-made classes), just pose names or a simple chime to indicate the next pose.
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH