May 14, 2010
THIS WEEK'S DVD cart is full of guilty pleasures. The first is the generically named "Edge of Darkness," a political thriller featuring Mel Gibson, whose pariah status no doubt contributed to the movie's lame box office. It's pretty nifty, though, boiled down to feature length by Martin Campbell from a long-running BBC series he directed many years ago. Gibson plays a Boston cop investigating the murder of his daughter, leading to a high-level conspiracy involving defense contractors and such.
February 25, 2011
THIS WEEK'S DVD roster includes the kiddie hit "Megamind," the Todd Phillips comedy "Due Date" and one overlooked goody - "Get Low," starring Robert Duvall. First "Megamind," a B-game DreamWorks animated comedy about an evil genius (Will Ferrell) who vanquishes a superhero (Brad Pitt), then finds he doesn't know what to do with the spoils (including Tina Fey). Fast, jokey in the DreamWorks style, but overstuffed with characters, some of whom are unintentionally creepy. It's also unfortunately similar to "Despicable Me," a better movie.
June 10, 2011
SOME GOOD movies in the bin this week, starting with the Coen brothers' Oscar-nominated "True Grit. " It's their more grounded-in-reality take on the iconic John Wayne classic, with Jeff Bridges as the U.S. marshal who helps a girl (Hailee Steinfeld) find the man (Josh Brolin) who killed her father. Superb support from Matt Damon, though I fear this movie will suffer in a small-screen downsizing. There's a featurette on "True Grit" novelist Charles Portis - it's a great book, well worth a read.
April 8, 2011
STRANGE-BUT-TRUE Jeff Bridges fact: His last two movies, "Tron: Legacy" and "True Grit," each made almost exactly the same amount of money, $171 million. They were, however, of differing quality. "Tron: Legacy" is a wacky sequel to the ahead-of-its-time 1982 animation/effects movie (the DVD extras include an informative look back at the original), slicker and better-looking, but strapped with a story that managed to be incomprehensible and predictable at the same time. Bridges, though, had fun as the digitized hippie locked in a virtual world of his own design, visited by his son (Garrett Hedlund)
March 18, 2011
"THE FIGHTER" earned Oscars for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo, but don't be surprised if you see better performances on the DVD. "The Fighter" is the fact-based story of "Irish" Micky Ward, a talented boxer poorly served by his crack-addict trainer-brother Dicky (Bale) and his manager mother (Leo), who won't admit to Dicky's problem or its effect on Micky's career. Enter Amy Adams as Micky's new girl, who sees that Micky isn't going anywhere until his family situation gets straightened out. Bale and Leo give us the fireworks, but Mark Wahlberg as Micky is subtle and generous, the kind of performance that makes movies work, but rarely wins awards.
August 13, 2010
SINCE ARGUMENTS over whether to go see "The Expendables" or "Eat Pray Love" may result in divorce proceedings or couples-counseling, a compromise is in order. The DVD bin has just the thing - "Date Night" - an action-comedy featuring Steve Carell and Tina Fey that might satisfy both parties. The comics play a suburban couple mistaken for mob targets on a night out, with frantic consequences. The action is so-so, but Carell and Fey have good chemistry and comic timing. Also available: "Death at a Funeral," a remake of the obscure but hilarious British original about a man (Chris Rock)
November 5, 2010
YOU HAVE these choices in the DVD planet this week: "Toy Story 3," "Toy Story 3," or "Toy Story 3. " The Disney-Pixar smash finds Woody trying to rescue his pals from a prisonlike day care center, and arrives in several configurations this week, including a basic DVD copy that includes featurettes about the vocal talent, the new (and old) toy characters, and an informational piece about the international space station (hosted by Buzz Lightyear). The theatrical release is now the highest grossing animated movie ever, and it may play even better on DVD. The movie was shown in 3-D in theaters, where the version I saw had problems.
June 3, 2011
"DRIVE ANGRY" is not a sequel to "Changing Lanes. " It's another Nicolas Cage movie that did not screen for critics, and did not make a heck of a lot of money. Cage is an angry driver out to kill the cultists who murdered his daughter. He's not looking for the guy who killed his career, which would be Cage himself. Although if he made another "Bad Lieutenant" with Werner Herzog, I'd be right there. For a more nuanced leading-man performance, try Javier Bardem in "Biutiful. " He plays a dying single dad trying to ensure some sort of future for his two kids.
July 2, 2010
THIS WEEK'S DVDs allow us to gauge which is more horrifying: Rampaging zombies, the seeds of Nazi Germany, or the '80s. There are two legit horror movies on the menu, including "The Crazies," a very sturdy little movie featuring Timothy Olyphant as a sheriff who watches the peaceful citizens of his small town go zombie, one by one. Special features include a look back at the George Romero original, and tutorials on makeup and effects. There's also Michael Haneke's creepy black-and-white German movie "The White Ribbon," Oscar-nominated, about a rural prewar village where soulless, repressed children start acting out in nasty ways.
September 10, 2010
NOT EVEN a movie company would be this crass, so it's surely a coincidence that "Solitary Man" arrives on DVD as star Michael Douglas goes public about his cancer. The movie features one of Douglas' better recent performances - he plays a self-destructive business tycoon doing emotional damage to himself and those around him, including Mary Louise Parker, Jesse Eisenberg and Susan Sarandon. The movie is unusually well written, even if the writers provide a third-act revelation that tries too hard to undo the riddle of Douglas' character.