Philip Seymour Hoffman is thrilling to watch as a priest accused of abuse by god-like nun Meryl Streep. Streep's highly-studied Bronx accent cracks me up, but this is a crackerjack stage play by John Patrick Shanley that he adopted for the screen and directed. Viola Davis makes a deep impression, and Amy Adams is a cute nun. Buy it.
The Tale of Despereaux
Quoting myself: "A slapdash character study of two rodents ... a gentle and nurturing children's story, imparting lessons without being too condescending to its audience." This could become a family perennial. With the voices of Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, and Emma Watson. Buy it.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
You've already seen the best bits in the trailer. Seriously. Even allowing for Keanu Reeves' intentionally blank slate and the prototypical "annoying kid," and crushing on Jennifer Connelly, this was a deadly bore that didn't come close to the far superior original. Skip it.
Jim Carrey stars in what our man Will Goss described as "a minor lark in the Canadian comedian's career ... familiar and funny in about equal measure." Still, Carrey familiarity + Zooey Deschanel makes me want to check it out. Rent it.
Adam Sandler has always seemed child-like, but Jette Kernion said: "Watching Bedtime Stories is about as delightful as peeking into your Christmas stocking and finding it empty except for a few lint-covered peppermints." (Note: Released this past Sunday.) Skip it.
An old school 70s brand of horror picture, more interested in shock and crunch than logic. Oliver Blackburn's film is perhaps most notorious for a lengthy, grinding, glowing soft-core sex scene involving multiple participants, but is cold-hearted to its core and brutally effective. Both unrated and rated editions are available. (Read William Goss' review.)
Emmanuelle Béart and Rufus Sewell star as a married couple searching for their missing child in the aftermath of a giant tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands in Asia. They're both suffering from survivor's guilt and exhausted by a series of false leads, but they're still willing to listen when someone tells them their son has been spotted walking in an isolated jungle. Fabrice Du Welz (Calvaire) directs from a script he co-wrote with Oliver Blackburn (Donkey Punch) and David Greig. When I saw this at Fantastic Fest last fall, I was disappointed that it added up to so little. However, we didn't get to see the 35mm print, and I'm told the visuals are key, so it still might be worth checking out on DVD.
Passengers on an airport shuttle van soon find themselves detoured through a bad neighbhood and discover to their dismay that their driver (Tony Curran) is some kind of psychopathic. Edward Anderson's film has the form of a thriller, but doesn't deliver much more than that. (Read my SXSW review.)
Also out: I.O.U.S.A., The Loyal 47 Ronin, Tokyo Zombie, The Brave Archer.
No Country for Old Men (Collector's Edition)
Double-dipping on Blu-ray commences in earnest with this Academy Award winner, which was first released on Blu-ray last year. The new edition has the same excellent picture and features new extras, but High-Def Digest was not impressed: "We get the same fluffy features as before, plus a raft of interviews that may be copious but often redundant. And still no commentary, deleted scenes, or anything else."
Tango & Cash
Totally ridiculous and all the more entertaining because of it, as Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Teri Hatcher, and Jack Palance chew the scenery between the stunt-filled set pieces. Looks like a simple catalog rip, with only a theatrical trailer as a supplemental feature listed.
Rube Goldberg meets Death in a high-concept horror thriller helmed by James Wong that races along so fast you barely have time to question the logic with a well-timed "Wha'?" Devon Sava, Ali Larter (as "Clear Rivers," one of my all-time favorite character names), and Kerr Smith, plus Seann William Scott, Amanda Detmer, and Tony Todd (!).
Also out: Roy Scheider and John Lithgow in 2010: The Year We Make Contact, Steven Seagal in Above the Law, Edward Norton in American History X, Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin in Fly Away Home, Denzel Washington in John Q, Bridget Fonda in Point of No Return, Angelina Jolie in Taking Lives, Adam Sandler as The Wedding Singer, and the lovely air-borne bird doc Winged Migration.
Pre-Code Hollywood Collection
Five flicks produced by Paramount in the early 30s (The Cheat / Merrily We Go to Hell / Hot Saturday / Torch Singer / Murder at the Vanities / Search for Beauty), in the naughty, pre-code era, finally get released on DVD by Universal. Some big names appears, including Frederic March, Claudette Colbert, Randolph Scott, and Cary Grant. The list price ($49.98) is pretty attractive, too, considering six features are included. Check out reviews by Dave Kehr in the New York Times and Glenn Erickson at DVD Savant.
Also out: TCM Spotlight: Doris Day Collection (It's a Great Feeling / Tea for Two / April in Paris / The Tunnel of Love / Starlift), Cleopatra 75th Anniversary Edition (Universal Backlot Series) (1934), Max Fleischer's Superman: 1941-1942, Giant Spider Invasion: Director's Cut.