DVD of the Week
Video director Michel Gondry turned the White Stripes into Legos; now he makes inventive movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and this romantic marvel. Sleep is an autobiographical tale about a shy artist (Gael Garcia Bernal) who falls for the beauty (Charlotte Gainsbourg) across the hall of his Paris apartment. He incorporates her into his vivid fantasies: kindergarten surrealism made of yarn, cardboard and his father's velvet suit. But watch closely -- there's a dark lining to the magical moments.
Clint Eastwood's most ambitious movie yet scrutinizes the Greatest Generation to see what they're really made of. It's two movies in one: the first depicts the taking of Iwo Jima, one of WWII's bloodiest battles. The second shows how the famous image of the Stars 'n' Stripes raised over the yet-to-be captured island was exploited to renew a nation's waning faith in victory. This goes deeper than "war is hell." Flags is a timely reminder that the people who wage it are only human.
Augusten Burroughs' memoirs work on screen because they flaunt his familial kookiness. However, the movie version of his Oprah-endorsed title never finds the right tone. Young Augusten (Joseph Cross) is surrendered to his parents' psychiatrist (Brian Cox) when they can't cope anymore. The savvy Alec Baldwin aside, the actors run so rampant with their tics, it's like Thanksgiving in an asylum. Burroughs discusses his book and the movie in one of three featurettes.
In 1959, Superman was found dead, a suspected suicide. This fascinating film kicks up a fuss about what really happened to George Reeves, the B-movie actor who found fame playing TV's Man of Steel. It's surprisingly successful, thanks to an atmosphere as heavy as the L.A. smog and excellent performances from Ben Affleck (Reeves), Diane Lane as his manipulative mistress and Adrien Brody, the world-weary gumshoe trying to prove it was murder. With deleted scenes and featurettes.
The Grudge goes transcontinental when Amber Tamblyn flies to Tokyo to find out why sis Sarah Michelle Gellar went crazy, and The L Word's Jennifer Beals finds a soggy-looking ghost with major beef living in her Chicago walk-up. With deleted scenes and featurettes including a profile of Grudge creator/director Takashi Shimuzu.
Sex tourism calls up images of elderly men trawling the flesh-pits of Bangkok for underage meat, but this French movie turns that idea on its head. Inspired by the stories of Haitian writer Dany Laferriere, it follows a trio of women happily paying the natives for sex on the Caribbean island. Set in the 1970s, petty jealousy and the shadow of dictator Baby Doc Duvalier conspire to create tragedy, but director Laurent Cantet's seductive imagery and thoughtful depiction of aged lust challenges sexual stereotypes.
This intriguing box gathers five essential movies from Hitchcock's early career. The hallmarks are there, from guilty love triangles (1929's The Manxman, a silent film) to clever plot devices (the twisty 1930 mystery Murder! features interior monologues). Actual suspense is thin, but Hitchcock's robust characterizations are already in place, particularly in the madcap Rich and Strange, a comedy of innocents abroad.
Made just before Pearl Harbor, this 1941 comedy engaged in some wishful thinking. What if boxer Robert Montgomery's death was an accident, and he returned to earth for a second chance? The supporting cast -- including a fidgety Edward Everett Horton and Claude Rains' as paradise's suave angel -- steal the film, later remade by Warren Beatty in the 1970s as Heaven Can Wait.
More nubile witchcraft with Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan, and Holly Marie Combs. By 2004, however, this show was starting to age, saddling the sisterly witches with a baby and introducing convoluted storylines featuring the avatars. Still, for connoisseurs of boob tube hocus-pocus, this Goth-lite dramedy has its moments. Twenty-two episodes on six discs.
What ever happened to Paul Reiser? In the early 1990s, he reinvented the sitcom with this successful NBC show. The secret was in its bemused look at newlyweds (Reiser and Helen Hunt) who negotiate life's little dramas in Greenwich Village. Like Seinfeld, if Jerry and Elaine got married and converted to Buddhism. Twenty-four episodes on three discs.
As the Beach Boys' resident genius, Brian Wilson fashioned a sound that blended the crash of the wild surf and the awe of first love. Then he gobbled a lot of LSD and laid low for a decade. This all-star 2005 tribute proves the acid casualty's music is as timeless as the Beatles or Beethoven, with Red Hot Chili Peppers kicking out the jams on "I Get Around," and country queen Shelby Lynne giving "Surfer Girl" a meaning Wilson never intended.