DVD of the Week
David Chase drove fans batty with the finale to his hit HBO mob series. After six seasons of sudden death, Tony Soprano ended in suspended animation (at least until the reruns start). The concluding movement still contains plenty of what made this the definitive TV show of the '00s. The characters are robust, and the narrative changes moods on a dime -- whether watching Uncle Junior slip-sliding away or ramping up for the ultimate showdown between New York and Essex County. Four discs.
An inventive orphan hitches a ride to the future with time-surfing Wilbur Robinson. Disney's attempt to make a CGI movie without Pixar's help suggests there's life in the old mouse yet. It's packed with smart in-jokes and delightfully inventive animation. With a 1938 'toon short and model boat. Nope, us neither.
Hollywood is learning the hard way that America doesn't want to watch movies about Iraq. Too bad, because this worthy drama about returning vets (Samuel L. Jackson, 50 Cent, Jessica Biel) may seem mawkish later, but right now drops a heavy emotional payload.
Kevin Costner looks like he's having fun in this History of Violence-like riff, where his family man/assassin is pursued both by a dogged cop (welcome back, Demi Moore) and a sick thrill-seeker (please go away, Dane Cook). You might have fun, too, if you leave your brain in another room.
When a feral Cambodian hit man (Edison Chen) serves up fresh corpses with the dim sum, cop Sam Lee vows to bring him to ground. Dogs being dogs, they end up chasing tails. HK movies being HK movies, most of Kowloon heads to the morgue. Excitement for those who prefer a bit of style with their sadism.
Two thoughts were left in our near-empty skull at the end of Saw III. One: "Why did I pay $10 to have my brain hit by a sledgehammer for two hours?" Two: "Maybe it will improve if it's restored to the director's original vision." Now it has been, and it isn't. Commentaries, docs and a Hydrovibe music video.
Malcolm Lowry's sole novel, about a boozy consul who leaves his consciousness and a string of empty of mescal bottles all over Mexico, is stripped of its literary glamour in John Huston's 1984 adaptation. Albert Finney falls off the wagon in fine style, and Mexico is at its rawest. New print, docs on Huston and Lowry.
New World director Terrence Malick's second film (1978) is a ravishing visual experience, casting its love triangle between vagabond Richard Gere, farmer Sam Shepard and home-girl Brooke Adams against a U.S. in perpetual sunset (and amid one helluva locust plague). The transfer glows like a Turner canvas.
Ecole's in session. Jean-Luc Godard's 1959 debut was the Pulp Fiction of its day -- a definitive break with the past thanks to its violent editing and jaded look at young lovers (beyond cool Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg) running on empty. The future starts here. With making of doc, script and archival interviews.
Lancaster's acrobatic persona and kilowatt grin make him a perfect boy's own hero. There's tons of adolescent exuberance in these five films, whether crossing the South Seas (His Majesty O'Keefe), swashbuckling in hose (The Flame and the Arrow), or shaming Barry Bonds as Jim Thorpe, All-American.
The Brooklyn-born expat had a dim view of humanity, but time has vindicated him. Technology is as scary as space is daunting in 2001: A Space Odyssey, while A Clockwork Orange questions the debilitating effects of media on our morality. Full Metal Jacket is the definitive portrait of how the army really f*cks over your mind if you let it. Empty hotels do the same in The Shining. Eyes Wide Shut exposes the real Tom Cruise more effectively than Matt Lauer and provides a creamy kiss-off to the Kubrick century. With commentary, docs, interviews, star profiles and a feature-length doc on Stan the man.
The TV spin-off put Jones in short pants and sent him around the world, where he'd inevitably team with someone like Teddy Roosevelt or Leo Tolstoy for cliffhanging spills. George Lucas being George Lucas, he's re-cut the original episodes into feature-film length and added 38 (count 'em!) docs on the historical context. Educational and enjoyable, but thrifty fans might want to wait for an "extra"-less edition.
The final season of the intriguing CW show delved into darker territory as Mars (Kristen Bell) pursued a rapist at Hearst College and coped with her boyfriend's wandering eye. Brainy and mature, it didn't have a prayer against American Idol and fully deserves its cult following. Grab it while you can. 20 episodes.
Four years in, The L Word has stopped being a guilty pleasure for straight guys and turned into a compelling and trashy L.A. soap. While the bitching, bed-hopping and gender-flexing continued, Mia Kirshner's flirtation with Hollywood added a glam edge. Guest Kristanna Loken also raised temperatures.
Watching 50 Cent tread through "Got My Money" on MTV recently, what seemed to be missing was the wonderful feeling of exhilaration endemic in early hip-hop. This rough 'n' ready 1983 film is about the last temptation of graffiti artist Lee Quinones, but its enduring interest comes from its vibrant portrait of pre-Giuliani New York, dotted with iconic rap moments like Grandmaster Flash cutting records in his kitchen and a playground face-off between the Cold Crush Brothers and the Fantastic Freaks. With new interviews with Fab 5 Freddy, Busy Bee, Lady Pink, and director Charlie Ahearn.