DVD/VIDEO REVIEWS Apr-24-2011
This week's DVD and Blu-ray releases
The following are capsule reviews of new and recent DVD and Blu-ray releases from Catholic News Service. Theatrical movies have a Catholic News Service classification and Motion Picture Association of America rating. These classifications refer only to the theatrical version of the films below, and do not take into account the discs' extra content.
Down to You
Frivolous romantic comedy about college sweethearts (Freddie Prinze Jr. and Julia Stiles) who experience the thrills and disappointments of first love. Writer-director Kris Isacsson romanticizes the joy of first love in a cookie-cutter film that wraps up all the loose ends too predictably. Implied affairs, sexual references and an instance of rough language. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment) 2000
A young New York couple (Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore) move into a picture-perfect townhouse, only to discover that it comes equipped with a chronically intrusive elderly tenant, whom they contemplate bumping off to prevent their dream home from turning into a nightmare. Though frequently funny, the film, directed by Danny DeVito, is fueled by an ugly brand of dark humor which treats cruelty as an occasion for laughter. A black-comedy murder plot, an implied sexual encounter, recurring vulgar humor and sporadic crude language. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment) 2003
British movie set in a small, drab Yorkshire coal-mining town tells the story of a lonely, sullen boy (David Bradley) whose life is momentarily given meaning by his experience in raising and training a baby kestrel, a European falcon. Directed by Ken Loach, the movie is a compassionate study of the blighted conditions and brutalizing life of this youth which in its final scenes indicates the possibility of his rising above his environment. Fine experience for adults and older adolescents. A-III -- adults. (PG) (Criterion Collection; also available on Blu-ray) 1970
The King's Speech
Stirring historical drama, set between the world wars, about the unlikely but fruitful relationship between the Duke of York (Colin Firth) -- second in line to the British crown -- and the eccentric speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) under whose care he reluctantly places himself at the instigation of his loyal wife (Helena Bonham Carter) to overcome the stammer that hobbles his public speaking. This task becomes all the more urgent as the death of the duke's father (Michael Gambon) and the abdication of his brother (Guy Pearce) propel the unwilling heir toward the throne. Weaving together the story of one of the modern era's most successful royal marriages and the lesser-known tale of the friendship by which an unflappable commoner helped to heal the emotionally crippling childhood wounds underlying his princely client's impediment, director Tom Hooper creates a luminous tapestry reinforced by finely spun performances and marred only by the loose threads of some offensive language. Two brief but intense outbursts of vulgarity, a couple of uses of profanity, a few crass terms and a mildly irreverent joke. A-III -- adults. (R) (The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
Surreal, off-kilter Australian drama about two bizarre sisters -- one thin, sour and inhibited (Karen Colston), the other schizophrenic, plump and insatiable for food, sex and attention (Genevieve Lemon). Directed by Jane Campion, it's an uncomfortable, unconventional study of adult female sibling rivalry and the long-standing ties that bind and choke off all that is good and healthy in a family. Scenes of graphic sexuality and psychological breakdown may be disturbing to some, yet the work's unusual artistic and family vision warrants serious attention. Nudity and rough language. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (R) (Criterion Collection; also available on Blu-ray) 1990
Tennessee's Partner (Special Edition)
Formula Western directed by Allan Dwan uneasily links a cowpoke (Ronald Reagan), a gambler (John Payne) and the proprietor of a fancy house (Rhonda Fleming) in a dusty gold-mining town. Stylized violence, romantic complications and sexual innuendo. A-III -- adults. (N/R) (VCI Entertainment) 1955
Upstairs and Downstairs
Uneven British comedy about the problems of a young couple (Michael Craig and Anne Heywood) in hiring reliable domestic help. Directed by Ralph Thomas, the highlights include an alcoholic maid (Joan Hickson), a retired couple who rob the bank next door and a nubile Swedish au pair girl (Mylene Demongeot). Much sexual innuendo. A-III -- adults. (N/R) (VCI Entertainment) 1961
The Way Back
Inspirational, partly fact-based portrayal of a 4,000-mile trek by escaped prisoners from a Russian gulag to political asylum in India. Director and co-writer Peter Weir's superbly made drama sees an ensemble of skilled actors (Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell, Saiorse Ronan) displaying deeply felt emotions along with stunning courage, although "The Long Walk" -- the 1956 book on which the script is based -- has been shown to fall short of the truth. Probably acceptable for older teens. Fleeting rough language. Spanish titles option. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (Image Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2011
These movies have been evaluated for artistic merit and moral suitability by the media reviewing division of Catholic News Service. The reviews include the CNS rating, the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and a brief synopsis of the movie.
The classifications are as follows:
A-I -- general patronage;
A-II -- adults and adolescents;
A-III -- adults;
L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. L replaces the previous classification, A-IV.
O -- morally offensive.
Note: Some movies previously were designated A-IV. Older films with this classification should be regarded as classified L.