DVD/VIDEO REVIEWS week of June 7, 2010
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.
Bonnie and Clyde
Warren Beatty's production stars himself and Faye Dunaway, with supporting cast of Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons and Michael J. Pollard, in a vivid and strikingly real re-creation of the treadmill existence of the Barrow gang, ill-fated bank robbers of the Depression. Director Arthur Penn brings a human perspective to the gang's wildly distorted legend and their senselessly violent deaths, which leaves viewers to ponder the brutal frontier ethic of American justice. Scenes of strong violence. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (R)
(Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray.) 1967
Gypsy (Deluxe Edition)
Bittersweet musical in which an obsessive stage mom (Rosalind Russell) tries to make a vaudeville star out of her young daughter (Ann Jillian) but fails, then turns to her older daughter (Natalie Wood), who instead makes it on her own as burlesque stripper Gyspy Rose Lee. Director Mervyn LeRoy gets an effectively aggressive performance from Russell, whose egomaniacal mother furnishes considerable sympathy for Wood's escape into a disreputable career, but what succeeds best are the Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim songs, notably "Let Me Entertain You" and "Everything's Coming Up Roses." Parental exploitation of youngsters and some heavy sexual innuendo. A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Warner Home Video) 1963
Grippingly atmospheric romantic tale set in turn-of-the-last-century Vienna, Austria, about a mysterious stage magician (Edward Norton) who loves a noblewoman (Jessica Biel) unwillingly betrothed to the crown prince (Rufus Sewell) who demands the chief inspector (Paul Giamatti) prove the magician a fraud. Writer-director Neil Burger's sepia-toned adaptation of Steven Millhauser's short story, with a haunting score by Philip Glass and excellent performances, brilliantly captures the period, and beneath the compelling story, such themes as popular superstition, the rise of scientific thought and the decline of the aristocracy are unobtrusively woven. A brief sexual encounter with suggested nudity, some domestic violence, a suicide and a few crass expressions. Spanish language and titles options. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray.) 2006
The Old Man and the Sea
Lyric version of Ernest Hemingway's story of an aged Cuban fisherman (Spencer Tracy) who has gone three months without catching a fish, then lands a giant marlin after an exhausting two-day battle, only to lose it to swarms of hungry sharks. Director John Sturges' handsome, if studio-bound, picture on the theme of man vs. the elements features a compelling performance from Tracy, though the cultural context is weak and the fisherman's interior reflections tend to platitudes. The ferocious shark sequences may frighten youngsters, but the portrayal of the old man's grace in coping with adversity is for all. A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Warner Home Video) 1958
Stand and Deliver
Quietly affecting movie about an extraordinary real-life math teacher (Edward James Olmos) in an East Los Angeles high school who transforms a rowdy class of Hispanics into calculus whiz kids. When test administrators question his students' high grades, the teacher fights back with charges of discrimination. Inspiring story, fine acting by the leads and deft direction by Ramon Menendez. Some profanity in a realistic context. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) (Warner Home Video) 1988
Bleak, gritty police drama about a corrupt LAPD detective (Keanu Reeves), one of several evidence-planters led by a scheming captain (Forest Whitaker), who joins with an action-hungry rookie (Chris Evans) to investigate the death of his ex-partner (Terry Crews), who was informing on him to an internal affairs officer (Hugh Laurie), and for whose murder he fears being blamed. Lead screenwriter James Ellroy's adaptation of his own novel, directed by David Ayer, has a convoluted plot and conflicted morals, at times seeming to justify its hero's brutal shortcuts, at others offering him as a candidate for redemption. Gory murders, torture and beatings, brief rear nudity, relentless rough and crude and some crass language, seven uses of profanity, and rape and prostitution references. Spanish language and titles options. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (R) (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) 2008
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.