DVD/VIDEO REVIEWS week of August 9, 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.
Disturbing documentary explores the life and work of cult comic-strip illustrator R. Crumb, creator of Fritz the Cat and the Keep on Truckin' logo, while probing the effects of the abusive upbringing endured by the misogynistic Crumb and his two emotionally troubled brothers. Director Terry Zwigoff's portrait of the controversial artist deals with his blatant racism and sexism, yet is not without sympathy for the flawed humanity of the Crumb brothers. Many illustrations with graphic sexual content and discussions with explicit sexual references, painful recollections of child abuse and recurring rough language. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (R) (Criterion Collection; also available on Blu-ray.) 1995
This well-intentioned but ultimately wayward mix of the romantic comedy and action genres sees an ordinary suburban New Jersey couple (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) caught up in an underworld blackmail scheme after being mistaken for the cohabiting lowlifes (James Franco and Mila Kunis) who are out to sell the damning evidence. Written by Josh Klausner and directed by Shawn Levy, the pair's nocturnal Manhattan odyssey -- though its travails aid them to rekindle their flickering love for each other -- eventually leads to an underground sex club. Once there, they briefly find themselves forced to entertain a powerful patron with perverse tastes. During the Manhattan odyssey, they flee a duo of thugs (Common and Jimmi Simpson) in the employ of a mob boss (Ray Liotta) and turn for help to a James Bond-like intelligence agent (Mark Wahlberg). Considerable, though bloodless, action violence, partial rear nudity, much sexual humor, including gags about casual sex, masturbation and aberrant practices, at least one use of profanity and of the F-word, some crude and crass language. Spanish titles option. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (PG-13) (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray.) 2010
Day for Night
Director Francois Truffaut presents an amusing day-to-day diary of how a melodrama gets filmed in a studio on the French Riviera and himself plays the role of the director battling production difficulties while trying to deal with various complications in the (mostly love) lives of his cast (Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Valentina Cortese and Jean-Pierre Aumont). The film not only has some charming comedy but provides viewers with a real insight into how movies are made. A-III -- adults. (PG) (Warner Home Video) 1973
Letters to God
Inspirational and touching drama, based on real events, about a faith-filled but cancer-stricken 8-year-old boy (Tanner Maguire) whose prayers and reflections are expressed in a series of letters to the Almighty and the effect these notes have on his family -- including his widowed, overtaxed mother (Robyn Lively), his devout grandmother (Maree Cheatham) and his emotionally conflicted teen brother (Michael Christopher Bolten). The notes especially have an effect on the depressed, boozing war-vet-turned-postman (Jeffrey S. Johnson), who has recently taken over the local mail route. Though the underlying theology of director David Nixon's family-friendly tale of courage and conversion is evangelical, the basic message about the power of Gospel values to transform lives is sufficiently nondenominational to exert a strong appeal on Christian believers of every stripe. Life-threatening illness, divorce and alcoholism themes. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) (Universal/Vivendi) 2010
Lovingly sentimental but firmly crafted adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's story of four New England girls cared for by their mother while their father is soldiering in the Civil War. Director George Cukor depicts the joys and woes of the loving March family household with warmth and sincerity. But most memorable is the ensemble performance of a remarkable cast headed by Katharine Hepburn as serious-minded Jo, Joan Bennett as vain Amy, Frances Dee as prosaic Meg, Jean Parker as waifish Beth and Spring Byington as the girls' beloved Marmee. Prime family fare. A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Warner Home Video) 1933
What's Up, Doc?
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.