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.
When her brother (Sam Rockwell) is convicted of a brutal murder and imprisoned for life, a working-class Massachusetts woman (Hilary Swank), who dropped out of high school, completes her undergraduate degree and struggles to finish law school and gain admission to the bar, all in an attempt to clear him. As her suspicions focus on one of the arresting officers (Melissa Leo), she gains the help of a fellow law student and newfound friend (Minnie Driver) as well as that of a famed attorney (Peter Gallagher). Gritty yet touching, director Tony Goldwyn's fact-based drama -- set in a hardscrabble environment, its dialogue studded with vulgarities -- celebrates its heroine's selfless dedication and endless determination. But it also shows the toll her crusade takes on her marriage and her relationship with her two young sons (Conor Donovan and Owen Campbell). Some gruesome crime scene images, brief rear nudity, a suicide theme, about a dozen uses of profanity, close to 60 instances of rough language, and frequent crude or crass terms. Spanish titles option. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (R) (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
The Double Life of Veronique
Two young women, one Polish and one French, are strangely linked by identical looks, musical talents and frail hearts. Director Krzysztof Kieslowski's lyrical tale of unexplained spiritual bonding is given considerable emotional force by Irene Jacob's ethereal and haunting performance as the two Veroniques. Subtitles. A few restrained scenes of sexual encounters with some nudity. A-III -- adults. (R) (Criterion Collection; also available on Blu-ray) 1991
Routine caper movie in which jewel thieves (Charles Grodin and Candice Bergen) get some inside help from a dissident employee (James Mason). Director Aram Avakian does make the most of his London setting and especially the metallic glint of the sophisticated detection devices in the basement of the diamond exchange. Scenes of intense action and some images of severed limbs. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) (Shout! Factory) 1974
The Long Good Friday
Tough British gangster movie in which Bob Hoskins gives a remarkable performance as a London gang lord done in by his own pride. Director John Mackenzie invests his brutal underworld story with grim but intelligent realism that some will find unnerving. Some intense scenes of violence. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (R) (Image Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 1982
Out of Time
Well-made thriller about a small-town Florida cop (Denzel Washington) who must investigate an arson that resulted in the death of the woman with whom he was having an adulterous affair, forcing him to cover up incriminating evidence that seems to point to him as the culprit. While Carl Franklin's taut direction keeps the action moving through a series of plot twists, the film offers a mixed message, showing the self-entangling consequences of deception while overly sympathizing with its protagonist's moral weakness in justifying dishonesty as a means of pursuing the truth that will prove him innocent. Sexual encounters, some violence and sporadic crude language. Spanish language and titles options. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (MGM Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2003
Empty-headed comic fantasy in which two contemporary teens (Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon) are zapped into a 1958 black-and-white family sitcom where their free-wheeling attitudes start changing everything in previously perfect Pleasantville. Writer-director Gary Ross sets up some amusing if obvious culture clashes but his depiction of the repressed '50s vs. the supposedly enlightened '90s is jarringly simplistic and heavy-handed. Implied infidelity, masturbation and teen sex, fleeting violence, occasional profanity and an instance of rough language. Spanish titles option. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (PG-13) (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray) 1998
Witty British comedy about a gang of greedy but good-hearted dwarfs who steal a map of creation from the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson) and use it to bring an adventurous lad into a variety of historical epochs, meeting Napoleon (Ian Holm), Greek warrior Agamemnon (Sean Connery) and Robin Hood (John Cleese). Directed by Terry Gilliam, it is sometimes amusing and always intelligent, but its appeal for youngsters is spoiled by typical Monty Python vulgarities and black humor, some of it violent. A-III -- adults. (PG) (Image Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 1981
Remake of the 1973 cult classic, about a retired soldier (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), who upon returning home finds himself waging a one-man war against the crime and corruption that has overtaken his boyhood community. Transplanting the action from Tennessee to the Pacific Northwest, director Kevin Bray's film stays faithful to the original's good-man-taking-a-stand premise but also follows its predecessor's lead in promoting a dangerous message that violence is the most effective way to fight injustice. Recurring violence, an implied sexual encounter, drug content, a striptease scene, and crude language and humor. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (PG-13) (MGM Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2004
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.