DVD/VIDEO REVIEWS week of March 20, 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.
Director David O. Russell's gritty, fact-based drama follows two half-brothers from Lowell, Mass., who long for success -- and redemption -- via the boxing ring. One (Christian Bale, who effectively steals the movie) is a washed-up fighter on a self-destructive binge of drugs and loose women. At the urging of their obsessive mother and manager (Melissa Leo), he trains his reluctant younger sibling (Mark Wahlberg) in the sweet science. But, recognizing that the lad is being exploited, a barmaid with a heart of gold (Amy Adams) persuades him to chart his own destiny. Ultimately, "Rocky"-like fame and fortune are within reach, but not without forgiveness and the love and support of the duo's raucously dysfunctional family. Excessive boxing and other violence, including familial strife, nongraphic premarital sexual activity, explicit drug use, a handful of profanities, frequent rough and crude language. Spanish titles option. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (R) (Paramount Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
Ambitious drama charting the ultimately intersecting paths of three individuals seeking enlightenment about what happens to us after we die. The trio of plotlines follow a Parisian journalist (Cecile de France) whose near-death experience shakes her secular worldview, a San Francisco factory worker (Matt Damon) endowed with the ability to communicate with the dead, and a working-class London lad (George and Frankie McLaren) devastated by the loss of his twin brother. Director Clint Eastwood weaves these strands into an emotionally compelling tapestry. But, while affirming the existence of an afterlife, Peter Morgan's script steers clear of any other specific beliefs, and the exercise of Damon's gift is difficult to reconcile with the Scripture-based Christian duty to shun occult practices. Complex religious issues, an alcoholism and drug-addiction theme, fleeting upper female nudity, a nonmarital, possibly adulterous situation, at least one rough and a few crude terms. Spanish titles option. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
Snoopy, Come Home/A Boy Named Charlie Brown
Snoopy, Come Home is a disappointing animated feature from the Peanuts gang of Charles M. Schulz that uses a lot of aimless skits to pad out a saccharine story of Snoopy's visit to his original owner, a little girl who lies ailing in the hospital. Directed by Bill Melendez, the result lacks author Schulz's characteristic humor and intelligence in dealing with the little joys and anxieties of childhood. A-I -- general patronage. (G) 1972
A Boy Named Charlie Brown is the first animated movie version of the Peanuts comic strip characters created by Charles M. Schulz; it centers on Charlie Brown's obsession with failure as he enters a national spelling bee. The animation team under director Bill Melendez has been completely faithful to the stylized world of the comic strip in giving movement and voice to the small-fry characters. Refreshing but meaningful amusement for both youngsters and grown-ups. A-I -- general patronage. (G) (Paramount Home Entertainment) 1969
Yi Yi (A One and a Two)
Absorbing domestic drama about the midlife malaise of a Taiwanese businessman (Wu Nianzhen) who struggles to keep his family and computer company together while sorting out feelings for an old sweetheart (Ke Suyun) whom he unexpectedly bumps into after 20 years. Set in Taipei, director Edward Yang's three-hour film is a rich, funny and humane family portrait with keen observations, but the film's otherwise finely tuned pace lags somewhat in the final third. Subtitles. Mature themes, brief violence, fleeting nudity and some rough language. A-III -- adults. (N/R) (Criterion Collection; also available on Blu-ray) 2001
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.