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.
Waterlogged drama set on board a World War II U.S. submarine whose commanding officer (Bruce Greenwood) rescues a British nurse (Olivia Williams) and two soldiers, after which everything on the sub malfunctions and paranoia takes hold. Directed by David Twohy as if the vessel was a haunted house, the murky proceedings never achieve a satisfying level of suspense. Brief violence, some profanity and intermittent rough language. A-III -- adults. (R) (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment) 2002
Chilling parable in which an eye doctor (Mark Ruffalo) becomes an early victim in an epidemic of instant blindness and, voluntarily accompanied by his still-sighted wife (Julianne Moore), is forcibly quarantined in a dilapidated mental hospital where conditions, both physical and moral, rapidly deteriorate as the number of inmates (including Danny Glover, Alice Braga, Gael Garcia Bernal and Don McKellar, who also wrote the screenplay) grows. Director Fernando Meirelles' adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago's 1995 novel plumbs the depths of human sinfulness, but never gives way to nihilism. Strong sexual content, adultery, brief scenes of full nudity, frequent rough and some crude language, and occasional uses of profanity. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (R) (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment) 2008
Unappealing mix of comedy and drama as a Chicago businessman (Vince Vaughn) and reformed gambler discovers that his best friend and partner's (Kevin James) wife (Winona Ryder) is cheating with a younger man (Channing Tatum). Unable to bring himself to share the news, he undertakes a series of credulity-straining antics designed either to gain proof of the affair or end it. But his strange behavior convinces his live-in girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly) that he has returned to betting. Though fidelity, honesty and the value of marriage are affirmed in passing, and Vaughn's character even pauses to pray for guidance, the plot of director Ron Howard's mood-shifting mess primarily serves as an excuse for stringing together Vaughn's trademark manic riffs. And like them or not, they fail to offset the showcasing of wayward, sometimes seamy bedroom behavior. Brief graphic adulterous sexual activity with fleeting rear nudity, cohabitation, prostitution theme, much sexual humor, a half-dozen uses of profanity, at least one instance of the F-word, considerable crude and crass language, obscene gestures. Spanish titles option. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (PG-13) (Universal Studios Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2011
The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain
Quaint but long-winded tale set in 1917 Wales where a sharp innkeeper (Colm Meaney) goads his fellow villagers into hauling mounds of dirt to add some 16 feet to their local mountain in order to keep English surveyors (Hugh Grant and Ian McNeice) from downgrading it officially to a hill. Writer-director Christopher Monger gives epic treatment to a fact-based bit of whimsy, piling on scenes of picturesque Welsh landscapes, eccentric characters, hectic community action and a bit of romance, with uneven results. An implied sexual relationship, some sexual innuendo and a couple of rude expressions. A-III -- adults. (PG) (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment) 1995
The Green Hornet
Rancid comedic remake of the masked crimefighter franchise that began as a Golden Age radio drama in the 1930s. Director Michel Gondry combines unlikable, potty-mouthed characters, occasional racist outbursts and a numbing procession of car crashes as he updates the familiar story of a respectable newspaper publisher by day (Seth Rogen) who becomes, by night, a disguised vigilante working outside the law. Much gun and martial-arts violence, vigilantism theme, one scene of implied premarital sex, occasional profanity, pervasive crude and crass language. Spanish titles option. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (PG-13) (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2011
Poignant drama in which a middle-aged woman (Diane Keaton), after devoting 20 years to caring for her invalid father (Hume Cronyn) and childlike aunt (Gwen Verdon), turns to her estranged sister (Meryl Streep) and volatile nephew (Leonardo DiCaprio) for help when she needs a life-saving bone-marrow operation. Director Jerry Zaks' testy tale of reluctant reconciliation is beautifully acted, shows delightful spurts of wacky humor and emerges as a moving portrait of a family's enduring bonds of love. Domestic arguments with instances of rough language and profanity. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG-13) (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment) 1996
Music of the Heart
Inspiring true story of an abandoned wife and mother (Meryl Streep) who turns her life around by moving to Harlem and instilling self-esteem in underprivileged schoolchildren by teaching them the disciplined art of playing the violin. Anchored by Streep's finely tuned performance, director Wes Craven's biographical movie realistically captures a devastated woman's personal growth and the value of the arts in the educational curriculum. An implied affair and an instance of rude language. A-III -- adults. (PG) (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment) 1999
The Proud Rebel
Coming to the Midwest in search of a doctor able to cure his mute son (David Ladd), an ex-Confederate officer (Alan Ladd) gets caught in a land war between a mean sheepman (Dean Jagger) and a spinster farmer (Olivia de Havilland). Directed by Michael Curtiz, the post-Civil War conflict among the adults is heavy going at times, but the boy and his smart sheepdog will appeal to the youngsters. Some stylized violence, with several scenes quite harrowing for children. A-I -- general patronage. (N/R) (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment) 1958
The Shipping News
Uneven drama about a hapless, browbeaten man (Kevin Spacey) who, after his adulterous wife (Cate Blanchett) dies, moves to his ancestral home with his aunt (Judi Dench) and young daughter where he finds new love (Julianne Moore) while coming to terms with his life and loss. In an adaptation from E. Annie Proulx's novel, director Lasse Hallstrom beautifully captures the stark bleakness of Newfoundland, but the languid, episodic narrative feels compressed, and the characters never evolve beyond one dimension. A sexual encounter, an off-screen assisted suicide, brief violence, minimal rough language and profanity. A-III -- adults. (R) (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment) 2001
The Thief and the Cobbler
Thin animated tale of ancient Baghdad where a young cobbler (voice of Matthew Broderick) wins the hand of his beloved princess (voice of Jennifer Beals) after saving the city from an evil sorcerer (voice of Vincent Price) in league with an army of one-eyed invaders. Directed by Richard Williams, the production is visually splendid, but the saccharine story line is padded out with the unamusing antics of a dimwitted thief (voice of Jonathan Winters), some charmless songs and much slapstick action unlikely appeal to youngsters. A-I -- general patronage. (G) (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment) 1995
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.