New on DVD

New on DVD

The Lovely Bones
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving disturbing violent content and images, and some language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

For Peter Jackson’s much-anticipated follow-up to his Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings Trilogy, he chose Alice Sebold’s novel about a young girl that is murdered by a neighbor, and then proceeds to connect with her parents and friends while she is living in the “In-Between,” a surreal world that lies between Heaven and Earth.  As far as special effects go, Jackson creates an amazing vision that sticks with you long after you leave the theater.  When it comes to movies of this sort, I still prefer that of Vincent Ward’s What Dreams May Come, but both films provide a beautiful yet haunting look at the afterlife.  While the film leaves you visually satisfied, there is just something not right about it.  The acting by Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz is off with neither one of them turning in very solid performances (conversely, Stanly Tucci and Saoirse Ronan are incredible).  But acting aside, it starts with Jackson toning down the violence from the book, and with good reason because this very well might have been known as merely a rape movie, rather than what it became.  But it feels like Jackson is keeping too many things from us and that the story seems somehow incomplete.  C

44 Inch Chest
Rated R for pervasive strong language including sexual references, and some violence
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

From the writer of Sexy Beast comes this hard to swallow drama with a stellar cast including Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast), Ian McShane (Deadwood), John Hurt (V for Vendetta), and Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton).  When Winstone’s wife admits that she’s been seeing someone else, his friends go and pick up loverboy, take him to their hideaway, and over the course of the film decide what to do with him.  The acting is phenomenal, but the subject matter is deeply depressing.  Winstone’s pain is so real that it leaps off the screen and you both fear for the stranger’s life and understand the anger at the same time.  The movie feels like it belongs on a stage rather than the screen, and if it ever got a cast like this on Broadway or the West End, it would be a smash, unlike it’s small box office draw it received in it’s theatrical run.  B

The Basketball Diaries
Rated R for graphic depiction of drug addiction with related strong violence, sexuality and language
Available on Blu-ray

Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg were barely getting started when they made this drama about a couple of kids in high school that wasted their lives away once they discovered heroine.  For both of them it was one of their best performances, which makes it hard to believe that the film only made 2.4 million at the box office.  Then again, this ain’t exactly an after school special.  It’s a tough film to watch, filled with many scenes where you just want to turn your head and look away.  I remember when Leo became a heartthrob after Titanic and people made fun of the good- looking kid that can’t act.  I would quickly remind them of Diaries and Gilbert Grape, which showed a gutsy good-looking kid that wasn’t scared to show off his ugly side.  Of course now he is widely considered one of the best actors in Hollywood, but checking this one out you can see he’s had talent from the start.  A-

Not Rated
Available on DVD

Gael Garcia Bernal and Michelle Williams are a happily married couple with busy lives that are put to the test when Bernal must travel to Thailand for an extended business trip.  The film desperately wants to be Babel, and even brings in Bernal for the right flair, but the movie is such a bore that by the time something actually happens, it is completely predictable and I can’t help but think that most of the viewers will be completely apathetic.  C-

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