Monday, May 5, 2008

Currently on DVD

Charlie Wilson's War:
The Aaron Sorkin, Mike Nichols directed sometimes light drama shows a lot of the "West Wing" writer's knowledge of current and what were once current issues geopolitically. Hanks is solid as usual as the drinking womanizing lawmaker who champions the fight to arm the Mujahedin against the Soviets in cold-war Afghanistan. Julia Roberts' role could easily have been filled by any other actress, and it is interesting to note how remarkable she looks in a bikini despite being a few months pregnant when principal photography for the film took place. The real reason to watch is a stellar performance by the always-on Philip Seymour Hoffman as a CIA operative, who is both amusing and fun to observe as he goes through the paces in the world of black-ops and espionage.

The film nerds and comic book guys panned this film as an unoriginal rip-off of "The Blair Witch" project meets "Godzilla," and faulted J.J. Abrams for not showing us enough of the monster. But I enjoyed this film in the theater, and had no issues with the handheld photography, which I felt added to the frenetic pacing and anxiety created by the plot.

If you want to see monsters, watch the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, but if you want to see an interesting, different than the mainstream film that tries to go against the norm in Hollywood, "Cloverfield" will still hold up on DVD, and will have audiences asking for more. Extra credit should be given to the film's producers for the masterful viral marketing campaign that will be copied for years to come.

Lars and the Real Girl:
I was lucky enough to catch this on an academy screener copy before it was released wide on DVD, and I have to say that this was a great premise which was squandered by the filmakers. Good performances didn't help to overcome the feeling that this film never quite hit the right note of either comedy, drama, or dramedy. It was too uneven, neither playing it for laughs enough, or letting us in on the backstories of the main characters, especially Lars.

His psychotherapy sessions, if developed a bit futher, could have helped us to determine exactly why he found solace in taking what is essentially a high-priced sex toy and giving it life as his girlfriend. There were some character relationships that were fleshed out less than the rubber real doll who served as one of the movie's co-stars.

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