This film, oscar-nominated Best Picture, interweaves numerous plot threads into a tapestry of life. Enforcing the belief that the human experience is universal, writer-director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (21 Grams) explores the impact that a single bullet can have. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett head up a strong cast as an American couple trying to heal their wounded marriage while on vacation in Morocco. Filled with characters making bad decisions and paying the price, the film makes a powerful statement about the ties that bind us. (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Dueling magicians Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale allow their feud to materialize into a deadly game of one-upmanship. Director Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Returns) incorporates cinematic sleight of hand to keep us on our toes. Jackman and Bale are intense, willing to sacrifice everything for the perfect trick. Michael Caine plays the voice of reason, a designer of magic. Scarlett Johansson is the woman who comes between the two men, and David Bowie is a mysterious stranger capable of real magic. Exquisite period detail, gripping drama and taut direction conjure up a winner. (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
For Your Consideration
Actors making a low-budget Jewish holiday film find themselves in the middle of a publicity firestorm when Oscar rumors surface. The latest mockumentary from director Christopher Guest (Waiting for Guffman) features a winning performance by Catherine O’Hara as a seasoned actress looking for a shred of dignity in an unforgiving business. Working with the usual suspects, Guest pokes gentle fun at the hand that feeds him, finding humor in the characters’ humanity. (Warner Home Entertainment)
Stranger Than Fiction
Will Ferrell is terrific as Harold Crick, an IRS auditor who learns he is the lead character in a new book written by an author intent on killing him. Director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball) deftly balances comedy and pathos, keeping the film and characters grounded. Emma Thompson is fun as the wigged-out author, Dustin Hoffman enjoyable as a literary professor looking for answers, Queen Latifah strong as the writer’s assistant, and Maggie Gyllenhaal engaging as a rebellious baker who catches Crick’s eye. DVD bonus features continue the fun with deleted scenes, outtakes and featurettes. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Man of the Year
Real life and fantasy blur in this comedy about a television pundit who runs for president as a joke and wins. Wag The Dog writer-director Barry Levinson rarely takes chances. His targets are easy, with Robin Williams walking the middle of the road as he takes shots at the current state of the union. A subplot involving fraudulent voting machines is necessary, but only serves as a distraction. Laura Linney, Christopher Walken and Lewis Black add to the fun and mayhem. Williams lets loose on the DVD extras. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
When an old nemesis returns to destroy Earth, a former superhero (Tim Allen) is recruited to train a new class. Based on the popular novel, Zoom never takes itself seriously, making the hybrid easy to swallow. Allen is appropriately gruff and out of shape as the former superhero. Incentive arrives in the form of klutzy scientist Courteney Cox, and news that the threat is an old nemesis with a score to settle. Great, goofy fun, perfect for kids and adults. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Buenos Aires revival theater owner Colin Firth suspects his new, mysterious and enigmatic boarder, Hart Bochner, might be a state-sanctioned killer in Apartment Zero (Anchor Bay).
High school friends on a vacation cruise find themselves fighting for survival in Open Water 2: Adrift (Lionsgate). In order to attend a wedding, four best friends are forced to find appropriate dates in Samoan Wedding (Magnolia). Mr. Moto: Volume 2 features Peter Lorre in four more mysteries (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment). The Alice Faye Collection offers the girl next door in Lillian Russell, On the Avenue, That Night in Rio and The Gang’s All Here (Fox). Michael J. Fox shot to stardom as everyone’s favorite Republican in Family Ties: Season 1, (Paramount Home Entertainment). Boy Scouts, abstinence, ground zero and people who loves their pets too much are targets in Penn & Teller Bullshit: Season 4 (Showtime). The feisty Golden Girls return on DVD for season 7 (Buena Vista Home Entertainment).
Rocky Balboa (3/20), The Queen (4/24), Deja Vu (4/24), Notes on a Scandal (4/17), The Last King of Scotland (4/24), Night at the Museum (4/24), The Pursuit of Happyness (3/27), Charlotte’s Web (4/3), Children of Men (3/27), The Good Shepherd (4/3).