The DVD pickings are rather slim this week -- but there a few good new releases.
"The Ides of March," Grade B: An idealistic staffer for a presidential candidate learns about dirty politics. George Clooney and Ryan Gosling star.
The battle between two Democrats in Ohio's primary is just the scenery for this tale of ambition, loyalty, sex, betrayal and abuse of power. In other words, it's a lot like real-world politics.
Gosling plays a whiz-kid consultant who believes a charismatic governor (Clooney) has the right stuff to be the next president. His beliefs are shattered by events that begin to unfold on the campaign trail. When the film stays the political and personal course, it gets my vote.
The weak link is the script by Clooney and Grant Heslov, based on a play by Beau Willimon, that takes several fantastic right turns. That time should have been used to bring a little more depth to the plot.
There are only a few moments that will leave you undecided.
"MAD: Season 1, Part 2," Grade B: This cable series uses a variety of animation styles to create some very funny parodies. It's the perfect combination of the adolescent humor of the magazine with modern technology. The only thing missing is a back page that can be folded to create a new image.
These episodes include a biting look at the "Twilight" phenomenon, a jab at "The Big Bang Theory" and a look at Winnie the Pooh that's quite different.
Don't worry if you didn't watch Part 1 as these comedy spoofs and jokes can be seen in any order. Each is funny on its own.
Also new on DVD Jan. 17
- "Courageous": Four police officers have their faith tested after a tragedy.
- "Dirty Girl": A high school girl takes a road trip to find the father she never met.
- "Merlin: The Complete Third Season": Merlin continues his duties of protecting Prince Arthur.
- "Abduction": Taylor Lautner plays a young man who discovers the people who raised him aren't his parents.
- "Adam-12: Season Six": The Los Angeles-based police officers continue to deal with crime.
- "Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain": Stand-up show featuring the actor/comedian.
- "Bill Moyers: Amazing Grace": The documentary hosted by Bill Moyers traces the history of the hymn.
- "Thurgood": Laurence Fishburne stars in this one- man show based on Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
- "George Gently, Series 1": Detective series based on the novels by Alan Hunter.
- "Alberto Lattuada's The Overcoat": The 1952 release is based on Nikolai Gogol's story about a city-hall clerk whose only desire is a new overcoat.
- "Bombay Beach": Documentary examines the decline of a once popular tourist spot.
- "The Tuskegee Airmen": The story of the first squadron of African-American pilots in World War II.
- "Age of Heroes": Follows the start of the elite British Armed Forces' 30 Commando Assault Unit.
- "The Josephine Baker Story": Lynn Whitfield plays the exotic dancer.
- "Kickoff": A macho football team faces a team of gay men.
- "Delocated! Seasons 1 & 2": Cable series about a family in witness protection who gets a reality show.
- "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star": A nerd's parents were famous porn stars.
- "Sliders: The Fifth and Final Season": The travelers continue to leap between different dimensions.
- "The Last Hard Men"/"Sky Riders": Double feature starring James Coburn and Robert Culp.
- "The Forgotten Bomb": Documentary focuses on nuclear weapons debate.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (559) 441-6355. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.