A mind-twisting cable film and a mind-blowing movie top this week's new DVD releases.
"The Sunset Limited," Grade B+: The film, which originally aired on HBO, is based on the play by Cormac McCarthy. It's an example of how a production can be sparse in setting and action and still be powerful and moving.
After a suicide attempt by White (Tommy Lee Jones) is thwarted by Black (Samuel L. Jackson), the two men go to Black's sparse apartment to talk. The entire film is their discussion of life, death and the existence of God. Their opinions are as much a contrast as their names. Black is an ex-con evangelical Christian; White's an atheist professor.
The viewpoints make this production powerful. McCarthy's created a script where both positions come with very valid arguments. The discussions ring with a truthfulness because of the star's skillful acting.
"A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas," Grade C-: The stoner buds cause a holiday fracas by inadvertently burning down Harold's father-in-law's prize Christmas tree.
This is the film version of regifting. No matter how good the product, there's no big reason to get excited because you've seen it before. First-time director Todd Strauss-Schulson wanted to pay tribute to directors from Busby Berkeley to Guy Ritchie in this send-up of holiday movies. But his nods are so on target that there's no original moments.
What saves the film is the natural chemistry of John Cho and Kal Penn. They are the best film stoners since Cheech and Chong smoked their way to the top.
"Love Story," Grade B: Although the line "love never means having to say you're sorry" sounded hokey 10 minutes after it was delivered, this 1970 movie still has a lot of heart. Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw play the perfect couple who first face social barriers and then deal with tragic circumstances that test their love.
The film, being released on Blu-ray, includes the documentary "Love Story: A Classic Remembered," commentary by director Arthur Hiller and the original theatrical trailer.
Also new on DVD Feb. 7
- "Downton Abbey: Season 2": Times have changed and so has the house in 1916 as war impacts life at Downton.
- "Beavis and Butt-Head: Volume Four": More animated antics by the wild teens.
- "Penguins of Madagascar: Operation: Get Ducky": The penguins face another big mission.
- "Lady and the Tramp": The 1955 Disney film is available on Blu-ray.
- "Fireflies in the Garden": A seemingly perfect family faces dysfunctional and destructive elements. Julia Roberts stars.
- "The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall": Broadway's longest-running production celebrates a quarter century on stage.
- "A Warrior's Heart": A high school student (Kellan Lutz) has trouble dealing with his father's death.
- "Steve Coogan Live": Stage performance by the British comedian.
- "CSI: Grave Danger": The two-part special of the CBS procedural drama directed by Quentin Tarantino is on Blu-ray.
- "Northern Lights: The Complete Collection": Stars Robson Green and Mark Benton.
- "The Rebound": A woman (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and her kids pursue a new life in the big city.
- "Rocko's Modern Life: Season 2": The animated adventures of Rocko, Spunky and Heffer continue.
- "Project Nim": Documentary about a chimpanzee raised as a human child.
- "Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred": A student tries to expose his new music teacher as a vampire.
- "Police Woman: The Complete Second Season": Angie Dickinson stars in the TV detective series.
- "Father Dowling Mysteries: The First Season": Tom Bosley plays a priest who solves crimes.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at email@example.com
or (559) 441-6355. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.