DVDs In Brief
There's no doubt that Ang Lee's 2003 bomb Hulk was problematic: The effects weren't great, there was an almost perverse imbalance between psychology and action, and the climactic showdown is so incoherent that it borders on abstract and experimental. But it has soul and vision, and that's more than can be said for The Incredible Hulk (Universal), a proficient studio reboot that likely satisfied mass audiences more, but is destined to be forgotten faster
There's probably no genre where good direction matters more than horror, because whether a movie is scary depends to an overwhelming extent on how the tricks of the trade are employed. The Strangers (Sony) is a perfect example: It's the sort of basic home-invasion story (isolated vacation home, masked tormentors, helpless couple) that's been done many times before, but writer-director Bryan Bertino has the patience to hold back rather than going for cheap shocks, and the tension is unbearable
With former Nixon speechwriter and "Bueller? Bueller?" screen personality Ben Stein doing his best Michael Moore impersonation, the risible documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Universal) questions the fight to keep "intelligent design" as an educational alternative to evolutionary theory. The film presents itself as a plea for freedom in the scientific marketplace of ideas, but by the time it gets around to Darwinism as a Nazi justification for the Holocaust, all credibility is lost
Quite possibly the most widely watched French film in America—courtesy of primary schools and French 101 classes—Albert Lamorisse's 1956 short "The Red Balloon" is the magical, nearly dialogue-free tale of a sentient balloon that follows a little boy around the streets of Paris. But the boy's essential loneliness makes it perfect fodder for Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien, whose delicate homage, The Flight Of The Red Balloon (IFC) confirms his reputation as a poet of urban alienation
According to most Yosemite Valley guides, the average rock climber needs three to five days to scale the 3,000-foot-high "Nose" of the El Capitan formation. The thrilling documentary To The Limit (First Run) watches brothers Thomas and Alexander Huber attempt to complete the ascent in the world-record time of two and a half hours. Their highly risky (and personally contentious) efforts make for uniquely compelling cinema.