DVDs In Brief
Andrew Dominik's sprawling, poetic The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (Warner Bros.) approaches greatness, but in telling the story of a legendary outlaw and the fawning sycophant who sours on him—the former played by Brad Pitt and the latter by Academy Award nominee Casey Affleck—Dominik doesn't always choose wisely between what's important to show and what isn't. He strives for an immersive Old West experience that includes all the idle conversations along with the gunfights, and comes up with a movie to get lost in, even though the movie gets a little lost itself
Throw Julie Taymor's Beatles musical/'60s love storyAcross The Universe (Sony) on the list of 2007's most polarizing movies. Viewers loved it or hated it—often sight unseen, to judge by the paltry box-office take. It won't play as well on the small screen, where its best aspect—the phantasmagoric visuals—will be reduced, but most people are still better off with home video, where they can skip the unnecessary, space-filling numbers and the relationship angst, and get to their favorite music-video-like segments faster
Less divisive, though clearly not for everyone: the lively, charming, but not particularly remarkable rom-com The Jane Austen Book Club (Sony), in which a group of people read Austen to find parallels with and answers to their own many romantic problems. The romance side is pretty cheap, with predictable turns and happy endings for everyone, but the snappy dialogue at least holds up the comedy end
A sequel much weaker than its no-great-shakes predecessor, Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Universal) recreates history as a brain-dead beauty fashion show and features a career-worst (but Oscar-nominated) performance from the usually terrific Cate Blanchett. Watch at your own peril
Venerable writer-director Robert Benton (Kramer Vs. Kramer) dabbles in Lifetime territory with Feast Of Love (MGM), a swooning romantic drama about the lovelorn souls who congregate at a coffee shop owned by sad-sack Greg Kinnear. With the exception of Radha Mitchell's refreshingly thorny performance as a real-estate agent stuck in a go-nowhere affair with a married man, this is tastefully forgettable fare, though it does garner novelty points for having Morgan Freeman play a saintly older man while also providing sonorous voiceover narration. Where does Hollywood come up with such wildly original ideas?