DVDs in Brief
For a major Hollywood star, Matt Damon has an unusual talent for self-effacement, and his minimalist style is key to why the Jason Bourne movies have become an oasis from other blockbuster action fare, zagging while the rest of the CGI lot has zigged. The last and strongest of the trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum (Universal), integrates Damon's down-to-earth qualities into a thrilling, ground-level tale of international intrigue that feels more attuned to the realities of the modern world than other films of its kind. The Waterloo sequence, in particular, is an instant classic
Here's the first big test of whether Harry Potter mania is about to take a sharp nosedive now that J.K. Rowling is done writing the series: Will Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix (Warner Bros.) be as much of a DVD blockbuster as previous installments? The film series has already begun to feel like an afterthought, essentially a highlights reel of key moments from the far more expansive books. Still, Phoenix is kinetic and exciting, and it makes battles that dragged on the page pop onscreen
Big Love: The Complete Second Season (HBO) has many of the same strengths and weaknesses as the first: Whenever the show focuses on the interconnected households of a polygamist and his three wives, it's one of the zestiest melodramas on TV, but whenever it detours to Juniper Creek, a dreary compound for hardcore Mormon fundamentalists, it dips into cartoonishness. But season two represents a slight improvement, if only because it draws out the hypocrisies of Bill Paxton's creepy head-of-household, whose me-first approach to the covenant of plural marriage alienates his first wife and daughter, and turns his naïve son into a perverse true believer
In his latest directorial effort, Interview (Sony), beloved weasel-faced character actor/national treasure Steve Buscemi remakes a reality-bending 2003 drama by slain Dutch über-provocateur Theo van Gogh as a vehicle for tabloid fixture Sienna Miller. Buscemi plays a bitter, jaundiced journalist whose interview with self-destructive actress Miller quickly turns into a fierce power struggle infused with unmistakable psycho-sexual undertones
The presence of Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe—all grown up and looking disconcertingly hunky—in a crucial supporting role is just about the only thing that sets December Boys (Warner Bros.) apart from myriad other dramas that look back on the past with rose-colored nostalgia.