DVDs in Brief - April 1, 2009
The big winner at the Academy Awards this year was Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (Fox), which in retrospect could be seen as the perfect Oscar-bait blend of life-affirming uplift and serious wallowing miserablism. But it didn’t seem like such a sure bet when it first came out; Boyle’s adaptation of Vikas Swarup’s novel Q&A leans heavily on stylized visuals and a shattered chronology to tell its deceptively simple fairy-tale story of horrific poverty and swooning love. It’s an oddly flashy, off-kilter sort of crowd-pleaser, but its true-love-conquers-all message obviously struck a chord…
There’s no star in Hollywood more bankable than Will Smith, who controls his image with number-crunching calculation. But in attempting to double-down on the Oscar-bait success of The Pursuit Of Happyness with Seven Pounds (Sony)—working again with director Gabriele Muccino—he finally let hubris get the better of him. Muccino does a fine job of masking the reasons behind the pay-it-forward generosity Smith’s character displays, but after the big reveal, hoo boy, is it ridiculous.
There’s a fine line between universal and banal, and Marley & Me (Fox) is the perfect example: It’s basically the story of an upwardly mobile couple (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston) with a dog, a few kids, and a new picturebook estate in Pennsylvania. The dog isn’t any more rambunctious than the average troublemaker, and the family is even duller, though Wilson comes through with a heartbreaking scene when it counts…
Chicago-based independent upstart Music Box Films snapped up several unheralded foreign-language films last year, perhaps banking on enough return for prudent investments to stay afloat. So what a pleasant surprise that right out of the gate, they put out Tell No One, the runaway foreign hit of the year. Based on Harlan Corben’s suspense novel, this French thriller shifts the action from New York to Paris, but loses nothing essential in the cultural transition.