DVDs In Brief: February 2, 2011

DVDs In Brief: February 2, 2011

Some prominent critics have stood up for Let Me In (Anchor Bay), the English-language remake of the muted Swedish vampire tale Let The Right One In, and it certainly deserves credit for mimicking a horror film that doesn’t play by genre rules. But it still feels like too much of a parlor trick, great for viewers who want to experience the same story without subtitles, but not distinctive enough on its own. Only the great character actor Richard Jenkins, as the human companion to Chloe Moretz’s ageless vampire, stands out as an improvement on the original… 

Based on the Kazuo Ishiguro novel, Never Let Me Go (Fox) fuses science fiction with a period romantic triangle that wouldn’t be out of place in a Merchant-Ivory movie—like, say, the one based on Ishiguro’s The Remains Of The Day. Director Mark Romanek applies a faintly eerie tone to the premise of young people raised as involuntary organ donors, but when his characters’ stifled emotions are finally given voice, it lacks the intended power… 

For the second straight year, following the D.O.A. biopic Amelia, Hilary Swank has put Oscar bait on the hook and reeled in an old boot. At least this time she has a more substantial vehicle in Conviction (Fox), an agonizingly conventional drama built around a true story nearly powerful enough to carry it across. Swank stars as Betty Anne Waters, a high-school dropout who puts herself through law school in order to exonerate her screw-up brother (Sam Rockwell) from a murder charge. Points off for cravenly avoiding the depressing real-life postscript… 

Adam Green’s retro-slasher sequel Hatchet II (Dark Sky) drummed up some controversy when AMC Theatres arbitrarily decided to pull it from all the chain’s screens. By then, it had already tanked. Perhaps the curiosity factor might help the film on DVD, though: Hardcore horror fans will find much to like about Candyman’s Tony Todd getting a juicy role as a fraudulent New Orleans witch doctor, and Green doesn’t skimp on the debauchery and viscera. 

Amir Bar-Lev’s enraging documentary The Tillman Story (Weinstein), about the government’s attempt to spin the friendly-fire death of NFL star Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, shares a theme with his last documentary, My Kid Could Paint That, about a little girl whose paintings (or alleged paintings, anyway) make a splash in the art scene. Both are about narrative’s power to sell falsehoods, though in this case, the government underestimated the resolve of Tillman’s family.

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