DVDs In Brief: June 8, 2011

DVDs In Brief: June 8, 2011

The Coen brothers’ True Grit (Paramount) was nominated for 10 Oscars in 2010 and won not a one, but it’s unmissable nonetheless. Like the 1969 version that won John Wayne his only Oscar, the Coens’ take closely follows the source material (Charles Portis’ 1968 novel), filling it out with gorgeous cinematography, memorable performances (especially Hailee Steinfeld as a precocious, willful teenager looking to avenge her father’s death), and a dry humor that perfectly complements the dark themes…

The Adam Sandler vehicle Just Go With It (Sony) was adapted from Abe Burrows’ 1965 Broadway hit Cactus Flower, which in turn was adapted to the screen by Billy Wilder’s great writing partner I.A.L. Diamond, who knew a thing or two about how to engineer laughs. The story of a plastic surgeon who sustains an increasingly elaborate ruse to score the woman of his dreams, the material is at heart a farce, which requires a discipline that’s precisely wrong for Sandler’s brand of half-assed improvisational comedy…

The Company Men (Weinstein) marks the directorial debut of veteran TV producer John Wells (ER), and if anyone ever doubts what industry clout can do, just consider the cast Wells has assembled here: Ben Affleck as a downsized corporate sales manager in the lead, and supporting actors including Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, and Craig T. Nelson. Wells doesn’t bring the material across with the zing of the similarly themed Up In The Air, but the actors help…

The underwater thriller Sanctum (Rogue) was heavily billed as “produced by James Cameron and filmed with the proprietary 3D cameras he used for Avatar,” which seems an appropriate enough sell-line for a film with not much going for it but stunning visuals. An amalgam of disaster movie and coming-of-age story vaguely inspired by real events, it pits a group of divers against a massive underwater-cave system after a rockfall traps them, and it doles out gripping setpieces while never doing anything new with any of its genres…

As good as Breaking Bad was in its first two seasons, Breaking Bad: Season Three (Sony) took a giant leap forward, turning every week into heart-stopping event television. It was also a reminder of just how far Bryan Cranston’s Walter White and Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman have come since Walter, a high-school chemistry teacher, decided to get into the meth business to raise money for his family before he was due to succumb to terminal cancer. Now that the cancer has receded, Walter has only gone deeper into the drug business, and the consequences for Jesse, his family, and his soul are all the more devastating.

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