DVDs In Brief: May 11, 2011

DVDs In Brief: May 11, 2011

In No Strings Attached (Sony), Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher star as two highly attractive people with no interest in long-term commitment who decide to limit their relationship to sex. But can they have casual sex and still remain friends? The answer will in no way surprise you, but the film at least has some fun in the margins, giving all the good lines to major comic talents like Greta Gerwig, Mindy Kaling, and Kevin Kline…

With his devastating feature Blue Valentine (Weinstein), writer-director Derek Cianfrance crafted an intricately structured film that layers the end of a marriage with the hopeful beginnings of the same relationship. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are superb as a young couple whose marriage winds up exposing their fundamental incompatibility. At its best, Blue Valentine has the raw emotional power of a John Cassavetes movie…

Based on an unproduced Jacques Tati script, The Illusionist (Sony) concerns the bond that develops between an aging magician and a young fan as they tour through the UK in 1959, finally ending up in Edinburgh, Scotland. Much like Sylvain Chomet’s cult favorite The Triplets Of Belleville, his follow-up The Illusionist has a warm, unmistakable hand-drawn animation style that helps sustain a tone of gentle whimsy. The humor of the first half gives way to some unfortunate mawkishness in the second, but it’s a pleasure just to spend time in the animated world Chomet so meticulously created…

The concert movie Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (Paramount) hasn’t qualified for IMDB “Bottom 100” consideration, but if it did, the film’s current 1.2 (out of 10) rating would put it at the absolute nadir, worse than Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, Manos: The Hands Of Fate, or From Justin To Kelly. This is a clear case of haters-gonna-hate: The Bieber backlash explains the rating more than the quality of the film, which many users likely haven’t seen. Of course, that isn’t to say that the story of Bieber’s rise to tween superstardom is all that inspiring.