Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

DVDs In Brief

In 1999, 10 Things I Hate About You pleasantly reworked The Taming Of The Shrew into a high-school comedy, but 2006's She's The Man (Fox), in which Twelfth Night gets the teens 'n' tweens treatment, doesn't fair quite so well. It doesn't help that Amanda Bynes is trying to pass as a burly soccer player, but seems to think that means acting like a mildly retarded, effeminate gay teen…

It might take a little squinting to see, but looking past the coming-of-age clichés, ATL (Warner) captures the city of Atlanta, from the slums of Mechanicsville to the mansions of Bucktown, with surprising vividness and texture. The question of whether T.I. and his buddies will wriggle out of a bad situation and improve their station has a predictable answer, but when director Chris Robinson shows the boys hanging out at the roller rink on Sunday night, the movie comes to life…

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French director Olivier Assayas has spent a career throwing curveballs, lunging from the hip movie-movie Irma Vep to the exquisite period piece Sentimental Destinies to the cyber-thriller Demonlover, but his latest film, Clean (Palm) is hurled right down the middle. A conventional melodrama about a widowed rock hanger-on trying to recover from heroin addition, the film gets its power from Maggie Cheung's surprisingly unhinged lead performance. Imagine a cross between Yoko Ono and Courtney Love, and you're close…

The Oscar-nominated Tsotsi (Buena Vista), about a South African thug who's redeemed by a kidnapped child, was one of the few foreign-language films to make much of a dent at the arthouse this year. But don't be fooled by the glossed-up squalor of its Johannesburg locale; at heart, the film isn't much more dignified than Three Men And A Baby

Playing ugly isn't a sure-fire way for a glamorous actor to get an Oscar nod, but it generally ensures attention. Penélope Cruz got some for her bedraggled sad-sack role in the Italian-language, multi-country production Don't Move (Wellspring), adapted by writer-director-star Sergio Castellitto from a novel written by his wife. Somewhere between a psychological puzzle and an off-kilter dramatic romance, the film observes as Castellitto meets the destitute Cruz, rapes her, returns to her, and builds a relationship with her behind his wife's back. The performances are generally terrific, but the film poses a lot of questions about the characters and never gets around to answering them.