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

DVDs in Brief

If there's one sport that could use a little punk attitude, it's probably gymnastics, with its sparkly beauty-pageant leotards and cheesy floor-routine dance moves. But while Disney's Stick It (Buena Vista) has a surprising obsession with the sport's unbalanced and often arbitrary scoring system, it stops well short of full-scale Sex Pistols rebellion, and goes for something closer to mild, Avril Lavigne-like punk poses. There's even a sk8er boi or two thrown in for good measure…

Some see singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston as a musical genius, others as a deluded savant. Either way, the brilliant documentary The Devil And Daniel Johnston (Sony) succeeds in sketching his tormented journey to cult celebrity like nothing since Crumb. For all the hipster musicians and fans who glommed onto Johnston over the years, the real heroes of the movie are his elderly parents, who continue to shoulder the burden of his mental illness and sometimes-violent dysfunction. What will happen after they die is a question left scarily open…

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As a precocious 14-year-old harboring dark secrets, X-Men 3's Ellen Page delivers a volcanic lead performance in the moody cyber-age sexual psychodrama Hard Candy (Lions Gate). But after a riveting start, David Slade's thriller quickly devolves into a grim, ugly revenge drama that's utterly unworthy of her performance…

A lot of critics responded strongly and positively to The Proposition (First Look), an Australian Western about a condemned outlaw who's offered a chance at clemency if he tracks down and kills his brother. Director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave have undeniably created something pungent, drawing on the collision of culture and wilderness. But it's also overwritten, and populated by sketchily symbolic characters who exist solely to soak up the atmosphere of sticky heat and Biblical reckoning…

In the early to mid-20th century, two groups bearing the name "Ballet Russe" competed for attention around the world. Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine's documentary Ballets Russes (Zeitgeist) tells the dueling companies' whole complicated story, starting with choreographer Sergei Diaghilev, a mad genius with a flair for abstract design and a drive to push dance beyond its formal limitations. The bulk of the documentary deals with what happened after Diaghilev's death: the controversy, the successes, and the strange insular culture.