Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

DVDs in Brief

If Robert Altman's career ended today (please, let that not be the case) he'd have the ideal swan song in New Line's A Prairie Home Companion, a warm, generous ode to artisans bidding farewell gracefully. Virginia Madsen's presence as the angel of death puts too fine a point on it, but there are plenty of compensatory elements, including wall-to-wall musical performances, Garrison Keillor's witty tributes to vintage radio, and memorable pairings like Lily Tomlin with Meryl Streep, and Woody Harrelson with John C. Reilly…

Continuing Adam Sandler's recent obsession with making movies about what it's like to be Adam Sandler, Click (Sony) gives the comedian a magical remote that lets him fast-forward through life, though he predictably learns that life is better when lived in full. Click isn't all that funny, but like the underrated 50 First Dates, it's surprisingly poignant, leaving viewers wanting to be better people, at least in the short term…

Garfield: The Movie ended with so many issues and conflicts left tantalizingly unresolved that a sequel was mandatory. But the film's paltry domestic box-office take (though it set box-office records for animated films in China, strangely) proved that the public's appetite for the lasagna-munching misanthrope was limited. Garfield: A Tail Of Two Kitties (Fox) is a considerable improvement over its lifeless predecessor, but that's about as faint as praise gets…

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For his follow-up to the troubled Bad Santa, a bruised, battered Terry Zwigoff returned to the misanthropic oeuvre of Ghost World collaborator Dan Clowes for Art School Confidential (Sony), a funny, endlessly caustic satire of art-school pretensions. It falls apart in its third act, but earns plenty of mean-spirited chuckles throughout. Jim Broadbent and Matt Keeslar are particularly funny in juicy supporting roles, but lead Max Minghella is a blank cipher in an underwritten role…

Gael García Bernal seems to be onscreen constantly these days, and no wonder—his nuanced performances are always a pleasure, and he handles difficult material with seeming ease. For instance, in The King (ThinkFilm), he pulls off a tricky performance as a seemingly warm, friendly Navy dischargee who turns his considerable force of personality inward when the self-righteous pastor father he's never met (William Hurt) encounters and instantly rejects him. What follows is creepy and memorable, but constantly understated, and Bernal's quiet, contained performance is more than half the reason the film lingers in the mind.

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