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

DVDs in Brief

Ghosts haunt two new releases this week, though only literally in one: The Grudge 2 (Sony) continues Hollywood's watering down of a Japanese horror franchise that wasn't that great to begin with. It has the good sense to kill off Sarah Michelle Gellar early on, but inexplicably replaces her with the even-less-charismatic Amber Tamblyn…

Elsewhere, the death of Superman actor George Reeves haunts the lives of those he left behind in Hollywoodland (Universal), which boasts a great Ben Affleck performance, but not much else. It bogs down in a not-so-compelling mystery, missing the real story of how fame can make specters out of people long before they die…

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After directing a pair of Charlie Kaufman-penned surrealistic comedies, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, and numerous innovative music videos and commercials, Michel Gondry wrote and directed The Science Of Sleep (Fox), a staggeringly odd homemade dramatic comedy about the absurdist misadventures of an impish man-child (Gael García Bernal) who embodies childhood's infinite wonder as well as its narcissistic self-absorption. Charlotte Gainsbourg co-stars as an imaginative but understandably weary young woman who doesn't quite know whether to return Bernal's creepy affections, or take out a restraining order against him…

If Letters From Iwo Jima weren't such a fine movie on its own, an argument could be made that Clint Eastwood should go back and cut that film together with its companion piece, Flags Of Our Fathers (Paramount), especially since the American half of the Battle Of Iwo Jima story gets bogged down in middling action sequences and heavy-handed post-war despair. Still, Flags contains at least an hour's worth of excellent storytelling in its two-hours-plus package, and now that it's available on DVD, viewers can see it and Letters in quick succession, and mentally blend them into something much better…

In an era where bland fare like Little Miss Sunshine gets Oscar-level acknowledgment for innovative quirk, it's regrettable that Running With Scissors (Sony) didn't draw more of an audience. Loosely based on Augusten Burroughs' surreal, over-the-top autobiography, Scissors isn't for all tastes, but fans of Noah Baumbach and Miranda July should be beating a path to stores to pick this up.