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

DVDs in Brief

Much of Moulin Rouge!'s appeal stemmed from its breathtaking originality, so a cartoon version with singing and/or tap-dancing penguins inherently lacks the greatest strength of Baz Luhrmann's gaudy musical explosion. George Miller's penguin musical Happy Feet (Warner Bros.) cleaned up with critics and audiences all the same, in spite of heaping helpings of Robin Williams' labored shtick (in multiple roles!) and a headache-inducing sense of excess…

The rags-to-riches story of Chris Gardner, a dirt-poor San Francisco salesman who scrapped his way onto the Dean Witter trading floor, was enough to make The Pursuit Of Happyness (Sony) a box-office hit and earn Will Smith an Oscar nomination. But there's something annoyingly synthetic about the movie, which never questions the paternalistic nature of Gardner's relationship with his white bosses, and Smith's performance, which reeks faintly of Academy pandering…

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The runaway winner of last year's A.V. Club critic and reader polls, Children Of Men (Universal) got little support from its studio, but its vision of an infertile near-future world carries undeniable power and relevance, and the film should find a receptive cult following on DVD. At the very least, the astounding tracking shots by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki will have the film students of tomorrow drooling like they did in years past with I Am Cuba and Touch Of Evil

After wowing audiences with his lavishly appointed martial-arts epics Hero and House Of Flying Daggers, director Zhang Yimou tries again with Curse Of The Golden Flower (Sony), but this time, the muddled plot and ornate trappings all but suffocate the proceedings. In spite of a few breathtaking sequences, Zhang's reunion with former leading lady Gong Li lacks the emotional depth of their previous collaborations, and finds the director at a curious distance from the material…

The Brazilian tourist board is none-too-happy about Turistas (Fox), and everyone else should be, too. A cheap cash-in on the torture-porn craze, the film follows sexy co-eds as they're snared by vicious locals in a beachside paradise. But director John Stockwell, completing the unofficial "bikini trilogy" that began with Blue Crush and Into The Blue, seems far more interested in cool underwater shots than anything resembling suspense.