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

DVDs in Brief

Intelligent, well-wrought thrillers like Breach (Universal) come along so rarely in today's Hollywood that it's tempting to overpraise them simply for having adults in mind. Based on the case of Robert Hanssen—an enigmatic FBI agent who sold secrets to the Russians for a good chunk of his 25-year tenure with the bureau—the film diligently examines a man whose religious fervor and strong anti-Communist sentiment made him an unlikely traitor. Though Ryan Phillippe lacks gravitas as the underling who helps bring him down, Chris Cooper's Hanssen is a fascinating mass of dark contradictions…

One of Marvel's strangest heroes serves as fodder for one of its weakest films in Ghost Rider (Sony), an inexplicable hit from earlier this year. Nicolas Cage has some nice off-the-wall moments as the hell-haunted, motorcycle-riding avenger, who was a product of an early-'70s surge in horror-themed heroes and daredevil motorcyclists. But the film can't shake its dull, direct-to-DVD vibe, even in its action sequences…

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Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls (Lions Gate) is more palatable and watchable than any Madea-free Tyler Perry super-psycho-melodrama should be, largely thanks to Idris Elba, whose relaxed, authoritative presence as a saintly single dad battling for custody of his beloved daughters does much to undercut the hysteria and jarring tonal shifts surrounding him…

An Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Days Of Glory (IFC) explores the bitter irony of North African Muslims fighting for their French colonial oppressors during World War II. The film isn't subtle in its exploration of race, class, and ethnicity, but it is powerful and relevant, especially during a rousing climactic battle…

The surprisingly compelling Ralph Nader documentary An Unreasonable Man (Red Envelope) offers a riveting, multi-dimensional portrait of one of the most complicated and misunderstood men in American politics. Though it clearly admires its subject, the film smartly skirts hagiography while conveying the full scope of his remarkable and sometimes dubious achievements.