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

DVDs in Brief 4214

The Academy will do what it must, but let's be honest: a decade from now, is anyone going to think of 2005 as The Year Of Crash? Old-guard Hollywooders may have avoided Brokeback Mountain (Universal) because they thought the story of two shepherds having a two-decade-long sexual affair was going to be some kind of gay agit-prop. But what they missed was a lyrical evocation of the deep loneliness that haunts the American dream, well-directed by Ang Lee, who contrasts small-town homes with the boundless outdoors to articulate the all-too-common feeling that life would be better if it weren't for all the shit we have to do…

The first few scenes of Crash (Lionsgate), Paul Haggis' surprise Best Picture winner, have the charge of something truly daring, as Haggis makes explicit the racial undercurrents pulsing through Los Angeles. But when it becomes clear that the explicitness won't stop and the gears of the screenplay start grinding out heavy-handed ironies, the film morphs into an oppressive bore. In the spirit of self-congratulation, Academy members anointed this hometown favorite above Brokeback Mountain, but time will cut it down to size as decisively as Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

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Andrew Adamson's epic-sized The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (Disney) is bound to feel a little too tightly bound when shrunk down to TV-screen size, but it'll still be a DVD hit, judging from its massive box-office take. And why not? Adamson's child actors mostly seem stiff and uncomfortable in their roles, but his grand visual style, his respect for C.S. Lewis' beloved novel, and his amazingly realized stable of CGI-creature characters make the film a simultaneously charming and gripping adventure…

Part dark comedy, part rock 'n' roll fairy tale, Greg Whiteley's affectionate rock-doc New York Doll (First Independent) explores the strange, tragicomic existence of Arthur "Killer" Kane, New York Dolls bassist turned nebbishy Mormon librarian. Kane pined for a reunion for decades, and his wish was granted when super-fan Morrissey reunited the Dolls for a big festival gig, leading to an unexpectedly touching climax…

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If you're unschooled in late-'70s Korean politics, it might be difficult to fully understand The President's Last Bang (Kino), but it's easy to see why it caused such a stir in its home country. Imagine JFK reconfigured into a Dr. Strangelove-esque political comedy, and you'll get some idea of the tone of this daring movie, which gets big laughs from the decadence and corruption that riddled President Park Chung-hee and his inner circle.

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