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DVDs In Brief: August 26, 2009

A.V. Club Staff
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In another era, there’s no doubt that a thriller as elegant, witty, suspenseful, glamorous, and briskly entertaining as Duplicity (Universal) would have been a huge hit, a colorful diversion along the lines of Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief. But even with the considerable star wattage of Clive Owen and Julia Roberts, who have great chemistry as star-crossed pair of corporate spies, the film found no traction at the box office. Perhaps DVD will be kinder to Tony Gilroy’s confident follow-up to Michael Clayton, which shares the same concerns over executive chicanery, but manages them with a defter touch…

Though intended as an awkward, bittersweet, and clearly personal coming-of-age movie, Greg Mottola’s Adventureland (Miramax) works best as a wonderful nostalgia trip for those who fondly remembered the analog ’80s and wished they had a girlfriend hip enough to own Big Star’s Radio City on vinyl. Jesse Eisenberg anchors the film nicely as a romantically inexperienced college grad logging time in a run-down Pittsburgh amusement park, but Freaks And Geeks’ Martin Starr steals the show as his hilariously sardonic booth-mate…

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The unstoppable force of Amy Adams’ adorableness meets the immovable object of indie-film miserablism in Sunshine Cleaning (Anchor Bay), an altogether acceptable low-budget comedy-drama about a pair of mismatched sisters who join forces to start a business cleaning up crime scenes. The girlish charms of Adams and co-star Emily Blunt helped make Sunshine a modest arthouse hit; home audiences look to be even more indulgent…

Just the name Bret Easton Ellis turns off most of the critical community, no matter how inspired the adaptation (see: The Rules Of Attraction, American Psycho), but when one is as botched as The Informers (Senator), out come the torches and pitchforks. In plenty of ways, the film deserved the contempt it received: It’s a dreary, indulgent rehash of ’80s Ellis themes, bereft of his acerbic humor, and clearly gutted in post-production. There are glimmers of a better movie here—it’s a rare case where a film might be better at twice the length—but it’s at best a fascinating mess…

Sleeper alert: No one paid much attention to Fighting (Summit), Dito Montiel’s flavorful follow-up to A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, but it has a scrappy underdog quality that’s just as winning as its bare-knuckle protagonist. A true New York picture, Montiel’s story of a handsome vagabond (Channing Tatum) who explores the shady black-market boxing scene makes no effort to cover up its B-movie roots. And it’s richer for it.

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