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

DVDs In Brief: May 27, 2009


Blu-ray might as well have been invented for Pixar. The studio’s films looked remarkable on DVD; on Blu-ray, they look like they’ve been beamed directly from the creators’ brains to viewers’ screens. The new set for A Bug’s Life (Disney) is no exception. Pixar’s second effort occasionally gets overshadowed by the films that came before and after, but the Seven Samurai-like story provides a solid framework for stunning animation and winning characters, including Dave Foley’s nice work in the lead). And extras? You betcha. There’s so much making-of material here, you might feel as if you worked on the project yourself by the end…

C. Jay Cox plagiarized his screenplay for Sweet Home Alabama for the instantly forgettable New In Town (Lionsgate), a groaningly formulaic fish-out-of-water romantic comedy about an uptight big city go-getter who learns valuable life lessons after she’s sent to shut down a factory in a small Midwestern town and ends up falling for rugged Harry Connick Jr. The film was the subject of a fascinating New Yorker piece a while back about test screenings and marketing that proves just how much calculation and planning goes into selling even the blandest mediocrities…


With A Thousand Years Of Good Prayers (Magnolia), Wayne Wang moves away from his years of commercial fare like Because Of Winn-Dixie, and back to the gentle, textured indies that made his name. But Prayers sometimes feels like a parody of an indie movie. In spite of touching performances from Henry O and Faye Yu as an estranged father-daughter pair at odds with each other over Yu's divorce, the character development is so thin, and the pacing so enervated, that it’s hard to engage with their emotions, and the whole affair feels shy and slight…

Wang’s Good Prayers’ festival companion, Princess Of Nebraska (Magnolia), similarly failed to restore his indie cred, not least because he appears to be trying too hard. This convoluted tale of a young, pregnant Chinese woman in San Francisco makes a simple story needlessly murky, hammering home its point about her alienation in a foreign land. Once the film gets to a dinner-table conversation involving white people pelting her with crude assertions about her homeland, it’s time to press the eject button.