Let's take a look at the best new movies on DVD for December, 2005.
Russell Crowe stars in the title role of this biopic about boxing
great James J. Braddock. The movie reunites Crowe with key members of the "A
Beautiful Mind" team, notably director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva
Goldsman. Renée Zellweger portrays Braddock's wife, and Paul Giamatti plays
his manager. Set during the Great Depression, the story is about how the down-on-his-luck
Braddock managed to fight his way to a heavyweight title bout, becoming a symbol
of hope for working-class Americans.
Two of Britain's greatest actresses, Judi Dench and Maggie
Smith, star in this low-keyed drama set in 1936. They play elderly sisters who
find an unconscious man washed ashore near their Cornwall home. They nurse him
back to health, discovering he's a Pole who speaks German and a gifted violinist.
One of the sisters (Dench) gets jealous when the man spends time with a young
painter (Natascha McElhone) who is also fluent in German. With the storm clouds
of World War II gathering, the sisters feel uneasy.
40 Year-Old Virgin"
Steve Carell plays the likable main character
in this laugh-out-loud-funny comedy. Andy (Carell) is a 40-year-old guy who is
employed at an electronics store, where his work buddies get on his case about
still being a virgin. Andy's coworkers try to arrange ways for him to lose his
virginity, but all turn out to be comically unsuitable. Eventually, Andy gets
to know the sympathetic Trish (Catherine Keener), who runs a shop where she sells
people's stuff on eBay, and he gradually comes to feel comfortable with her.
Bow Wow (who has removed the prefix Li'l from his name) and
Chi McBride star in this drama set against the backdrop of jam skating, a form
of dancing on roller skates to disco music. In 1978 Chicago, Xavier ("X")
Smith (Bow Wow) is mourning the recent death of his mom, and his grieving dad
(McBride) has his own problems. Much of the movie is about X and his South Side
buddies preparing for and competing in a big skate-off, but there are also issues
between X and his dad that must be addressed.
Whedon's TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" ran for several seasons,
but his "Firefly" got canceled before it finished even one. "Serenity,"
which was written and directed by Whedon, is a feature-length sci-fi movie based
on "Firefly" with most of the key actors reprising their roles. It's
about a ragtag group of rebels who roam around in a beat-up old spaceship named
Serenity. When they rescue a psychic from the clutches of the Alliance, they are
pursued by the Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
Kar Wai directed this beautiful, moody Chinese-language art-house drama. It's
Wong's follow-up to "In the Mood for Love" (2000) and continues the
story of Chow Mo Wan (again played by Tony Leung) from that earlier film. This
time around, Chow gets involved romantically with three women (Gong Li, Ziyi Zhang
and Faye Wong), and he's writing a novel about a Japanese adventurer taking a
train ride to the future. "2046" is difficult to interpret, but it captures
the feeling of yearning for the past.
Werner Herzog directed "Aguirre, the Wrath of God"
and "Fitzcarraldo," both movies about obsessive adventurers, and his
documentary "Grizzly Man" about Timothy Treadwell is in the same vein.
Treadwell lived for 13 summers among brown bears (grizzlies) in Alaska's Kitmai
National Park, where in 2003 he and his girlfriend were killed and eaten by a
grizzly. Herzog mixes interviews with footage shot by Treadwell to present a compelling
character study of a troubled man.
Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill"
This documentary is a portrait of
a middle-aged bohemian guy named Mark Bittner and his relationship with a flock
of birds in San Francisco. The green-bodied, red-headed birds are cherry-headed
conures, also known as red-masked parakeets. Presumably they were imported from
South America, escaped captivity and established a colony. They roost near Embarcadero
Center and fly around to various city locations, including Telegraph Hill. But
the film is more about Bittner, who's a sort of modern-day St. Francis.
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