Let's take a look at the best movies on DVD for March 2009.
Baz Luhrmann directed this spectacular epic romantic drama that stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. The story is set in northern Australia during the period 1939 to 1942. Kidman plays Lady Sarah Ashley, a refined widow who must run a huge cattle station in the remote outback. To do that, she has to have the help of the Drover (Jackman), a scruffy cowboy. There's an exciting cattle drive fraught with peril, the Japanese bomb the port town of Darwin and Sarah and Drover fall in love. There's also a half-Aboriginal boy the government is seeking to take from his mother.
Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient
, Four Weddings and a Funeral
) gives a fine performance in this French-language drama. After spending 15 years in prison, Juliette (Scott Thomas) is released and goes to live with her younger sister Léa (Elsa Zylberstein). Set in the university city of Nancy, France, the film's narrative is driven by unveiling the details of Juliette's crime until a moment of revelation near the end. But the strength of the movie is in its handling of character and closely observed day-to-day life. Essentially, this is a story of healing and beginning anew.
Sean Penn gives a towering performance as the title character in this biopic directed by Gus Van Sant. It was a landmark event when Harvey Milk (Penn) was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors back in 1977 because he was openly gay. The following year, Milk and the city's mayor were assassinated by Dan White (Josh Brolin in a fine performance), who had just resigned from the Board. The movie traces the life of Harvey Milk from 1970 to 1978, including his personal relationships, running a camera store and building a political movement from the ground up.
This raunchy, but sweet comedy stars Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd. Wheeler (Scott) and Danny (Rudd) sell an energy drink called Minotaur to high school students, but they end up on the wrong side of the law and must do community service. They are assigned to act as mentors to troubled youths in a program run by a zany woman portrayed by Jane Lynch. Danny gets a kid who is obsessed with playing a game where people pretend they're living in the Middle Ages, while Wheeler's charge is an extreme potty mouth. Both kids and adults learn lessons.
Ben Kingsley and Penélope Cruz star in this drama adapted from Philip Roth's novel The Dying Animal
. Kingsley plays David Kepesh, a 60-something university literature professor in New York City. Kepesh gets into a sexual relationship with Consuela (Cruz), a 30-ish Cuban-born graduate student. At first the romance goes well, but soon Kepesh becomes excessively jealous and possessive. His distrust causes the story to take a dramatic turn, leading to an emotional climax. Other actors in the cast include Dennis Hopper, Patricia Clarkson, Peter Sarsgaard and Deborah Harry.
This is an animated Disney family film. Bolt (voice of John Travolta) is a white shepherd dog that lives in L.A. and stars in a TV series based on episodes where he saves his owner Penny (voice of Miley Cyrus). He has been raised in such a sheltered environment he believes that the superpowers his character has on the show are ones he has in real life. By accident, Bolt ends up in Manhattan, puzzled by his loss of superpowers. He teams up with a cat named Mittens (voice of Susie Essman) and a hamster named Rhino (voice of Mark Walton), and they all search for Penny.
Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston star in this family film based on the best-selling memoir by John Grogan. Grogan was a newspaper columnist who wrote about "the world's worst dog," his unruly and destructive Labrador retriever Marley (played by 22 canines). In the movie, Wilson portrays John Grogan, and Aniston plays John's wife Jenny. Alan Arkin portrays John's curmudgeonly editor, and Kathleen Turner appears as a dog trainer who throws Marley out of obedience school. The film is basically a portrait of the Grogans' marriage, their three kids and their faithful dog Marley.
Winner of eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, this is an energetic, exhilarating melodrama set in Mumbai. It's a Dickensian rag-to-riches tale filled with color, movement and Oscar-winning music. The protagonist is an orphan named Jamal, who becomes a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Shots of him on the TV show are intercut with those of him undergoing a brutal interrogation, while flashbacks reveal his youth in the slums. Jamal's brother and girlfriend are also key story elements, and three different actors portray each of the main characters.