Here's a selection of new 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.
This is a live-action Disney family comedy with talking dogs. The main character is Chloe (voice of Drew Barrymore), a pampered Chihuahua belonging to a cosmetics mogul (Jamie Lee Curtis) living in Beverly Hills. When the owner's niece (Piper Perabo) takes Chloe on a vacation in Mexico, the spoiled pooch gets lost. The movie is mostly about the talking dogs Chloe encounters on her long journey home. There's lots of Latino voice talent, including Andy Garcia, Edward James Olmos, George Lopez, Paul Rodriguez, Cheech Marin and Plácido Domingo.
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.
en 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.
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.
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.
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.
Marvel Comics introduced a character named Frank Castle whose family is massacred by organized crime, after which he turns himself into the Punisher, a vigilante obsessed with revenge. There were two earlier movies, one in 1989, the other in 2004, both titled The Punisher
, about this character. Now comes Punisher: War Zone
(2008) with a new lead actor, Ray Stevenson. This time around, Castle pushes a mob boss (Dominic West) into a glass-crushing machine, setting off another round of extreme violence. The movie's all about frenetic pacing, brutality and gore.
Daniel Craig is back as James Bond in this sequel to Casino Royale
(2006), and also reprising their roles are Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini and Jeffrey Wright. The story hopscotches to half a dozen exotic locations as Agent 007 tries to avenge the death of his beloved Vesper Lynd. The Bond girls this time around are played by Olga Kurylenko and Gemma Arterton. The villain is Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), who masquerades as an environmentalist to disguise his diabolical schemes. The movie has spectacular action sequences, but not much in the way of gadgetry.
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.