Here's a selection of new movies on DVD for May 2009.
Based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, this intricate thriller stars Diane Lane and Mickey Rourke, was directed by John Madden and the cinematographer was Caleb Deschanel. But the film got only a limited theatrical release, partly because audiences found it confusing. Rourke plays a hit man who never leaves a witness alive. He gets involved in extortion with a psychopath (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and their crime is witnessed by a married couple (Lane and Thomas Jane) on the verge of divorce. Rourke's character begins a dogged pursuit of the couple to kill them.
Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson are paired in this romantic drama. Harvey Shine (Hoffman) is an aging failed jazz pianist who writes commercial jingles. Divorced and lonely, he flies to London to attend his daughter's wedding, but is crushed when he learns she wants to be given away by her stepfather. He also strikes up a chance acquaintance with the unattached Kate (Thompson), who has had a series of bad dates. Harvey and Kate soon find themselves spending a fun day together in the great city, and she accompanies him to his daughter's wedding reception.
A gory remake of the 1981 Canadian slasher movie about a Valentine's Day pickax massacre in a mining town, this film showed theatrically in 3-D. A decade ago Tom fled his hometown on the day a miner went berserk and slaughtered a bunch of people. Now Tom returns, and another series of brutal slayings begins. Also, Tom's ex-girlfriend Sarah is now married to the local sheriff Axel. Axel believes Tom is the killer, but Tom suspects Axel. Or, is it possible that somehow the miner, who is reported to be dead, has come back and is again committing mass murder?
Renée Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. are paired in this romantic comedy. Zellweger portrays Lucy Hill, a hard-driving executive at a big corporation based in Miami. She goes out to New Ulm, Minnesota, to downsize the company's plant there, but she is a citified South Floridian, unprepared for the small town's lifestyle or its cold, snowy weather. But Lucy begins to find the folksy Minnesotans charming, and romance starts to bloom between her and the hunky, bearded local union leader (Connick). J.K. Simmons plays the role of a manager at the New Ulm plant.
Kevin James (TV's The King of Queens) stars as the title character in this family comedy. Paul is a chubby security guard who rides a Segway as he patrols a big shopping mall in New Jersey. He's a single father, and he's attracted to Amy (Jayma Mays), the good-looking young woman at the hair-extension kiosk. But on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, a gang of crooks takes over the mall. The police surround the mall, but there's a standoff because the crooks use Amy and others as hostages. That's when Paul, who happens to be inside the mall, goes into action.
Jessica Biel, Ray Liotta and Forest Whitaker play major roles in this drama that only got a limited theatrical release. Other actors in the film include Eddie Redmayne, Lisa Kudrow, Patrick Swayze and Kris Kristofferson. The story is about four strangers whose lives intersect. Charlie (Whitaker) is an ex-priest who is trying to find someone to kill him in exchange for $50,000. Jack (Liotta) is an ex-con who has terminal cancer. Rose Johnny (Biel) works as an erotic dancer to pay her comatose son's medical bills. And Qwerty (Redmayne) is a mortician in heavy debt.
Nominated for 13 Academy Awards including Best Picture, this fantasy stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1922 short story, the movie chronicles the life of Benjamin Button (Pitt), who somehow ages backward, being already an old man when he is born and getting younger as time passes. The story takes place mostly in New Orleans, and the time period covered is 1918 to 2005. The film recounts a number of episodes in Benjamin's life, but the key ones involve his relationship with Daisy (Blanchett), a free-spirited dancer who is the love of his life.
Tom Cruise stars in this dramatization of a true story. Cruise portrays Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, a count who lost an eye and a hand while fighting for Germany during World War II. Later, Stauffenberg became a key man in a 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler and seize control of the German government. Supporting actors in the film include Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Terence Stamp and Eddie Izzard, all of whom play German generals. Directed by Bryan Singer, the movie traces the preparation and attempted implementation of the takeover plot.
Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) stars in this spare indie drama that was well received at festivals and made several critics' best-of-2008 lists, but got only a limited theatrical release. Williams portrays Wendy, a young adult with little money who decides to move from Indiana to Alaska with the idea of getting a job in a fish cannery there. She sets out in her old Honda with her retriever Lucy, and they reach Oregon, where Wendy runs into problems and encounters assorted strangers. The film doesn't have conventional narrative flow: its focus is on character, setting and mood.