New on DVD! February 21, 2012
If you watch nothing else this week, rent the new biopic ‘J. Edgar’ (R). Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the titular role, the movie covers the professional and personal life of one of the most controversial men in American history. DiCaprio ages several decades over the course of the film, portraying J. Edgar Hoover from his start as an ambitious young man determined to overhaul the federal investigation system, through his older years after he had built the present-day FBI. Armie Hammer steals scenes as Hoover’s number two man, whose presence fueled rampant speculation about Hoover’s personal life; Naomi Watts also stars.
From a less-well-known source comes the creepy drama ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ (R), starring newcomer Elizabeth Olsen (yes, she’s related to the twins). Olsen plays a young woman thoroughly taken in by the charismatic cult leader (John Hawkes) who eventually turns her world upside down. Years later, she tries to leave the group and re-assimilate into society with the help of her sister and brother-in-law, but it isn’t easy for her to make a clean break.
If your kids (or, okay, you) loved ‘Shrek’, rent ‘Puss in Boots’ (PG), the spin-off starring everyone’s favorite feline criminal. Puss (voice of Antonio Banderas) finds himself on a new adventure while attempting to clear his good name. To restore his reputation, he tries to steal magic beans from Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris), with the help of the wily Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and his friend-turned-enemy Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). It’s nothing new or ground-breaking, but it’s entertaining for the whole family and merits a few genuine laughs.
Thandie Newton and Cillian Murphy play a couple looking to escape from a personal tragedy by vacationing on a remote island in ‘Retreat’ (R). Their solitude is shattered, however, when a man (Jamie Bell) washes ashore with news of a deadly airborne disease ravaging Europe. It’s a so-so thriller that suffers from plot holes and a weak script, but Bell steals the show as the possibly treacherous intruder, but he’s about the only worthwhile part of the whole adventure.
Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy could both use a bit of career rehab, and they seem to have found it in ‘Tower Heist’ (PG-13)–but the success of the movie isn’t solely dependent on either of the two. Instead, like Stiller’s last big hit, ‘Night at the Museum’, the movie works because of the large number of players and general mayhem occurring in every shot, which helps ease some of the pressure on the main stars to be funny 100% of the time. Stiller plays Josh, who along with his coworkers at a luxury condominium discovers that the condo staff have been swindled out of their pensions by scheming billionaire Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda).
Josh and his gang (including Murphy, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, and Michael Pena) set out to steal back their money from Shaw’s penthouse, but they must also contend with the FBI, who are guarding Shaw while he is under house arrest. The heist is pretty unbelievable and the script doesn’t really offer up anything new or exciting, but it manages to be pretty funny all the same.