February 20, 2009 in Features

Scott’s ‘Body of Lies’ a modern, well-acted spy account

 
Associated Press photo

ORG XMIT: NYET656 In this image released by Warner Bros., Leonardo DiCaprio is shown in a scene from, “Body of Lies.” (AP Photo/Warner Bros., Francois Duhamel)
(Full-size photo)

‘Body of Lies’

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Director Ridley Scott again teams up with Russell Crowe (“Gladiator”) to make this study of contemporary spying. Leonardo DiCaprio co-stars as a CIA operative who, while trying to track down a terrorist cell, encounters problems when his Washington-based boss (Crowe) disregards the wishes of Jordan’s head of intelligence (Mark Strong). Fast-paced and well-acted, Scott’s film suffers only from a too-pat ending. DVD, which is available on Blu-ray, includes commentary by director Scott, making-of featurettes, interactive interviews. (2:08; rated R for language throughout, strong violence, torture)

– By Dan Webster, staff writer

‘Religulous’

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Representing the growing voice of the nonbelievers among us, acid-tongued comic Bill Maher goes on a spiritual quest that starts with a simple precept: How can people believe in religions that are as believable as the myth of Santa Claus? Preaching mostly to the atheistic choir, Maher asks questions that will either make you laugh or wince – or maybe both. (1:41; rated R for sexual material, language)

– By Dan Webster, staff writer

‘Changeling’

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Working in his grasping-for-respect vein, Clint Eastwood takes a real-life story about a woman (Angelina Jolie) who, in 1928, loses her son. While Jolie gives a good performance as someone willing to take on the then-corrupt L.A. police, Eastwood’s beautifully sterile movie travels in too many directions and settles for an ending that wants to be everything at once. DVD, which is available on Blu-ray, includes making-of featurettes. (2:21; rated R for disturbing content, language, violent content)

– By Dan Webster, staff writer

‘Choke’

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Working from Portland author Chuck Palahniuk’s cult novel, director Clark Gregg follows Victor (Sam Rockwell), a troubled guy who has a strange way of making extra money: He intentionally chokes himself in restaurants and hopes people come to his rescue. Actor/director Gregg’s film feels like a cut-rate version of another Palahniuk novel: “Fight Club.” DVD includes commentary by Gregg and star Rockwell, deleted scenes, gag reel. (1:32; rated R for language, nudity, strong sexual content)

– By Dan Webster, staff writer

‘I Served the King of England’

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Working in a contemporary version of traditional European comedy-drama (see the Romanian film “The Rest Is Silence”), the director of the 1966 Oscar-winning film “Closely Watched Trains” – Czech director Jiri Menzel – tells a tale of a young man’s coming of age under World War II Nazis and Cold War communists. Comic moments abound, but it’s hard to empathize with a protagonist whose education is as painful as it is long in coming. DVD offers no extra features. (1:58; rated R for nudity, sexual content)

– By Dan Webster, staff writer

‘Flash of Genius’

The inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper fights the Detroit auto manufacturers who, he claims, stole his creation. “(Greg) Kinnear, often a player of light comedy, does a convincing job of making this quiet, resolute man into a giant slayer.” DVD includes commentary by director Marc Abraham, deleted scenes. (2:00; rated PG-13 for brief strong language)

– By Roger Ebert, Chicago Tribune

‘How to Lose Friends and Alienate People’

A British tabloid reporter (Simon Pegg) finds it hard fitting in at a New York magazine. “Director Robert Weide … can’t make up his mind whether the fame-grubbing Sidney is a principled jerk, an immature closet romantic or Jerry Lewis.” DVD, which is available on Blu-ray, includes commentary by director Weide and star Pegg, making-of featurette. (1:49; rated R for brief drug material, graphic nudity, language)

– By Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

‘Quarantine’

A TV crew and the residents of a building quarantined by the CDC are trapped after a mysterious virus starts turning humans into bloodthirsty killers. “If, like the vast majority of U.S. fans, you haven’t viewed the original … (the Spanish film “REC”) … ‘Quarantine’ is a more than acceptable substitute, and despite its smattering of flaws delivers a solid 89 minutes of jumps and jolts.” DVD, which is available on Blu-ray, includes commentary by writer-director John Erick Dowdle, making-of featurettes. (1:29; bloody content, disturbing content, language, terror, violent content)

– By Michael Gingold, Fangoria.com

Also available: “Alien Raiders,” “American Scary,” “Dead Like Me,” “Out at the Wedding,” “Screamers: The Hunting”


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