January 30, 2009 in Features

Woody Allen’s ‘Barcelona’ looks at love

From staff and wire reports
Associated Press photo

(Full-size photo)

‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’


Whatever your opinion of him as a man (not to mention husband/father), this much is undeniable: Woody Allen was one of the most important filmmakers of the late 20th century. Sure, the quality of his work fell off for a while there. But a new century, plus a change from his traditional New York settings, seems to have given him new life. This look at love, what it means and what it demands, may be Allen’s best film in a decade. It follows two young Americans (Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson) as their summer in Spain is enlivened by a tempestuous couple (played by Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz) who give us all a new and riveting definition of on-screen passion, DVD, which is available on Blu-ray, offers no extras. (1:36; rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexuality, smoking)

– Dan Webster, staff writer

‘Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired’


If you want to see a film that either condemns or absolves French-born, Polish-raised filmmaker Roman Polanski, go somewhere else. This HBO-produced documentary is more concerned with the American legal process that, at least in Polanski’s case, didn’t come close to doing justice for anyone involved – Polanski or the 13-year-old girl he admitted having sex with (after providing her both drink and drugs). DVD includes commentaries with director Marina Zenovich and editor Joe Bini, Zenovich interview, deleted scenes. (1:39; not rated)

– Dan Webster, staff writer

‘Pride and Glory’


There are, apparently, only so many ways to tell big-city cop stories. This gritty and authentic flick explores what happens when police die in the line of duty and a detective (Edward Norton) finds evidence that his cop brother-in-law (Colin Farrell) is involved. Yet for all its strengths, you’ve seen this story before. DVD, which is available on Blu-ray, includes making-of featurette, theatrical trailer. (2:09. rated R for brief drug content, pervasive language, strong violence)

– Dan Webster, staff writer

‘Lakeview Terrace’


Neil LaBute needs to go back to directing his own screenplays. Following his disastrous remake of “The Wicker Man,” the Spokane-raised filmmaker took on the for-hire job of directing this mostly generic suspense flick about a veteran LAPD cop (Samuel L. Jackson) who, already on a short fuse, can’t cope with the mixed-race couple (Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington) who move in next door. LaBute misses a chance to tell a story about real people by opting for a violent genre climax, which was likely where the script was headed long before he became involved. DVD, which is available on Blu-ray, includes commentaries by director LaBute and star Washington, making-of featurettes, deleted scenes. (1:46; rated PG-13 for intense thematic material, language, sexuality, drug references, violence)

– Dan Webster, staff writer

‘The Rocker’

Given a second chance at rock success, an ’80s-era drummer (Rainn Wilson) goes on the road with his nephew (Josh Gad) and the teenager’s band. “I don’t want to oversell ‘The Rocker,’ but … It’s a lot of fun. Its spirit is genuine and, even with the odd vomit gag, fundamentally sweet.” DVD, which is available on Blu-ray, includes commentaries by director Peter Cattaneo and stars Wilson, Gad, Teddy Geiger and Emma Stone, making-of featurettes, deleted scenes. (1:42; rated PG-13 for drug references, language, nudity, sexual references)

– Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

‘The Lucky Ones’

Finding themselves on an unplanned road trip across America, a trio of very different U.S. soldiers (Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams, Michael Peña) form a deep bond. “It’s all very facile … but ‘The Lucky Ones’ isn’t dull, and the actors do quite nicely, especially McAdams, who’s feisty, gorgeous, and as mercurial as a mood ring.” DVD includes making-of featurette. (1:55; rated R for language, sexual content)

– Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly


A Russian mobster orchestrates a crooked land deal, putting millions of dollars up for grabs, and all of London’s criminal underworld wants a part of the action. “Watching ‘RocknRolla,’ there’s a sense that instead of inventing a story, (director Guy) Ritchie sat around for a few months thinking of things that would look cool on-screen.” DVD, which is available on Blu-ray, includes commentary by director Ritchie, making-of featurettes. (1:54; rated R for brief sexuality, drug use, pervasive language, violence)

– Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press

Also available: “Abraham Lincoln: His Life and Legacy,” “The Great Music Caper,” Holly,” “Obscene,” “Open Season 2” (also on Blu-ray)

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