The Good Life

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

DVD Spotlight: Feb. 18 - Feb. 24

Brief capsules on new DVDs worth renting.

By R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic


The humor in director Steven Soderbergh's ironic, fact-based caper comedy "The Informant!" is so interminably dry, it's difficult to fully enjoy the experience. Like the Coen Brothers' "A Serious Man," it's much more frustrating than fun. But there's a great deal of enjoyment to be found in the craftsmanship of the film, which is set in the '90s but evokes the '70s. As the deluded title character, Matt Damon gives a performance as notable for its verbal dexterity as its physical sluggishness. The circus-like score by Marvin Hamlisch is one of last year's best. (Available Feb. 23)


Frequently labeled with the simplification, "The real 'Devil Wears Prada'," this delicious documentary from director R. J. Cutler is far more fascinating and sophisticated than one might think, which is precisely what it aims to reveal about the fashion industry. Opening the doors to the oft-veiled world of American Vogue editor Anna Wintour, the film boasts unprecedented access, showing the inner workings of the magazine, specifically the production of the hefty, record-breaking September 2007 issue. Emerging as the movie's unlikely heroine is Grace Coddington, Vogue's artistic director who's been lovingly locking horns with Wintour for two decades. (Available Feb. 23)


This holiday-timed dramedy, a remake of an Italian film of the same name, took a whipping from most reviewers, dubbed a tasteless, tepid tearjerker. While it has its share of hokum, and some flashback/imaginary scenes that should have stayed on the cutting room floor, I beg to differ with the critical consensus: In the hands of director Kirk Jones, "Everybody's Fine" is much more graceful and skillfully constructed than it needed to be, and it hits you with some genuinely emotional moments involving divorcee Frank (Robert DeNiro) and his estranged grown children. A not-great, but surprisingly good movie unfairly derided. (Available Feb. 23)


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