People who have read Cormac McCarthy”s “No Country for Old Men” and seen the movie tell me they like the picture better – perhaps because it’s tighter (McCarthy loves description).
Rightly voted best film of 2007, “No Country” is like sitting on the edge of menace for two hours.
The Oscar-winning Coen brothers unleash the violence with shocking suddenness, keeping some off-screen and letting it fester in the imagination.
As they did in “Blood Simple,” the directors permit silences, quiet moments mirrored by the environs.
Laconic like its characters, except for Tommy Lee Jones” sheriff, the picture opens on the parched West Texas plains; then it jumps straight away to the story”s linchpin, the cold, implacable killing machine played by Javier Bardem, winner of the supporting-actor gold.
When a man (Josh Brolin) takes off with $2 million he finds at the scene of a bloodbath, Bardem”s character pursues, with the sheriff trying to intercede along the way.
The atmosphere and attitude remain intact on a decent-sized home screen. The tale”s more intimate, the attention to detail more evident and the killer more frightening. The acting”s solid from top to bottom and the movie remains captivating the second time around.
Extras: Skimpy: making-of featurette; shorts “Working with the Coens” and “Diary of a Country Sheriff” (on the relationship between cop and killer). No commentary, so expect to find one on a “collector”s edition” down the road.
A low-key widower with three daughters falls for a woman he meets at a bookstore, only to learn later that she”s his brother”s new girlfriend.
What”s a lonely guy played by Steve Carell to do? As the title character in the relationship comedy “Dan in Real Life,” he shows real emotion for a change â€” despite continuing to move like an erector-set man.
Dan”s tussling with his conscience at a big family gathering (think “Parenthood” with more grown-ups) as he become more drawn to his sibling”s alluring girlfriend (a playful Juliette Binoche) forms the heart of the film.
Dane Cook, who still gets roles despite my inability to see why, plays Dan”s brother. Dianne Wiest portrays his mother, John Mahoney his dad.
Despite a soft ending and some unevenness, the film is funny, touching and worth a look.
Extras: Audio commentary by writer/director Peter Hedges; entertaining making-of piece and creating-the-score short; deleted scenes (watch the extended version of the party talent show without commentary, then with it); outtakes.
A little stinger
Kids will be captivated by the bright colors and busyness of the animated “Bee Movie,” but the “Seinfeld”-like one-liners with fly right over their heads.
That shouldn”t matter as they focus on the spirited honeybee voiced by Jerry Seinfeld as he works to escape the hive and explore the outside world with the hive”s heroic pollen gatherers.
When he breaks the bee code by speaking to a human (Renee Zellweger), then goes to court, children and adults may both start to squirm from the inertia.
Extras: Audio commentary; trivia track; alternate endings; short on animators; effects short; deleted scenes; music video; single-disc and two-disc editions.
Shoot the messenger
Someone”s set up our hero, a genetically engineered assassin played with impassive cool by Timothy Olyphant in “Hitman – Unrated Special Edition.”
As bodies fall, the man with the bald pate and big bar code on his neck (which, for some reason, does not make him or his bald brethren stand out in crowds) deals with other assassins, an intrepid Interpol agent (Dougray Scott), a vulnerable prostitute (Olga Kurylenko) â€” the only kind â€” and assorted Russian heavies.
It”s all action all the time without a lick of logic to interfere.
Extras: Deleted scenes; new footage; behind-the-scenes piece; alternate ending; gag reel; more.
Accent on crime
The smart, darkly comic and extremely violent New Zealand crime story “You Move, You Die” centers around a crook (Ketzal Sterling, who also directed and wrote the movie) who”s mugged on the way to proposing to his girlfriend.
The muggers steal the ring. The crook and his cohorts have one hour to find the muggers and the ring and get the proposal back on track.
It”s a captivating caper film, if you can stomach the incessant killing. The payoff is a wild and unpredictable finale.
One caveat: The accents are so thick you may want to turn on the subtitles.
Extras: Behind-the-scenes short.
Also on DVD
“Appleseed: Ex Machina”: Anime adaptation of futuristic manga saga about battling cyborgs.
“Black Widow”: Classic femme-fatale noir with Ginger Rogers (not dancing).
“Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation”: Nudity, sex, heavy drinking, broad humor, but no Tom Hanks.
“Crave”: Short-film collection inspired by Erwin Raphael McManus” “Soul Cravings.”
“Curious George Rides a Bikeâ€¦And More Monkeying Around”: Title says all.
“Daisy Kenyon”: Nasty noir love triangle with Otto Preminger directing Joan Crawford.
“Dangerous Crossing”: Noir mystery on the high seas with Jeanne Crain.
“En la Cama” (“In Bed”): Erotic Chilean Oscar nominee about two people who meet at a party, go to a motel, have sex, spill secrets and open up emotionally.
“The Last Supper”: In Cuba in the 1700s, a man invites 12 of his slaves to reenact the Last Supper to teach them about Christianity.
“Outlaw”: Iraq war veteran (Sean Bean) creates an eye-for-an-eye vigilante band to battle villainy on the streets of London.
“Pop Go the Wiggles”: Ask any parent.
“The Secret Things of God”: Judeo-Christian perspective on the bestseller “The Secret.”
“Stargate The Ark of Truth”: Straight-to-DVD sci-fi film extends story plot from TV-series finale.
“Summer Palace”: The fight for political reform in China serves as background to the turbulent relationship between two Peking University students.
TV on DVD
“Cops” 20th Anniversary”
“L”il Bush: Resident of the United States” – Season One”
“The Most Extreme – Season 1”
“Russell Simmons” Def Comedy Jam”
“Sam & Max: Freelance Police!!! The Complete Series”
“South Park: Imaginationland – Uncensored Director”s Cut”
“Tom and Jerry Tales: Volume 4”
“Visions of Ireland.”
March 18: “Atonement,” “Enchanted”
March 25: “The Kite Runner”