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Home movies

By Philip Martin

This article was published April 2, 2010 at 3:21 a.m.

— Recent DVD releases: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (PG, 88 minutes) Terminally cute, with a witty musical component that might appeal to some wistful Baby Boomers (but don’t count on it). It’s probably better for adults to avoid this if they can, though if you can’t, it’s relatively harmless kiddie fare.

Grade: 81

The Baader Meinhof Complex (R, 150 minutes) An absolutely brilliant criminal procedural/ political primer about the German revolutionaries/terrorists/bank robbers who followed through on the anti-imperialist rhetoric of the international student movements of the ’60s. An impressive period reconstruction and a ripping yarn that never reduces its complicated and conflicted characters to stereotypes, The Baader Meinhof Complex is one of the best action movies of last year and a thoughtful essay on the futility of violence.

Grade: 90

An Education (PG-13, 100 minutes) An Education is about the British preoccupation with status and the outliers who exist beyond convention in a moveable feast of booze, sex and petty criminality. It’s also a surprisingly gentle film given it’s about a precocious 16-year-old honor student’s affair with a cad twice her age - an affair that occurred in a time and place where indiscretions had large consequences. When Jenny (Carey Mulligan), a bright young schoolgirl who longs for adulthood, meets David (Peter Sarsgaard), a dashing older man, he introduces her to his vibrant world of glamorous friends, chic jazz clubs and sexual awakening. Such an affair - if this dalliance can be called that - may seem doomed from the outset, but the prospect of a drably circumscribed, orthodox life seems, to Jenny, worse than whatever disasters attend life with (and after) David. Blu-ray and DVD bonus features include deleted scenes, a making of featurette and commentary with director Lone Scherfig and actors Mulligan and Sarsgaard.

Grade: 86

Henri Cartier-Bresson 2-Disc Collector’s Edition (Not rated, 311 minutes) Henri Cartier-Bresson is often cited as the father of modern photojournalism, but he was also a documentary filmmaker of notable style and influence. This set collects several documentaries he shot from the 1930s to the 1970s, all of which argue for Cartier-Bresson as a major filmmaker, rather than a dabbling still shooter. The collector’s edition includes five of Cartier-Bresson’s major works, a series of documentaries about his work and a 32-page illustrated collectible book containing essays as well as reproductions of some of his most famous photographs.

Grade: 90

Seraphine (Not rated, 125 minutes) Engrossing, well-shot bio-pic of the deeply interesting “naive” French painter Seraphine de Senlis (brilliantly played by Yolanda Moreau). Martin Provost’s film, which won seven Cesars, including Best Picture, from the French Academy in 2008, has a gorgeous antique look and a surfeit of empathy. A lovely, lingering film.

Grade: 89

Sherlock Holmes (PG-13, 128 minutes) Guy Ritchie’s noisy steampunk mauling of Arthur Conan Doyle’s character is great galloping fun if ultimately slighter and less nervy than we might have hoped. Still, Robert Downey Jr. is great fun to watch and Jude Law has a clue.

Grade: 85

The Yes Men Fix the World (Not rated, 96 minutes) New Yorkbased media guerrillas The Yes Men specialize in outrageous spoofs of corporate capitalism, usually involving fake news conferences that combine the spirit of early Saturday Night Live skits with a more wicked-hearted version of MTV’s Punked. Whilepractical jokes are, at bottom, cruel, Yes Men Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno choose their big boy victims - Dow Chemical, Exxon, Halliburton - pretty well. Like Jackass for the NPR set.

Grade: 86


MovieStyle, Pages 37 on 04/02/2010

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