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Home movies

By Philip Martin

This article was published May 7, 2010 at 3:26 a.m.

— Recent DVD releases:

Tooth Fairy (PG, 102 minutes) Uninspired Disney family comedy stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Derek “Tooth Fairy” Thompson, a minor-league hockey goon who - after disabusing a child’s illusions - is sentenced to work a week as a real tooth fairy. Julie Andrews and Ashley Judd experience career lows.

Grade: 71

Leap Year (PG, 100 minutes) Anand Tucker directs this generic romantic comedy about a beautiful young woman (Amy Adams, experiencing a career low) who plans to land her commitment-shy boyfriend by flying to Ireland and surprising him by proposing on Feb. 29. (In Ireland, on a Leap Year’s extra day, women get to propose.)Her plan, of course, does not exactly follow form. With Adam Scott and Matthew Goode.

Grade: 78

Nine (PG-13, 112 minutes) More of a derailment than a train wreck, Rob Marshall’s Nine is tolerable, and even interesting in spots, but itnevertheless represents a career low for its star, Daniel Day-Lewis, and most of the other 70 or 80 Oscarwinners who purr and pole dance around him. While the film is allegedly a musical remake of Federico Fellini’s semi-autobiographical 8 1/2, the 1963 film that starred Marcello Mastroianni as thedirector’s surrogate, Marshall either missed the point of that most introspective of movies or, more likely, failed to fully embrace the perversity of the all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza based on Fellini’s interior masterpiece. While under ideal conditions this could have been a gloriously vulgar affair, Nine is too literal-minded and restrained to work as camp, too silly to be taken seriously. But Marion Cotillard, Fergie and Kate Hudson have their moments.

Grade: 83

The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry (PG) Unapologetically evangelical Christian movie from brothers Rich and Dave Christiano stars Gavin Mac-Leod as the titular septuagenarian who has a positive influence on a trio of 12-yearold boys (headed by Jansen “Hayden’s brother” Panettiere) he encounters in small town New York in 1970. Better acted and less strident than some, The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry is more homily than compelling narrative feature but it doesn’t cheat its natural constituency by compromising its faith-based message.

Grade: 85

Tetro (Not rated, 127 minutes) Francis Ford Coppola directed this bold, cryptic and somewhat confusing family drama that stars Vincent Gallo as Tetro, the son of a famous orchestra conductor living in self-imposed exile in Buenos Aires. Shot in thrillingly high contrast, digital blackand-white, and replete with barely suppressed emotion, the movie can be read as a kind of emotional autobiography of the director. While thescript becomes problematic in the third act, Coppola has, with this film and its predecessor, 2007’s Youth Without Youth, re-created himself as a vibrant maker of intenselypersonal independent films. This really may be his best movie since Apocalypse Now. Long may he run.

Grade: 87

Tokyo Sonata (PG-13) A horror film of a different sort from director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who made his reputation as a “J-horror” director of intelligent supernatural thrillers such as Retribution (2006), Cure (1997) and Pulse (2001). Here, a Japanese salaryman Ryuhei (Teruyuki Kagawa) loses his job when his company outsources it to China. Like the protagonist of Laurent Cantet’s Time Out (2001), he doesn’t tell his family, but instead continues to dress for work and take the train in to central Tokyo every morning.But the film is as concerned with the slow motion implosion of his respectable family - and the stagnation of the Japanese economy - which makes it more than a pathosimbued case study of a damaged loser. There’s a third-act twist that some viewers will find uplifting and others will take as a cheat, but overall, Tokyo Sonata is an ambitious and rich movie, powerful and bittersweet.

Grade: 88

MovieStyle, Pages 37 on 05/07/2010

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