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Top Picks - Capture Arkansas


By Karen Martin

This article was published May 30, 2014 at 2:13 a.m.


John Wayne and Montgomery Clift in Howard Hawks’ 1948 monumental Red River, which has just been released on Blu-ray.

Red River, directed by Howard Hawks

(not rated, 133 minutes)

I first saw Red River at an afternoon screening in Washington, D.C., when I was an Arkansas Gazette copy editor on loan to USA Today in 1990. Knowing nothing about Howard Hawks and not caring much about John Wayne, I didn't have any opinion of the 1948 Western. But it was my day off, and admission was free. So I smuggled in a huge blueberry muffin from a nearby bakery, settled into a seat, and within minutes fell in love with Montgomery Clift.

In his first movie role, Clift plays Matthew Garth, a Civil War veteran who reunites with his childhood mentor Thomas Dunson (Wayne), a frontiersman who abandoned a westbound wagon train in 1851 to try his hand at being a rancher in Texas. Fabulously successful but tortured by the loss of the fiancee (Coleen Gray) he abandoned on that wagon train, Dunson decides to move his huge herd of cattle through territory controlled by border gangs to the lucrative beef market in Missouri. And Garth is just the man to help him do it. Or is he?

The role of a rebellious outsider suited Clift; he went on to play many more such characters, most notably the doomed soldier in From Here to Eternity (1953) and a Jewish GI bullied by anti-Semites in The Young Lions (1958). It's clear from his powerful performance in this muscular, moody and monumental Western, now available on Blu-ray, that Clift was destined to be a star.

How to Train Your Dragon (PG, 98 minutes) A special-edition Blu-ray combo pack of this 2010 computer-animated fantasy shares the story of Hiccup (voice of Jay Baruchel), a young Viking who defies tradition by making friends with one of his town's deadliest foes, a ferocious dragon he calls Toothless. Good times are had, then trouble arrives and the pals must rely on each other in a battle to save both their worlds. Other voices include those of Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kristen Wiig.

Special features include a making-of featurette that explains how the story was developed, details on the film's animation, a lesson on how to draw a dragon, a trivia track and commentary by directors/co-writers Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois and producer Bonnie Arnold.

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (R, 119 minutes) Fans of Wes Anderson films such as Bottle Rocket (1996), Rushmore (1998) and The Royal Tenenbaums (2002) may find the weirdness of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004) not as attractive as the delightful strangeness of those earlier works. But no one can argue that this film isn't original.

Here's the story: Oceanographer Steve Zissou plans to take revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner with help from his estranged wife, a journalist, and a man who may or may not be his son. If that sounds like it might lead to some confusion about what's going on, you're right. If the oddness starts to get to you, take comfort in the fact that it's got a heckuva cast, including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldblum.

Endless Love (R, 105 minutes) A promising idea based on a 1981 Franco Zeffirelli film amounts to a dull disappointment. It's a soapy romantic drama about a rich, coddled teenager (Gabriella Wilde) and a charming mechanic's son (Alex Pettyfer) who form an instant attraction that is not approved of, to put it mildly, by their parents. With Bruce Greenwood, Robert Patrick, Rhys Wakefield, Joely Richardson; directed by Shana Feste.

A Birder's Guide to Everything (PG-13, 87 minutes) A spare, energetic and well-acted coming-of-age comedy about 15-year-old David Portnoy (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a birding enthusiast (like his late mother) who is convinced on the eve of his father's remarriage that he has discovered a bird supposedly extinct for over a century. With Ben Kingsley, James LeGros; directed by Rob Meyer.

MovieStyle on 05/30/2014

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