FIND OF THE WEEK: STATE OF PLAY
If you’ve been glued to the sex scandal involving New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and a high-priced hooker who called him Client 9, this is the DVD for you. State of Play is actually not a movie, it’s a doozie of a six-part, 2003 British miniseries involving a married minister (David Morrissey), the sexy assistant he’s having it in on with and the reporter (once the MP’s campaign manager) who’s leading the media witch hunt on his hypocritical ass. Hollywood is quickly — I bet more quickly now — putting together an Americanized film version with Ben Affleck as the Congressman caught with his pants down and Russell Crowe as the crusading journalist. Brad Pitt was originally set as the reporter and Edward Norton as his political prey, but the writers strike intervened forcing both to drop out. Let nothing intervene with you getting your hot hands on this two-disc DVD. The Brits do this kind of kink to a thrilling turn. For 350 minutes, you will be riveted.
MUSTS TO AVOID: HITMAN and AUGUST RUSH
One (Hitman) is a violently stupid spin on a Playstation 2 game. The other (August Rush) is a violently gooey tale of an orphan who finds his real parents through music. Both made me violently ill.
OLDIE BUT GOODIE: BOBBY DEERFIELD
Back in 1977, critics pounced on Al Pacino’s go at playing a Grand Prix driver with a terminal illness. But after three decades of watching Big Al ham it up, it’s a pleasure to see him underact here under Sydney Pollack’s nuanced direction. There’s no saving the soggy love story between Pacino and his then lady, Marthe Keller, but the film is tellingly sly about celebrity. Watch for the scene where Pacino tells Keller that he can be recognized if he wants to be. Removing his shades, he changes his posture, walks with his head up and attracts a crowd. It may be the only smile Pacino flashes in this gloomy film, but three decades later the sunshine is still on it.
PICK OF THE WEEK: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Readers of this space know that this freshly-minted Oscar winner was also my choice for the year’s Best Picture. The good news is that this great-looking DVD — state of the art on Blu-ray — will have you salivating. The disc transfer does full justice to the expert cinematography of Roger Deakins and the complex sound design comes through with incredibly rich detail. The bad news is that the bonus material is standard at best. A “making of” feature and interviews with cast and crew praising the Coen brothers would have to go some to qualify as fluff. But the movie itself rewards repeated viewings. The Coens, Joel and Ethan, already have their Oscars for directing and adapting Cormac McCarthy’s novel to the screen with a keen understanding of his meditation on good and evil. And Javier Bardem has his golden friendo for playing a classic screen villain. So this time, pay more attention to Josh Brolin, whose performasnce gives the film a center and a soul. Give props to Kelly Macdonald for playing Brolin’s wife with unexpected nuance. And watch how Tommy Lee Jones negoitates that controversial ending with unerring skill. You probably have your own keeper moments — bring them on.