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Home : Arts : Arts and Entertainment News
4/9/2012 5:39:00 PM
This week's DVD and Blu-ray releases
Catholic News Service

The following are capsule reviews of new and recent DVD and Blu-ray releases from Catholic News Service. Theatrical movies have a Catholic News Service classification and Motion Picture Association of America rating. These classifications refer only to the theatrical version of the films below, and do not take into account the discs' extra content.

"Blood and Wine" (1996)

A stolen diamond necklace and an alluring Cuban nanny (Jennifer Lopez) drive a wedge between a sullen young man (Stephen Dorff) and his thieving stepdad (Jack Nicholson) as each aims to get the girl and prevent the other from keeping the ice. Director Bob Rafelson finds most of his characters struggling with their consciences, but it's often a losing proposition in this serpentine crime thriller. Some violence, intermittent rough language and recurring profanity. Spanish language and titles options. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

"Tea with Mussolini" (1999)

Warmly nostalgic tale in which some matronly English art-lovers (notably Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright and Judi Dench) residing in 1930s Florence come to care for an abandoned boy who returns as a teenager to help when they are interned as enemy aliens during World War II. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, the semiautobiographical picture shows how the Italian youth comes to appreciate English culture but what succeeds best is its gently humorous depiction of the women's eccentric circle which includes two brassy Americans (Cher and Lily Tomlin) and how they manage to survive the tragic circumstances of wartime Italy. Some threatening situations, sexual references and a few instances of coarse language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II --- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (MGM Home Entertainment)

"War Horse" (2011)

Epic screen version of Michael Morpurgo's 1982 novel, previously made into a successful stage play, about an English farmer's son (newcomer Jeremy Irvine) who trains and cares for a thoroughbred horse that his father (Peter Mullan) misguidedly buys just to thwart the local squire (David Thewlis). Despite the animal's successful adaptation to farm work, and the lad's emotional bond with him, at the start of World War I, the tiller sells him to an army officer (Tom Hiddleston) bound for the Western Front, thus initiating a series of adventures and trials that are, by turns, touching and harrowing. While the intensity of the drama, the level of violence and some of the vocabulary used make director Steven Spielberg's vast canvas unsuitable viewing for kids, mature audience members will encounter a stirring affirmation of human solidarity amid the tragedy of the trenches -- a realization of shared values brought about, ironically, by the heroism and endurance of the nonhuman protagonist. Considerable combat and other violence, including an execution, about a half-dozen uses of crass language, a few vague sexual references. Spanish titles option. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)

"We Bought a Zoo" (2011)

In this amiably tame, warmly emotional feature, based on the true-life experiences of British memoirist Benjamin Mee, a widower (Matt Damon) and his two children (Maggie Elizabeth Jones and Colin Ford) attempt to start over by purchasing an exurban menagerie filled with endangered animals and staffed by a clutch of oddball humans. Under the baton of director Cameron Crowe, the story's Capraesque charms are enhanced by numerous rock-'n'-roll ballads and some star wattage. Both father and teenage son are given romantic prospects, played by Scarlett Johansson and Elle Fanning, respectively. Viewers will note that the catharsis achieved studiously bypasses the theological, that there's an implied timetable for the grieving process, and that no one questions the idea that it's always moral to hasten the death of a suffering creature. Yet the movie is still commendable, not least because the value of hard work is emphasized. At least one instance of profanity, several uses of crude and crass language, some lightly suggestive banter and a few morbid images. Spanish titles option. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)

"When Harry Met Sally..." (1989)

Story of the unlikely ways people connect with suitable marriage partners focuses on the comic and touching travails of one couple (Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan) over a dozen years as they wander in and out of each other's lives. Director Rob Reiner's comedy about love, commitment, sex and friendship intercuts distracting testimonials from elderly couples about how they met. Though there is much graphic talk about sex and love in Yuppieland and an indiscreet spoof of female orgasm, the movie demonstrates that true love and commitment are still here to stay. Implied sexual promiscuity. Spanish titles option. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (MGM Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)

"William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1999)

Fanciful adaptation of the Bard's comedy is updated to 1900 Tuscany in a magical forest where the fairy Puck (Stanley Tucci) causes all manner of romantic mix-ups overnight, casting spells on mismatched young lovers (including Christian Bale and Calista Flockhart), an aspiring actor (Kevin Kline) and the fairy queen (Michelle Pfeiffer). Some cast members excel, others do not in articulating Shakespearean dialogue in writer-director Michael Hoffman's whimsical adaptation whose luminous visuals look sprinkled with fairy dust. Romantic complications and fleeting nudity. Spanish titles option. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

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