Little Miss Sunshine

What better way to ring in the New Year than with family and one of the best films of 2006. Family is everything in #Little Miss Sunshine#, a delightfully subversive examination of a dysfunctional family brought together when the spotlight beckons young daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin). En route to Long Beach for a beauty pageant, the Hoover family (dad Greg Kinnear, mom Toni Collette, grandfather Alan Arkin, silent brother Paul Dano and mentally unstable uncle Steve Carrell) learn enough life lessons to last several lifetimes. DVD includes numerous alternate endings. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

The Last Kiss

Michael (Zach Braff) is about to meet his future in this sweet, funny and occasionally touching romantic drama. After attending a friend’s wedding, Michael realizes he must decide what to do with his future. He wants to marry pregnant girlfriend Jenna (Jacinda Barrett), but can’t commit. When Michael meets a free-spirited woman at a wedding, he sees an opportunity for one last fling. Writer Paul Haggis and director Tony Goldwyn find plenty of humanity in the process, turning Michael’s journey into a life-affirming ride. DVD includes commentaries, deleted scenes, music video and more. (DreamWorks Home Entertainment)

Black Dahlia

Director Brian De Palma does an impressive job of recreating the look and feel of Los Angeles in the 1940s in this murder mystery based on the novel by James Ellroy. When the body of a young woman is discovered, detectives Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart) and Bucky Bleichert (Josh Hartnett) are assigned to the case. Dubbed the Black Dahlia by the press, the case takes the two down a dark road filled with troubling secrets, feisty femme fatales, corruption and, finally, absolution. The cast, including Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank, are engaging, but the film just meanders along, never gripping us with its mystery or suspense. DVD includes production breakdowns, historical data and a De Palma salute. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

Jackass Number Two

The Jackass boys return for more raunchy fun in a sequel that tests the limits of good taste. Johnny Knoxville and his usual team of suspects engage in all sorts of homoerotic behavior. Rocket shopping carts, butt beer bongs, extremely questionable nudity and lots of bumps and bruises make the film an endurance test. The good news is that most of these guys probably can’t reproduce. I must admit I found myself laughing so hard I almost blew chunks, and Chunks is my cat! DVD extras include much more of the same. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

All The King’s Men

Backroom politics and an impressive A-list cast fuel writer-director Steve Zaillian’s remake of the Oscar-winning 1949 film. Sean Penn is effectively motivated as Willie Stark, who rises from political pawn to an impassioned man of the people in 1950s Louisiana. Jude Law co-stars as the local reporter who becomes his right-hand man, while Anthony Hopkins is a judge looking to protect his own interests. Exquisite period detail, moody atmosphere and strong performances. DVD includes featurettes, deleted scenes and an alternate ending. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Material Girls

Sisters Hilary and Haylie Duff play siblings in this fluffy comedy about two spoiled heiresses who lose everything and are forced to fend for themselves. We’ve seen it all before, but there’s something sweet and wholesome in this cautionary prince and pauper tale that finds the socialites of the perfume world stinking up the place after a product scandal. Broke and forced to get jobs, the girls quickly adapt to the real world. Fun for its intended audience. DVD includes music video, featurette, commentary and more. (MGM Home Entertainment)

Home movies

Home movies

World Trade Center

Surprising critics and audiences alike, director Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center is a straightforward tale of heroism and survival during America’s darkest hours. Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena deliver heartfelt, standout performances as Port Authority Police officers John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, who stepped into the concourse between the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, unaware that their world would come crashing down. Their story, as they try to stay alive while buried under tons of concrete and steel, is told from numerous points of view, including their wives (Maggie Gyllenhaal and Maria Bello, both outstanding), and a Marine following his God’s orders not to abandon the search. Harrowing, powerful and gut-wrenching, the film is never exploitive. Stone doesn’t point fingers, except at the brave men who inspired this film. Two-disc collection includes deleted and optional scenes, documentaries, commentaries and historical footage. (Paramount Home Entertainment)


Except for impromptu games played in an abandoned lot, football has passed by 30-year-old Philadelphia bartender Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg). After a losing season, the Philadelphia Eagles hire new coach Dick Ver-meil (Greg Kin-near), who opens up tryouts to anyone willing and capable of playing ball. After sitting through a lineup of losers, Vermeil focuses in on Papale, whose athletic ability makes him a natural. Given a chance to make the team, Papale rallies the locals, turning him into an instant celebrity. True, underdog story follows the rules of the game and scores a touchdown. DVD offers inspiring commentary by Papale. (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)

My Super Ex-Girlfriend

When mild-mannered New York architect Matt (Luke Wilson) meets equally mild-mannered art gallery worker Jenny (Uma Thurman), little does he know he’s dating super hero G-Girl. After Jenny becomes obsessive and clingy, Matt decides to call it off, leaving Jenny’s alter ego no choice but to make his life a living hell. Fun supporting cast includes Anna Faris as Matt’s co-worker and new love, Rainn Wil-son as his piggish best friend, and Eddie Izzard as the super villain. Lots of fun and mayhem, including a great white shark being thrown through a high-rise window. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

Lady in the Water

Myth and fantasy collide in director M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film, a fairy tale guaranteed to keep kids up late, past their bedtime. Lady in the Water is the film-maker’s most personal film to date, a

bedside nightcap he used to tell his children, a spooky story about water nymphs and the wolf-like creatures who stalk them. Paul Giamatti is well cast as apartment handyman-manager Cleveland Heep. After he spots someone in the pool late one night, Cleveland investigates, slips in a puddle and is knocked unconscious. When he comes to, he meets Story (Bryce Dallas Howard), who claims to be a water nymph. At first, Cleveland is reluctant to believe Story, but when her tale starts coming true, Cleveland sees no choice but to help the poor nymph return to her home. As a Shyamalan supporter, I found enough in Lady in the Water to satisfy my thirst, but feel those on the fence won’t take the plunge. DVD explores more of the myth with extensive documentaries and featurettes. (Warner Home Entertainment)


Five years after being abducted by the aliens who killed their friend, a group of survivors form a posse and hunt down the sadistic sons of bitches. After they capture one, they bring it to another survivor who has shut himself off from the world. What begins as an act of revenge against the alien evolves into a nasty bit of business, leaving most of the friends dead and the world under attack. Blair Witch Project director Eduardo Sanchez effectively makes a lot out of nothing, turning what is essentially a chamber piece into a bloodbath. Deleted scenes. (Rogue Pictures)

Home movies

Home movies

Pirates of the Caribbean:
Dean Man’s Chest

The blockbuster sequel sets sail on DVD as a two-disc collector’s edition, including a treasure chest filled with outstanding and informative extras. Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley return for more high seas adventure as Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) tries to reclaim his soul from Davy Jones’s locker. The sequel piles on the action, romance, cliffhangers and close calls, while the cast takes it all in with a twinkle in their eyes. Among the bonus features surfacing on the DVD are production features, bloopers, documentaries, interviews, premiere footage and more. (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)

The Devil Wears Prada

The adaptation of Lauren Weisberger\\’s best-seller features a wonderfully acidic turn by Meryl Streep as Runway Magazine editor Miranda Priestley, an ice queen noted for her sense of fashion and ability to turn assistants into mental cases. Her latest assistant, Andrea (Anne Hatha-way), is a journalism major who doesn’t take the job or Miranda seriously, forcing both women to make uneasy ad-justments. Streep is brilliant as a she-shark navigating the waters of high fashion with precision. Hathaway is delightful as the ingénue thrown into the deep end, and Stanley Tucci impressive as a fashion editor looking for respect. Sharp, funny and insightful. DVD includes promotional features, commentary and a gag reel. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)


Broken Lizard (Super Troopers) taps a keg with this outrageous and irreverent comedy about two American brothers who inherit the family business. In Germany during Oktoberfest to spread the ashes of their grandfather, Jan and Todd become involved in a top secret beer contest. After recruiting a team, the brothers head back to Germany to defend the family honor, protecting their reputation against a rival beer maker. Filled with numerous off-the-wall jokes and references (like Jurgen Proch-now hosting a drinking contest called “Das Boot”), Beerfest is a hit-and-miss affair. The unrated DVD ups the ante with some extremely bawdy behavior, like masturbating frogs and drinking urine. The DVD tops off the experience with hilarious extras, like a history of beer and beer games (both with warnings), commentaries and outtakes. (Warner Home Entertainment)

House of Sand, or Casa de Areia

Dreamy imagery and strong performances distinguish this Brazilian drama set on the sandy dunes of the Northern Coast. It’s there, among the endless sand, where a husband and father has dragged his wife and family to start a new life. Desperate to return to the city, Aurea (Fernanda Torres) finds herself trapped by pregnancy and an aging mother. When the women are left alone to fend for themselves, their idyllic desert oasis becomes a hot bed of yearning and desire. Director Andrucha Waddington turns what could have been an extremely dry experience into a tale of wanting and isolation. DVD includes featurette. In Portuguese with English subtitles. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont








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