Video View 8-3
Sunday, March 1, 2009

STARTING THIS WEEK: "THE HAUNTING OF MOLLY HARTLEY": Apparently taking a cue from television's "Reaper," but in a less amusing way, this melodrama casts Haley Bennett ("Music and Lyrics") as a teen whose soul has been sold to the devil by her parents. That makes things complicated, to say the least, as she tries to overcome her troubled history at a new school. Young home-screen faces Chace Crawford ("Gossip Girl") and AnnaLynne McCord ("90210") also appear. DVD extras: cast and crew interviews. ** (PG-13: AS, P, V)

"WHAT JUST HAPPENED": Robert De Niro and director Barry Levinson satirized the business of politics in "Wag the Dog," and they reunite to give Hollywood similar treatment in this comedy. De Niro plays a producer who tries to reason with various parties in getting a movie finished, prompting him to mull whether it's all worth it. Based on the memoir by filmmaker Art Linson (who wrote the screenplay), the movie also features Bruce Willis, John Turturro, Kristen Stewart ("Twilight"), and spouses Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)

"BREAKING BAD: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON": An unspoken mandate used to say a series' lead character had to be likable, but a number of cable shows - including this AMC drama, soon to launch its second season - are confirming the opposite. Bryan Cranston, previously the father on "Malcolm in the Middle," earned an Emmy Award for his complex portrayal of a cancer-stricken teacher who decides to use the time he has to provide for his family ... by becoming a drug dealer. Anna Gunn ("Deadwood") plays his wife. DVD extras: 15 "making-of" documentaries; audio commentary by cast and crew members on selected episodes; deleted scenes; screen tests; photo gallery; AMC "Shootout" episode. *** (Not rated: AS, P)

"SEX DRIVE": The title of this teen comedy, from the producers of television's "Gossip Girl," is quite literal. Josh Zuckerman plays a young man who falls for someone over the Internet, then decides to pursue an in-person encounter with her, bringing two friends (Clark Duke, Amanda Crew) along on the journey. The film's funniest scenes belong to James Marsden ("X-Men") as Zuckerman's much more worldly brother, and Seth Green as arguably the most unlikely Amish man ever put on the screen. DVD extras: deleted scenes, outtakes. ** (R and unrated versions: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray)

"THE LIBRARIAN: CURSE OF THE JUDAS CHALICE": "ER" alum Noah Wyle has his third round as adventurer Flynn Carsen in this made-for-TNT caper, which will feel familiar to fans of the Indiana Jones sagas or Nicolas Cage's "National Treasure" movies. While trying to recover the title artifact, Carsen ends up on the verge of a possible encounter with none other than Dracula. Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin reprise their roles from earlier chapters, with Bruce Davison and Stana Katic ("Quantum of Solace") also on board this time. DVD extras: two "making-of" documentaries; deleted scenes. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)

"THE BRAIN": Many fictional films have used similar titles, but since this is a History channel venture, it only could be a literal exploration of the mind in this case. Computer animation is used to illustrate various points made about the organ that processes thoughts, and not just in humans; actual case histories also are cited in detailing how the brain functions ... or how it should, at least. *** (Not rated)

COMING SOON: "AUSTRALIA" (March 3): Nicole Kidman plays an Englishwoman seeking her husband on the title continent, and getting to know a rugged ranch worker (Hugh Jackman), in director Baz Luhrmann's drama. (PG-13: AS, P, V)

"BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA" (March 3): Drew Barrymore supplies the voice of the pampered title dog, who tries to get back home after being detoured during a Mexico vacation, in this live-action Disney comedy. (PG: AS)

"CADILLAC RECORDS" (March 10): Adrien Brody plays Leonard Chess, the mentor of an influential music label that boasted such stars as Etta James (played by Beyonce Knowles). (R: AS, P)

"PINOCCHIO" (March 10): The Disney vaults open again to allow one of the studio's top animated classics - the tale of a puppet that wants to be human - to get elaborate, remastered treatment. (G)

"TWILIGHT" (March 21): A vampire (Robert Pattinson) woos a teenager (Kristen Stewart) in the first film based on Stephenie Meyer's hugely successful series of novels. (PG-13: AS, V)

"QUANTUM OF SOLACE" (March 24): James Bond's (Daniel Craig) revenge trail leads him to an ecology-minded villain (Mathieu Amalric) and a woman (Olga Kurylenko) with her own score to settle. (PG-13: AS, P, V)

FAMILY-VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.



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