Friday, November 10, 2006

Notable DVDs available Tuesday include:

· The Da Vinci Code (PG-13) Ron Howard's adaptation of the Dan Brown novel stars Tom Hanks in the role of symbologist Robert Langdon. It's a two-hour-plus talk, talk, talky "thriller" that springboards from a murder to a vast conspiracy in the Catholic Church. DVD extras include several featurettes and a DVD-ROM puzzle game.

· 49 Up (Unrated) Another in a series that began in 1964 with "Seven Up," a British TV special in which more than a dozen 7-year-old children talked about their lives, hopes and expectations. It springs from the old saying "Give me the child until he is 7, and I will give you the man" and is a fascinating series of portraits as filmmaker Michael Apted continues filming those children in seven-year installments. Watching as they grow, we find that change and coping are intriguing.

· John Tucker Must Die (PG-13) Teen comedy populated by very pretty actors (Jesse Metcalfe, boy division, in the title role; Brittany Snow, Ashanti and Sophia Bush, girl division) and the usual quotient of silly gags. If you're older than the people in the movie, you probably won't enjoy it, but if you're in the target age bracket, you may think it's a diverting goof.

· Joyeux Noel (PG-13) This movie tells the fact-based story of a spontaneous truce that occurred early in World War I, when German, French and Scottish troops put down their weapons and spent Christmas singing carols and exchanging small gifts such as tobacco and whiskey. A bit melodramatic in parts, but it's a moving story worth knowing more about.

· Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man (PG-13) This is a documentary of a tribute concert in which a variety of performers -- U2, Nick Cave, Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Jarvis Cocker and others -- pay homage to the great Leonard Cohen, intercut with interviews with Cohen himself. You don't learn much about the man you don't already know if you're a fan, but it's still an entertaining salute to a brilliant performer.

· Paul McCartney The Space Within Us (Unrated) Taken from McCartney's 2005 North American concert tour, this features a mix of Beatles classics and McCartney solo works and was originally broadcast live to astronauts aboard the Mir space station.

· The Paul Newman Collection (PG) This contains Newman's star-making role as middleweight boxing champ Rocky Graziano in Robert Wise's Oscar-winning 1956 film "Somebody Up There Likes Me" plus "Harper," "The Drowning Pool," "The Left Handed Gun," "Pocket Money" and "The Young Philadelphians." Extras include several movie trailers plus commentaries by screenwriter William Goldman (on "Harper"); director Arthur Penn ("Left Handed Gun"); director Vincent Sherman and film historian Drew Casper ("Philadelphians"); and Newman, Robert Loggia, director Robert Wise, Martin Scorsese and Richard Schickel ("Somebody Up There Likes Me").

· Who Killed the Electric Car? (PG) Writer-director Chris Paine uses a cinema verite style as he explores the death of the electric car created by General Motors in the early '90s. It's far more interesting than you might think at first glance. Extras include deleted scenes and a featurette.

· Strangers With Candy (R) I confess to never falling under the spell of this cult comedy, so let's turn to Post film critic Desson Thomson for his opinion. He wrote: "The very sight of ex-jailbird, ex-junkie prostitute Jerri Blank will set her cult fans giggling, and as played with sour-mouthed conviction by Amy Sedaris, she's so grotesquely unpalatable, well, she's a comedic scream. That's the central conceit of this movie, which purports to be the prequel to the Comedy Central TV series. The movie, starring most of the original performers and a celebrity cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sarah Jessica Parker, recounts the events that led to 40-something Jerri's return to high school. Though the movie has its share of laugh-out-loud moments, its fleshing out of the story of Jerri's life blunts the original show's jagged satire. A long-winded, even tedious story becomes the focus, not the comedy."

· Friends: The Complete Series Collection In case the gazillion reruns that air each day on television don't sate your "Friends" desires.

· Accepted (PG-13)

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