COUCH THEATER — DVD PREVIEWS


Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth I

PICKS OF THE WEEK
“Anonymous” (PG-13) — This Roland Emmerich (director of “2012”) period drama offers a scandalous version of literary history — that William Shakespeare was not the author of the plays and poems attributed to him. The movie weaves historical facts into its dramatic framework to make the case that the Earl of Oxford was the brilliant author and Shakespeare a dim-witted actor all too happy to take credit. Running almost completely parallel to this intrigue is a whole wagon-load of melodramatic plot lines about royal succession, courtly love and tawdry affairs.

Keep in mind that this is a drama, not a documentary, not even a docu-drama. It’s too easy to poke holes in the theories posited by the film, so it’s best to just enjoy this one as a fantastical period piece chock-full of Elizabethan trashy romance and big-budget visuals.

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I” (PG-13) — There’s not a whole lot to say about this here moving picture — fans will see it, and everyone else will loathe it. Yup, this is the one where the vampire, Edward (Robert Pattinson), marries the teen girl, Bella (Kristen Stewart), presumably to break the curse that keeps the poor girl from expressing anything approximating human emotion. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work, and Stewart’s face stays emotively neutral throughout the film.

There’s a PG-13 sex scene during the stony-faced couple’s honeymoon. However, the really gross stuff comes afterward, when the half-vampire baby goes all “Alien” and starts killing the young mother from the inside. As easy as it is to dog this movie for its flaws, an open mind and sense of humor will get you through if you’re ever forced to watch it.

“Fireflies in the Garden” (R) — This dysfunctional family drama may have pulled in a nice cast, but achieves only moderate success in bringing the story to life. Willem Dafoe plays Charles, an overbearing father who leaves a few psychological bruises on his son, Michael (Ryan Reynolds as an adult.) Julia Roberts plays Lisa, Michael’s lovely mother who is there to pick up the pieces. The parents are killed in a car accident before the family can reconcile, leaving behind a tangled web of guilt and resentment. It’s hard to say just what’s missing, but this story is more mopey than thoughtful, more cliched than tender.

“A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas” (R) — The cannabis-loving duo reunites for another ill-fated adventure to rectify a mix-up involving drugs and the perfect Christmas tree. Once again, the humor is raunchy, raucous and seemingly random. Some sequences are laugh-out-loud funny; the remainder are best left unmentioned in polite company. Thanks to the Christmas spirit, the irreverent saga gets some warmth, showing that the duo is not too lowbrow to love.

TV RELEASES
“Downton Abbey: Season 2” (Original U.K. Unedited Edition)
“Father Dowling Mysteries: The First Season”
“Rocko’s Modern Life: Season Two”
“Police Woman: Complete Second Season”
“New Tricks: Series 6”

© 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

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