- The Washington Times - Friday, June 5, 2009

Gran Torino (Warner Home Video, DVD $15.99, Blu-ray $24.99) — If “Gran Torino” is, in fact, Clint Eastwood’s swan song as an actor, it’s a fine way for him to go out: His Walt Kowalski was one of the more memorable characters of 2008, a throwback to Dirty Harry and a bygone era.

Walt’s a Korean War veteran and former Ford factory worker who lives in a run-down portion of Detroit ravaged by white flight. His neighborhood is dominated by Hmong immigrants who view him as warily as he views them. After catching one in the act of stealing his beloved car, the titular Gran Torino, Walt sets about cleaning up the neighborhood and reforming the would-be thief.

Through the course of the movie, he comes to realize he has more in common with the Hmong and their traditional culture than he does his own spoiled children and grandchildren, and he tries to protect his newfound friends from the gang members terrorizing the community.

Interestingly, “Gran Torino” has been cast as an implicitly political movie in some corners of the blogosphere. It’s seen as a righteous rejoinder against the “wussification” of America by conservatives and as a parable about the dangers of escalating violence by the left. It’s hard to discuss who is right without spoiling the ending; suffice it to say that anyone who tries to read a simple moral into this tale from either side of the political spectrum is doing the movie, and himself, an injustice. It is a more complicated film than most seem willing to accept.

Sonny Bunch

He’s Just Not That Into You (New Line, $28.98 for DVD, $39.99 for Blu-ray) — Chick flick as how-to manual — perhaps every female should be forced to see this film. It details just about every excuse women offer for why men aren’t committing to them — and demolishes every one. That’s because this clever film is based on the best-selling advice tome of the same name by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, two writers from HBO’s “Sex and the City,” which originated the catchphrase. The film feels a lot like an early “Sex” episode, the kind where the humor made up for the heartbreak.

The counsel is dispensed mainly through the character of bar owner Alex (Justin Long), who takes pity on the lovelorn Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin), who passes along his sage advice to every woman she knows. They include her co-workers, Beth (Jennifer Aniston), who wonders if her live-in boyfriend of seven years (Ben Affleck) will ever propose, and Janine (Jennifer Connelly), who seems oblivious to the fact that her music-executive husband, Ben (Bradley Cooper) is having an affair with Anna (Scarlett Johansson), a singer who comforts herself with friends-with-benefits Conor (Kevin Connolly), who gets business advice from Mary (Drew Barrymore), a computer-savvy girl who can’t seem to meet men in the flesh. Whew. With so many plotlines, it’s no wonder “He’s Just Not That Into You” seems to handle almost every romantic problem you can think of. What’s more impressive is that this funny film does so in a (sometimes painfully) realistic way.

Miss Aniston delivers some of the best work of her career here, particularly in a scene where she lays her heart out for her boyfriend to either cradle or crush. The men are no slouches, either. The concept wouldn’t have worked without the anchoring performance from Mr. “Mac Guy” Long. Mr. Cooper, who can be seen on the big screen this week in “The Hangover,” has such presence, he can make a cheater sympathetic.

The only extras are a collection of deleted scenes with optional commentary with director Ken Kwapis.

Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal (Paramount, $29.99 each for Blu-ray) — Adrian Lyne specializes in a kind of erotic drama that divides audiences. Some call his films exploitative, but there’s no question his work often shows the consequences of passion. “Fatal Attraction” star Glenn Close, for example, says men still approach her and thank her psychotic character for saving their marriage.

Two of Mr. Lyne’s most successful films come to Blu-ray next week. In “Fatal Attraction,” Michael Douglas plays the man who thinks he’s having a one-night stand with Miss Close’s character. She has other plans. The nice collection of extras includes a commentary by Mr. Lyne, a making-of featurette, a retrospective with the cast and crew, a look at the cultural phenomenon the film became, rehearsal footage and an alternate ending introduced by Mr. Lyne.

“Indecent Proposal” stars the charismatic Robert Redford as a billionaire who offers down-on-his-luck Woody Harrelson $1 million for one night with his wife (Demi Moore). The couple accepts and, of course, this one-night stand is anything but. There’s only one extra on this disc, though — a commentary with Mr. Lyne.

The Cleaner: The First Season (Paramount, $49.99) — “Intervention,” a reality program currently in its seventh season on A&E, skates awfully close to exploitation. Addicts basically are threatened by their loved ones to clean up or else. It was successful enough to spawn what seems like a fictional version of the show. “The Cleaner” stars Benjamin Bratt as a recovering addict who has made a deal with God to help others end their addictions in exchange for another chance at life with his daughter. Extras on this four-disc, 13-episode set include cast and crew commentaries and interviews, deleted scenes and a gag reel. The second season of the drama starts June 23.

Kelly Jane Torrance

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide