Sean Penn is a gay role model in 'Milk,' while Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott milk all the comedy they can out of community service in 'Role Models.'
'Milk' was one of 2008's best dramas, and 'Role Models' one of the year's best comedies. Those are only two titles hitting DVD in a huge week for new releases that also includes indie favorites 'Rachel Getting Married,' 'Let the Right One In,' 'Happy Go Lucky' and 'Synecdoche, New York.'
Get the full scoop on this week's DVD releases, plus our recommendations from weeks' past.
What It's About: Sean Penn is Harvey Milk, the iconic San Francisco politician who became the first openly gay man elected to office in the U.S. in 1977. Josh Brolin is the jerk who assassinates him.
What We Say: Gus Van Sant's biopic of the slain leader is much more conventional than you might expect, but not any less affecting or inspiring. Penn's performance is a triumph. And given the recent passage of Prop 8 in California, the film is as topical as they come.
Awards & Nominations: Penn prevailed in the closest major race at last month's Oscars, edging out Comeback King Mickey Rourke ('The Wrestler') for Best Actor. The film also won Best Original Screenplay (Dustin Lance Black), but lost pretty much anywhere it was up against 'Slumdog.'
Where It Ranks: 'Milk' placed #9 on our list of 2008's 50 best films.
Add to Netflix queue | Buy from Amazon | Why You Should See 'Milk'
What It's About: Sentenced to community service after an energy drink-fueled rampage, "big brothers" Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott teach their "littles" how to stare at breasts without getting caught, plus more valuable life lessons.
It's Kind of Like: 'Old School' meets 'Cop and a Half'
What We Say: 'Tropic Thunder,' 'Pineapple Express' and 'Sarah Marshall' may have gotten more play, but 'Role Models' was the funniest comedy of 2008. Both brilliantly sophomoric and sneakily witty (thanks to Rudd's handprints on the script), it's a must-see, and even better on repeat.
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'Rachel Getting Married'
What It's About: Released from rehab for a weekend to attend her sister's wedding, Anne Hathaway's bundle of nerves Kym tries her hardest not to ruin the bohemian-flavored celebration for all.
What We Say: Moviegoers were generally divided over this indie drama from Jonathan Demme. Fans praised its intimacy and realism. Count me in the camp that appreciated it, but found it comparable to watching someone's home video of the best.wedding.ever.
Awards & Nominations: If there's one reason to see 'Rachel,' it's Hathaway's stunning Academy Award-nominated performance (she was even an early favorite to win). It should be enough to make you forgive her for 'Bride Wars.'
Add to Netflix queue | Buy from Amazon | Why You Should See 'Rachel'
'Let the Right One In'
What It's About: In a small and wintry Swedish town, a young boy becomes BFFs with the new girl next door, who, it turns out, is a vampire starving for blood.
What We Say: It's 'Twilight' for the arthouse crowd. Subtle but thoroughly chilling, this acclaimed import is one of the most sympathetic portraits of vampires you'll see. Eli (Lina Leandersson) may be deadly, but she's pretty damn adorable (and tortured), too.
Where It Ranks: 'Let the Right One In' placed #29 on our list of 2008's 50 best movies.
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Other New Releases This Week:
'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas'
'Synecdoche, New York'
'Battle in Seattle'
'Howard the Duck'
'Escape to Witch Mountain'
'Return to Witch Mountain'