CATEGORIES DVDs


What do Miley Cyrus and Mike Tyson have in common? (Besides the headline-making.) They both essentially play themselves in new DVDs releasing today -- Miley in tween smash 'Hannah Montana: The Movie,' and Tyson in the revealing (and aptly titled) documentary 'Tyson.' Get the full scoop on this week's DVD releases, plus our recommendations from weeks' past. 'Hannah Montana: The Movie'
What It's About: Superstardom can be taxing on a tween! After making like an angry Iraqi journalist and hurling a shoe at Tyra Banks (who says Disney fare can't be topical?), Hannah Montana/Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) retreats to rural Tennessee to live The Simple Life -- and find herself in the process.

What Critics Say: Reviewers were mostly split on this tween sensation, with the coming-of-age story earning a 45 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Then again, most critics aren't 12-year-old girls. So...

What Users Say (A few choice nuggets from our user reviews page):
"the best movie so cool omg lol" -- Roxxiealex;
"yOO that mOvie was stupid sOn Omg hannah montana stink" -- Domincanhottie6
"awesome movie!!!!!!! do the hoedown throwdown! do the boom boom clap, boom de clap, de clap! pop it lock it polka dot it! country fivin hip hop hip! put your arms in the sky move side to side! jump to the left, stick it, glide. Thats how we roll!" -- Sdsc101

Add to Netflix queue | Buy the DVD | Watch 'Hannah Montana' Unscripted Q&A

'The Last House on the Left'
What It's About: After their daughter is brutally assaulted by a gang of killers on the run, parents Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter unwittingly welcome them into their home, then exact awesomely sadistic revenge on them (why NOT finally find out what happens to a human head in a microwave?).

It's Kind of Like: 'Ransom' meets 'Saw'

What Critics Say: As far as torture porn goes, the Wes Craven-produced remake of his own 1972 thriller scored halfway decent reviews, earning a 41 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. "Extremely entertaining," says New York Magazine's David Edelstein. "If you don't mind being morally corrupted at every juncture."

Add to Netflix queue | Buy the DVD | Read Wes Craven Q&A

'Tyson'
What It's About: In a mostly talking head format, former world heavyweight champ and on-again, off-again train wreck Mike Tyson explains how he grew from street thug to boxing wunderkind, what went wrong with Robin Givens, why he turned cannibalistic on Evander Holyfield's ear, and what in the world he was thinking when he got the face tattoo.

It's Kind of Like: Inside the Boxer's Studio

What We Say: Just hearing the world's most intimidating man with the least intimidating voice wax poetic for 90 minutes is worth the price of a rental in this revealing doc from James Toback ('Black and White'). It's a strange existence Tyson has lived, and the boxer (and summer movie star, in 'The Hangover') is surprisingly candid, sometimes regretful, other times just as vengeful – and occasionally, as vulnerable as teddy bear. I wouldn't recommend trying to hug him, though.

Add to Netflix queue | Buy the DVD | Watch the first 6 minutes

Other August 18 DVD Releases:
'Julia'
'Surveillance'
'The Garden'

Special Editions:
'Pete's Dragon'
'The Last Starfighter'

New on Blu-ray:
'Go'



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Recent DVD Recommendations
Check out previous weeks' DVD releases that get our seal of approval, including 'I Love You, Man' and 'Coraline.'
Paramount
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New DVD Recommendations

    'Watchmen'

    Release Date: July 21

    What It's About: Alan Moore's widely celebrated graphic novel about supremely tortured superheroes gets the big screen treatment from '300' director Zack Snyder, complete with a so-not-funny Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), scene-chewing Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), Skinemax-like sex scene and giant blue member.

    What We Say: It's flawed and indulgent, sure, but it's also one of the most original and compelling superhero movies ever made. Long called "unfilmable" because of its complex mythology and alternate time setting, Snyder pulls it off with style, sticking admirably close to the material. It is recommended you read the graphic novel first, though. Otherwise you might be a little perplexed by the giant "Blue Man Group dude" (Dr. Manhattan, whose back story doesn't come until about 30 minutes in).

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Warner Bros.

    'Coraline'

    Release Date: July 21

    What It's About: When her family moves into an old house, the eponymous young girl (voiced by Dakota Fanning) discovers a portal to a parallel universe that at first seems perfect (her parents are more attentive, there's bacon sizzling on the stove, etc), but in truth is far more sinister (everyone has buttons for eyes, for one).

    It's Kind of Like: 'Pan's Labyrinth' meets 'Nightmare Before Christmas'

    What We Say: The first must-see movie of 2009, this eye-popping whirl through stop-motion animation is a meeting of two brilliant minds (writer Neil Gaiman and director Henry Selick) and remains one of the year's best. Following in the tradition of 'Nightmare' and 'Corpse Bride,' it's a gothic, trippy, oftentimes creepy (see aforementioned buttons for eyes) film that should thrill older kids and adults in equal measure.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Focus Features

    'Two Lovers'

    Release Date: June 30

    What It's About: Joaquin Phoenix is a troubled Brooklyn man who, despite a current residence in his parents house, is blessed/cursed with the difficult decision of choosing between two beautiful women (Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw). And yes, he raps.

    What Critics Say: Reviewers showed a lot of love for 'Two Lovers,' with the romantic drama earning an 84 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Hollywood Reporter called it "The best American drama of the year."

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Magnolia

    'Waltz With Bashir'

    Release Date: June 23

    What It's About: Having strange memory blockage surrounding his experience in the 1982 Lebanon War, an Israeli Army vet-turned-documentarian (Ari Folman) tracks down several men he served with to fill in the pieces, and then animates the results.

    It's Kind of Like: 'Persepolis' meets 'Jacob's Ladder' minus the humor and horned creatures

    What We Say: Somber and admittedly slow-paced, the film -- an Oscar favorite that lost Best Foreign Film to 'Departures' in one of the 2009 ceremony's only upsets -- is a thought-provoking examination of war and the human psyche's response to it.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Sony Classics

    'The International'

    Release Date: June 9

    What It's About: It's Clive Owen against the world as an Interpol agent who, along with the help of a US assistant district attorney (Naomi Watts), attempts to bring down a arms-dealing, globe-ruling, omnipresent network of villains otherwise known as -- you guessed it? -- bankers.

    It's Kind of Like: Clive Owen finally playing James Bond

    What We Say: Talk about a topical thriller. Who's not ready to root against bankers right now? Of course here they're not just execs taking fat bonuses while driving the economy into a recession, but murderous corporate thugs bent on global domination. So yes, 'The International' takes a bit of suspension of belief, but it's still a riveting and high-voltage thriller worth the watch.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Sony

    'Defiance'

    Release Date: June 2

    What It's About: When the Nazis invade town and kill their parents, the Bielski brothers (Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell) escape to the Belarussian forest, where they exact some brief revenge before forming a safe camp for other Jewish escapees.

    It's Kind of Like: 'Schindler's List' meets 'The Dirty Dozen'

    What We Say: Nobody does war like director Ed Zwick ('Glory,' 'Courage Under Fire,' 'Blood Diamond'). Despite its conventions, 'Defiance' is a powerful and moving epic that deserved more love when it opened last December (the film scored a modest 56 percent approval rating from critics on RottenTomatoes).

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Paramount Vantage

    'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'

    Release Date: May 5

    What It's About: A New Orleans man (Brad Pitt) who miraculously ages in reverse, growing from naïve elder into relatively normal "middle-aged" period into a senile little boy. Sad as it may be, hey, at least he's got the impossibly handsome looks of Brad Pitt.

    It's Kind of Like: 'Forrest Gump' meets 'Cocoon'

    What We Say: So long as you don't mind the epic 166-minute runtime (easily the biggest audience knock against 'Button'), this is a fascinating and heartbreaking story done due justice with captivating, eye-catching effects by a brighter-than-ever David Fincher ('Seven').

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Paramount

    'Frost/Nixon'

    Release Date: April 21

    What It's About:The true story of David Frost (Michael Sheen), a British TV personality who ponied up a cool $600,000 for the exclusive first interview with disgraced ex-president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) ... and somehow got his money worth.

    What We Say: It takes some serious directorial skill to condense 12 days of interviews into two hours of tense and gripping entertainment, but that's exactly what Ron Howard does in crafting this exciting battle of wits. It also helps that Langella's humanizing portrayal of Tricky Dick is phenomenal.

    Special Features? The DVD offers a making-of doc, footage from the actual interviews and a feature on additional recordings of the ex-prez (perfect for the Nixon completist).

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Universal

    'The Wrestler'

    Release Date: April 21

    What It's About: Randy 'The Ram' Robinson (Mickey Rourke), a former pro wrestling sensation, is a shell of his former self. He now lives in a trailer park, wrestles for pennies at local New Jersey holes where using a staple gun (yes, a staple gun) in the ring is perfectly acceptable, and obsesses over a friendly neighborhood stripper (Marisa Tomei).

    It's Kind of Like: The anti-'Hogan Knows Best'

    What We Say: Darren Aronofsky's superb indie made the most noise for Rourke's triumphant comeback as a gentle giant, but the film itself was one of the year's best: It's a powerful, brutal and grueling yet still inspiring human drama.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Fox Searchlight

    'Notorious'

    Release Date: April 21

    What It's About: Just 12 years after his death comes this biopic about legendary rapper The Notorious B.I.G. (Jamal Woolard), aka Biggie Smalls, Big Poppa, Frank White and Christopher Wallace; also appearing are Anthony Mackie as Tupac Shakur and Derek Luke as P. Diddy (aka the man with too many aka's to list).

    It's Kind of Like:

    What We Say: The fact that Woolard raps over B.I.G. instrumentals is distracting (and we're not as wowed as we should be) but otherwise the actor delivers a strong, confident performance, and the fresh, stylish 'Notorious' builds up to a surprisingly potent peak.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Fox Searchlight