TAGS dvd, Easy A, Salt
CATEGORIES DVDs

Weary of all that Christmas shopping? This week's slate of DVDs offers three surprisingly good films to while away the time before Santa crawls down the proverbial chimney. For thrill seekers there's the exceptional spy actioner 'Salt,' starring Angelina Jolie in all her femme fatale glory. Next up is Oliver Stone's dissection of the current state of America's financial well-being in the stirring 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.' And if all that's a bit too heavy for you, settle down with new face Emma Stone in the easy-going teen comedy 'Easy A.' Kick off your shoes, settle into your favorite easy chair, grab an eggnog and enjoy.

'Salt'
What It's About: Angelina Jolie is terrific as CIA officer Evelyn Salt, whose loyalty to duty, honor and country is tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian sleeper spy. Rather than rely on the agency to investigate the allegations, she goes on the run, using all her skills as a covert operative to elude capture. But her efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives, and the hunt to uncover the truth continues with twists, turns, betrayals and plenty of stunts, chases and action sequences. There's nary a dull moment here as director Phillip Noyce keeps the action -- and camera -- moving straight ahead to the spectacular ending.

It's Kinda Like: 'Foxy Brown' meets 'Kill Bill'

What We Say: It's always been hard for us to think of Jolie as a femme fatale or action hero -- despite, or in spite of, her "killer" roles in the Lara Croft outings and 'Mr & Mrs. Smith.' She's always stood out in more nuanced roles (think 'Gia,' 'The Bone Collector' and 'Girl, Interrupted') and she's long-needed a character she can really sink her teeth into -- and 'Salt' is it. She's just perfect as the cunning, smart and sexy super-spy that has more lives than a cat. And director Phillip Noyce (whose career includes such splashy and top-draw films as the Jack Ryan thrillers and 'The Bone Collector' as well as small films like 'Rabbit-Proof Fence' and 'The Quiet American') uses her to full advantage in a story line that is intelligent and fun to watch. We can't wait for a sequel.
• Extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray feature a host of behind-the-scenes featurettes.
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Watch an exclusive clip from 'Salt':


'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps'
What It's About: Gordon Gekko ("Greed is good") is back in this sequel to 1987's "Wall Street" and he's as nasty as ever -- but this time around he tries to put on a pretty face. Set mostly in 2008, the film swirls around Gekko's return to financial stardom (after a stint in prison), a new protege he takes under his wing (Shia LaBeouf) -- who happens to be engaged to Gekko's estranged daughter (Carey Mulligan) -- and more evil moneychangers (epitomized by the devil incarnate Josh Brolin) willing to sacrifice Main Street at the altar of Wall Street. The film takes place just before the autumn '08 financial meltdown, giving us a crash course in that financial debacle that has threatened to send the world into a 21st century dark age.

It's Kinda Like: 'The Firm' meets 'Wall Street'

What We Say: Oliver Stone has always taken on scared cows, attacked conventional wisdom and supported unpopular causes (in films from 'Platoon' to 'Natural Born Killers' to 'Salvador' through 'JFK') and this second 'Wall Street' is no exception. Stone is a consummate filmmaker and 'Money Never Sleeps' is snazzy and fast-moving. He pushes all the right buttons -- he makes you hate Wall Streeters even more than you already do -- but he also educates as he goes along: He pulls no punches as to those culpable for the recent industry-wide felonies that rocked the financial markets to its core. And, like the real world, sometimes evil just goes unpunished. As Gekko says, it's "not about the money, it's about the game" -- and power.
• Extras: The DVD includes commnetary and a cast and crew featurette; the Blu-ray adds "Money, Money, Money: The Rise and Fall of Wall Street," a five-part look at the real Wall Street during the last two decades; as well as deleted and extended scenes.
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'Easy A'

What It's About: Clean cut high school girl Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) gets herself into a world of trouble when she lies to her best friend about losing her virginity to a fictional college student -- a lie overheard by the school's religious fanatic (Amanda Bynes). Soon the word is out that Olive is promiscuous and rather than quell the rumors, she welcomes her new popularity. But this is the rarefied world of a middle-class high school (set in Ojai, Calif.), and Olive's reputation turns bad, the school turns nasty, and Olive must think fast in order to salvage her life.

It's Kinda Like: 'Heathers' meets 'Election'

What We Say: This comedy of teen morals is smart, sassy and inventive, and showcases a bright new comedy star in the person of Emma Stone. Stone is cute as a button and is imminently watchable; she pretty much holds the film together with her wit and acting chops. She's in good company, too, with fine but all-too-brief supporting roles by Stanley Tucci, Lisa Kudrow, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson and Malcolm McDowell. That said, though, one really has to suspend disbelief to put up with the conceit at the core of the story line -- that a high school girl would continue to dig herself deeper into a hole despite the fact that she knows better. But somehow, director Will Gluck manages to pull it off.
• Extras: The DVD includes commentary by director Will Gluck and Emma Stone, a gag reel and Stone's audition footage. The Blu-ray adds an "Extra Credit" pop-up trivia track, "The School of Pop Culture: Movies of the Eighties" featurette, a "Vocabulary of Hilarity" featurette and a behond-the-scenes documentary.
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Watch an exclusive clip from 'Easy A':


Other New December 21 DVD Releases:
'Devil': Five people trapped in an elevator discover that the devil is among them in this weak horror outing penned by M. Night Shyamalan.
'The Films of Rita Hayworth': Sony and The Film Foundation present five of Rita Hayworth's finest films -- three of them for the first time -- fully restored and remastered. 'Cover Girl' (1944), 'Tonight and Every Night' (1945) (DVD debut), 'Gilda' (1946), 'Salome' (1953) (DVD debut) and 'Miss Sadie Thompson' (1953) (DVD debut).
'The Heavy': A hired killer learns that a hit has been placed on his own life by a crooked cop.
'The Horde': Cops and gangsters team up to battle a horde of zombies in France.
'Map of the Sounds of Tokyo': Two lost souls make an unexpected connection in this sexy thriller about a fish-market employee by day, contract killer by night who gets involved with her latest hit.
'Soul Kitchen': Two brothers try to bring new life to a struggling Hamburg restaurant.
'Step Up 3': A pair of gritty street dance squads face off in the World Jam, a high-stakes showdown that is the hip-hop Olympics.


Check out other new December 21 DVD releases at OnVideo.

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