CATEGORIES DVDs, Movie News

There's a bevy of acting goodness on the DVD racks this week. What more could we ask for than this year's Best Picture–winning 'The King's Speech,' a stirring historical drama with perfect acting turns by Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter. Follow that with 'Rabbit Hole,' a drama that explores a tragedy that tears apart a happy, suburban couple, with terrific performances by Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. And then there's 'Somewhere,' Sofia Coppola's meditation on a Hollywood star whose life is turned around by the appearance of his pre-teen daughter, with deeply poised performances by Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning. Read on.

'The King's Speech'
What It's About: Just on the cusp of World War II King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) of England abdicated his throne, basically handing the crown to his younger brother, Prince Albert, the Duke of York (Colin Firth), who really would rather have stayed a prince than take the responsibility of the Empire on his shoulders. The main problem: A lifelong debilitating speech impediment that prevented him from speaking in public. His wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranged for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). After a rough start, the two delved into an unorthodox course of treatment that allowed the King to overcome his stammer and take charge of his nation.

It's Kinda Like: 'Elizabeth' meets 'My Fair Lady'

What We Say: Leave it to the Brits to carve an Oscar-winning, stirring tale out of a little-known chapter of world history. How do they do it? Simple: a terrific screenplay, fine attention to detail, journeyman directing (by Tom Hooper), scrumptious cinematography and, above all else, some of the best actors in the business. There's Geoffrey Rush, being outrageously civil to his pupil, Helena Bonham Carter, being strong and soothing for her distraught husband, and, of course, Colin Firth, who went on to win the Best Actor Oscar (though in all fairness, he really deserved it last year for 'A Single Man'). It's so nice when all the pieces fall into place.

• Extras: Commentary and a featurette that looks at the real people behind the story.
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The Real King's Speech: Watch Rare Footage of King George VI Speaking to a Crowd



'Rabbit Hole'
What It's About: Eight months after their little boy is killed in a car accident, Becca and Howie Corbett (Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart) are trying to return to their everyday existence ... but are caught in a maze of memory, longing, guilt, recrimination, sarcasm and tightly controlled rage from which they cannot escape. Normal life holds obstacles for them -- While Becca finds pain in the familiar, Howie finds comfort. But things begin to change: Becca hesitantly opens up to her opinionated, loving mother (Dianne Wiest) and secretly reaches out to the teenager involved in the accident that changed everything (Miles Teller); while Howie lashes out and imagines solace with another woman (Sandra Oh). Each reaches out in their own way to re-engage themselves in their relationship ... and their world.

It's Kinda Like: 'Revolutionary Road' meets 'In the Bedroom'

What We Say: Director John Cameron Mitchell ('Hedwig and the Angry Inch') takes a downer of a premise -- a happily married suburban family torn apart by death and on the verge of implosion -- and turns it into an absorbing tale about the tenacity of the human spirit to rise above tragedy. It doesn't hurt that Kidman and Eckhart are consummate actors who plumb the depths of their characters -- making you like them one moment and hate them the next. The idea here is to show the many sides of their happiness and pain as they face reality, and slowly but surely grow in coming to grips with their loss.

• Extras: Deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette.
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Watch a 'Rabbit Hole' trailer:




'Somewhere'
What It's About: Actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) is leading the fast-paced lifestyle of a tabloid celebrity. He lives at the legendary Chateau Marmont hotel in Hollywood; he drives a Ferrari and numbs his life with a constant stream of girls and pills. Then his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) from his failed marriage arrives unexpectedly at the Chateau. Their encounters encourage Johnny to face up to where he is in life and confront the question that we all must: Which path in life will we take?

It's Kinda Like: 'Lost in Translation' meets 'Almost Famous'

What the Critics Say: Like the 'Seinfeld Show,' director Sofia Coppola has a knack for making movies about nothing ... nothing in the sense that her films focus on the small things in our lives that eventually change us or alter out lives' paths. In both 'Somewhere' and 'Lost in Translation, there are no earthshaking, tumultuous events that create drama or rupture. Just people going about their daily lives, making the minute decisions that define who they are. They're character studies that bring us into other people's lives -- that allow us to watch people slowly grow and change. Kind of like real life.

• Extras: Making of featurette.
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Watch the trailer for 'Somewhere':




Other New April 19 DVD Releases:

'Born to Raise Hell': Typical Steven Seagal direct-to-video thriller in which Seagal plays a hard-core Interpol Agent who gets involved in hunting down an Eastern European gun trafficking and dope running organization.
'The Ernie Kovacs Collection': Ernie Kovacs was an offbeat comedian who was quick to adopt the conventions of 1950s and 60s early television and subvert them in the service of outrageous comedy and satire; his influence trickled down to Johnny Carson, Monty Python, David Letterman, Pee-wee Herman and 'Saturday Night Live.' This six-disc set offers up more than 13 hours of Kovacs' original classic television content, unforgettable characters and a treasure trove of genuine rarities.
'Gulliver's Travels': Jack Black stars in this modern -- and unfunny take -- on the classic Swiftian satire.
'Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster': This sequel takes up where its predecessor left off, with Ip Man escaping the Japanese occupation of his home town and arriving in Hong Kong, where he opens a martial arts academy and must first prove himself to the corrupt cabal of Hong Kong martial arts masters. Stars Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung.
'Street Kings 2: Motor City': A Detroit detective -- whose undercover narcotics team is being systematically murdered one by one -- joins forces with a cocky, young homicide detective to uncover shocking corruption all around them. Stars Ray Liotta, Shawn Hatosy and Clifton Powell.
'The Way Back': Seven prisoners escape from a brutal Siberian gulag and trek 4,500-miles to find freedom. Based on 'The Long Walk' by Slavomir Rawicz. Directed by Peter Weir and starring Ed Harris, Colin Farrell, Jim Sturgess, Saoirse Ronan and Mark Strong.


April 19 Blu-ray Debut:

'Sweetie' (1989):
Jane Campion's knockout debut feature focuses on the hazardous relationship between a buttoned-down, superstitious young woman and her rampaging, devil-may-care sister, Sweetie -- and on their family's profoundly rotten roots. It's a feast of colorful photography and captivating, idiosyncratic characters. Restored with captivating extras by The Criterion Collection.

Check out other new April 19 DVD releases at OnVideo.