New on DVD, April 8, 2008

What to Netflix: New DVD Tuesday

All of the new DVD releases hit stores (and Netflix) on Tuesdays. So each week in What to Netflix: New DVD Tuesday, I sort through the best of the batch and tell you what to add to your queue. In addition to the titles below, you can also rent Reservation Road (not to be confused with Revolutionary Road), and Leonardo DiCaprio's global warming warning, The 11th Hour.


There Will Be Blood
This April is a great month for renting DVDs because a new stellar, Oscar-nominated film seems to come out every week. Today's release is the stirring Paul Thomas Anderson masterpiece, There Will Be Blood. The film is loosely based on Upton Sinclair's novel Oil! and follows the story of an ambitious oil man, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he becomes one of those famed self-made American magnates, a la William Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie.

If you haven't heard by now that this film is both visually stunning and soul-stirring, and that Daniel Day-Lewis gives the Oscar-winning performance of the year, then you've had a very distracting year. I stuck this movie on my April must-haves list not only because of its classic story of greed vs. compassion, but also because Day-Lewis only seems to emerge to knock one out of the park every five years or so, which in Hollywood years can seem like a lifetime. You'll want to own this one to get you through to 2013 when he's had enough of shoe-making on the Italian Coast or something and decides to show the rest of those amateurs how it's done. Again.

For two more titles that couldn't be more different than each other, read more.


Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
2007 truly was the year of Judd Apatow, though admittedly this spoof on the musician biopic he co-wrote was probably his weakest submission. While it was hard to recommend paying theater prices for this film, it is a perfectly serviceable at-home rental.

Starring John C. Reilly as Dewey Cox, a rocker with secrets (shocker!), the film pokes fun at movies like Ray and Walk the Line and takes many prisoners, sparing neither Bob Dylan nor the Beatles (in a hilarious scene starring Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Justin Long, and Jason Schwartzman as the Fab Four). While it drags in some parts, Reilly is great in this role and the whole thing is more or less a good time.

Special features include deleted and extended scenes and featurettes titled, "The Music of Walk Hard", and "The Real Dewey Cox."


Lions for Lambs
First of all, the stars of this movie need to have a serious talk with the DVD cover-art people. How is it possible to airbrush Robert Redford so that he looks utterly unattractive? And that's one highly arched brow on Meryl Streep. Anyway, don't let the cover distract you from this serious meditation on the nature of current American politics.

While I realize many are turned off by movies about the current war in Iraq, I think this film, directed by Robert Redford, gives us a lot of food for thought. More talking than action, I thought this might have worked better as a play than a movie, but it's still a highly worthwhile watch. Most intriguing are the questions Redford brings up about young people who, he asserts, seem to feel disaffected amidst these turbulent times. All three performances are fine (Tom Cruise is particularly good as a smarmy congressman), but most importantly it gets you thinking and might spur on good debate.

Special features include audio commentary by Robert Redford and a making-of featurette.

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