The DVD picks this week include a Depression-era boxing drama, a trashy but enjoyable thriller and an amusing documentary about a dirty joke.
Cinderella Man (Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 12): A moving and handsomely made bio-pic of James L Braddock (Russell Crowe), the Depression-era boxer who was dubbed the “Cinderella Man” for his ability to win fights as a underdog. The film reunites a lot of the key personnel who made 2001’s A Beautiful Mind: director Ron Howard; Crowe and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman. Despite it’s unfair depiction of Braddock’s opponent Max Baer (who in reality was distraught at the death of an opponent who died in the ring and not the one-dimensional villain show here), it manages to convey the grim reality of 30s America and Paul Giamatti steals most of the scenes he crops up in as Braddock’s manager. It hit all the notes you would expect from a mainstream boxing film (underdog, triumph against odds, relatives tune in on the radio etc) but is still an engaging and beautifully made film.
Red Eye (Universal Pictures Video, 12): Disposable but mindlessly entertaining thriller about a hotel manager (Rachel McAdams) embroiled in an assassination plot when she ends up sitting next to a sinister stranger (Cillian Murphy) on the ‘red eye’ flight from Dallas to Miami. Surprisingly short for a mainstream film (it clocks in at just 85 minutes) it contains several improbabilities (especially towards the end) but director Wes Craven keeps things ticking along nicely.
The Aristocrats (Pathe, 18): An interesting and gloriously foul-mouthed documentary about an old joke that comedians have told each other down the years. Veteran alternative comedians Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza capitalise on their insider status to invite over 100 of their closest friends (who just happen to be some of the biggest names in comedy) to reminisce, analyse, deconstruct and deliver their own versions of the world’s dirtiest joke that always has to centre around an old burlesque routine known as ‘the aristocrats’. Although it gets a little repetitive there is a lot to enjoy here especially the routines from a magician and actor Kevin Pollack telling the joke in the style of Christopher Walken.
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