Every January and February, I catch up on all the Oscar hopefuls via DVD’s and screenings and this year is no exception. Saturday night, I checked out “Lars And The Real Girl,” which was well acted but suffered from a lack of surprises, so I can’t recommend it.

Yesterday I saw “Michael Clayton,” and couldn’t figure out why so many critics said it was confusing. Yes, it helps to pay attention in the beginning, and maybe I do have an advantage having watched “The Practice” all those years, but still…

George Clooney was good in the title role, but I thought the real showcase performance was by Tom Wilkinson. Tom usually plays uptight guys, and he had a field day playing a mentally ill lawyer who’s fed up with being on the wrong side of a big case.

Of course, even while I’m catching up with last year’s releases, the parade of new movies doesn’t stop. I saw “Be Kind Rewind” last week and didn’t like it much. An interesting idea (a quiet video store clerk played by Mos Def, and his friend, a motormouth conspiracy nut played by Jack Black, are forced to make their own versions of hit movies after they erase all the VHS tapes in Danny Glover’s video store), but I can’t help but think it would have been more fun if the main characters had been played smarter, making them real movie buffs who enthusiastically jump into remaking the movies because they love them and think they can make them better. Yes, as they redo the films, they evoke some laughs with their low budget ingenuity, but there’s also some pandering to the releasing studio, New Line, thanks to a crawl listing all of New Line’s movies. I also disliked the movie’s ending, which features a tear-jerking climax that should remind us of the movies’ ability to bring people together, but feels unearned.

I attended the press day for “Be Kind Rewind,” but there’s not much to say about it, save that Jack Black showed up with his hair dyed blond, due to his just completed role in “Tropic Thunder.” Black, often so manic on screen, plays things a little more laid back and sly in person. And wouldn’t you know it, the minute I got home from the interviews, I saw on the internet that the day before, Jack announced he and his wife were expecting their second child. Well, we didn’t know about it, so we couldn’t ask about it…


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