get yr release on

Ah, spring! The birds are flying, the bees are buzzing, the flowers are blooming, and the Sally Hawkinses are on their bicycles!

Don't you- forget about the DVD releases for the week of 3/10/09-
don't! don't! don't!:

US DVD releases
- Battle in Seattle
- Ben X
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
- Cadillac Records
- Crowley (co-written by Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden; features music by Iron Maiden)
- Devotee
- Escape to Witch Mountain (special edition)
- Happy-Go-Lucky (dir. Mike Leigh)
- Howard the Duck (special edition)
- Japan Japan
- Let the Right One In
- L’Innocente (dir. Luchino Visconti)
- Marie and Bruce (written by Wallace Shawn)
- Milk (dir. Gus Van Sant)
- The Miracle Worker (1979)
- Pinocchio (70th Anniversary edition)
- Rachel Getting Married
- Return From Witch Mountain (special edition)
- Role Models
- A Secret
- Shinobi no Mono 3: Ressurection
- Synecdoche New York

US Blu-Ray releases:
- Batman: Motion Picture Anthology (box set)
- Brokeback Mountain
- Cadillac Records
- Let the Right One In
- Milk
- Pinocchio (70th Anniversary edition)
- Rachel Getting Married
- Role Models
- Synecdoche New York
- Transporter 3

Multi Region DVD releases:
- Tombstone of Fireflies (dir. Taro Hyugaji) R2 Japan
- The Good, The Bad, The Weird (dir. Kim Ji-Woon) R3 Korea

Hidey-hi, Boothers: Pike and Dex go at it over whether Let the Right One In is just good or really great here, and Pat's much more recent take is over here.

Dex gets Happy-Go-Lucky:
Mike Leigh's latest is best viewed as a companion piece to his landmark 1993 film Naked: but whereas Naked's Johnny (David Thewlis) was a kind of later day Celine by way of John Lydon, Happy-Go-Lucky's Poppy (a marvelous Sally Hawkins) chooses a brighter, if equally uncompromising path; the drop-out Johnny's just too smart for all of this and just won't have it, and when he does he's just as soon to mock it for all it's worth, while the hyperactive grammar school teacher Poppy is sure that if she just listens to the stories people have long and hard enough, she and you and everyone we know can and will get over. But Leigh shows that Hawkins' Poppy and her saintly style can make her just as out-of-place as Thewlis' Johnny - two crucial sequences (which Leigh lets play out in different levels of intensity), one which finally explodes between her and her lonely, wound-up driving instructor Scott (an absolutely fantastic Eddie Marsan) and a possibly-abused student make it clear to Poppy that the forumla for love and happiness doesn't only mean an open heart, but love plus compassion plus wisdom times toughness.

A lot of people I've heard from call this Leigh-lite, and while it's probably among his most accessible movies, there's also a lot more going on it than people gave it credit for initially. I saw it too late to make my best of '08 list, but it's one of my favorite movies of recent months, and I think it's safe to say that Happy-Go-Lucky should be up there with some of the director's best. En Ra Ha!

Patrick on Milk:
I'm a little conflicted about this film. One the one hand, I think it's a pretty important film in terms of public portrayal of gay rights issues. As a message, as social film, I can't really fault it except by way of laying it on a little thick in a couple points. As filmmaking, I find it somewhat problematic, though not bad by any means. It continues Van Sant's explorations of gay issues in films and especially the subtext that's underlaid his last several - the damaging, often violent, results of repressed homosexuality as compared with a healthy and open portrayal of gay life. It's that conflict that's powered several of his films and certainly this one. It's not as well done in my estimation as Elephant, bogs down too much in making sure you get its message - take that kid in the wheelchair, for example; no character development, no reason for him to be there except to highlight and underscore the rightness of what Harvey Milk was doing - but in another way it's also better as a simply well-made, professional film. Sean Penn is completely submerged in the role - I wasn't thinking for a second about the high profile Hollywood actor involved, just about the character of Milk. And if it has to be a little more obvious to get its message across to a broader audience who might not bother seeing some of Van Sant's more experimental work, I guess that's a compromise I can live with. I still don't think it's got the reach to change minds rather than preaching to the choir, but I found a lot of strong moments here and the message it's putting over is something that can certainly stand to be said yet again in a relatively mainstream film.

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