A History of Violence (New Line)
Contrary to what critics insisted, A History of Violence is not a meditation on identity or an exploration of America's violent subconscious. Like all of David Cronenberg's films, a thin eggshell of ideas covers a yummy yolk of kinky sex, violence, and gore -- not the other way around. If it makes you feel better to think you're learning something, fine. But leave the rest of us to enjoy Viggo Mortensen's small-town fella who suddenly displays a knack for ass-kicking, as well as, yes, the violence and kinky sex. (Only Cronenberg would represent idyllic small-town life with a cheerleader 69.) Among the docs and commentaries, two features stand out: A deleted scene is accompanied by an insightful explanation of why it was cut, and a piece on the differences between the American and European versions includes split-screen replays of the grossest moments. -- Jordan Harper
Good Night, and Good Luck (Warner Bros.)
Good Night, and Good Luck is so puffed up -- such an Oscar film -- that it ought to be bad. It's so self-righteous, so heavy-handed in its allegory of Bush's America that it should be a bore. But, like director George Clooney, the Edward R. Murrow biopic escapes banality through good-natured charm. Portraying a beloved journalist standing up to the Red Scare means you don't have to work that hard to win over your audience, and the movie rolls along like a slick history lesson. It's a hagiography, but sometimes it's better to leave moral ambiguity to the historians and let art be art. Unfortunately, the DVD leaves nothing to the historians; instead of the Murrow documentary you'll crave, you're given a mundane making-of doc. Clooney's commentary is both self-deprecating and self-aggrandizing, and as charming as anything else the man touches. -- Harper
Spring Break Shark Attack (Paramount)
Let's be frank: If you're going to make a movie about wild college students on spring break getting eaten by tiger sharks, you really ought to throw in some bare breasts and maybe some well-gnawed stumps. Anyone noticing the "not rated" label and hoping for the good stuff, beware: This sucker debuted last March on CBS, and it's clean as Pavarotti's plate. There's hardly even any sharks; we spend more time with The O.C. 's Shannon Lucio, as a good girl contemplating being deflowered by a townie. There's some heavy-handed metaphor about roofie-toting date-rape "sharks"; then, finally, someone gets eaten. By the time the gang is trapped overnight on a fishing boat, surrounded by circling fins, you'll be rooting for the fish. Best just to make a drinking game of it. Try sipping every time you see water. -- Harper
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