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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

new on DVD: ‘Becoming Jane,’ ‘Martian Child,’ ‘Gone Baby Gone,’ ‘We Own the Night,’ ‘Introducing the Dwights,’ ‘No Reservations’

See it:

Becoming Jane [buy it]. From my review:

I love Becoming Jane even if it is almost entirely invented, because it captures both the aching romanticism and the cold, hard practicalities of Austen’s fiction. And it even, in a way, does Austen one better: it’s laden with all of the angst and heartbreak and tears we’ve come to expect from a Sense & Sensibility or a Pride & Prejudice, but because it is adhering to the spirit of Austen’s life — she never married, never enjoyed any kind of long-term romantic entanglements that posterity is aware of — it doesn’t indulge in a happy ending. How can it?

See it:

Martian Child [buy it]. From my review:

This is, wonderfully, a smart and snappy — never sappy — portrait of a budding parent-and-kid romance, and a lovely ode to nonconformity, to being your own person even if the rest of the world has some issues with that. And the deeply satisfying ordinary magic and everyday mystery of seeing two unlikely people come together and make a life for themselves is not all down to Cusack’s everyguy charisma, though that might have been enough — certainly, Cusack can make a line such as “You’re just a freaky little dude, man,” directed at Dennis, sound like a valentine…

Gone Baby Gone [buy it]. An alla-round astonishing movie, for Ben Affleck’s astute director’s eye, his brother Casey’s second fantastic performance this year, and for Amy Ryan’s Oscar-nominated turn as a less-than-likeable mother.

We Own the Night [buy it]. It’s full of moments so beautifully eerie and grim that they are instantly fixed in the memory as classic gems of cinema, not to mention great performances by Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix.

Introducing the Dwights [buy it]. Brenda Blethyn takes on the mother-from-hell stereotype and makes her an unmissable combination of love and angst and fear and warmth.

See it… now that it’s on DVD:

No Reservations [buy it]. If you don’t want to rent the subtitled Mostly Martha, the German original this is based on, then this is your next best bet.



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