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Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

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I Know My Kid's a Star and Lions for Lambs.

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Apr. 16, 2008

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Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

DVD

What: Dysfunctional family crime drama.

Why: It's a contemporary Greek tragedy. Two brothers, losers in different ways, destroy themselves and their family through a toxic mix of greed, laziness and amorality. Veteran director Sidney Lumet perfects a pared-down, pre-postmodern, no- nonsense aesthetic that matches his laconic style on the commentary track (where he joins stars Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman to chat about filmmaking). The story's terse intensity is heightened on DVD, where you come face to face with the sweaty desperation of some of last year's most memorable movie characters.

I Know My Kid's a Star

On Demand: VH1

What: Child actor reality competition.

Why: It's all about the moms. Stage mothers steal the spotlight here, though the show's supposed to be about their kids. Exhibit a) Wannabe glamour girl Rocky, who practically pushes her daughter aside to get in front of a mike, then gets into it with scrappy mom Gigi about whether she's wearing a weave. Host and creator Danny Bonaduce adds gravelly voiced real-world cred, while personal manager Marki Costello plays Simon Cowell doling out straight talk to parents who prefer to lovingly burnish their self-delusions (see the show's cruel, snarky title).

Lions for Lambs

DVD

What: Robert Redford's bizarre anti-Iraq War drama.

Why: This talky, claustrophobic film feels even stranger and more hallucinatory on DVD than it did on a big screen. Seemingly deranged with rage at Bush, Redford just stitches together three static situations and calls it a movie: A professor (Redford) berates a callow student, a glib senator (Tom Cruise) lectures a skeptical reporter (Meryl Streep), and two idealistic young soldiers face the terrifying realities of combat. It's like no movie you've ever seen--it's barely a movie at all--yet its very oddness can haunt you like an expressionist nightmare.

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