Hopeless romantics be damned, Hollywood is not in the mood for love this week. Don't fret, though, there are a few movies that will tug at your heartstrings just as much as this weekend's Oscar speeches are sure to.
Dennis Quaid is almost a parody of the All-American Hero, but his chiseled jaw fits just fine in "Vantage Point," the action-packed thriller that explores the 30 minutes surrounding the fictional assassination of an American president. The movie gradually pieces together the event like a jigsaw puzzle, revisiting the assassination through the eyes of eight unique characters. The movie has a blue-ribbon cast that includes Matthew Fox, Sigourney Weaver, Forrest Whitaker, William Hurt and, of course, a whole bunch of guns, explosions and car chases.
For 22 years, Ferris Bueller has been the coolest kid in school. But now there's a new kid in town. "Charlie Bartlett," stars Anton Yelchin ("Alpha Dog") as Charlie, who seeps, well, whatever it is that makes a teenager cool. Booted from a long list of prestigious institutions, Charlie climbs to the top of his new school's social hierarchy and sparks up a boy's room-based psychiatry service from which he dolls out advice – and pills – by the handful. Yelchin is charming, but he shines brightest during his verbal duels with his alcoholic school principal (Robert Downey Jr.). King Bueller hasn't been dethroned, but he's got some stiff competition.
We wrote in late January about Jack Black and Mos Def's "Be Kind Rewind," but the release was delayed after the story was posted. Directed by Michel Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"), the heartwarming film follows two guys who accidentally demagnetize the VHS cassettes of a video store and then remake the classic movies. Jack Black plays just about every major movie character with his usual charm and wit, but seeing him in a floral dress as Jessica Tandy in "Driving Miss Daisy"? Now that's inspired!
The Oscars' Best Foreign Film nominees are generally considered subtitled snooze-fests. But "The Counterfeiters" may draw a bigger audience than most, since the German-Austrian production plays out like an adventure film. Based on a true story, it follows a prominent counterfeiter who's imprisoned in a concentration camp and forced to help the Nazi war effort by producing fake dollars and pounds. It's a fast-paced movie, but the Academy will love that "Counterfeiters" is packed with the emotional power of a Holocaust film.
On Home Video
Ridley Scott's powerful mafia drama "American Gangster" was nominated in three major categories at the Golden Globes but was snubbed by the Academy Awards. Coming out on DVD and HD-DVD, the 157-minute film has so many extras that its available in two and three-disc versions. It's a little overkill, but the problem plagued-film's additional footage is interesting, if you've got 7.5 hours to kill.
Seven-time Oscar-nominated "Michael Clayton" comes out on Blu-ray and DVD this week. Extras only include commentaries and a few deleted scenes. It's too bad, because it would have been interesting to package a critical debate of the controversial horse scene.