Best Sports Movies on DVD

Just in time to help you find that perfect gift for the sports fan on your list (and to support Cinderella Man, #22, as a contender when Oscar time rolls around), Entertainment Weekly has published its list of the 30 best sports movies on DVD. Numbers 1-5 are: Raging Bull, Caddyshack, Hoosiers, Rocky, and Bull Durham. See the complete list.

Clooney: The Next Redford?

30 years ago, Robert Redford was the politically progressive Hollywood hunk making movies like The Candidate and All the President's Men. This year George Clooney is credited with reviving the political hot-button genre with Good Night, and Good Luck (which he directs and acts) and Syriana (in which he stars). Although he tones down his good looks for the camera, he hasn't bothered to tone down his political views in the press. Sure, he irritates conservatives, but outspoken actors like Sean Penn and Tim Robbins have taken far worse beatings than Clooney has...so far. So what is it? Good looks? A good sense of humor? How about The Redford factor?

The Man Behind the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

There's only one week left before the new version of the Chronicles of Naria makes its way to theaters. Those interested in learning a bit more about the man behind the stories might be interested in The Question of God: Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis. Based on a Harvard course taught by Dr. Armand Nicholi, this PBS production examines the respective beliefs of Freud and Lewis through dramatized scenes from their lives and a roundtable discussion with Nicholi and several other so-called experts. The roundtable discussion can be frustrating at times (too many voices, not enough time, not enough coherency), but the series is still informative and thought-provoking.

Other DVDs of interest include Shadowlands, the original BBC production about Lewis' spiritual crisis when his wife died from cancer, and the original BBC production of the Chronicles of Narnia.

The Play Ground

Tis the Season....for the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Bah humbug, it has never been one of The Play Ground's favorites. Well, the Performance Network is featuring Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol by Tom Mula. It is well done, inventive and an interesting new take on this old standard. Through December 24. Fans of the original Christmas Carol may wish to check out the 1951 classic starring Alastair Sim and Kathleen Harrison.

King Kong: A First Look

King Kong 2005

Although it's not scheduled for release until December 13 in New Zealand (December 14 in the United Sates), the first review of Peter Jackson's $207 million epic King Kong is in. In the upcoming December 5 issue, Newsweek's senior writer, Devin Gordon, who was flown to New Zealand for an exclusive screening, gushes over the "surprisingly tender, even heartbreaking, film" and claims Jackson has "proved once again that he might be the only guy whose films are worth getting on a plane and flying halfway around the planet to see." Click here for the full review and a trailer.

That Love Bug is Back

If you're looking for family entertainment, you could do a lot worse than Herbie Fully Loaded, the latest remake of the '60s movie The Love Bug. The new film is a lot like the old ones, as a fiesty VW comes alive and wins races against all odds. Ridiculous and fun.

Pat Morita 1932-2005

Actor Pat Morita, best known for his role as Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid series of movies, and as Arnold in the television series "Happy Days" died of natural causes yesterday in his home. He was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award in 1984 for his role in the first Karate Kid movie, and then went on to star in three sequels.

Morita originally wanted to become a comedian, but in the 1950's in California, he did not feel there was very much hope for a Japanese-American stand-up comedian. At the age of 30 he finally was able to enter show-business full time.

DVDs for Music Lovers

Films about musicians and their music always seem to fascinate audiences. The recent critical and box-office success of Walk the Line, the new film about Johnny Cash, is further evidence of this. The library has a number of great DVDs for music lovers, including Paul McCartney in Red Square, Ray, Bob Marley: the legend live, The Beatles in Washington D.C., Metallica: some kind of monster, Immortal Beloved, and a personal favorite, 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould. And let's not forget This is Spinal Tap. Did I miss any other good ones?

Beowulf: Coming to a theater near you in 2007!

Boy, just what we've been waiting for.

If memories of struggling through Old English epic poetry during your pimply adolescence aren't exactly causing paroxysms of anticipatory glee, consider this: A full-blown animated film about the struggle between Beowulf and the monster Grendel from a script written by Roger "Pulp Fiction" Avary and cult comic writer Neil Gaiman (Sandman), directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Cast Away), and starring--well at least the voices of--Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie, Crispin Glover, and John Malkovich. Does that help? Meanwhile, you might consider Beowulf: A New Verse Translation, left, by Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, which includes both Old English and an English translation on facing pages. It's actually a ripping good yarn.

The 800-Pound Gorilla

Are you ready for King Kong? More to the point, is Peter Jackson? This week Entertainment Weekly features a behind-the-scenes look at Jackson as he races to fully and convincingly render his CGI Kong before the December 14 release. Much (including Adrien Brody's career) rides on Jackson's success, but after a little history-making trilogy known as Lord of the Rings, you can bet your banana he'll pull it off. Meanwhile, place your hold on the digitally-remastered 1933 version of King Kong, left, or 1998's Mighty Joe Young (both on order). The original 1949 version of Mighty Joe Young will be here in December.

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