After their Oscar-sweeping turn with No Country for Old Men, writer/directors the Coen Brothers embraced their more comedic side (Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski) with this year's Burn After Reading, telling the story of the chaos that unfolds when a fitness instructor (Frances McDormand: Fargo, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) enlists her coworker (Brad Pitt: Fight Club, Se7en) to extort money from an ex-CIA operative (John Malkovich: Eragon, Con Air) about to lose his wife to a philandering US Marshall (George Clooney: Michael Clayton, O Brother Where Art Thou?). The dark comedy unfolds as these characters cross one another in unexpected ways, as any one of their most innocuous movements can cause a catastrophe in another character's life. On DVD and Blu-Ray.
Steve Coogan (Tropic Thunder, Around the World in 80 Days) stars as a failing actor who finds a new calling when his acting class becomes news in writer/director Andrew Fleming's (Nancy Drew, The In-Laws) Hamlet 2. After years of being underestimated, he writes a script for his suddenly-full drama class: a sequel to Shakespeare's Hamlet... which attracts more attention than he anticipated, especially the subplot of a time-traveling Christ that includes the song "Rock Me, Sexy Jesus."
The House Bunny stars Anna Faris (My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Just Friends) as an ex-bunny who, after leaving the Playboy mansion, finds the company that can keep her in the lifestyle she's used to: a sorority. But instead of finding a sorority full of beautiful girls living a life of luxury, she ends up sistered with a group of awkward, bookish girls who need her to impart a little fashion sense, in a movie by the writer of Legally Blonde. Also with Colin Hanks (Untraceable, King Kong).
Ricky Gervais (The Office, Stardust) stars as an antisocial dentist who can suddenly see ghosts in David Koepp's (Secret Window, Stir of Echoes) Ghost Town. His problem is that he doesn't like the dead any more than he likes the living, but one persistent spirit (Greg Kinnear: Baby Mama, Little Miss Sunshine) convinces him to resolve some once-living business with his widow (Tea Leoni: You Kill Me, Flirting with Disaster). Now that he can't shut out the ghosts the way he shut out the living, and is obligated to get to know the widow, Gervais starts to undergo a dramatic change.
Comedy director David Zucker (My Boss's Daughter, Ruthless People) brings us An American Carol, about a Michael Moore caricature (Kevin Farley), whose films cause three ghosts to confront him, A Christmas Carol-like, to encourage him to re-think his view of America. When he's visited by the ghosts of General George S. Patton (Kelsey Grammer: Frasier, Toy Story 2), George Washington (John Voight: Glory Road, Holes), and finally the angel of death (Trace Adkins), who convince him to change his left-leaning, anti-American ways.
The sixth movie in the St. Bernard children's comedy series, Beethoven's Big Break follows the dog to Hollywood, as Beethoven becomes a movie star. Being a famous dog actor has its drawbacks, though: a gang of dognappers want to abduct and hold the star for ransom.
The Roast of Bob Saget is the most recent Comedy Central roast, featuring comedians and other stars, such as Jon Lovitz, Norm Macdonald, Lewis Black, Don Rickles, and Sarah Silverman.
A remake of the 1939 Joan Crawford film, The Women stars Meg Ryan (My Mom's New Boyfriend, Prelude to a Kiss) as a successful clothing designer and Annette Benning (The American President, Running with Scissors) as a fashion magazine editor, old friends who band together when Ryan's husband meets up with a salesgirl (Eva Mendes: Ghost Rider, Hitch). Also featuring Debra Messing (The Wedding Date, Hollywood Ending) and Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral, Ali), The Women focuses on society women as they gossip, bond, and live the New York high life.
As a surfer faced with an existential crisis, Matthew McConaughey (We Are Marshall, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) returns home to Malibu for some soul-searching in Surfer, Dude, only to find the waves have gone flat. His summer girl (Alexie Gilmore: Descent, Definitely Maybe) might not be able to offset him losing his sponsorship deal, but she might help him out of his crisis.
Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean, Atonement) stars as Georgiana Cavendish in The Duchess. The 18th century period drama charts her rise in society after marrying the Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes: The Constant Gardener, In Bruges). As her status develops into serious political power and she falls in love with an Earl (Dominic Cooper: Mama Mia, The History Boys), she finds her life, ambition, and happiness hanging in the balance.
Alan Ball, the writer of American Beauty, directs Towelhead, about an Arab-American girl (Summer Bishil) coming of age in Texas during the first Gulf War. Struggling with her Lebanese father (Peter Macdissi: Three Kings, Bad Company) and her cultural identity, she becomes obsessed with her Army reservist neighbor (Aaron Eckhart: The Dark Knight, Thank You for Smoking.)
Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Reign Over Me) stars as a Sudanese-American and US Special Forces veteran in Traitor. Captured during an arms deal and befriended by anti-Americans in a Yemeni jail, he uses his skills to assist with the bombing of a US Consulate. Pursued by an agent (Guy Pearce: The Proposition, Memento) and wary of a larger planned bombing, he faces moral questions and the decisions that could make him a traitor or a patriot.
Shia LaBeouf (Disturbia, The Greatest Game Ever Played) and Michelle Monaghan (Made of Honor, Gone Baby Gone) are controlled by a mysterious voice on the phone in Eagle Eye. Set up as patsies and controlled at every turn, they are pursued by agents Rosario Dawson (Shattered Glass, Death Proof) and Billy Bob Thornton (Mr. Woodcock, The Ice Harvest), as the voice on the phone plays puppetmaster with their fate. With no idea what's at stake or how to get away from the seemingly omniscient voice, the two must do what they're told... until they can find a way out.
Death Race is the newest film by Paul W.S. Anderson (Alien vs. Predator, Resident Evil), re-imagining Jason Statham (Cellular, The Bank Job) as a stand-in for the masked "Frankenstein" from the Roger Corman Death Race 2000. Warden Joan Allen (The Bourne Ultimatum, Pleasantville) runs the Death Race with her inmates as drivers, but when the popular driver Frankenstein dies in the race, only she and Frankenstein's pit crew (including Deadwood's Ian McShane) know that it's really Statham under the mask. He could win his freedom in the race... or he could end up like the last Frankenstein. On DVD and Blu-Ray.
The animated action/horror film Resident Evil: Degeneration is also new this week, keeping closer to the Resident Evil storyline than the live action entries in the series, with state of the art animation.
The documentary Dear Talula is an autobiographical film by Lori Benson, a video-note to her (at the time of filming) 1-year-old daughter Talula about her struggle with breast cancer.
New to Reckless Video's TV New Releases this week is the first half of season 5 of the plastic surgeon medical drama Nip/Tuck, as well as the 2nd season of the scifi/teen show Kyle XY and the first season of Secret Life of the American Teen. We also have the 1985 BBC series Mapp & Lucia and the next two volumes in the Sharpe's military period series, Sharpe's Company and Sharpe's Eagle, starring Sean Bean.