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New On DVD - August 3, 2010

A Prophet CityNews.ca Pick of the Week – After Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim), a young Arab man, is sent to a French prison he soon finds himself connected to the mob boss César Luciani (Niels Arestrup) as a form of protection. After years working for César on the inside, Malik plans to branch out on his own after he is released. Will he be able to break free from César and the rest of mob before it’s too late? Robbed of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Oscars, A Prophet is one of the grittiest, most intense prison crime-drama’s I’ve ever seen. Solid performances, writing, and direction make this a must-see. In French and Arabic with English subtitles. Special features on the DVD include deleted scenes, commentary with director Jacques Audiard, Rahim, and co-writer Thomas Bidegain, screen tests, plus more. Also available on Blu-ray. Film **** DVD *** (out of 5 stars).

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Blu-ray) – Based on Jeff Kinney’s hugely popular illustrated novel, Diary of a Wimpy Kid tells the story of Greg (Zachary Gordon), a young boy just starting middle school and desperately trying to be cool amongst his peers. To help him get through the traumatic time he jots down stories and draws cartoons of he and his classmates in a diary (which he prefers to call a journal). In his quest to be popular though he alienates his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron) and is generally mean to everyone around him until he realizes his friends are more important than fitting in. For the target audience (kids between 8 and 12), Diary of a Wimpy Kid works and is quite an enjoyable, fun little movie with a good message. Steve Zahn, Rachel Harris, and Devon Bostick also star. Special features on the “Cheesiest Edition” Blu-ray release include deleted scenes, commentary with director Thor Freudenthal and writer Gabe Sachs, extra diary pages, plus more. A regular DVD and digital copy of the film are also included. Film *** Blu-ray **** (out of 5 stars).

The Ghost Writer (Blu-ray) – In Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, Ewan McGregor plays a hack biographer hired to finish the memoirs of Britain’s Prime Minister, Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), after the original ghost writer is found dead. He’s sent across the pond to Massachusetts where Lang and his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams) are staying in a house on Martha’s Vineyard. Not long after he arrives, he’s caught up in a scandal that sees Lang accused of war crimes. A series of twists and turns follows with strange and suspicious characters popping up around every corner. This is a Polanski film so one expects it to be fairly slow and boring, and boy is this painfully slow and boring. Never once does Polanski attempt to push the boundaries of his artistic ability in this. With titles like Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, and The Pianist under his belt there’s no denying he’s one of the greats, but where Martin Scorsese’s recent film Shutter Island worked as a homage to the film noirs of the ’40s and ’50s, The Ghost Writer fails to earn a place among cinema’s great political thrillers such as All the President’s Men. Special features on the Blu-ray release include a making-of featurette, an interview with Polanski, and an interview with author Robert Harris. Film ** Blu-ray *** (out of 5 stars).

More New DVD releases this week: Kick-Ass, Road to Perdition (Blu-ray), The Kim Novak Collection, James and the Giant Peach (Blu-ray)


Top image: A scene from A Prophet. Courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.