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DVD Selections - Drama Movies

More Superb Drama
Erin Brockovich (2000) DVD
Broke and desperate, the twice  divorced single mom Erin bosses her way into a clerical job with attorney Ed Masry (Albert Finney), who's indebted to Erin after failing to win her traffic-injury case. Erin is soon focused on suspicious connections between a mighty power company, its abuse of toxic chromium, and the poisoned water supply of Hinkley, California, where locals have suffered a legacy of death and disease. Matching the dramatic potency of Norma Rae and Silkwood, Erin Brockovich filters cold facts through warm humanity, especially in Erin's rapport with dying victims and her relationship with George (superbly played by Aaron Eckhart), a Harley-riding neighbor who offers more devotion than Erin's ever known. Surely some of these details have been embellished for dramatic effect, but the factual basis of Erin Brockovich adds a boost of satisfaction, proving that greed, neglect, and corporate arrogance are no match against a passionate crusader. (Trivia note: The real Erin Brockovich appears briefly as a diner waitress.) 
--Jeff Shannon 
Hilary and Jackie (1998) DVD
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Starring: Emily Watson, Rachel Griffiths
The film is a bisected story (each sister's tale is told in the same amount of screen time) teeming with heartfelt drama that belies the cheap shots it received from its detractors. It's stirring, reckless, loving, involving, and rife with unconventional passion; passion for music, life, art, and the delicate relationship between these two synchronous, extraordinary sisters as played by brilliant actors Emily Watson and Rachel Griffiths (both of whom earned Oscar nods). Though Watson got the juicy, showy role as Jackie, it's Griffiths who provides the heart, soul, and spine of the film. And director Tucker has that gift of being able to explain through the visual medium what is happening inside of his character's heads. 
The Hurricane (2000) DVD
In his direction of The Hurricane, veteran filmmaker Norman Jewison understands that slavish loyalty to factual detail is no guarantee of compelling screen biography. In telling the story of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter--who was wrongly convicted of murder in 1967 and spent nearly two decades in jail--Jewison and his screenwriters compress time, combine characters, and rearrange events with a nonchalance that would be galling if they didn't remain honest to the core truth of Carter's ordeal. Because of that emotional integrity --and because Denzel Washington brings total conviction to his title role--The Hurricane rises above the confines of biographical fidelity to embrace higher values of courage, compassion, and ultimate justice. --Jeff Shannon
Remains of the Day
(1993) VHS
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Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson,
This excellent film is truly amazing work of art. Beautifully shaped movie deals with the lives inside an English country home just prior to World War II. Anthony Hopkins is wonderful as the repressed butler and Emma Thompson is excellent as the housekeeper.
A Civil Action (1999) DVD
A Civil Action (1999) VHS
The Rainmaker (1997) DVD
The Rainmaker (1997) VHS
G.I. Jane (1997) DVD
G.I. Jane (1997) VHS
Heavenly Creatures (1995) VHS
Disclosure (1994) DVD
Disclosure (1994) VHS
The Firm (1993) DVD
The Firm (1993) VHS
Basic Instinct (1992) DVD
Basic Instinct (1992) VHS
Presumed Innocent (1990) DVD
Presumed Innocent (1990) VHS
Mona Lisa Smile (2003) DVD
Julia Roberts's command of the screen is so effortless, it's easy for moviegoers to take her for granted --but we shouldn't. Mona Lisa Smile--about a noncomformist teacher at a private school who encourages students to pursue their individuality--is pretty much an all-girls version of Dead Poets Society that mixes '50s fashions with '70s feminist thought. However, its lack of ambition doesn't diminish the talent that's gone into it: The writing and directing are well-honed and skillful; the actors--a talent-studded cast featuring Marcia Gay Harden, Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julia Stiles, and Juliet Stevenson --are uniformly excellent. But without question, Mona Lisa Smile rides on Roberts's shoulders and she carries it with ease. She's possibly the only contemporary actor who simply owns a movie the way Bette Davis, Jean Arthur, or Claudette Colbert once did, radiating a engaging mix of intelligence, drive, and emotional warmth that cannot be matched.
                      --Bret Fetzer 
Earthly Possessions 
(1999) DVD
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Starring: Susan Sarandon, Stephen Dorff. Susan Sarandon is Charlotte Emory, a sexually frustrated unhappy homemaker who longs for her husband to stop taking her for granted. Stephen Dorff is Jake Simms, a bank robber with a vicious temper and the obligatory heart of gold. When Jake attempts a bank robbery, Charlotte becomes his hostage. Together, they go on the lam.
The Pelican Brief (1993) DVD
 
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