Sofa Cinema

Rebecca Redshaw's SOFA CINEMA: An Easy Guide to DVDs Volume 1 will be published this fall. Read all her DVD reviews compiled in one book.

Some movies are worth a second look, and some reviews are worth a second read. Here are a few good ones worth repeating. The movies selected for review are the choice of the reviewer. Suggestions for DVD titles are welcome. Enjoy the movies.


Slumdog Millionaire

[Rated: R]

"Is that your final answer?" Those familiar words are not uttered by American game show host Regis Philbin, but by an Indian host to the most unlikely of contestants, a "slumdog" or street urchin.

"Slumdog Millionaire" is the story of Jamal and his brother, Salim. Living among the poorest of the poor in the streets of India, their life story is cleverly told through a series of flashbacks as Jamal awaits his chance to win a "million."

Left to fend for themselves after a brutal street attack, the boys keep their wits about them through any number of adventures, and at one point Salim reluctantly agrees to let a young orphan girl, Latika, tag along with them.

This odd version of The Three Musketeers survives the evils of the streets and they are eventually forcibly separated, but not before young Jamal falls in love with Latika.

Danny Boyle's direction is taut, and the cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle is nothing short of brilliant in capturing the squalor of the streets.

"Slumdog Millionaire" is difficult to describe because it's two movies in one: a sometimes brutal look at the underbelly of life, coupled with a love story bordering on fairytale. (The end credits, while entertaining, detract from the serious scenes depicted.)

If you choose your films by award recognition, this one is no doubt already on your list of "must sees." Rid your thoughts of industry tags and watch the story unfold. It is masterfully told.

Note: The R rating is appropriate because of violence. "Slumdog Millionaire" is not suitable for young children.


Tell No One

[Rated: R]

Every once in awhile a good mystery comes along. "Tell No One" is intriguing because you're never quite sure "Who did it?" or "Why?"

A French film with English sub-titles, "Tell No One" is the directive given to a pediatrician who is still under suspicion for his wife's murder eight years prior. There are still loose ends to the case and, when new bodies are discovered near where the doctor said he was attached and left for dead and his wife was murdered, the police dust off their case files.

The clever use of computer clues and an odd assortment of characters involved in the chase add to the suspense. Even though the ending resolves the case far more neatly than reality, it doesn't detract from the frenetic intrigue of the race to capture the guilty party, whoever he/she may be.


The River Wild

[Rated: PG-13]

Interested in taking a whitewater rafting trip? You might want to check out "The River Wild" before making reservations.

As if there weren't enough thrills on the water, Gail (Meryl Streep), her husband, Tom (David Strathairn) and their young son, Rourke (Joseph Mazzello) encounter two other adventurers, Wade and Terry (Kevin Bacon and John C. Reilly) along the way. There's trouble in Gail and Tom's marriage, but it takes a backseat when Wade and Terry take control of the raft.

Filmed in the Pacific Northwest wilderness, director Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential" and "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle") incorporates the beauty and terror of nature almost as a cast member. The cinematography by Robert Elswit and the musical score by Jerry Goldsmith also add to the intensity of the drama.

Bacon and Reilly are working actors who always bring great street "cred" to the screen no matter how small the part. Strathairn is the kind of talent you recognize and then make a mental note, "Oh, yeah, I like that guy."

And then there's Meryl Streep. Is there anything this actor can't or won't tackle? "Mamma Mia!" is the best-selling DVD of the year, and her transformation into Julia Child is currently on the big screen. Neither role carries the inherent danger of the daring river rat in "The River Wild."

Rebecca Redshaw can be reached at

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